In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a tribute to the original Alien movie poster, complete with an alien egg and a green glowing effect. To recreate the Alien 1979 poster, we’ll be using Adobe InDesign and a Photoshop glow effect to replicate the ominous atmosphere of the Alien film poster.
We’ll look at how to design a movie poster through effective use of layout, color, and movie fonts, to give the movie poster design depth and atmosphere.
Fan of video tutorials? Then you should check out this new video by Ashlee Harrell from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel to learn how to create this cool movie poster design from scratch:
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A Little Background to the Alien (1979) Poster
Perhaps no sci-fi movie is more memorable or terrifying than Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien. The crew of the spaceship Nostromo find themselves a very long way from home when they discover something sinister and deadly on a far-flung planet. As the crew members start to be picked off one by one, heroine Ripley must face the predatory alien alone on the deserted vessel.
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The Alien movie poster is an iconic part of cinematic marketing history, with the ominous glowing alien egg over the infamous tagline, "In space no one can hear you scream." Graphic artist Philip Gips, who also created designs for Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Fatal Attraction (1987), created the Alien movie poster, which is the perfect visual interpretation of the brooding mood of the movie. The metal grating at the base of the poster makes a nod to the endless corridors of the ship, while the eerie glowing crack in the floating egg hints at something sinister to emerge.
In this tutorial, we’ll look at how to design a movie poster which pays tribute to Gips’s original Alien movie poster. By the end of the tutorial, you’ll have a poster design that you can print or share online.
What You’ll Need to Create the Alien Movie Poster
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a tribute design to the Alien film poster, which includes classic sci-fi fonts, a moody color palette, and a Photoshop glowing effect. To design your Alien poster, you will need to download the following fonts, images, and textures.
For the alien egg:
- Egg isolated
- Elephant skin texture
- Chameleon skin texture
- Gecko scales texture
- Isolated smoke steam
- Liquid glass texture pack
You will also need access to Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop. Once you have the fonts installed onto your computer and the images saved in an easy-to-find folder, you’re ready to get started!
How to Create the Alien Movie Poster
We’ll begin by setting up the Alien movie poster in Adobe InDesign, before moving to Photoshop to create our alien egg and explore how to add a glow effect in Photoshop. Then we'll move back to InDesign to finish the Alien film poster.
1. How to Prepare the Alien Poster in Adobe InDesign
Open InDesign and go to File > New > Document. Click on Print at the top of the window that opens.
To create the poster at a traditional One Sheet movie poster size, set the Width to 27 in and Height to 40 in.
Set the Margins to 1 in and add a Bleed of 0.25 in, before clicking Create.
Go to Window > Layers and click on Layer 1, renaming it Background. Use the Create new layer icon at the bottom of the panel to create a sequence of five more layers above this: Metal, Egg, Smoke, Type, and Paper Texture.
Lock all layers except Background, which we’ll work on first.
Then go to the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and create three new CMYK swatches:
- Deep Black: C=82 M=72 Y=62 K=91
- Neon Yellow Green: C=33 M=0 Y=100 K=0
If you’re intending to share your poster online rather than print it, you can switch the Color Mode of these swatches to RGB, which will give your green a more neon appearance.
On the Background layer, use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape across the whole page, setting the Fill to Deep Black.
Unlock the Metal layer. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a wide oval shape over the bottom third of the movie poster. Set the Fill to Neon Yellow Green.
With the oval selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency, setting the Mode to Hard Light.
Click on Gradient Feather at the bottom of the left-hand menu and set the Type to Radial, allowing the gradient to become transparent towards the edges of the oval.
Finally, click on Directional Feather. Set the Bottom Feather Width to 8 in to allow the gradient to be stronger towards the top half of the oval.
On the Metal layer, use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to draw an image frame across the bottom of the poster, extending it up to the halfway point of the oval behind.
File > Place, and choose the Textured metal geometry image, clicking Open, and Right-Click > Flip Vertical to allow the metal to appear to have a perspective disappearing towards the center of the oval.
With the image frame selected, return to Object > Effects > Gradient Feather. Set the Type to Linear and allow the metal image to fade towards the top, allowing some of the green glow to come through behind.
Then Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste in Place the image frame, creating a duplicate of the metal effect. Go to Object > Effects > Transparency, setting the Mode to Soft Light. This will bring through more contrast in the image, creating a dark, moody effect.
