Movie Poster Design Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to learn to look at movie posters as commercial art. They will analyze posters for aesthetic content and design a poster of their own.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Analytically watch and discuss film for aesthetic content.
  • Analyze and discuss the aesthetic content of a movie poster.
  • Demonstrate the integration of marketing and art in film advertising.


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.


Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.


Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.


  • A slideshow of movie posters from across the 20th and 21st centuries
  • Poster-sized boards or paper
  • Colored pencils, pastels, or digital graphic design media
  • A film to watch as a class (recommended)


  • Begin class with a brief slideshow of movie posters from across American history. Try to select a range of styles. Have students write answers to the following questions about each poster on their own sheets of paper.
    • From what you can see in this poster, what is movie about?
    • Is this movie a comedy, drama, adventure, thriller, or something else? How can you tell?
    • What stands out to you the most about each poster?
  • Go through the slideshow again and talk about students' answers. Show students a longer and more comprehensive slideshow, and discuss these posters as a class.
    • How did the artist convey emotion, plot, or other ideas? What did the artist want you think about this movie?
    • What sorts of images are on this poster? How are figures arranged? What sorts of colors are used?
    • How is negative space used? How much detail is needed to make an effective movie poster? How is text used in this design?
    • Would you want to see this movie? Why?

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