What is Art Direction? | Martina Fontana | Skillshare

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What is Art Direction?

teacher avatar Martina Fontana

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What is Art Direction?

    • 3. The Brief

    • 4. Research and Inspiration

    • 5. Sketching out

    • 6. Refining your artwork

    • 7. Exporting and Mocking up

    • 8. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Discover all about art direction as you create a powerful movie poster.

In this class, we will define what an art director is, learn where art directors work, and see the differences between art direction and graphic design. To learn this, we will create a movie poster. We will think about what we want to communicate, and then, we’ll think of an idea to reflect this. We will look at references, and start sketching our poster. While we do this we’ll talk about composition and the basic elements of a poster: image, typography, and color.

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1. Introduction: Hello, and welcome to my Skillshare class. My name is Martina Fontana, and I'm an art director. I'm based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That's why I have this accent. Sorry if my English is not perfect. Throughout these years, I worked for different brands, making TV commercials, graphic ads, social media posts, and all of the other things. In this class, we're going to learn where art directors work and what do they do. We're going to spot the differences between art direction and graphic design. We're going to talk about compositions, typography, colors, shapes, and to learn that we're going to make a powerful movie poster. It's going to be about your favorite movie. Pick one and join me in the class. I am very excited about this class, so I want to thank you Skillshare for letting me have this opportunity and for letting me share my knowledge with all of your community. I hope you like it. Thanks and bye. 2. What is Art Direction?: Our direction is deciding the visual appearance of a piece. Is defining how it's going to communicate astatically, and how it appeals our target audience. But maybe you're wondering, isn't this the job of our graphic designer? Yes, and no. Let me explain. Graphic design is more technical. Designers are in charge of knowing if certain colors look good together, if the topography has the right visual hierarchy, if the composition is balanced, and if they're following the visual and the brand guidelines. They're in charge of knowing if the piece looks good. On the other hand, our directors need to know if the piece feels good. They mix art and mix illustration and design to make a certain message and to evoke a certain emotion to the specific target audience. There are two types of art directors, the ones that work inside the office or the advertising agency, and the ones that work outside them, for example, in a production company. The ones that work in an Agency like me, are in charge of developing sketches, researching and finding artists, illustrators. For example, designers that can work with you and can feed the brand, so you can make together a good message and a great advertising piece. Let's imagine we need to shoot a commercial for a sparkling water company, for example. The art director inside the agency needs to have in mind the idea we want to shoot, what the thing we want to communicate, in which glass, for example, we need to put the water on, which scholars feed the run and the message we want to communicate. Then when we contact our director or our production company, we meet the other art director that works with them outside the agency. They're in charge of searching and finding the props we want to shoot. So we work together, and we talk and we define the right props. For example, glasses, backgrounds and anything we need to put in the commercial. 3. The Brief: Let's imagine our favorite movie is going to be released again, and they contact us, as our directors to create their new movie poster. First, we are going to define what we need to do. In this case, it would be to create a strong and powerful poster to communicate the new release of this movie. It will be published in social media, streaming services, and it will be printed. So we need to know that the elements on the poster may change their position because of the different formats these mediums have, so we have to have that in mind. What we need to know in advance before the creating phase: we need to define the client, what we need to say, and the target audience. This is very important before creation because it's the basic information we need to know. My favorite movie is Mean Girls. So in this case, this is going to be our client. In client, I will put Mean Girls. What we need to say, in this case is easy. We need to communicate the name of the movie, that's the most important thing. Another important thing is that it's now on theaters or that is a new release, and maybe the name of the actresses or actors are also important for the movie. The last thing is the target audience. In this case, it's a movie for teenagers. I will put boys and girls, about 13-18 years old and maybe more because I'm 29 and I see like that movie. That's the basic information we need to know before creating this poster. Make sure you pick your favorite movie or series, and make these basic list. It's very important, it's very basic and easy. But it's very important for you because it will help you develop your poster later. Post your list in the discussion below, and if you have any trouble, I can help you with it. See you in the next chapter. 