2. How to Create Sci-Fi Typography on the Alien Movie Poster Design
Working on the Type layer, use the Type Tool (T) to create a large text frame towards the top center of the poster artwork. Type in the movie title, setting the Font to MBF Atom, and 50 pt in size. Adjust the Font Color to [Paper]. For authentic Alien type, give the text a very generous Tracking of 6000.
Copy and Paste the text frame to build up the other sections of the headline, reducing the Font Size for ‘THE’.
Create a second text frame further down the film poster, just at the top of the green oval. Type in the famous tagline, "In space no one can hear you scream." Set the Font of this to Exensa Grotesk, Size 43 pt, with a Tracking of 30.
3. How to Create an Alien Egg in Photoshop
For now, File > Save your InDesign poster and minimize the window. We’ll come back to it momentarily. Open the Egg isolated image in Photoshop.
Duplicate the Background layer and remove the white background by choosing Select Subject from the top Control panel. Copy the selected egg onto a new layer and switch off or delete the layers below.
File > Place the Elephant skin texture image on top of the egg.
With the elephant skin layer selected in the Layers panel, hold Control or Alt and click on the egg layer below to restrict the texture to the egg shape alone.
Set the Blend mode of the elephant skin layer to Linear Burn.
Duplicate the elephant skin layer and set the Blend mode of this copy to Divide, bringing the Opacity down to around 60%.
File > Place the Chameleon skin texture image above the elephant skin layers.
Alt/Control to attach this layer to the elephant skin layers and the egg layer below. Then switch the Blend mode to Lighter Color and bring the Opacity down to 24%.
Duplicate the chameleon skin layer and set the Blend mode of this copy to Subtract, bringing the Opacity down to 20%.
File > Place the Gecko scales texture on top of the existing layers. Allow it to cover the left half of the egg, as shown below.
Duplicate this gecko scales layer, and Right-Click > Flip Horizontal. Line up the two layers exactly, to create a larger symmetrical image. Then select both layers in the Layers panel and Right-Click > Merge Layers.
Set the Blend mode of this merged layer to Subtract, with a 17% Opacity.
Now we’ve given the egg plenty of alien texture, we can bring in some 3D shine effects to make the egg appear a bit juicier.
Place one of the more oval-shaped PNG glass images from the Liquid glass texture pack over the top of the egg, and fit it roughly to the size.
Set the Blend mode of this liquid glass layer to Screen.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to trace around the edge of the egg on a new layer. Make sure the selection in the top Control panel is set to Shape, not Path.
Set the Fill of your shape to a dark gray-black from the Swatches panel.
Double-click on the black egg layer to open the Layer Style panel. Click on Inner Glow. With the color of the glow set to a gradient of white to transparent, from right to left, set the Blend mode to Screen and Opacity to 100%. Set the Technique to Softer, Choke to 17%, and Size to 70 px.
Then adjust the Blend mode of the layer to Screen and the Opacity to 25%.
4. How to Add a Glow Effect in Photoshop
With your alien egg almost finished, it’s time to create a glowing crack in the egg to complete the alien effect. First, place all of your existing layers into a new folder, naming this Egg. Create a new folder above, called Neon.
Working on a new layer in the Neon folder, and ensuring the option in the top Control panel is set to ‘Shape’, use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a rough crack shape across the top part of the egg.
Set the Fill of this crack shape to a very pale neon yellow, R=243 G=255 B=104.
Double-click on the crack shape layer to open the Layer Style panel.
Click on Outer Glow and set the Blend Mode to Screen, with 100% Opacity. Add 14% Noise and adjust the Color of the glow to the same pale neon yellow as before.
Set the Spread to 7%, Size to 90 px, and Range to 47%.
Duplicate the crack shape layer and double-click on this copied layer, returning to the Outer Glow options.
For this copy, adjust the Blend mode to Pin Light, Opacity to 65%, Noise to 14%, Spread to 20%, and Size to 250 px.
Return to the original crack shape layer and set the Blend mode of this layer to Pin Light, with an 86% Opacity.
Set the Blend Mode of the duplicated layer above to Pin Light and a 70% Opacity.
To make the glowing crack ‘smoke’, File > Place one of the smoke PNG images (number 022) from the Isolated smoke steam bundle onto the Photoshop document. Position it over the right side of the crack.
Create a Color Fill layer above, setting the swatch of this to a pale neon green, R=218 G=255 B=104. Alt/Control to attach this to the smoke layer, tinting it green.
Set the Blend mode of the smoke layer to Pin Light, with a 77% Opacity.
