How to Create a Professional Poster as a First Timer
Let’s get nostalgic: do you still remember that time in middle school when you had to create a poster for whatever reason? If your poster was one of the best, kudos to you! But whether you were one of the top picks or not, we bet that there were specific areas of your poster that you would change if you could, right?
Well, you dont be able to go back to the past, but we’re here to help you ensure that your future posters are pristine. So read on and apply the steps that will unleash the great poster designer within you and enable you to create a professional poster that will be perfectly tailored to your event or content.
Posters as an Effective Marketing Strategy
With the dominance of computer technology and the internet, it seems that print materials are on their way to becoming obsolete. For example, eBooks are very popular nowadays because they are accessible through your smart device. However, according to the research conducted by Pew Research Center, 72% of adults in the United States still buy and read printed books; needless to say, they are here to stay.
The same thing goes with printed ads like magazines and posters. Data collected by Forbes says that 70% of people recall a company or a brand they see on printed ads like posters and magazines.
Posters, whether they are printed or not, are still an effective and tested form of advertising. Here are some primary facts that you should know before you start creating a poster,
- Posters are not just effective, but they are also affordable.
- A well-designed poster can stop people in their tracks, helping the audience digest more information.
- Traditional print media such as posters are more credible than online advertisements.
- Printed posters are still more comfortable to the human eyes than their online counterparts.
- Posters are very flexible, and they are a channel for endless creative possibilities.
- A well-thought-out poster is a powerful medium that can influence your audience’s subconscious stimuli. Evoking a certain emotion is a good strategy for your call-to-action.
Posters are still highly in demand. Whether the poster is posted on social media or in physical, public spaces, nobody can deny that they are still one of the best forms of media to disseminate information to your audience. Now, all you need to pay attention to is to create a well-designed poster. Luckily, we’re here to guide you!
10 Steps You Need to Follow for a Well-Designed Poster
Conforming to a process gives you direction in everything you do, and poster-making has a process to follow as well. Without a solid approach, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to produce great output. There are also some rules you can apply to increase the chances of your poster’s success. Want to create an appealing poster? Read the following guide.
Step 1 – Know your Audience.
The first and foremost pivotal thing you need to do is to narrow down your target audience. You have to know your audience genuinely, and the best way to do this is by conducting in-depth research about them. You have to list down the things that they want to see in the poster, and your ultimate goal is to give them all the information they want in a visually pleasing way.
Doing extra research about your audience is a smart move because it will help you find out more about the message they want to hear from you and how they want to hear it. Additional research is the key to successful conceptualization.
Furthermore, when you start your poster design, make sure that all the elements are original to protect your name. Do not use phrases or images that might get you in trouble because of trademark infringement—be cautious about this, both offline and online. For example, if you’re active on Amazon Marketplace, you should consider knowing more about advertising to protect your brand on Amazon.
Step 2 – Time to Conceptualize
Conceptualization requires concentration and creativity. It is crucial because you have to find what you want to say and how you will say it. The concept is the foundation that will serve as the backbone of your poster design. Make sure that you develop an idea relevant to social trends and society today—this allows your audience to relate to your poster design.
Another tip that you may want to apply is incorporating humor into your poster. Having a humorous poster is always a winner. Everybody loves surprises, and you may want to consider using some shock value that could add an element of surprise to your concept. Again, imagine yourself in the shoes of your prospective audience and will solidify the message you want to convey in your poster.
Step 3 – Think of a Theme
A theme is essential because it is an overlay of the concept, and it puts things together. While creating a poster, a theme is like a running style throughout your entire design. With your theme, you have to evoke a certain feeling in your audience, and a good theme makes your poster unique.
You can evoke emotions with the style of your poster by using the appropriate typography, colors, and graphics. Think of a way to combine these elements in one design. A well-designed poster possesses a running theme for visual harmony that allows your audience to sympathize with your poster.
Step 4 – Sketch the Layout
Before you forget about the concept and theme of your poster, you have to sketch them out and see how the elements look in your initial draft. Sketching the concept and theme you have in mind on a piece of paper will give you more dimension for improving your poster. Next, select the appropriate font and thoroughly plan what you can do with the remaining space. Of course, you can also add more graphic elements.
With the sketch you have, you can see the spaces between each element, and it gives you more ideas about other elements that you can still add to your poster.
Step 5 – Use your Favorite Editor
The sketch is vital because it makes things a lot easier for you when you are about to plot your vision into your favorite editor. When it comes to advanced graphic editors, it is up to you whether to use a free or paid version of the application of your choice. If you are still undecided on which editor to use for graphic design, here are some of the best graphic design software that you can use to create a high-quality poster.
