‘Within’ film poster design



The Part 2’s of the University of Readings Film Department wanted a way to advertise their productions in the Minghella Studios on Whiteknights Campus. Assigned to work with the group on the Film, Within, they needed a poster that reflected their films content, genre and intended audience.

Within, being a film described by the students, explores a ‘Psychological Journey’ of the protagonist ‘April’, who is experiencing an abusive marriage to her narcissistic husband ‘Jason’. Living in a relentless cycle of servitude in their neglected apartment, until one night she kills Jason. Within is a chilling exploration of trauma, survival, and the power of the human psyche.

Restated Brief

The aim was to create a film poster that portrayed the feel and drama of Within, being a thriller it was important to resonate with a style that connected with the genre. The finding out and designing stages therefore, consisted of looking at typical conventions of film posters, with specific focus on thriller style posters and how they connect to the content. Whilst also looking at how the image style and typeface can support the success of the design.

The clients decided to take a lead on imagery, opting to do a photo shoot with the actors, so to get an image they felt best reflected their film. It was important to support the clients wishes and respect their reflection of the film, helping to create a poster that corresponds with their desires. The clients also wanted a session detailing how to approach briefing a design project. This being a session in week 7 of the project, with the clients being given a presentation on the process of briefing.

The agreed deliverables for the client:

  • 1 A0 size poster for print (printed by students, depending on the production budget)
  • Typeface package – Digital (Note: The clients had adobe software, therefore were able to access adobe fonts)

Research and Ideation

The thriller genre being one of the most popular, allowed me to look at key features and trends the posters designed for them contain.

After researching thriller genre film posters, I noticed certain features that make them successful and capture the feel of a thriller. These include:

  • Limited colour – with the main colours being blue, orange and red, as they help to enhance the dark and moody effects used in the posters
  • Low-key lighting – using shadows and juxtaposing lighting contrasts
  • Photography that contains both foreground and background, with the foreground usually being occupied by a main character and background featuring a location
  • Typography – Large, bold typography for the film title, with a teaser sentence

The target audience for the Within film poster would be for anyone who enjoys films, specifically thrillers, with a broader audience of students, staff and guests who attend the University of Reading, who may see the poster featured.

Design Development


After researching thriller film posters typography I was able to establish that Serif typefaces were most commonly used. Of the typefaces below, the client wanted to move forward with the four highlighted below. When moving in to the design of the poster I was therefore able to design with the four different typefaces giving options for the client to decide on. There was also a decision to make regarding colour, which would occur once I had received the photography for the image.

Typography  exploration

Poster imagery

After the client had looked at the typography, they moved on to focusing on the image. They wanted to do a photoshoot with the actors, to get the best images possible for the poster. After the photoshoot they provided me with an image they had chosen as their best option. Whilst I was happy to work on the singular image, I provided some encouragement of sending over all the images so I could develop a poster that potentially used multiple images or enhancing other individual images. However my client as a group had complete agreement between them that they wanted one singular image and had chosen which one they wanted to use.

The image features a crop of Jason in the foreground, holding a glass of alcohol and a cigarette, with the bottle of alcohol to his right. Jason is also watching tv, this being the only obvious thing in the image due to it being so dark. It was therefore important to edit the image to help enhance the features in the image the client wanted to be prominent.


Image provided by client

With this I started editing the image. The initial image was dark and therefore the objects in the foreground were not clear, something the client said was important as it highlights the behaviours of the husband in the film. I therefore developed the images brightness and contrast, as well as masking the bottle of alcohol in the foreground, to make it brighter. I also changed the hue to bring more blue tones through and the saturation to make the tv brighter. The client then asked if I could add cigarette smoke and a film grain texture. I applied the cigarette smoke using generative fill on photoshop, this giving me a selection of options I could show the client before they agreed on the one used below.

Edited image


Combining image with typography

The next stage of development was to combine the image with the clients selected typography, looking at size and placement. The client felt that the best typography choice was the top left of the development below. This typography being the most thriller style like out of the options, I felt it was the most fitting for the poster. The placement of the typography was important as I didn’t want it to cover parts of the image that were deemed important to the foreshadowing of the films  events. Therefore I advised the client to choose a placement that was away from the right side of the image, with that being the side with predominantly the most objects.



Combining typography with image 

Billing Block

During the process of the film title placement, I started developing a billing block for the film. Initially I started with including all involved in the production of the film, this however took up a lot of room and felt congested. When I presented this to the client they suggested that they wanted to include just the three main actors, this being the decision that made the final design.



Billing block development 

Final adjustments

In the final adjustments to the poster I added a film grain, suggested by the client to make the poster have a movie style, moody effect to it. I felt this elevated the poster, whilst not taking away the highlights of Jason in the foreground as well as his bottle of alcohol.


The client being a group of seven students meant it was hard to please all involved, I felt however I received fair and largely positive feedback. The different opinions and ideas of the client enabled me to design a poster that had aspects that all seven students were involved with. I believe I therefore created a poster that reflected their intended audience and theme of the film, creating intrigue, suspense and tension.

This job did however, come with its challenges, working with students in full time courses meant feedback was inconsistent and time dependant, which whilst understandable, slowed the rate of progress down at times. I was tasked with giving an online presentation to my group discussing giving a design briefing, of which two of the clients attended. I learnt therefore that on occasions it is necessary to deliver feedback etc. Even when not all of the clients can attend.

One thing this project has taught me is that at times it is important to guide the client to a design choice when necessary but also to go along with the client when they are persistent on a design decision. I faced this challenge when it came to the photography, the client supplying me with one singular image, with that being the image they had decided between them to use in the poster. Whilst this helped to focus on one image only and develop posters from that, it reduced the amount of development I could have done if more images were supplied. With the client being insistent this was the image they wanted to use, after several attempts to encourage them to send a further few images, I decided to stop the encouragement and go forward with their choice. Therefore I have learnt from this project about finding the right balance of giving your opinion as the designer and listening to the opinion of the client, both of these being important to find the right outcome.