Creative Poster Making and Design Ideas (+Free Design Templates to Create Your Own)
When did you last see a creative poster design that instantly impressed you?
It probably left you remarking, “Woah, how good is that!” Perhaps, you happened to ask yourself a few questions, too:
“Who’s the artist behind this poster?”
“Where did they get the poster design idea or inspiration from?”
And, probably this, too: “How much work went into creating this masterpiece?”
From this article, you will learn the nitty-gritty of designing a creative poster using a free online poster maker. It can be a movie poster, an infomercial poster, a corporate, or a digital poster.
The poster is an evergreen marketing and advertising tool that grabs people’s attention and conveys information in an artistic way.
Posters have historically been a tool for calls to action. They have also been a symbol of celebration of important events, festivals, and more.
For example, the “I Want You” poster is one of the iconic images in American history. Designed by renowned illustrator James Montgomery Flagg, the US Army used it to recruit soldiers during World War I, with as many as four million copies being printed between 1917 and 1918 alone.
Along with the caption, the image of Uncle Sam gesturing his finger at the viewers urging them to join the war effort, makes the poster stand out.
Armin Hofmann's “Die Gute Form (Good Form)” is another poster of such enormity. It emerged after WWII and became known as the international typographic style. It used Sans Serif typefaces (particularly Helvetica) and, along with monochrome photography, was perfect for a prominent yet clear style of communication.
Posters generally work well across the board. Who you are, what you do, and what you’re promoting, do not really matter. A poster's job is to create a visual impact on the viewer and provide them with enough information to drive the desired action.
No two posters are the same either. A poster design for a star wars movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio will be different from one that announces a music festival.
A well-designed poster boosts a brand’s image. Conversely, a shoddy design could hamper a brand's reputation. An on-brand creative poster establishes authority, drives interest, and connects with the target audience.
Types of posters
Posters come in different types: advertisement, travel, informative, motivational, and more.
Brands use this type of poster to promote their product and service offerings. Advertisement posters are, however, also used to campaign for a social cause or movement.
Ad posters are designed to elicit emotion and persuade viewers to take action. It might include: completing a purchase, making a donation, filling out questionnaires, et cetera.
This is an advertisement poster from a fashion retailer announcing a summer flash sale. The poster copy includes terms such as “special”, “flash sale” and “offer”, instilling a sense of urgency in shoppers.
These are one-page posters designed to inspire and motivate an audience.
The poster copy includes motivational quotes or a thought-provoking caption presented in bold typography. The copy overlays the background with a scenic image or a picture of an inspirational figure.
Motivational posters are designed to inspire people and remind them of their potential.
This is a minimalist motivational poster with the caption “Good things take time.” The caption overlays a scenic background that is immersive and reminds viewers of the journey to the top of the mountain.
Informative posters are designed to inform the audience about a particular subject or trend. They feature simple facts presented in an attractive manner.
Viewers typically spend more time consuming the information on an informative poster - because of its educational nature - compared to others.
This is an informative poster. It displays the fact that 75 percent of planet Earth is water, a fast-depleting natural source. The poster promotes an event about water conservation. Its call-to-action is concise, clear, and encourages people to attend the event.
These are movie and fashion posters that promote an upcoming film or a fashion event.
A movie poster mentions the release date and shows the main protagonist(s) starring in an upcoming flick. It informs people of when the trailer is released and includes enticing details to generate buzz before the big release.
A fashion poster includes information on where and when the event is being held, the event sponsor details, the event episode, and more.
This is a simple fashion poster with key event details. The copy includes a reference to "age". The trendy picture of a man in casual attire indicates the collections that might be on display.
These posters accomplish the dual purpose of promoting travel services while inspiring people to travel.
Travel posters feature the biggest attractions in the world. They include the most attractive spots that usher wanderlust in people, like white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. They are typically colorful and display luxury to attract travel enthusiasts.