- Adobe Illustrator
If you are willing to use a highly customizable graphic design tool, Adobe Illustrator is perfect for you! You can use this software for your illustrations, layouts, logos, mockups, and anything that you would want to do that concerns your draft or final output. This tool has an in-panel editing capacity that allows you to be more efficient by modifying multiple artboards simultaneously.
Adobe Illustrator is compatible with different devices from Windows and Mac. Using this tool gives you access to over 90 million templates, videos, and graphic images from Adobe Stock. So give this tool a try while creating a poster.
- Adobe InDesign
A software application from Adobe, this software is a lot easier to use compared to Photoshop. It is a must-have if you are layouting magazines, books, brochures, and info sheets that you can then export to HTML and PDF formats. One of its prime features is the Sensei Technology that ensures automatic arrangement and resizing of graphic images.
- Adobe Photoshop
The most famous and frequently used graphic design software by graphic artists offers a robust package that contains high-end graphic design features. It gives you many design options for mobile applications and web content. The software’s user interface can be customized and is relatively easy to navigate.
Also, Adobe Photoshop is synchronized with Creative Cloud for faster updates, and it has a rich library for 3D typography, 3D design, geometric shapes, and drawing tools.
- Affinity Designer
With Affinity Designer, you can use a versatile grid system that is a helpful feature for your poster. The grid system allows you to create isometric video game icons and graphics. Not only that, you can have total control with spacing, angles, divisions, gutters, and angles for a more accurate layout.
You can lock the position of objects and other elements, including alignments, shapes, nodes, and grids by using the snapping option. Affinity Designer lets you work in both vector art and pixel art environments without using other applications. Its million percent zoom feature helps you design your work with accuracy and precision.
Canva is a popular yet free graphic design platform, and you can upgrade to Canva Pro or Canva for Enterprise to have access to other functionalities. It is perfect for posters, documents, presentations, social media graphics, and other visual content.
- CorelDraw Graphics Suite
With CorelDraw, you can customize your UI environment to suit your needs. You have the authority to set your menu for easier access and production. Corel has an online library where registered users have access to thousands of high-quality images and a thousand fonts. You can also select from 350 designed templates, more than 600 gradients, and over 500 interactive frames.
If you have heard about Adobe tools, you can definitely work easily with Inkscape. Inkscape is a free vector software that many graphic artists highly recommend as a good alternative to expensive graphic design software. This software is open-source, giving you the ability to modify or enhance the source code that will suit your requirements. If you are a novice, this one is perfect for you!
- GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
GIMP is another free editor that has amazing Photoshop features. It is very flexible because the user interface is highly customizable, and there are incredible plugins with additional features for free! If you know how to manipulate programming codes, you can modify these plugins depending on your needs.
You have to anticipate constant updates from the active developers of GIMP for additional features. Using scripts like GEGL for faster and accurate image processing is possible with this tool. Plus you can install this one on different operating systems like Windows, macOS, Linux, BDS, and Solaris.
- Gravit Designer
An HTML-based graphic designer application, Gravit delivers high-quality vector graphics. It is actually considered as the best software for product, web design, and graphic experts. Gravit Designer is portable and offers cross-platform portability for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS so you can work on any device effectively.
Here is another free graphic design tool for beginners and professionals. Photoscape has powerful features for photo editing and archiving. The software is multilingual, loaded in English and Korean. You can also download 30 more languages using the downloadable modules.
A vector-based graphic design software, you can subscribe to Sketch with a yearly subscription which is much cheaper than its competitors. It is best for web, interface, and application design. Also, Sketch is great for web and mobile with its snap-to-grid feature that avoids half-pixel renders and misalignments. You can use screen templates that are available in its library. Aside from these, Sketch allows you to find custom plugins for your specific needs with the help of its robust dynamic support.
- Xara Designer Pro X
Xara is used for web page design, illustration creation, and photo editing. It has advanced tools that provide more advanced graphic elements. This software is known for its fast performance and allows designers to apply numerous editing through bottomless redo and undo selections. To deliver more complex designs efficiently, Xara uses one of the fastest and most sophisticated vector rendering engines.
You can use any of these tools. Try them all to know their pros and cons. Find out which works for you and your needs.
In your editor, it is essential to use grids. Grids are great in keeping your design in place. Also, grids keep the consistency of your design and allow you to place spaces so your poster can breathe.
Step 6 – Look from a Distance
No matter which software you use, while creating a poster one needs to think from the user’s point of view. The appeal of your poster depends on the elements you include in your design. It helps if you use a compelling call-to-action, bold colors, intriguing concepts, modern fonts, and graphic design trends. The headline alone must captivate the attention of your audience, while the details of your poster should answer all their questions.
