Calculus Movie Poster

  • It’s been a few years since we released Ian and Thomas’ Excellent Calculus Adventure, but I thought it would be a great time to come up with a rockin poster and DVD case for it so we can re-release it.  I also thought it would be fun to document the creative process for it so here we go!

Earlier this year I had the task of designing a movie poster for Ian and Thomas’ Excellent Calculus Adventure. If you don’t know what that is let me inform you! When we were seniors in high school, Ian and I took an AP Calculus class with Mr. Oravets. The whole point of an AP class is to take the AP test at the end of the year, if you pass that test you get college credit for that subject. Well the AP tests are all in early May, while school gets out in late June. So our calculus class had an extra month and a half after completing the primary objective. Mr. O’s solution for this situation was to task all the students to create a Calculus Video. It could be about anything as long as it had at least some part to do with calculus.  Ian and I got together with big dreams for our Ian and Thomas’ Excellent Calculus Adeventure movie and we think we did pretty well considering the circumstances. If you have not seen it, we have it for all to view and enjoy on our videos page in the media section of this site.


It all started with this sketch. I presented it to Mike Berger for a looksies but he didn’t like it too much.  I was really excited about the idea though so I pushed it until he kind of said okay. I knew that by doing that I would have to pull it off really well.

So to start off pulling this thing together I had to shoot a really good photo of a trash can. The blue recycle bin to be exact. I lifed it up on a car jack about 6 or 7 feet up when the light was just right and took about two dozen photos. This is the one I decided to use. I had to make sure the perspective was perfect or else it would look really dumb on the poster.


As you can see in the sketch, I wanted a nice ivory type pillar thing to stand it on. I tried to find photos on the internet but the perspective would have to be perfect so I couldn’t use anything from there. Then I was thinking of rendering one in 3ds Max but I came home and realized we have a bunch of these things in our yard. So I set it up and took a bunch of pictures at different angles. This is the one I decided to use.

Then it was off to Photoshop CS3 to cut these pieces out using the pen tool and a sweet action I have made to make cutting things and people out of their background really easy.


So once I had those pieces, I went on a hunt for pictures of clouds, since the poster was meant to be set in a kind of “Heavenly Scene”. It was hard to find what I wanted so I just accumulated all the clouds I could get so that I could make my own scene out of them later. Here’s a bunch of clouds I found.



Here is the first composite of the can on the pillar. The perspective is great so I think this poster is going to be so totally awesome.

Here it is in it’s cloudy Heavenly Scene. How does it look? I think it’s pretty great for a bunch of random cloud pictures mashed up together. There’s still a long way to go though so it will start looking more fun, don’t worry.

Now it was time for the scariesst part for me. The type treatment for the text at the top. I haven’t gotten very good at type treatments yet and my library of things to do is limited. I knew that this poster was going to look kind of epic so at first I started with an epic looking font. I decided it was a little too serious for this topic so I started playing around with sketchy looking type. Here is the progression, the last one in blue is the ‘pretty much’ finished one. It’s a sketchy font and then messed up and customized a bunch to be unique and look less like it was typed out and more like it was sketched on.



I had envisioned a burst of light shining from behind the trash can to give it a ‘holy’ feel. I didn’t know how I was going to pull that off though. I just started playing with different things like Radial Blur and stuff and I am happy with the result!

Now comes the hard part. We had to pull off the photos of Ian and I or the whole thing was not going to work. At first I wasn’t even sure that we could physically reproduce the angle from the sketch. We needed to be looking away from the camera but still be able to see the face and expression. Sounds kind of impossible. Here’s a little from our shoot. We need a studio…

Here are the faces I choose. The angle on everything had to be just right so that we would be looking right at the trash can. Notice that the cutout of my afro is aweful. It really should have been shot with a sky blue background so that it would match the poster.

ians_face_thumb thomas_face_thumb

So now looking back at the original sketch, we have just about all the elements we need! We want this to look like a real legit movie poster though so it needs all that credit type stuff at the bottom. Something like this should do:


Now with all the pieces complete I finially present to you the finished product of everything put together. I hope you liked looking through this article on how this poster was realized from start to finish. Here is the movie poster for Ian and Thomas’ Excellent Calculus Adventure. Hover over it to show the sketch (just for fun) and click for a huge one. Thanks for playing.


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