This is a travel poster that comes with the caption “When all else fails, take a vacation”. The caption and the scenic background encourage people to travel and take a break from their busy schedules.
Event posters don’t require much description.
However, they focus on generating buzz and awareness about the event. They typically include bite-sized information, enough to grab people's attention, and a call-to-action encouraging them to register.
An event poster’s design and the copy must seamlessly convey what the audience can expect from the event.
This is an event poster that conveys the 'what', 'where', and 'when' of the event. The copy also includes information about the performers, where to buy tickets, and more.
Creative Poster Ideas
Let's look at the different ways you can customize your creative poster design to achieve your campaign goals.
Creative Poster Idea #1: Use Color Overlays For Motivational Posters
Color overlays subdue the background. A minimalist approach is often the best for motivational posters.
Motivational posters typically feature an eye-catching background image along with an inspiring caption. However, at times, the image can grab all the attention and distract the viewer from consuming the motivational message.
Color overlays help solve this by neutralizing the background. Thus, the poster copy draws the reader’s attention.
Above is a motivational poster in which a transparent layer highlights the text and subdues the background image.
Gradients offer an equally good alternative to create focus when working with a motivational poster.
Creative Poster Idea #2: Dual-toned Headline
A dual-toned headline enhances the look and feel of a creative poster. The trick is to choose two contrasting hues that stand out from the background.
The poster below typifies this. The caption “Stop Racism” is in contrasting colors and, therefore, pops out and grabs the attention.
Remember - human eyes are drawn toward objects that are distinguishable from those around them.
Creative Poster Idea #3: Stick To A Consistent Page Margin Width
Two aspects of this poster make it a must-have in your design kit.
The title caption “Shape your body muscle” complements the photo of a man lifting dumbbells and displaying his muscular and toned physique.
The second standout feature is the consistent margin width, which gives it an organized, professional look. As you read one line after the other, your eyes know immediately where to look next. That’s the key trait of this ad poster, encouraging people to join the fitness center and build muscle.
So one idea for your next poster is a consistent margin width.
Creative Poster Idea #4: Choose A Bold Color Scheme
Minimalist designs dominated the last decade, but the bold color scheme is becoming mainstream again. Especially for posters, a bold color scheme helps designs stand out from the rest.
Take this poster example. The designer’s bold color choices have elevated the design. It also does a good job of drawing the reader’s attention and conveying the message quickly.
Creative Poster Idea #5: Pick a Poster Idea Relevant To The Theme
Design choices incongruent with the poster theme or topic are more common than most of us think. For example, a business poster would not look like it if its design contained fun font choices and a rich color palette.
Take this poster example. It’s a restaurant poster announcing a 30 percent offer on the weekend menu. The copy complements an image of a mouthwatering food item that encourages people to visit the restaurant and grab the offer.
In other words, the poster design is coherent as the font, color choices and design elements are complementary.
Creative Poster Idea #6: Include Product Images In Your Poster
A designer must know if their poster design needs a product image to lend a focal point or even to purely reinforce the messaging.
In this cosmetic poster, the designer has included cosmetic products that not only reflect the poster’s theme but also are the main focus.
BONUS TIP: Check if the product image can also be a part of the poster caption to blend it seamlessly with the design.
Creative Poster Idea #7: Incorporate Shapes And Patterns In Your Poster Design
In this poster example, the design elements and caption combine to drive the key message: “Stop ocean plastic pollution.”
Plastic bottles and other objects floating in the ocean is not an uncommon sight.
In this case, the designer has used a graphical illustration to convey the core message.
Creative Poster Idea #8: Use Objects And Icons To guide The Eye To Key Information
Effective use of objects and icons draws the reader’s attention to the key part(s) of a poster.
In this poster example, the arrangement of fruits directs the eye to the centrally-aligned text.
The design also complements the theme of the event that’s advertised.
Creative Poster Idea #9: Add Poster Depth With A Transparent Background
Earlier we mentioned the importance of color overlay to subdue the background image.
