Basics of good poster design

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. Here are some tips on how to make your next poster your best poster.

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. 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 itís 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. If you bog down your poster with text, your poster will not look as interesting to people passing by.

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, donít use fonts that are crazy to the point of being hard to read. Many times itís a good idea to use a sans-serif font in a headline. Itís important to limit the number of fonts you use on your poster. The more fonts, the more potential for confusion.

4. Move the Eye and the Information will Follow

Itís 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.

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.

6. Itís 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, itís 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.

Good luck!


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The Wits Theatre, Nedbank and The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust