How to Make Posters

Posters are one of the most popular and true ways of making an impactful graphic statement. They are also tried and tested, having been around since the late 19th century. Although posters were only used to deliver information back in the day, they’re mostly used for marketing and awareness creation.

Designing a poster is mainly about creativity, coupled with a few skills. As such, there’s no one-size-fits-all guide that you can follow to make an eye-catching poster. But, in this piece, you’ll learn how to make posters and useful tips you should apply when making a poster from scratch.

Types of Posters

types of poster

If you’ve been careful to read the catchy posters you see along the streets, you may have noted that one can make a poster on different themes. Some poster types you can design include;


As the name suggests, these posters are designed to stimulate emotions and trigger an action. A promotional or advertising poster will give you an irresistible urge to champion the advertised cause when properly designed. If the ad persuades you to buy from a particular brand, you’ll feel like you’re missing out if you do otherwise.

The secret to designing a captivating advertising poster is to provoke your target audience’s subconscious mind. You should also load the poster with relevant imagery but avoid exaggeration.


Also called affirmation posters, these one-pagers aim at inspiring readers and making them feel good about themselves and life in general. They usually contain precise messages of hope and affirmation. You can use related background images to improve the relevance and make it more eye-catching.

For instance, you may have come across posters with an inscription like ‘nothing worth having comes easy.’ This is a perfect message on a motivational poster because it inspires the readers to strive to achieve their goals. Mostly these posters are shared on social media platforms as artworks.


Poster creation is not merely about personal interests. Some have a primary goal to educate the viewers on various subjects. You can trust whatever you read on such posters because they are based on facts or well-researched information.

Designing a poster of this nature doesn’t even require the use of jargon and deep explanations. They’re aimed at passing information and data to the ordinary person. Like, during this COVID-19 era, you must have seen several posters informing viewers of the safety precautions to take.


If you want to design an event poster, then you’ll certainly be focusing on specific details. You may choose to use text or symbolism, depending on the nature of your event. Whatever you pick, ensure you design a poster that compels people to attend your event.

Unlike other posters, this one should have a call to action and probably something that triggers interested parties to visit your website. Your potential attendees also expect to get a glimpse of what to expect, so quickly pitch something that’s alluring. The right details coupled with perfect theme colors will give you wonderful results.


Research posters are unique in the sense that they target a specific group of people, mostly scholars. They contain deep information and may also have well-researched findings. Jargon is also part of the details shared in such posters.

People who’re not part of the target group may never pick anything from the detailed, data-driven posters. Also, you’re not likely to find anything coercing you to take action; you read to understand. Unlike other posters, readers have to take quality time and attention.


It’s impossible to complete a poster-making conversation without mentioning movie posters. They’re probably the most popular even among professional poster designers. Ideally, movie posters promote an upcoming film.

Although they’re more like ad posters, they are more defined and have a clearer message. Mostly, they will be urging you to buy tickets and watch the film in the theatre. To achieve this, ensure you incorporate as many movie elements in the poster as possible.

How to Make Posters

poster design

Designing your posters isn’t complicated, especially if you’re naturally artistic. With the right tools and a clear understanding of the theme, you should develop a striking poster. If you’re doing it for the first time, this is how to make a poster by hand.

Create Thumbnail Sketches

It’s not possible to start any kind of design without putting the critical details on paper. Just like architects use a blueprint, you should also write down your ideas. In this pre-design phase, indicate where to put texts and images.

This may sound simple, but it forms your foundation. The final message you intend to communicate on the poster should come from the concept birthed in this phase. To come up with something worthwhile, consider the following;

  • The company image: you need to indicate the values your company stands for, or else you will lack consistency.
  • Target audience: first, identify your potential viewers and give a solution to their needs in your poster.
  • Outline the message for your poster: the idea of a poster is to communicate, and it doesn’t have to be in words. Think of graphics that represent your interest and where to place them conveniently.

Sketch an Outline

In this phase, you should have something better than a mere skeleton. While the initial stage focused on general ideas, you should be specific here. Include details like the title, date, any rules, the logo, and charges in the case of event posters.

However, a lot of details on the poster can make it appear chaotic, thus confusing the readers. Try as much as possible only to have pertinent details, or else readers will not even look at it twice. People are busy, and if you’re luring them, you have to take the shortest time to pass your message.