Now, a transparent background can also help increase the depth of your poster.
Take this poster example. The designer has provided extra depth with a transparent background. In addition, a bold color palette along with a contextual image lends elegance to the design.
Creative Poster Idea #10: A Simple, Crisp Tagline Works Wonders
In today’s fast-paced world, getting the message across quickly is as important as conveying the right message.
This poster does it efficiently.
It gets straight to the point with the caption right at the top, complemented by a minimalist design and color scheme.
Creative Poster Idea #11: Don’t Worry About Negative Space
Not every poster design must cover each pixel to make it interesting and attractive.
As this poster example shows, negative space is not a bad design practice. Instead, it allows the poster text to gain prominence.
Creative Poster Idea #12: Ensure The Key Information Is Noticeable
Key information such as location, address, and contact details should be easy to find and read. After all, searching for those details from top to bottom, only to find them lying around somewhere, creates a bad experience. Also, the poster may not solve the problem effectively.
Take this poster example. It first answers the question ‘what’. Secondly, the reader can also get answers to questions ‘when’ and ‘where’ quite easily.
Creative Poster Idea #13: Let The Background Image Speak For The Poster
It is not uncommon for poster backgrounds to feel lost in a design. However, it doesn’t have to and can be the focal point of the poster.
Take this poster. It’s an announcement of an offer on the occasion of Holi festival.
The background sets the theme for the poster as people splash and play with the color powder, which is symbolic of Holi.
Creative Poster Idea #14: Use Contrasting Colors To Highlight Key Information
Incorporating contrasting colors in your creative poster is an effective way to grab the reader’s attention and convey information easily.
In this poster example, the words “STOP” and “HATE” are in contrasting hues, which adds to their prominence.
Creative Poster Idea #15: Use Colors And Shapes To Simplify Your Messaging
If your creative poster is packed with information, then effective use of colors and shapes can simplify and convey your message.
It is up to the designer to decide how much information they want to include in their poster, but it needs to be neatly organized for it to work.
Take this poster example. The smart use of icons and objects conveys the information in visual form, while the date and location details give the poster an organized look.
Creative Poster Idea #16: Experiment With Unique Fonts And Colors
Sometimes, a more casual design can convey the message more effectively.
As we see in this creative poster example. The letters in the word “HOLI” are presented in a unique way to fit the theme and also give it a casual look.
Creative Poster Idea #17: You Don’t Always Have To Use The Full Canvas
This is similar to negative space in your poster.
You don't always need to use the entire canvas and fill it up with content.
Effective use of space is an important part of design, let alone posters, as it gives a professional look and guides the reader to the key parts of the design.
Take this poster example. The designer has ensured the poster conveys the essential information and, by providing enough white space, has clearly defined the focal point.
Creative Poster Idea #18: Minimalism + Bold Colors = Killer Combination
Take this creative poster example. It combines minimalism with a dash of bold colors to catch the eye.
This poster is a great example of how to effectively get your message across without abandoning minimalism principles.
Creative Poster Idea #19: Ensure The Poster Design Matches The Event Theme
This is particularly true for event posters.
You don’t want your music festival poster to wear the look of one that promotes a book fair.
Take the above creative poster as an example. It is an advert for a music festival. Its design, graphic elements and font choices make it clear to the reader that it is a music festival poster.
Creative Poster Idea #20: Use Boxes And Borders To Break Down Poster Into Different Sections
No hard-and-fast rule exists as to how much information you should include in your creative poster.
However, the information you include in your poster must be easily consumable for the reader.
Using boxes and borders helps convey your message easily and adds hierarchy to your poster, as we see in this creative poster example.
Creative Poster Idea #21: Emphasize Elements To Heighten The Drama
You don’t want your poster to be bland and feel empty as your target audience sees it, do you?
Posters must create an emotional connection with your reader and persuade them to know more about your brand, what you’re selling, and what’s in it for them.
