How to Create a Glamorous Cinema Poster in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

The items we are going to create in this tutorial are well known and recognized by everyone who loves movies as much as I do! Let's go through an exciting process and challenge ourselves by composing a shiny and glamorous cinema poster.  
Start by making a rectangle with the help of the Rectangle Tool (M), and fill it with a simple linear gradient from grey to lighter grey. Take the Rounded Rectangle Tooland add another shape above the first one, forming the glass. Fill the shape with a linear gradient from dark blue to lighter blue.

make a rectangle

Let's cut off the corner of the glasses' rim, creating a place for the nose bridge. Make an even circle with the Ellipse Tool (L) and put it above the bottom left corner of the rim. Select both shapes and use the Minus Front function of the Pathfinder panel.

use minus front in pathfinder

Double-click on the Reflect Tool (O) to call out the pop-up options menu and reflect the created shapes over the Vertical Axis. Click the Copy button, creating the second half of the glasses. Switch the gradient colors of the right half to shades of red, as on the classic 3D glasses.

add second half of the glasses

Let's add some simple arms to our glasses.
First of all, create a rectangle and put a smaller rounded rectangle above it (check out the screenshot below to see the proper position). Further on, click Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel in order to cut out the ear form. Select one of the lower anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag it to the right a bit to make the shape more flowing. Finally, select your shape and go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners and set the Corner Radius to 1–2 px to make the forms smooth.

make glasses arm

Now we need to make the arms of the glasses fit the perspective. Let's transform the shape a bit by applying Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Mesh and setting both the Rows and Columns values to 1.

apply mesh to the arm

Attach the arm to the right side of the glasses and bend it using the anchor handles, as shown in the image below.

transform the arm

Add the second arm on the other side of the glasses. Select both parts of the rim andUnite them in Pathfinder to make a single shape.

unite two halves of the glasses

Let's make the glasses more three-dimensional by adding some highlights and shadows. Copy the basic glasses shape and Place it in Front twice (Control-C > Control-F). Move the upper copy down a bit and use the Minus Front function ofPathfinder to cut off the unneeded pieces. Fill the remaining stripe with white color.

add highlight and shadow

Add a gentle shadow to the nose bridge part of the glasses as well.

3D glasses

Let's add some simple reflections to make the glasses polished and shiny. Draw a few narrow stripes with the Rectangle Tool (M) and turn them into a Compound Path (Control-8), thus combining the stripes into one single shape. Rotate the stripes to a45 degrees angle and put them over the glasses. Cut off the unneeded parts and fill the shapes with dark blue and dark red, switching the Blending Mode to Screen in theTransparency panel.

add overtones in screen mode

You can add a couple of reflections on the top part of the glasses as well.

add reflections to the glasses

Start by making the basic bucket shape from a rectangle again, but this time make its bottom part narrower by moving the lower anchor points closer to each other.
Go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points to create an additional anchor point in the middle of the bottom part of our bucket. Select the created lower anchor point and make it smooth with the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Move it down a bit, making the shape slightly arched.

bucket basic shape

Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to create the upper edge of the bucket. Duplicate the base of the bucket and drag the copy up. Cut off the unneeded parts with the Minus Front function in Pathfinder, forming a shiny golden stripe in the bottom of our bucket.

add the edges to the bucket

Duplicate the basic part once again and switch its color to a linear gradient from red to white. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply, thus creating a gentle shadow.

add shadow in multiply mode

Let's add the recognizable part of most popcorn buckets—the vertical stripes! Make a set of narrow stripes with the Rectangle Tool (M) and turn them into a Compound Path (Control-8) as we did previously. Go to Effect > Warp > Arc and set theHorizontal Bend value to 8%.

make stripes with warp effect

Duplicate the basic bucket shape and rearrange the objects, putting the copy above the stripes (Control-Shift-]). Select both the stripes and the bucket copy and Make Clipping Mask. Put another basic bucket shape on top and fill it with a three-colored linear gradient (orange-black-red), switching to Screen Blending Mode to make our object vivid and bright.

brighten the bucket

We don't want to watch movies with an empty bucket, do we? Let's fill it up with crunchy popcorn! 
Make a simple circle with the Ellipse Tool (L). Now take the Warp Tool (Shift-R) and start deforming the circle, making bumps and dents. Add a smaller shape above for the inner part of the popcorn.