4. Research and Inspiration: Before the creative phase, we need to explore and research a little bit more about this film. This will help us to create an environment and the world this movie ellipse in. What we need to do is to describe the product. In this case, is this movie. In my case, it's Mean Girls. The first thing I'm going to put here is Mean Girls. It's the name of the movie. It's a very powerful name. We know it's a comedy. That's also important because, for example, we know that it's not a horror movie, so maybe we will avoid using black, for example. We know it happens at school, so we can describe a little bit about this world. This world has lockers, dance, and different school supplies, like pens, pencils, etc. It's about a group of friends. Then I would put the word pink because it's very important in this movie. This movie has a lot of other important things, like the Burn book that's full of different words. It's handwritten. That's very important, and something I like. Then these girls wear skirts, heels, tops, and then we have the tag line that's, "Watch your back," and the names of the actresses, like Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lacy Chabert, also, Tina Fey, and name of the director, Mark Waters. Then we can add the classic movie quotes, like, "It's October the third," That's so fetch," Or, "Is butter a carb?" "Kalteen bars," "Toaster Strudel," "On Wednesdays we wear pink." Well, those are things that will help us to create an environment. With these descriptions, annotations, and words, we can start thinking about are both the idea. In this case, I would like to do something pink. I know that I would use this color because it's very important in the movie. I will like to also add handwritten words or something handwritten because it's very important in the movie and has to do a lot with the Burn Book and the school environment. I will also put the lead characters, maybe photos, illustration, and I still don't know, but they have to appear in the poster because they are the most important thing about the movie also, and I want that to be the focal point of this piece. Before the creative part, I've made these references panel, where I selected the things I want to communicate and the feeling I want to create in this poster. First, I selected the original poster of Mean Girls to have in mind what they've done before, and how can I change that, because I want to change it a little bit to have a little bit about my style. Then I selected the Burn Book with these inscriptions that I really like because I like the handwritten fonts. The cover of the Burn Book is also super iconic and super special and it's an important prop about this movie. I definitely want to do something with this on my poster. Then we know that inside the notebook, there are photographs, and they're not well cut. We know it's written by hand, it's handwritten, and it also has photocopies and black and white photographs of, for example, Sharon Norbury, and it's also full of these notes. That's why I selected some other references, like this poster that's handwritten and this album cover. I really like the texture of the crayon or the pen they used here. That's really nice, and that's also a thing that happens here. I can see the pressure that they used to write that. That's why I also selected this poster that's handwritten and I really like because the fonts change, you can see that somebody actually wrote that, and it's not like a default typeface. I also selected this one because I like the ripped papers, and maybe we can do something with that or not, but I really like the feeling this poster has. Also, last thing, I selected these posters, these Casablanca and Titanic posters, because I want to do something like this with the lead characters on the cover. Maybe they are like not photograph and they are like maybe they're illustrated. Well, I selected these ones because I really like the feeling this poster have, and how they're painted or illustrated, I really like that. I also like that they have different sizes. The lead characters here are super big when the other that are not as important as they in the movie are smaller. In this one, happens the same thing, and I really like how they are integrated. That's why I selected these posters. This is our references panel and will help us and we will do something with this later. To start thinking as an art director, try to select the things you want to communicate and what emotion you want to reflect by selecting these things. Remember, it has to have the right look and feel with your brand, in this case, your favorite movie. 5. Sketching out: Here you have the basic elements I want to have in my poster. First, we have the name of the movie, that's Mean Girls. Then we have the director's name, the name of the actresses. Then we watch your back, that's the tagline of the movie that we can use it or no. These are the figures of our lead characters that we're going to order in a very balanced way. I also handwritten here because that's something I really want to use in this poster. I want things to be handwritten or something like that. That's just a note to have that in mind. Now we're going to order these elements. First, we have our characters, we know Cady is the lead character so maybe we can put her in the middle. Then we have Regina that we can put her here. Remember my references and the poster I wanted to create, so have that in mind. Then here we have Gretchen and Karen, they're as important as Regina and Cady, but not too much. Maybe they can be a little bit small. If we put her in the middle, we know she's going to be the first thing we see there. This is a actual symmetry composition where the heaviest element, in this case it's the biggest element, goes in the middle of the composition and the attention will go to this element. Then we can put the things in around her to make it more balanced. Remember, well-balanced composition feels comfortable to look at, that's what we want to do. Have a balanced and comfortable poster to look at. For example, a non-balanced composition would be, if we put Cady here, these elements here, everything goes here. I would say that this not a balanced composition because my eye is focusing in this part of the poster and not here. Here it's empty, so everything is falling to the right side. It's not that you need to put everything in the middle. If you want to put a person here in the right bottom of the artwork, you need to put another one in the other side like this. Then you can start filling up those other gaps to have a more balanced composition. Now both sides have the same weight and the same attention. Other thing is that if we put the elements like this, we won't be able to recognize which element is more important if all of them have the same importance, okay, that's well. But if we want to have the attention in one of them, we have to color it in another color or we have to make it bigger or make it smaller. So we have to change it a little bit so our eye can detect that's different and for a reason this element is bigger or smaller. In this case, we want our eyes to be at the lead character of these movie. So we're going to make her bigger in this case, and put the other ones around her. Then we can have here, for example, the name of the movie. We have the name of the actresses that we can put. For example, here like this. Oh sorry, they're four. We know that they're going to be there. Maybe we can put watch you're back like here, or maybe the name of the director. We can put directed by Mark Waters. Then we can see this is becoming a more happy sketch. Now decide which elements you want to communicate in your poster. Try to order them in a balanced way. Remember the importance of them in your movie. They have to have a meaning, so try to justify them. They have to match the right look and feel of the brand and have to communicate a certain emotion. Make sure they have to do with the feeling you want to communicate with your piece. 