Emphasizing the elements in your poster is an effective way to emotionally connect with your reader. Ensure that it matches your poster's theme.
As this Valentine’s Day poster example shows.
The poster design is impactful and is likely to elicit a reaction from the viewer.
Creative Poster Idea #22: Be Prepared To Experiment
It is okay to experiment with your poster design to create an impact with your audience and draw a reaction from them.
Take this creative poster example. Its description is a little out of the ordinary. But ultimately, it does a stellar job of conveying the message and heightening the level of curiosity.
Creative Poster Idea #23: Use Photos For Credibility
Photos, like other design elements, alter the feel and mood of your poster. And importantly, convey a message on its own.
Take this creative poster example. It’s a poster designed to invite professionals to attend a business conference. While the text makes it clear the poster is about a business conference, the photo of a man in a business suit adds a layer of professionalism to the poster.
Creative Poster Idea #24: Experiment With Formatting And Size
All posters are designed differently, and their formatting and size don’t always have to be the same either.
It’s okay to fiddle with the poster dimensions. It doesn’t always need to be vertical either (give horizontal and square a try).
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the design to maximize the potential of your creative poster.
Creative Poster Idea #25: Limit Your Call-to-action To Just One
Posters must provide enough information to persuade the readers to take action.
This creative poster example has one Call-to-action, the perfect number for each poster.
Adding more than one CTA could confuse the reader and clutter your designs.
How to Design a Poster in 2022
Designing a poster that grabs the eyeballs and leads your target audience to take action needs a well-defined approach.
Here’re five tips to design a creative poster that gets you results.
Tip #1: Start With A Poster Template
Get the foundation you need for your poster by choosing a poster template from Picmaker’s library. Identify a template with the type of layout you need (image placeholders, header placement, icons and illustrations, and more) and which will help you accomplish your goal.
Tip #2: Choose A Branded Color Palette
Your color palette is one of the most prominent features of your poster. It varies based on the event or purpose of your poster. If your organization has brand design guidelines, Picmaker gives you the option to upload your brand logo, custom font, and brand colors, and incorporate them into your poster design.
Tip #3: Use Fonts As Per The Hierarchy Of Information
Choose primary, secondary and tertiary fonts for your poster design. The headline takes the primary font as the part of the poster that grabs the reader’s attention and lends context to other information. Secondary and tertiary fonts should be used for the descriptive text below the headline, sub-titles (if any), bullet points and other text elements.
Tip #4: Amp Up Contrast
You have only one chance to capture a reader’s attention. Providing high contrast between the poster elements can help grab eye-balls. If your brand guidelines allow, choose a bold color palette and a high-contrast background to help your poster stand out.
Tip #5: Download Your Poster In Optimal Format
Once you have designed your creative poster, download it in an optimal format based on how you want to distribute it. Picmaker, a free poster creator, allows you to download your poster in PNG, PDF, and JPEG formats. Downloading in PNG format will be ideal for use on social media and to share via emails. If you want to print out the poster, download it in PDF format.
Key Takeaways Before You Start Designing Your Poster
- Posters are an effective tool for marketing and advertising as they inherently boost a brand’s image and clearly communicate the message.
- Posters come in a variety of formats and cater to different purposes, but each poster needs to be tailored to maximize its potential.
- Pick a creative poster idea that fits the theme of your event. You can choose a poster template from Picmaker’s extensive library of templates and customize it based on your requirements.
- Don’t hesitate to experiment with high-contrast colors in your poster design as this helps grab the reader’s attention. But ensure your color theme is on-brand.
- Include photos in your poster (if necessary) to add credibility and make your design professional.
- Use Picmaker’s MAD Button to jazz up your design and effortlessly mix and match colors, fonts, and typography to create a high-converting poster.
What type of poster have you created using Picmaker, the best online tool for poster making? Share your experience creating the poster in the comments section below.
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