Design is much like grammar in the sense that it has a certain set of rules all artists must follow. Of course, like grammar, there are people who risk creating their own rules to produce unique and compelling works. If you are new to poster design, experts advise learning and mastering the current rules first, however odd they may be.
The Rule of Fives
Your poster should be able to convey its message from both five inches and five feet away. Banners or billboards are the large-scale applications of this rule, but you are better off limiting your design to the viewing range of a museum painting. Make your poster look inviting from afar, and make it detailed enough to make a person’s walk towards your poster worth it. Give them an incentive to look closer with visible, prominent details of the event you are promoting. Audiences need to see that the words are there, but they have to inspect your design within arm’s reach to read them.
The Rule of Thirds
Designers from Minnesota’s eagan-mn-2636.theupsstorelocal.com, a poster and banner printing business, note how most of the posters that go out their doors adhere to the rule of thirds, regardless of intentionality. They observe a bell curve regarding knowledge about this fundamental design and photography rule. Young adults who are constantly snapping photographs are able to translate their high-end cameras’ and their phones’ tic-tac-toe grid to poster designs, to great effect.
You fall into the gradient sides of the bell curve if you are unfamiliar with the rule of thirds. It’s simply placing the primary elements of the poster at or around the intersections of a 3×3 grid. The next time you create a banner or poster, remember to position photos and words near these intersections, starting with the one at the top left quadrant and working your way to the bottom right quadrant in reading direction. This is the order of areas people pay most attention to.
The Only Rule
Poster design does not have a golden rule — it has a golden ratio. This 1:1.61 cutoff for rectangular designs may seem arbitrary, but it is a visually pleasing ratio existing in nature as well as many popular works of art and architecture. If you are having difficulty with design ratios, this pattern will spell out where exactly all your elements should go.
You can now apply these three odd rules to your poster or banner designs. Just remember that your goal is creating a poster that commands attention and provides information. Do not let unfamiliarity bog down this effort.