6. Refining your artwork: Now that I have my idea and my composition in Sketch it, I'll start art directing. Remember everything has to have a meaning. Always have that in mind. First I will start adding the girls, the lead characters of this movie. In this case, I have these illustrations. Why do I have illustrations instead of photographs? This is a decision I made us an art director. I think that photos are everywhere and every poster has a photo, so how can I start making my poster a little bit more interesting? Well, first, change in that. Instead of photos, I'm going to use illustration. But there are also many types of illustrations or illustrators. In this case I chose an illustrator that draws in a non-perfect way, and we can also art direct him and say that you want more details, for example, here in the hair or something like that. So they correct it and they can add some more extra details as I did here. Remember we talked about handwritten and that the barn book wasn't perfect. That's also what I wanted to transmit in this illustration. That's why I don't want them to be perfect. I want to show the texture of the pencil they use. Here you can see the other characters. These imperfections make the piece more attractive, more unique, and more interesting to the eye. That's very important if we're making a graphic piece because that's what we want the target to see. We want to connect with the target and this way of illustrating the girls can have a lot to do with the target audience. As we saw in our sketch, Katie is in the middle the piece. That's the lead character. Then Regina is in a smaller size. Then we have Rachael and Karen in a smaller size, but they are a similar size than Regina. This is like a thing, then we have another here and here. Everything is well balanced. As I said before, I wanted to use pink a lot because it's the most important color in the movie. Again, if I do this in different colors and I paint it like any illustration, it might look nice, but I want it to be special and I want it to reflect a certain emotion. In this case, pink has to do a lot with the movie, and it's also a girly color. That's what I want to reflect and that's the emotion I want to show. That's a girl movie. It's for teenagers. Maybe it's not for an elegant man in their 40s, of course, because it's in pink. I started painting it in this pink, that's very pink. Well, you can say this to the illustrator, you contract or the designer you are working with. Remember to justify why you're using this color. You can tell your illustrator, "I want it to be pink", and maybe we can mix pink with another type of pink that maybe that one. You can leave the highlights white and the shadows in another pink that's more dark. Then we can add the background that's the same color as the mid zone. For the typography, I tried to mix the school work that's handwritten and doodle all around like notebooks with a girly work. That's why I chose this type. I didn't use an elegant or calligraphic font, even though it has to do a little bit with the school work. But maybe it was too much for this poster. Because I have a lot of information here with the girls and the color. If I keep adding more detail to the title, it would have been too chaotic and I want this to be strong title. That's why I decided to use this typeface in different sizes and also drawn like that. But then I kept adding the name of the director and the name of the actresses. Okay, that looks good, but maybe it was too black. So I think what can I do here to make it less black and a little bit more girly? I kept the black but only in the outline and I made it white. I think now it's a little bit better. Then to add the final touches, I draw the doodles, the bauble art, just to add a little bit more about the Mean Girls world. Also I put this texture, it's just a grainy gray texture. It's actually from a film camera. I put it in vivid like mode so I can have a more distorted version of this poster that's not too perfect and adds a little bit roughing to the final piece. 7. Exporting and Mocking up: Now that we've finished our poster, we can export it. It can be a JPEG, and we can also adapt it to different formats depending where we want to use it. It can be in magazines, in social media posts, streaming platforms, and wherever you want to use it. You can also mark it up to show it to your client and to get your final approval. It's a very useful thing you can do because it helps you understand how it's going to look like and it helps other people imagine how this poster is going to be like. What do you need to do is to flatten your design and make a copy. I have this Poster Mockup with this poster texture that's very interesting and makes your poster to look really good. What you're going to do is, you're going to paste it there. You can put it in Multiply or Linear Burn mode to make sure you're not missing the texture of your poster. That's see. Doing this will help other people to understand how it looks like in real life and also helps you to know how it's looking like. I use this Poster Mockup but you can use anyone you like. 8. Final Thoughts: So now you know a little bit more allowed the art director's work. Remember, the main thing about this, is to have a reason about your choices. Try to justify your elections and try to think about if it looks good to the brand and if it also feels good to the brand and to the motion you want to communicate. I want to see your work, so don't forget to share it in the discussion box. I want to help you, so don't worry if it's not perfect. Ask me anything you want to know in the discussion box so I can help you come up with a strong and powerful poster. I hope you like it and see you next time. Bye.