make popcorn basic shape

If your shape contains too many anchor points after transformation, you can easily fix it with the Smooth Tool.

use the smooth tool

Fill the popcorn shape with linear gradient from light yellow in the middle to beige on the edges. Take the Pencil Tool (N) and draw a few squashed shapes above, filling them with linear gradients from light yellow to black. Switch the Blending Mode to Screen in order to form the highlights. Add a few shadows in Multiply Blending Mode as well.

color the popcorn

Add a darker brown shape for the middle of our popcorn. Finally, make multiple copies and put the pieces of popcorn in the bucket, rotating them and varying their size.

fill the bucket with popcorn

Start by making a circle and filling it with linear gradient of various shades of grey, imitating a metal surface. Create a smaller circle above the metal one. Align it with the center of the basic metal shape and move it closer to the upper edge. Take the Rotate Tool (R), hold down the Alt key, and click in the middle of the basic shape. Once you do that, you'll have the pop-up Rotate options window revealed. Set the Angle value to360/5 and click the Copy button. Press Control-D several more times to add five circles, forming a film bobbin.

make the basic bobbin shape

Cut out the circles, creating perforated holes. Make a copy of the bobbin in the back(Control-C > Control-B) and increase its size a little. Fill the copy with linear gradient from white on top to dark grey at the bottom, adding dimension to the object.

cut out the holes in the bobbin

Create a smaller circle and place it behind the metal shape so that it is visible through the holes. Fill the shape with a dark brown linear gradient and add a group of concentric circles, thus forming a reeled film tape inside the bobbin.

create the film reel

Add a shadow in Multiply Blending Mode to separate the reel from the upper metal part, thus adding depth to our details.

add shadows to the bobbin

Move on and add more glossiness to the object by rendering the reflections on its surface in Screen Blending Mode.

add highlights to the bobbin

Start by forming a shape with the Rounded Rectangle Tool and filling it with a dark linear gradient. Then grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and add a narrow light stripe on top of the basic shape.

make the basic clapper shape

The clapper usually has a set of skewed stripes on its edges. Let's add those too. Form a stripe, select its upper anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A), and move them to the right. Otherwise, you can use the Shear Tool for the same purpose. Hold down both Alt and Shift keys and drag the shape to the right, thus creating a copy.

form stripes for the clapper

Press Control-D to repeat the last action, creating more stripes, and hide the unnecessary parts inside the Clipping Mask to make the shapes neat.

edit the clapper stripes

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a squashed shape above the upper part of the clapper. Cut it and fill with linear gradient from black to greyish-blue. Switch to Screen Blending Mode, creating an overtone on a glossy surface.

add highlight to the clapper

Select the striped part and use the Reflect Tool (O) to flip it over the Horizontal Axis, creating the second half of the clapper.

add the second half of the clapper

We need to make the shape more smooth by rounding the upper right corner of the clapper. The built-in Round Corners effect won't help us this time as it rounds all the corners, while we need to transform only one of them. For this purpose, we'll use theRound Any Corner script for Adobe Illustrator by Hiroyuki Sato, which you candownload from Tuts+. Select the corner you want to smoothen and run the script (press Control-F12 and select it in your folder), setting the Radius value to 7. Now you've got a nice rounded shape!

use round any corner script

Let's add the fastening detail to the halves of our clapper. Firstly, make a triangle shape with the help of the Polygon Tool and then split it into two parts, by drawing a line across the center of the triangle and Dividing it in Pathfinder. Finally, make all the corners slightly rounded.

make the fastening detail

Create a simple screw by forming a circle and putting a tiny highlight on top of it.

make the screws

Group (Control-G) both parts of the screw and add two more copies to the fastening detail.

make the screws 2

Finally, put the created detail in the proper place, connecting the parts of our clapper, and add a few finishing touches.

add finishing touches to the clapper

Let's put all the created items together, making up a simple composition.

make a simple composition

In this part of the tutorial we'll create a realistic-looking film tape to enliven our composition. 
Start by making a black stripe for the base of the tape. Add two tiny squares in both upper corners of the stripe. Go to Object > Blend > Make and then open the Blend Options in the same menu. Set the Spacing to Specified Steps, value equals 20. Object > Expand the blend group and place its copy in the bottom part of the black stripe.

