It’s nearly 6:00 p.m. and graphic designer Tomasz Opasinski has just stepped off of a plane in Los Angeles, arriving late from Poland after a five hour delay. After spending his holiday vacation not only enjoying his hometown, but also conducting workshops at the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography, Opasinski is home at last. But his day is not yet complete. A classroom of students awaits him at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising where he is the instructor for Industry Studio class, providing aspiring graphic designers with feedback and guidance to complete their final Graphic Design/Entertainment portfolio. Like the majority of the faculty at FIDM, Opasinski is an active industry professional whose guidance helps to shape, inspire and propel students into the world of design. A dedicated instructor, Opasinski heads straight from the LAX airport to FIDM’s Los Angeles campus to prepare students as they approach the date of their final portfolio presentation, just weeks away.
Most known for his contribution to movie poster design, Opasinski has worked on hundreds of posters for major feature films during the past decade and he admits his desire to teach stems from a place that is somewhat selfish.
“I hope to work with people who are better prepared,” he says. “I don’t want this industry to be dominated by hobbyists and people who are self-taught. If you’re going to school, you should have a better chance of getting a job than someone who is self-taught.”
The most critical lesson that Opasinski emphasizes to his students does not relate to Photoshop essentials or technical aspects of the design process, but the conceptual thinking behind a movie poster design.
“You have to create metaphor,” he says. “With the poster you have to create a metaphor that the poster is based upon, which is the hardest part. Executing it? Easy. Find the right image, the right message of the poster, that’s the hardest part.”
Although the focal point of his course is concept, to call Opasinski a master of Photoshop is hardly an understatement. To spend even one lesson observing his techniques, FIDM Students refine their skills to develop proper lighting, shadows and reflections, as well a sense of perspective, and texture application. His Photoshop tutorials appear on Tuts+ (see complete list of links below) and he’s been interviewed by multiple design publications and blogs including Fabien Barral at Graphic-Exchange and Scott Kelby at Photoshop World. Over time students learn how to create digital fires, how to “grow” draping vines onto buildings and how to “destroy” cities. Such processes have been developed over time by Opasinski who has applied such techniques to real life posters such as the I am Legend (2007) movie campaign during which he was challenged to create 13 billboards that depicted multiple city landscapes during a post-apocalyptic world.
A campaign such as that for I Am Legend is one that leaves its audience haunted with an impression of the film’s story; the type that Opasinski strives to develop. As a snapshot and symbol of a film, the movie poster is often the first opportunity for the public to be exposed to its story, and the last thing they remember. The object is to provide a sense of story in just one image. For Opasinski, his involvement in this process – the development of a campaign upon which a movie’s success is based – is his favorite part of the job.
“With a [movie] campaign, you can decide where the film will go and how people perceive it,” he says. “You give [the movie] a character. You have just one shot.”
Arming FIDM students with a better sense of how to approach movie poster design, as well as the expectation that the road to becoming a graphic designer is one full of tremendous hard work and dedication, Opasinski does his best to push students to their limits “without scaring them too much.”
“The philosophy is that you have to work hard. There is nothing that comes easily, except extra hours,” he says. “Nothing else comes easy or without any pain.”
Opasinski continues to complete freelance projects for major advertising studios and design firms developing campaigns for films as well as video games, and is planning to announce an exhibit featuring his fine art posters during Spring 2011. Don’t miss his Website (www.tomasz-opasinski.com) for examples of his fine art posters as well as a wide selection of design templates.
For more tutorials by Tomasz Opasinski, click on the links below:
Also, don’t miss:
- Have you ever considered pursuing a career in graphic design or digital media? Check out FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising’s program for Graphic Design where you can learn all aspects of print media, including typography, digital photography and publication/layout design, and FIDM’s Digital Media program where you can learn editing, digital composition, motion graphics, 3-D modeling & animation, and sound design.