Evolution of Animation Film Posters from 1937 to Present




Movie posters, just like the movies themselves, have changed dramatically over the past seventy years. This post showcases a selection of advertising posters of some of the most well-known and greatest animated full length productions/movies known to man.

From Walt Disney’s first ever production (and still one of the most popular) ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs‘ back in 1937, to classics such as ‘Snoopy, Come Home!‘ in the early 1970′s, and of course the modern day whoppers such as ‘How To Train Your Dragon‘ released earlier this year. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re an avid animation movie fan, an occasional viewer, or a graphic/media designer in search for some inspiration using trends ranging from 1937 to 2010 – that’s a lot of generations!

We love discussions here at SpyreStudios, so please make use of the comments section below by letting the other readers know what poster in this showcase is your favorite and why – do you prefer posters that were designed back in the mid twentieth century, or those that are completely computer generated in the modern twenty-first century? Let us know!

The 1930′s

The 30′s didn’t see many animated movies, and the only one that most people can say they’ve actually seen is the excellent ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Clear trends in the 30′s poster industry (by looking at this individual poster) were the use of white space (OK, so it’s not quite white) and bold, clear typography.

1937 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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The 1940′s

After the huge success of Disney’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs‘ the world started to see loads more animated movies, some of the most popular being Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi, a selection that most kids (and adults) of the modern day can say they’ve seen, probably several times! It’s safe to say that the poster industry had developed over those few years since the release of ‘Snow White‘, although a couple of which still make use of white space. Typography is one thing in the following posters that has a adapted quite a lot since the 30′s. As can be seen below, most of the film titles, such as ‘Fantasia‘, ‘Dumbo‘ and ‘Bambi‘ have all had various styles added to them such as shadows and strokes, giving the typography a three-dimensional element.

1940 – Pinocchio

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1940 – Fantasia

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1941 – Dumbo

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1941 – Mr. Bug Goes To Town

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1942 – Bambi

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1944 – The Caballeros

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The 1950′s

After the success of Walt Disney’s films in the 1940′s, we unsurprisingly saw a lot more of them in the 50′s. This section showcases a range of classics: ‘Cinderella‘, ‘Alice in Wonderland‘, ‘Peter Pan‘, ‘Lady and the Tramp‘ and ‘Sleeping Beauty‘. The styles used in the following posters are virtually the same of those in the 40′s, although we do start to see a little more vivid color instead of that old washed-out feel. Another trend that we can see developing is the use of grid design in the 1955 hit ‘Lady and the Tramp‘.

1950 – Cinderella

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1951 – Alice in Wonderland

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1953 – Peterpan

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1955 – Lady and the Tramp

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1959 – Sleeping Beauty

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The 1960′s

One of the most loved things about “vintage” design in the modern design industry is the use of borders, such as that used in the great ‘The Jungle Book‘ poster. The use of borders pull the whole piece together tremendously well, and brings out the colors in the poster very well. Other poster designs in the following section make use of white space and designing on a grid.

1961 – One Hundred and One Dalmations

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1963 – The Sword in the Stone

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1964 – Yogi Bear

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1967 – The Jungle Book

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The 1970′s

The 1970′s saw the release of several animated productions that weren’t produced by Walt Disney, such as ‘Snoopy, Come Home!‘, ‘Charlotte’s Web‘, ‘The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat‘ and ‘The Lord of the Rings‘. We saw borders being used a lot more in the 70′s, in several posters such as ‘The Aristocats‘, ‘Snoopy, Come Home!‘ and ‘The Lord of the Rings‘.

1970 – The Aristocats

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1972 – Snoopy, Come Home!

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1973 – Charlotte’s Web

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1974 – The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat

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1977 – The Rescuers

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1978 – The Lord of the Rings

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The 1980′s

We started to see some fantastic effects being used in the 1980′s, such as some interesting and slightly crazy depths of field, especially that used in the ‘Oliver and Company‘ poster. This particular technique helps to draw the viewer into the poster, and helps the viewer to pay attention to the main focal point (Oliver and various dogs in this case) without having to use a boring background.

1981 – The Fox and the Hound

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1986 – My Little Pony: The Movie

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1988 – Oliver and Company

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1989 – The BFG

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The 1990′s

One trend that is easy to spot in the following selection of posters (and a trend that is still used today) is minimalism, which can be seen in posters such as ‘Beauty and the Beast‘, ‘Antz‘ and ‘Toy Story 2‘. Out of these three posters, all but ‘Beauty and the Beast’ use a lot of whitespace and to draw your eyes into what’s important; the title and characters of the film, this can be seen in the ‘Antz‘ and ‘Toy Story 2‘ posters. Other than this, the 90′s animated movie posters had come a long way since the 80′s, generally using more computer-based software to create incredible rendered characters and scenes.

1990 – Jetsons The Movie

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1991 – Beauty and the Beast

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1992 – The Little Mermaid

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1994 – The Lion King

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1995 – Toy Story

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1997 – Hercules

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1998 – Antz

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1998 – A Bug’s Life

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1999 – Toy Story 2

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The 2000′s

The following selection of posters is from the millenium, previously known as the future to those who created the posters back at the beginning of this article in the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s.

The animated film industry was thriving (and still is today) and a lot of great movies were released, including some huge hits such as ‘Monsters, Inc.‘, ‘Shrek‘, ‘Ice Age‘, ‘Finding Nemo‘, ‘Ratatouille‘, ‘Kung Fu Panda‘ and ‘Up‘. As you can most probably imagine before even scolling down and looking at the selection of movie posters, a lot of modern day trends and techniques have been used, and there isn’t a single ‘old fashioned’ technique to be seen, which goes to show how much we rely on computers these days.

Throughout the selection, minimalism can be spotted on a regular basis, as well as the use of patterns and lines to draw your eye into the main focal area – a good example of this is ‘Rataouille‘, where different knifes of all shapes and sizes are used to make your eyes look straight at the main character of the film, instead of wondering around elsewhere.

2000 – Chicken Run

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2000 – Rugrats in Paris

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2001 – Monsters, Inc.

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2001 – Shrek

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2002 – Ice Age

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2002 – Lilo and Stitch

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2003 – Brother Bear

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2003 – Finding Nemo

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2004 – The Incredibles

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2004 – Shark Tale

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2005 – Madagascar

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2005 – Robots

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2006 – Cars

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2006 – Flushed Away

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2007 – Bee Movie

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2007 – Ratatouille

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2008 – Bolt

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2008 – Kung Fu Panda

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2009 – Monsters vs Aliens

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2009 – Up

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The Present

Below is a small selection of animated movies that have been released this year or are still yet to be released. The selection includes ‘How To Train Your Dragon’, ‘Toy Story 3′ and ‘Shrek: The Final Chapter’, all of which are available to view at the cinema in 3D – maybe three-dimensional posters are going to be something we’ll be seeing a lot of in the coming years… What do you think?

2010 – How To Train Your Dragon

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2010 – Toy Story 3

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2010 – Shrek: The Final Chapter

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Your Turn To Talk

I hope you liked this post! Please take a moment to leave a comment below. Which posters are your favorites?

source: IMP Awards





About the author:

Callum Chapman is a self-employed designer, illustrator & blogger. View his work at Circlebox Creative. He is also the founder of Picmix Store, a store dedicated to limited edition prints, and The Inspiration Blog. Drop him a line on Twitter!

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