Duplicate the smoke layer, also allowing this to be tinted green. Position this over the left side of the crack, rotating if necessary to fit it along the edge of the crack.
Your Photoshop alien egg is finished! We will have to do some finishing touches in InDesign, but for now, File > Save your egg as a PSD file.
Before you leave Photoshop, open up one of the smoke PNG images from the Isolated smoke steam bundle in a separate Photoshop window.
Tint the smoke with a neon green swatch, R=243 G=255 B=104, and File > Save this as a PSD file. We’ll use this as an extra effect on our InDesign poster.
5. How to Finish Your Alien Movie Poster in InDesign
Let’s move back to Adobe InDesign to apply the finishing touches to our poster artwork.
Unlock the Egg layer, and File > Place your new alien egg PSD image onto the top part of the poster.
To blend the egg onto the poster background, we can do a few little tricks. First, with the egg image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency and bring the Opacity down just a little, to 93%.
Then click on Inner Glow. Set the Mode to Multiply and a Deep Black color. With the Source set to Edge, set the Size to 1 in, Choke to 15%, and Noise to 9%.
Then add a Gradient Feather effect to the image, setting the Angle to around 50 degrees.
To make the glow of the cracked egg really pop, we can enhance the vibrancy of the glow effect. Use the Pencil Tool (N) to trace along the line of the crack, and set the Stroke Width to something very thin, perhaps just 0.1 pt. Set the Stroke Color to [Paper].
With the drawn line selected, go to Object > Effects > Outer Glow. Set the Mode to Lighten, choose the Neon Yellow Green swatch for the Color, and set the Opacity to 100%. The Size should be 3.6, Noise 7%, and Spread 46%.
To enhance the 3D quality of the egg, use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a wide oval over the bottom half of the egg, setting the Fill to [Paper].
With the oval selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Overlay and Opacity to 75%.
Click on Gradient Feather and apply a Radial gradient, with the transparent part of the gradient at the outer edge of the oval.
Unlock the Smoke layer, and File > Place the isolated green smoke PSD image you prepared earlier, in Step 4.6.
Allow the smoke to appear as if overflowing the bottom edge of the crack on the egg.
With the smoke image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Adjust the Mode to Hard Light and Opacity to 75%.
6. How to Add an Authentic Movie Poster Texture to Your Alien Poster Design
As a final finishing touch, unlock the Paper Texture layer at the top of the layer sequence.
File > Place one of the paper textures (number 24) from the Folded paper texture bundle into a new image frame that extends across the whole poster.
Go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Adjust the Mode to Multiply and Opacity to 75%. Click OK.
You’ve finished working on your Alien film poster, and it’s looking suitably moody and ominous—great job! To export your poster as a printable PDF, go to File > Export and choose PDF (Print) from the Format options. In the dialogue box that opens, choose Press Quality from the Preset options, and include the Bleed in your export.
Alternatively, you can also File > Export your poster design as a JPEG or PNG image for sharing online.
You Finished the Alien Movie Poster!
In this tutorial, you've learned how to create an Alien movie poster, complete with a Photoshop glowing effect, eerie alien egg, and vintage-style poster layout. You can share your finished design online or on social media, or why not print out a large-scale version for your bedroom?
Top Resources From Envato Elements
Now that you've created a design featuring the Alien artwork, why not experiment with creating different sci-fi movie posters? Scroll down to discover futuristic fonts and resources from Envato Elements, as well as more useful poster design tutorials:
Alienator Font (TTF, OTF)
Alienator is a minimal display font with ligature breaks and thin lines, giving it a gravity-defying look. Use it to create subtle typography for sci-fi posters or medical branding.
MBF Manata Font (OTF, TTF)
Inspired by futuristic typography and techno music, MBF Manata is a wide display font with a retro personality. It looks fantastic teamed with neon palettes, which tap into its nightlife character.
Modern Rebel Font (OTF)
Go for a font with a different slant with Modern Rebel, a striking display font that plays on futuristic angles. Use it for cyberpunk designs or dark mode website designs.
Nanomaton Font (OTF, TTF)
A rounded sci-fi font, Nanomaton is retro and simple. Use it to give character to corporate typography or science business branding. Or try it on reports or minimal website designs for some subtle futuristic styling.
MBF Space Habitat Font (OTF, TTF)
If you love all things 1980s, MBF Space Habitat will be right up your street. With generous broad lettering and curved edges, it wouldn't look out of place on a Terminator poster design.
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