Design Analysis: A Look at the Pacific Rim Comic Con Poster

I love science fiction and Pacific Rim has claimed a permanent spot on my top ten list of sci-fi things. I chose to analyze one of the exclusive posters for the movie from Comic Con 2012 because I love the old school monster movie art style. 

Credit: Entertainment Weekly/Mondo. Image source can be found here. Original artist: Kevin Tong

The four principles of visual design are: 

  • Grid
  • Hierarchy
  • Color
  • Typography

Here's a break down of each concept within the poster

Grid

Grid breakdown

The unique thing about the grid of this poster is that the horizontal axis is tilted at an angle. Despite that, the grid itself is fairly straightforward; the vertical grid is mostly defined by the widget at the bottom with the two pilots. The image overall fits to the grid; the title at the top fits nicely between the gridlines defined by the angled blocks and the top of the robot. 

Hierarchy

There are three key components to the poster: the fighting robot and monster, the bottom widget, and the background

Components of the poster - yellow: robot-monster (primary), purple: widget (secondary), dark green: background (tertiary)

The primary focus of the poster is on the robot-monster battle.

The battle is placed directly in the center and dominates the top two-thirds of the poster, drawing the eye there. This component is also emphasized by its heavy contrast with the red/black background

The second object the poster focuses on is the widget on the bottom

The widget seems to blend into the blue block patterned background to deemphasize it, but the two spots of yellow lighting on the faces draws the eye there. 

Finally there is the background (negative space?)

Background with a darker overlay to bring primary focus forward

Something that I noticed was that there wasn't a lot of 'negative space' - the negative space around the widget and the robot-monster duo is very busy with angled blocks (red at the top and blue at the bottom). You also can see the Hong Kong skyline to the left of the poster (below the robot's elbow), which makes the poster feel a little busy. But I think the poster's biggest flaw is that the movie title fades into the background; the primary message for me is the battle rather than the name. This is good and bad - I won't remember the movie title, but the art is effective enough that if I see it again I'll remember it. 

Typography

The type on the poster is very tiny with the exception of the title, so I wasn't able to find the font type. WhatFont gave me SF Tekamah based on the title as the sample, but that wasn't very close either. The type looks like it was customized - all the letters with the exception of the I is sans serif and it looks like the P and R were elongated a little. 

Edit: the artist confirmed it's custom lettering

Color

There are five main colors in the poster (with varying shades used throughout the poster):

  • Red (#f01928)
  • Light Yellow (#fff878)
  • Light Green (#568e51)
  • Blue (#0e88bb)
  • Black (#00091a)

The three primary colors are the blue, red, and black with the green and yellow being used as secondary colors to accent the features of the robot, the monster, and the pilot. The blue is concentrated primarily on the bottom with lighter blue highlights on the monster's features while the red and black dominate the top third to provide contrast to the green, black, and yellow used for the robot and monster. This provides a visual divide between the primary focus (the battle) and the secondary one (the widget). 

Final Thoughts

The poster certainly isn't flawless with the negative space being very busy and the title disappearing into the background, but the angular grid and the use of color - in particular, the yellow being used to highlight certain key spots on the poster - make this piece something that is eye catching.