make a film tape 1

Add a group of white squares, depicting blank film frames on the tape. Further on, select the created film tape and drag it to the Symbols panel (Window > Symbols), thus creating a new Movie Clip symbol (leave all options in the pop-up Symbol Options window as default).

make a film tape 2

Now we're going to render the actual shape of the film tape. Take the Pencil Tool (N)and draw a smooth S-shaped line. Keeping the line selected, go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Check the Preview box and move the cube around to position the tape properly. You can see my Extrude & Bevel Options in the screenshot below. Keep the Options window opened for a while—we have some more things to tweak here.

apply 3D effect to the film tape

Now let's apply the tape texture that we created earlier. Click the Map Art button in the3D Extrude & Bevel Options window. Here you need to switch the Surfaces and choose our film tape from the Symbols menu, applying it to each surface, which is visible. Press the Scale to Fit button to adjust the tape to the proper size automatically.

use map art to apply texture 1

If the tape symbol is not long enough to cover the entire surface, create a new longer tape and place it in the Symbols panel as well.

use map art to apply texture 2

As you may notice, you need to cover only the light areas in the Map Art window, whereas the grey ones remain invisible to the viewer.

use map art to apply texture 3

Prefect! If you are happy with the result and not going to edit anything, go to Object > Expand Appearance. Now we can start coloring it. Select the black shape on the front surface of the tape and fill it with linear gradient of dark blue shades, creating a glossy look.

expand and color the film tape 1

Apply a darker linear gradient to the film frames, making them glossy as well.

expand and color the film tape 2

Here is how the colored tape looks now.

expand and color the film tape 3

Let's cut out those small white pieces in the upper and lower parts of the tape. Combine the squares into a Compound Path (Control-8) and use the Minus Front function inPathfinder panel to create the holes.

cut out the squares of the film tape

Now we need to place the back part of the tape behind the film reel bobbin. For this purpose, we need to divide the upper part of the tape. Let's take the Knife tool (you can find it in the same menu as the Eraser Tool). Select the shape, which you need to cut and draw a line across it. Voila! You have two separate shapes. Group the back parts and Send them to Back (Control-Shift-[).

rearrange the parts of the film tape

Create a similar film tape on the other side of the poster, next to the popcorn bucket, to balance the composition.

create another film tape

If you want to add a bit more realism, you can duplicate the film frames and then cut out the holes of the same size, lowering the Opacity of the frames down to 90% to make them semi-transparent. You can check my Winter Candle Lantern Tutorial for a more descriptive method of making semi-transparent surfaces.

make the film frames transparent

Here is how the overall composition should look at this stage:

cinema items

To make our image glossier, let's create the effect of a mirror surface under the items. To start with, make a reflected copy of the 3D glasses and copy it once more, so that we have two copies one above the other (Control-C > Control-F). Select the upper copy and Unite it in Pathfinder panel, thus turning it into a single shape. Fill the created shape with linear gradient from black in the bottom to white at the top.

make mirrored reflection of the glass

Select both copies that we've created and click the Make Mask button in theTransparency panel to create an Opacity Mask. As you can see, the black part of the shape became transparent, turning the shape into a gentle reflection of our 3D glasses.

make mirrored reflection of the glass 2

Create the reflections for the other items using the same technique.

make mirrored reflection of the items

Looks glossy enough! Let's move on and enliven the background.

make mirrored reflection of the items 2

Create a square covering our Artboard and fill it with a vivid radial gradient from light lilac in the middle to darker violet at the edge. Squash the gradient a bit and move its center point closer to the top of our image, darkening the bottom part.

add vivid lilac background

Make a few minor changes to add more brightness and vividness to our picture. Switch the Blending Mode of the glasses to Color and put a gentle shadow in Multiply Blending Mode under each item.

add shadows to each item

Add more depth to the background, by placing a group of circles behind our objects. Fill them with radial gradient from black to bright lilac and switch to Screen Blending Mode, creating a blurred bokeh effect. You can also add a finishing touch by scattering a few sparkles here and there for a more glamorous look. 

add bokeh to the background

Congratulations, you've done a great job on creating a glamorous, detailed poster with movie items! I hope you've learned some new tips and trick to use in your future projects. Let the inspiration guide you!

final image of the cinema poster


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