Maybe you were one of the lucky ones creating physical posters for class when you were in school. Looking back, those skills came in handy! Poster design has a few rules that haven’t changed since the beginning of time.
As you’re setting out on your mission to create something a little more professional, we thought we’d drop some tips so you can create posters that stand out from the crowd. The fun part about poster design, is that once you have some basic guidelines, you can bend the rules and get really creative.
In light of this, you will find some very straightforward tips as well as a few unconventional ones for the ambitious creatives out there. Sit back, and prepare for a crash course in poster design, easily mastered in the time it takes you to read this.
How to get started
When faced with a project on poster design, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Where do you start? What program should you use? It all starts with a good idea. The best tip I can give you is to go back to your basics – get out a piece of paper, sketch and brainstorm. Do this in the form of drawings, with writing and little notes.
It is during this stage that you can begin to visualize your poster, position elements where need be and you will find the process quite liberating. Once you have a sketch (or sketches) of what you want your poster to look like, you’re halfway there.
Crello can become your go-to tool for realizing your ideas. You can sift through the templates that are already there and modify them for your projects, or you can use the preset format to start your poster design from scratch. As for designing a poster, here is everything you need to know.
Tip #1: Don’t stare at a blank screen – find a template
If you missed the sketching and brainstorming stage, you’re going to sit there and stare at a blank canvas not knowing what to do. If you don’t like sketching though, learn from Crello’s ready made poster templates. The designs are created by professional graphic designers and are there to help you with ideas.
Tip #2: Your #1 priority is legibility
Everything about a successful poster design lies in legibility. You have to carefully choose fonts, alter their size so that it is legible both from close up and far away. It has to be easy to read from a distance, as posters are intended to catch attention and quickly translate an idea.
Remember 3 basics: headline, details and the fine print. The largest design element in your poster has to be the text or an eye catching image. Find typefaces that scream for attention an are interesting and unusual. The details have to cover what, where and when if it is a poster for an event. This is your second layer. The last one is the fine print if need be for more information.
Tip #3: Accent on the font
As we’ve established the basics, brace yourself for spending most of your time looking for that perfect font. Although posters can have images that are attention grabbing, your text is the key to eloquently communicating with your audience.
Once you have a font that demands attention, you can play around with proportions and placement on your poster. A lot can be conveyed with simply your choice of font. Fonts tend to translate the mood, be it serious, playful or just fun. Choose at least 2 fonts, but not more than 3.
Tip #4: Turn up the contrast
Your objective is to make someone stop and read or appreciate your poster. You have one chance to grab people’s attention and your secret weapon is contrast. High contrast between different design elements is one way to go about it.
Juxtapositions with elements, color palettes, gradients, different fonts – all these things are fun to experiment with as contrast can be achieved through different means.
Tip #5: Size, placement, hierarchy
It’s important to also cover your basics in terms of where this poster will be located. Will it be print or online? Will it be in a crowded place, or a fancy online platform? These factors influence many design decisions that you have to make. Understanding where you design will be placed can help you make better decisions about colors, fonts and design elements.
Tip #6: Know who you’re designing for
The other thing that pave the road to better, more purposeful design is understanding who your audience is. It’s crucial that you have an idea of your target audience before you sell or promote anything to them. Your design has to match their culture, likes and buying habits.
Tip #7: Choose visuals that make a statement
If you’re wondering what to embellish your poster with after you’ve settled on a font, colors and style, find your images. Remember that you can layer images, fonts and elements to add interest to your poster design. However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t clutter the poster and aim for a clean and simple design.
You can choose photos or illustrations, and if you do, make sure it is a dominating image that helps communicate something.
Tip #8: Get rid of unnecessary elements
Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away when you’re working on your poster design. As you’re edging closer to the final design, step away from your work area and see if there are design elements that are simply extra. Get rid of them.
Tip #9: Leave plenty of space
This might be contrary to design advice for other formats, but with posters, you have to exaggerating the spacing. Make sure your poster has room to ‘breathe’. It might seem funny, leaving so much extra space, but it actually increases the visual impact and the overall readability of your poster.
The spacing can be between words and letters, between lines of text, margins, design elements, and illustrations.
Tip #10: Take your viewers on a journey
Keep this in mind – what do you want people to see first? Work on your visual hierarchy and ask for a second opinion on what people see first, second and last when studying your poster. This is important because it will determine how effective your poster design is.
If you feel like you’ve mastered the basics, don’t be afraid to bend the rules. Poster design is very much about innovation, different points of view and new angles. Changing someone’s point of view and making them look twice at your work is what determines a successful poster design.
If there’s anything you can take away from this crash course, it’s that poster design is about being a little daring. Keep things simple, don’t clutter design elements and execute your idea with the help of simpler tools. Poster design should be fun! Enjoy the creative process, and share some of your creations with us.