Esmeralda’s Wish: Creating a Fictional Movie Poster

At first glance, what do you think this movie is about? Let’s grab the obvious: there’s a dog, a cartoon-like bird, fencing in the background, and there must be a wish from one of the characters, since it’s in the title. The colors are bright and playful; it looks happy. But what about the fence in the back? Maybe rather than happy, it’s hopeful. Something to think about..

During the last few weeks, I’ve been learning a lot about graphic design techniques – the principles, elements, composition, presentation, typography, color, and so on. Well, to create a fictional movie poster is exactly what shows how far I’ve come with my new design knowledge!

Conceptual Development:

What’s the movie about, who are the characters, why should the audience be interested? 

The emotional aspects of movies (and really all content) is what grabs the audience’s attention and keeps the information in their memory, best said by Robin Landa in Graphic Design Solutions


Space Jam Movie Poster

I turned to doing lots of research (which is an essential part of the design process) on all posters, but of course, focusing on movie posters to understand what the required content is. Through this, I found that I particularly enjoy posters that have a mix of images and illustration. 

Eureka! I should design a poster for a movie that has a mix of real and cartoon!


Understanding my concept helped me to determine that the emotion of my movie is an adventurous, playful, and overall happy one. 

It also helped me to understand that my story should involve animals, thinking back to Looney Tunes, and the iconic Space Jam

HAPPY! Series Poster

I knew at this time to look at more recent posters with the same idea – like Happy! Looking at posters specifically with this concept made the direction more clear to me. 

During this phase, I was able to grab images, sketch, and develop my poster further. Luckily, I have an amazing photo of my dog, Ezzy, where she looks truly happy with almost a glimmer of hope in her eyes. I thought that was perfect to sketch a base around her as the focal point. 

Original Image of Ezzy

The Story:

Esmeralda’s Wish is a fictional movie about a dog named Esmeralda who lives in a shelter, and unfortunately doesn’t have a great beginning to her life. During one of the nights in the shelter, she has a wonderful dream of an amazing adventure with a new friend, a cartoon-like bird named Monty. The dream lasts the majority of the movie, and instills hope into her. After the dream is over, she gets adopted by a family, who also happen to have a pet bird!

Telling the Story Through a Poster:

The visual hierarchy of course starts with Esmeralda, who’s looking up in the direction of her cartoon bird friend, Monty, who is the second point of focus. Which then leads up to the title of the movie. 

The pink swirl helps move the eye from main emphasis, to the next, to the next. I included this swirl throughout the composition to not only move the eye, but to add another cartoon-like element. Also, the swirl helps to show dimension and lighting as well. There’s a gradient of pink and light colored bubbles that help to make the swirl look 3D. I intended to keep the light source for the entire composition off to the right, since the image of Ezzy shows that the light source was from that direction. So, the swirl looks illuminated from the right side by these bubbles as well.

Colors used in this poster are intentional to add to the cartoon vibrancy. But they’re also used to provoke a happy, energetic, adventurous feel that the movie shows when Esmeralda is dreaming. 

From my text analysis, I mimicked what I found –  the title being large and interactive; the actor and premier date text are a nicely pronounced and secondary sans serif to the title. Then, the credits are another san serif, condensed, and with two different x-heights to interpret importance. 

Designing this poster began as a challenge, and ended with a composition that I am so happy with! I believe that the poster tells the story, which is truly the thing I was most worried about.. How do you make a successful, unified design that tells the story you want it to tell? Well, it’s a long process, but the result is so worth it. So, tell me, after another glance, do you see what this movie is about even after I told you?

One thought on “Esmeralda’s Wish: Creating a Fictional Movie Poster

  1. Hi Julie,

    Great job with your movie poster! I love your creative process and how you broke down your vision of this story. The pink swirl is my favorite element of the piece. Using that as a navigation tool throughout the poster is a great tactic because it keeps the audience interested in the idea. Choosing soft, lighter colors was a great choice as well because it helps create contrast and allow Esmerelda to pop.

    I like the way that you incorporated the credits at the bottom of the poster. Sometimes, they can be a little distracting, but placing them as a darker shade of the background color allows them to just sit there.

    Overall, this was very well done! The aesthetics, color choice and story will make anybody smile!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s