Once you create a layout on the graphic design tool of your choice, try to distance yourself from your screen and see how your initial or final design appeals to you. To add more drama, you can use smaller font sizes that are readable only if you get close to the poster. That’s how movie posters are usually designed. Those tiny fonts are intriguing enough to get the attention of your audience.
Step 7 – Become a Minimalist
The last thing that you want to happen with your poster is to see it cluttered. Less is more is the primary rule in graphic design. You have to embrace the power of space. By giving your design elements ample space from each other, you are allowing your layout design to breathe.
Filling in the spaces not only looks bad, but it looks messy as well—something your audience might misinterpret. Avoid using too many pictures and different font styles. Keeping your design simple maintains the integrity of your poster. A contemporary or minimalist design is always a plus, as it allows your poster to speak for itself.
Step 8 – Use the Best Typography
A good poster can be made or broken with the use of images and colors. However, more than just those two, incorporating harmonious fonts and other descriptions can elevate your poster to a whole new level.
Before you create your poster, you’d better know about the rules of typography. In case you don’t have any idea about these guidelines, here are the cardinal rules of typography you need to apply in your designs:
- Select 2 to 3 font styles that work for your design. Using more than 3 fonts can break your design.
- Consider the concept of your design and your target audience. Utilizing the right typography makes the message of your poster more relatable.
- Always remember that space is very important, even in typography. The space can make your message noticeable if you ensure that the texts are equally far apart even when confined in a narrow space.
- Properly guide your audience through your message by having consistency, hierarchy, and readability. Sizing plays an essential role in making your poster effective and making your message stand out.
- Apply colors that are congruent to your concept and theme. Adding colors gives life and vibrancy to your typography.
- It is a rule of thumb not to deviate from normal body text. You can always select other font weights to add variety to your poster. However, you have to be aware because adding many font weights can change the look of your font significantly.
- Change is fun, so try out other fonts. You probably have some go-to fonts that you are comfortable using, but it is good practice to try other fonts and see your versatility.
In addition, do not forget to add a strong call to action to your poster. A good call-to-action (CTA) is short and compelling: it is the step the audience must take in order to achieve the goals you set out for your poster (e.g., Shop Now, Learn More, Contact Us).
Step 9 – Play with the Contrast.
Contrast is a graphic design principle that takes place when two graphic elements are obviously different. The greater their differences, the greater the contrast. The contrast emphasizes the important details of a visual element and leads your audience’s eyes to the important details of your poster. Contrast can be applied in size, design element, type, color, and value.
Having a high contrast by using loud and bold colors is an effective way to attract your audience’s attention!
Step 10 – Print your Poster!
For the final time, check your output from afar. If you need to change things, modify them and distance yourself again until you are satisfied. You may want to consult a friend or a professional graphic designer for more impartial feedback. Once you’ve applied all the necessary changes and are happy with your final design, go to your favorite printing shop and print your poster.
You can select from the standard poster sizes as follows:
- 18’’ x 24’’ known as architectural C or a medium-sized poster.
- 24” x 36” is known as architectural D or a large-sized poster.
- 27” x 40” is known as a one-sheet movie poster.
The standard sizes above help you see the potential of your poster. You can opt for smaller sizes such as 8-½” x 11”, 11” x 17”, or 16” x 20”. It is crucial to remember where you are going to use the poster you designed. The location of your final output will determine not only the size, but also the finish of your paper: choose from photo glossy, matte, and fine art paper—each of these finishes contributes to how your message comes across in your poster.
If you have no idea where to get your poster printed, a tool like Canva can help you out. Aside from being a drag-and-drop design tool, Canva Print is actually making waves for high-quality productions. Canva Print can easily print and ship your poster for a fee! You can checkout its website to see pricing plans.
Are you a little overwhelmed with all the tips laid before you? Don’t worry, you can do it! So what are you waiting for? Find a peaceful place where you can imagine, think and conceptualize. Do not forget to bring a piece of paper with you to write down or draw the ideas you have in mind.
Posters are made to disseminate information, and your success derives from the number of people who will take the time to see and read your output. With enough poster designs under your belt, you can start branching out and being more creative with your designs. But first, go ahead and try all the steps we’ve outlined above to make you into a great poster designer!
The process can be as simple or challenging as you want, but regardless of whether you just drop your own text into a premade template or completely redesign it, you can rest assured that the finished product will be sleek,and ready to draw a crowd. After discussing these tips, creating a poster won’t be a tedious journey, right?
Jayce is the managing director of Seller Interactive, the number one Amazon advertising agency based in Canada that helps brands build their business on Amazon. His content marketing expertise has led him to work with brands such as Toyota and GoDaddy, producing content that has reached over 20M views in a month.