Choose Your Theme Colors

The visual design has everything to do with color selection. If you get this one right, it will attract many people from afar. Start by choosing a primary color and then the other two colors matching it. The primary color should take 60% of your poster, while the two secondary colors account for 30% and 10%.

If you find it challenging to blend your colors well, invest in Adobe Color or any other relevant tool. Colors are so powerful that they even direct a reader’s eye, whether they like it or not. Ensure you utilize that opportunity while it lasts.

Fix Your Photos in Place

You may have several photos, but it’s advisable to take your time when selecting one for your poster. Review your objectives and confirm that they match the photo you choose. If you’re doing this for the first time, get an image that balances between your image and the caption.

The image location is also an important factor you need to consider. Like, you can have the photo surrounded by some texts and other graphics.

Ascertain the Poster is Camera-ready

This is the near-final phase, where you will transfer the details on your template to the actual poster. It’s also at this stage you should also confirm that your fonts are setting the right mood. Should you realize something is looking a bit off, this is where to rectify it.

As a creative designer, experiment with different fonts and sizes until you get it all perfect. Sans serif font has always been a great deal, so you can use it to emphasize where the reader should look. Of course, the title and call to action should be your main focus.

Tips to Follow When Designing Posters

tips for poster design

Having the above information alone is not enough. Whether a first-timer or not, follow the following tips to design a perfect poster.

Make it Readable from Afar

The purpose of a poster should always be to expose a brand to a target audience that doesn’t necessarily have to be interested. If it’s in fine print and someone has to come close to grasp the message, then that’s not an effective poster. Your title should be a primary component in your design or even art with a catchy typeface.

After the title, now think about such details as the location and time. Such secondary information should also be very clear to answer questions that may be lingering in a reader’s mind. The final thing, which doesn’t require so much visibility, is the fine print, which consists of ‘other’ information.

Use Colors Appropriately to Evoke the Right Emotions

Colors used in posters symbolize unique things, depending on the culture. For instance, event attendees should expect soft music if an event poster has soft colors like springtime. Solid colors also portray specific meanings, but the secret is proper color blending.

As a graphic designer, you should be intentional with color blending. You have the liberty to limit or explore the color palette to your advantage. If you’re hesitant about the colors to use, try several options and have people who can act as your audience. They will likely help you choose from the many designs at your disposal.

Determine the Location Beforehand

Do not make a poster, and then try finding an ideal location for it. What if the location is cluttered and you already made a relatively small poster? It would be very difficult to make it stand out among other things within the surrounding area.

Apart from deciding on the size and how to create your poster, the background should guide you on colors to use. Like, if you’ll hang your poster on a white wall, you may want to use contrasting colors. You will learn that visual contrast is an important factor in poster design with continued practice.

Leave Ample Air Space

Making posters is an art that requires you to know how to use air or negative space appropriately. Usually, a poster tends to have an excellent visual impact when spaces are more. Unfortunately, this is a skill that, however simple, challenges so many designers.

For ideal results, you can leave spaces in the following places on your poster;

  • Between letters: when done properly, tight kerning can marry letters in a way that portrays a great visual appeal.
  • Between text lines
  • Around the inner margins of the image
  • Between components of different types: like between an image and text
  • Around the primary component in the design: mostly around the call to action and title

Explore Various Printing Techniques

A lot has changed in this digital era, and the printing industry hasn’t been left out either. If you want to print to poster today, you’ll be surprised to find numerous techniques at your disposal. For unmatched quality artworks, consider such high-end methods as UV layer use, foiling, letterpress, or screen printing for unmatched quality artworks.

But, you should talk to your printing professional about all these and how feasible it is to take that direction. Some of these methods are expensive and may inconvenience you. This may not be the best option if you’re on a tight budget.

Take Pleasure in Designing

Designing of any kind requires a passionate person about what they are doing. You will experiment a lot before finally settling on an ideal design if it’s in you. By doing so, you will also be honing your skills.

Luckily, the internet offers you many free templates you can use in your experiments. Some sites even have the option of contesting with other designers from across the world. You can then decide to buy the design created by the winning contestant. Several attempts to do this will improve your skills tremendously. 


Poster use only seems to have gotten at its peak. This is despite having been around for so many years. If you want to move with the times, above are all the details about how to make posters you need to design a scalable poster for use in whichever domain.

The best thing is that it’s all fun and allows you to explore limitless opportunities in the design world. Also, no design can be said to be bad; anything you develop will be a stepping stone toward something bigger and better.

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