5 Ways Professionals Create Poster Designs

In a world chock-full of virtual advertising and branded material, it may seem that posters have gone the way of the dinosaur. Especially since most of us spent this whole past year in our homes, rarely venturing out, it can be difficult to even remember when you last saw a poster!


But they’re more prevalent — and more effective — than you might realize.


Posters are excellent for both advertising and branding. And well-designed posters extract business logo characteristics to add a “coolness” factor that shouldn’t be underrated. Whether you’re designing a poster for a client, an upcoming event, a new business, or even just for your own purposes, great poster design is worth an investment of time and effort.


Let’s take a look at five different approaches that professional designers take to the world of poster design.


From Scratch


Poster design, like any other avenue of graphic design, follows the same basic steps.


  • Know what you’re designing and why.
  • Brainstorm ideas and sketch them out.
  • Transfer the ideas to your design program of choice.
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate until you’re happy with the result.


When using the “from scratch” approach to poster design, take some time to examine the project before you start sketching. What is the purpose? Who will see it? What details need to be included?


It’s important to know all of these details beforehand, regardless of the approach you take, but if you’re creating the poster design by hand from scratch, it’s even more important to ensure that everything has a place and nothing gets left out.


Brainstorming and sketching is a step that can be taken with any design. For the from-scratch approach, some professionals choose to develop the sketch they’ve created and use it as the basis for the poster itself. Others move on to a further step of digitizing the sketch, through scanning, vectorizing, or other methods, and using a digital version of the sketch for the basis of the poster.


The “hand-drawn” look has been popular for a while, so some professionals like to stick with a rougher, more organic final product even if they include other digital elements such as backgrounds, lettering, and frames.


Using Existing Branding


Posters are often used for advertising purposes, and if that’s the case, there are generally some branding guidelines already set in place. Branded graphics like posters are part of your branding strategy; they draw attention to, not just upcoming sales and events, but to the brand behind the graphics, too.


Branding guidelines will take some of the guesswork out of the design process. Professional graphic designers can rely on being given the style guide for the brand or a project plan, including style parameters and goals for the poster. They’ll know details like accepted fonts, color palettes, graphic styles, and so on.


The purpose of the branded poster is important, too — take a restaurant poster for instance. A professional designer will be given all the details of the existing branding, and specifics like fonts and colors for the eatery. They will likely also have access to previous pieces of branded design of the restaurant so as to avoid creating anything too similar.


With branded poster design, the challenge isn’t to create something that looks as though it’s already been used by the company. The challenge is to create something that fits in with existing branding while still drawing attention.


Templates and Websites


For graphic designers with a high turnover of projects, sometimes it’s necessary to rely on shortcuts and templates. And there is no shortage of these!


Some templates come standard with software like Adobe Illustrator. But if you’re just getting started out as a graphic designer — or if you just want to create a poster for yourself — then sites like Visme and Fotor are good options. They provide a wide range of templates for different purposes, and allow you to upload your own design or photograph and edit it through the site interface.


Some of these templates come with preset font groupings and sizes, as well as color blocks and other features. Even if you’d rather start with a blank canvas, these can be helpful for visualizing what you want your end product to be, and helping to establish design hierarchy.


Graphic Design Software


Graphic design is a continually changing landscape, and the best software for design depends on who you ask — and what you’re using it for.


Almost universally, Adobe has a corner on the market in terms of the most popular design software. Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop consistently appear in top ten lists across the web, and they’re listed for poster-specific design, too.


If you’re not ready to invest in professional-grade software but want to design like a professional on an amateur’s budget, a template maker is a good option, too.


Getting a handle on designing posters through software, whether Adobe or otherwise, can call for a steep learning curve. But everyone has to start somewhere — if you’re not a professional, but want to design like one, Adobe provides plenty of tutorials to get the effects you want with every piece of design.


Graphic designers often work with their own preferred presets, such as canvas size, bespoke templates, and favorite fonts. This shortens the time it takes to create poster designs, as you’re not working entirely from scratch. Depending on the type of poster, professionals may upload their sketches and recreate a digital version, or use stamps, shapes, and other elements within the software to start from a blank canvas.


Digital And Actual


A final important approach to creating great posters is to remember that digital posters are still posters. Even if it never gets printed out and hung in a window, poster design can still translate well online.


Follow the same basic approach for creating digital posters. Whether you’re creating for print or for virtual use, it’s absolutely vital to choose the correct type of file format. Always create in vector format, to avoid pixelation or loss of image integrity. A pixelated image is one of the major signs of a non-professional at work.


Posters can fill a range of needs, from advertising to cool wall art. Whether you’re a professional or a newbie, these five approaches can help you to create a poster design that will do exactly what you need it to.


Annabelle Adam

Loves to write, dreams to travel, works to achieve her passions, Annabelle Adam is your freelancer. Whatever your content requirement needs, she has you covered. From digital marketing to creative art, real estate to fashion blogging, she can write it for you with a flair.