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Todd Skull's AI Movie Posters
Take You To A Past Future That Never Happened
Two weeks ago the Lore Machine engineering team started work on an image generation model fine-tuned to output composite style movie posters. The feature can lift key characters and scenes from each script synthesis then merge these elements into a single poster, complete with the story’s title and author.
In search of inspiration, I stumbled on Todd Skulls’s Instagram account, which is entirely populated by “vintage” Hong Kong movie posters made using AI and Photoshop. The vibe and hyper-specificity of the project is so good, we had to say hello.
This is that!
Lore Machine: How did this project get started?
I'm a freelance video editor and graphic designer based in Los Angeles. I'm also a cinephile and a physical media collector. I'm a huge fan of classic Hong Kong and Japanese cinema. The nerdiest thing I've ever done is hunt down the ZiiEagle Movie Box, a rare device that holds 668 Shaw Bros films that was only available in Singapore back in 2010.
I started playing around with A.I. movie posters about a year ago after growing bored with my day job. At first, I tried to test the boundaries of the tech by making the most disgusting horror movie posters possible. There was something about the weird and blobby early A.I. images that really lent itself to horror.
I loved the results even more when I incorporated vintage Hong Kong elements like the classic Shaw Bros posters I loved so much. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had over a thousand weird movie posters saved on my phone. That's when I started using Photoshop to fix them up.
I had no idea what to do with this mountain of bizarre art so I figured I might as well start up an Instagram. It's just been a strange obsession of mine over the past year and I've been happy to see that it's found a bit of an audience online.
Lore Machine: Do you have some IRL Hong Kong film posters that serve as inspiration for your fictitious ones?
I'm a huge Shaw Bros fan, especially their horror films. I love the posters for films like Seeding of a Ghost, Black Magic, Black Magic Part II, Hex, and The Oily Maniac. They're just so beautiful and bizarre and unique and grotesque.
Lore Machine: Can you share your workflow?
First off, I greatly admire the AI purists out there and totally understand where they're coming from. Midjourney and Photoshop are incredible tools for artists, but I can't do what I do with just one of these tools.
So I start with Midjourney. I've dialed in a certain style and set of prompts that I use as a springboard. From there, I experiment by combining fantastical elements that normally don't belong together. I try to surprise myself, iterating until I arrive at an output that I really love. This process can take a long time.
I sometimes run the image through Topaz Gigapixel AI to upscale it. Then I bring the image into Photoshop to fix it up. I add and remove elements, characters, text…you name it. Sometimes I remove half of the image, or change the colors completely. Other times, I bring in a huge piece from a different poster. Sometimes the composite will combine tons of different posters. It all depends on the image and idea at-hand. The most important tool I use in Photoshop is their new generative fill tool which is in their beta release. It's incredible and I use it on almost every poster.
It was also important to me that I offer translations for every item I sell in my shop. Coming up with taglines for the posters before translating them is a really fun part of the process. They're all available on my website.
Lore Machine: Where do you go from here?
Sales are doing better than I expected, which helps me devote more time to the project. I'd like to keep this train moving for as long as I can. I want to see how far I can stretch this concept and how far I can stretch the technology as it continues to improve. I'd also like to devote more time to commissioned work, which has been fun to do on the side.
Most importantly, I want to continue learning more about the art of movie posters and graphic design - what works and what doesn't. I'm a lifelong student in everything I do and I think this is such a fun, hands-on way to learn. Midjourney can teach you some amazing things if you're open to it.
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