You’ve already seen how a logo can capture a band’s personality, but have you ever stopped to think about how the type treatments in the opening credits of your favorite movies capture the spirit of the film? From gradients, to 3-D effects, drop shadows, to outer glows, the type treatment of any movie title in the title sequence (and posters and other marketing materials) takes on a life and personality of its own to reflect the look and feel of the film as a whole.
You can learn a lot about what you need to do with your own typography in order to create a lively brand identity by studying the font styles from popular movies. Here’s a run-down of the best of the best to get you inspired. Make sure you scroll all the way through to the end for a slideshow of even more popular title cards!
“Juno” is a quirky indie film, but I probably didn’t have to tell you that. You can probably tell just from looking at the cartoon-y, hand-drawn type treatment on the title. The font looks like it’s straight out of a high school student’s diary or a coloring book, and it looks like it’s been colored in by hand, giving it an eccentric, indie vibe that perfectly captures the spirit of the film.
“Brave” tells the story of Merida, a Scottish princess with gumption, an independent spirit, and awesome archery skills. The film won an Academy Award for Best Animated Picture and received critical acclaim for its stunning animation, and the type treatment in the title card is no exception. The intricate knot-work and braiding within each letter is fitting of Scottish style, while the golden metallic color and 3-D effects make the type jump to life.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2”
Everything I’m about to say about this type treatment goes not only for “The Deathly Hallows Part 2,” but for the entire Harry Potter series. Every Harry Potter film can be recognized by this type treatment. Not only does the series take the unique font from the Harry Potter books, but it bevels and embosses the font to give each letter depth and uses outer glows and gradients to bring the font to life – just like the films did for the books.
The type treatment in the title card for “Legally Blonde” perfectly captures the spirit of the film’s protagonist, Elle Woods. Elle is always dressed head to toe in pink, and brings all of her feminine charm to the court room. The girly script font captures Elle’s sorority-girl attitude, while the bright pink outer glow on the type shows how bold and unique Elle’s spirit was in the court room.
“Machete” is violent, shocking, brutal, and gritty. The film is full of blood, guts, explosions, and general badassery, so it’s only fitting that this type treatment reflects the macho-man style of the film. The 3-D effect makes the font look large and in charge, while the grunge effects in the design portray the same grittiness as the film.
The title card for “Pocahontas” truly looks like it was painted with all of the colors of the wind. The yellow, orange, and red gradient in the type is like a bright sunrise, contrasted against the cooler, calmer colors of the night sky. Each letter has also been uniquely crafted and shaped to look more like feathers or rock carvings. The type treatment perfectly reflects Pocahontas’ fiery spirit.
Napoleon Dynamite is a unique, memorable character – to say the least. He’s known for his crazy curly hair, huge glasses, moon boots, and general nerdy behavior. This title card perfectly captures his character with his name doodled on the desk in his cursive handwriting. The hand-written type is in cursive, but it’s written in the way we all wrote when we first learned cursive, which gives the title a juvenile look and feel.
As a film all about video game characters, the 8-bit, pixelated type treatment in the “Wreck-It Ralph” title sequence comes as no surprise. This ain’t your average 8-bit font, though, because this type treatment gives the title depth and dimension! The way the red letters are layered on top of blue makes the typeface pop. Additionally, the letters have been carefully and intricately constructed to perfectly fit around Ralph’s head.
If I mentioned Thor to you, his hammer mjolnir is probably one of the first things that comes to mind. That explains why this metallic type treatment is perfect for Marvel’s adaptation of Thor for the big screen. The stormy clouds in the background and raindrops bouncing off the letters hit on the fact that Thor is the god of thunder.
“Where the Wild Things Are”
The title sequence for “Where the Wild Things Are” is one of my all-time favorites. The scribbled font perfectly matches Max’s rambunctious spirit. Just like Max, this type treatment is a wild thing. No two letters look the same, which is pretty much exactly like any child’s handwriting. All of the chaos and angst of this (supposedly children’s) film is reflected in this title card.
As you can see, typography is not taken lightly in movie title sequences. The type treatment on the movie’s title goes a long way to capture the mood and tone of the entire film. For even more typography inspiration check out this slideshow!