How to Design a Good Poster

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When it comes to graphic design, perhaps the most exciting type of project to undertake is the poster. Unlike other larger, more complex mediums, the poster is generally a simple attempt to attract attention and communicate basic information about an event or a product. Sometimes staring at a pure, blank art board is an exhilarating feeling. Other times, it can be a frustrating task deciding how to start. Whether you are a designer looking for inspiration or a novice needing a few tips, this post brings you the tips you need to make your next poster your best poster.

meth poster How to Design a Good Poster

Montana Meth Project

1. How to Get Attention

Your first task is to decide on captivating photography or an interesting main element that will make people stop and take notice. Some posters use shocking imagery to get a point across like this one, designed for the Montana Meth Project. As you can see, the subject matter certainly makes an immediate impact. Other posters will use plenty of white space and an interesting question, or some creative word art to make you stop and think. This first step is the cornerstone of your project and it’s very important to choose carefully.

2. Simple is Nice

Your poster should say what it means through pictures and colours rather than through words and written details. Keep text to a minimum and make full use of your website, if you have one, to inform people of further details. If you bog down your poster with text, your poster will not look as interesting to people passing by.

james chance poster How to Design a Good Poster

3. Fonts are Fantastic

If your fonts are a little unusual or unique, this will add to the depth of your design. Try to avoid common fonts that might be used on a standard document or for an everyday purpose. On the other hand, don’t use fonts that are crazy to the point of being hard to read. Many times it’s a good idea to use a sans-serif font in a headline. It’s important to limit the number of fonts you use on your poster. The more fonts, the more potential for confusion. If you have the ability, it’s also a nice touch to use your text in a non-standard way like this poster for a James Chance concert.

4. Move the Eye and the Information will Follow

It’s important to design a poster with information consumption in mind. Always try to start with the most important information in the largest font and work your way down in the order of importance. Display this information in such a way that the eye follows this information down the page as if you were writing a short story. Use cues in your main design element to point at important information or provide direction.

colours How to Design a Good Poster

5. Colour Correctly

Try to use a colour scheme that is fundamentally correct. Respect the basic rules or colour theory. You can even start designing your poster based on a pre-determined colour pallete. Match or compliment the colours used in your primary imagery to add consistency to the piece. Colour Lovers is a great place for ideas and sample palletes.

6. It’s a Balancing Act

Basic design and layout skills dictate that good design displays good balance. Try to ensure your poster follows this ideal. To tell if your layout is balanced, divide your page in half and compare the number of elements on either side of the page to each other. Try this diagonally as well. Adjust your design accordingly.

7. Break All the Rules

Sometimes good design means breaking out of the formula to produce something unique. If this is your plan, it’s important to know what rules to break so you can break them like a pro. Hopefully these tips will help you design something that is both different and good.

For some fresh inspiration, make sure you visit Design Reviver.

  • LG

    Interesting! Thanks for this post.

  • Hamda AHS

    This is great, thanks a lot.

  • http://www.smashingshare.com Waheed Akhtar

    Nice tips. Thanks

  • http://elbowroomdesign.com/musings/610/how-to-design-a-good-poster/ cody craig

    omfg this is so boring >.<

  • http://www.elbowroomdesign.com Neil

    Thanks for your valuable insight Cody!

  • Bridie

    Excellent and to the point poster design tips – not boring to those that like learning :-)

  • http://beproud lollipop!@3

    :’(wheres the ideas

  • GII GII

    THIS REALLY HELPED ME WITH MY HOMEWORK!!! :D THANKYOU!

  • mcf

    What is your advice when designing an event poster geared to an older demographic? ex., average age 55, rich, private club types? Thanks!

  • http://www.elbowroomdesign.com Neil

    That’s a good question, mcf. It’s hard to know what advice to give without details on the event but generally I would keep the following in mind:

    • err on the conservative side using professional, classy images rather than trying something trendy or shocking.

    • use simple and concise fonts that make the message clear.

    • focus on luxury. A quick Google search for luxury hotels may put you in the ballpark.

    Hope this helps!
    Neil

  • jambro

    This is boring. i have to sit here and read thru this dum shat for school. waste of my time……..

  • jambro

    And i dont wanna hear your bs neil

  • http://www.elbowroomdesign.com Neil

    I like your style.

  • jambro

    yeah. DOPEBOYFRESH

  • heffa

    bored .. in class .. held ,e. D;

  • tally-wa

    those are good tips but what if you had to design
    something about the revolution. should it
    incorporate details

  • http://www.elbowroomdesign.com Neil

    Well, I guess you may want to take stock of the resources you have available. If you have a lot of photos of the revolution, you might be able to create a nice poster this way. If you don’t have a lot of photos or if you are trying to convey details that are very specific you might have to use text. It’s hard to say, but I would think answering these questions first will help you know how to proceed.

  • http://elbowroomdesign.com/musings/610/how-to-design-a-good-poster/ james

    omfg this sucked so so so much ><
    -

  • http://www.elbowroomdesign.com Neil

    @james cheer up and go read something you like.

  • Natalie

    Very helpful–this was a great place to begin for someone who’s just starting out in designing posters!

  • P4WZ

    This is exactly what I needed, thankyou so much, now my ICT teacher will not be really annoyed at me because my homework was wrong.

  • tug

    what do you think of designing a poster that’s about a famous artist like Andy Warhol or Picasso, what advices can you give? Thank you

  • http://www.elbowroomdesign.com Neil

    Well, I guess I would state the obvious and advise you to take full advantage of the imagery provided to you by these artists. Apart from that it’s hard to suggest much more without knowing the purpose of the poster and what you are trying to achieve :)

  • tiara

    didnt do any good to me

  • Poppernoodle

    Great advice, but does anyone have any ideas for 4-paragraph-long posters? :(

  • Paul Klein

    Great stuff. The Montana meth project is phenomenal work. I like that you’re number one was get attention.