Creative Poster Making and Design Ideas (+Free Design Templates to Create Your Own)

When was the last time you saw a creative poster design that was genuinely impressive?

It probably left you remarking, “Woah, how good is that!” You probably 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 might have gone into creating this masterpiece?

If you’re reading this article, you can be sure that you will walk away knowing the nitty-gritty of creating a creative poster using a free online poster maker, whether it’s a movie poster, an infomercial poster, a corporate or a digital poster. 

Posters are one of the ancient, and tried and tested, types of marketing collateral - serving as an effective tool to grab people’s attention and convey information in an artistic way. 

240,000+ people use Picmaker to design posters

Posters have been a significant part of history too, ever so often providing a call to action and, at times, even signifying the celebration of important events, festivals, and more.

The “I Want You” poster, designed by renowned illustrator  James Montgomery Flagg, is one of the iconic images in American history. It was used by the US Army during World War I to recruit soldiers, with as many as four million copies being printed between 1917 and 1918 alone. 

Source: Pinterest

It’s not just the caption but the image of Uncle Sam, who gestures his finger at the viewers urging them to join the war effort, that makes the poster stand out.

Source: Pinterest

Die Gute Form (Good Form)” by Armin Hofmann, a Swiss-born graphic designer, 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.

ALSO READ: The Hidden Secrets of Making a Poster Online, for Free

Whether you’re a business promoting a next-gen product or an individual advertising their online business, posters are the best medium through which to achieve your goal. 

That is primarily because posters work well across the board. Who you are, what you do and what you’re promoting does not really matter. What matters is only that the poster creates a visual impact to hook in people and fuels the excitement for what’s coming. 

No two posters are the same either. A poster design for a star wars movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio will be different from one that serves as an announcement for an upcoming music festival in the city. 

Use 100+ free templates to design your poster

A poster design is about much more than integrating a few graphic elements, illustrations, fonts, and colors onto a canvas, and printing it out.

While a well-designed poster has the potential to boost a brand’s image and communicate the message clearly, a shoddy design will inflict more harm than good. 

A creative, on-brand poster establishes authority, drives interest, and connects with the target audience, which is essential to convince them to take action. This is true for all types of posters.

Poster types infographic
Infographic - Types of posters

Types of posters

While their main purpose is to be attention-grabbing and persuasive, posters come in different types ranging from advertisement to travel, informative to motivational, and more. 

Advertisement posters

They are typically used by brands to promote their product and service offerings. Advertisement posters are, however, also used to campaign for a social cause or movement. 

The design for ad posters tends to be heavy-hitting as the main focus is to elicit an emotion in the viewer and persuade them to take action (such as completing a purchase, making a donation, filling out survey questionnaires, et cetera). 

This is an advertisement poster for a fashion retailer announcing a summer flash sale. The poster copy includes terms such as “special”, “flash sale” and “offer”, which can spark a sense of urgency in prospective buyers. 

Motivational posters

These are typically one-page posters whose only purpose is to inspire an audience. 

The poster copy includes motivational quotes or a thought-provoking caption that is represented in bold, large typography. The copy overlays an inspirational background with mostly an image of an inspirational personality. 

Motivational posters are designed to elicit positive, feel-good emotions in people who can showcase them on the walls of their offices or living rooms. 

This is a minimalist motivational poster with the caption “Good things take time,” which overlays a serene surrounding. The caption underlines the importance of patience in the pursuit of happiness and success.

Informative posters

These too are one-page posters whose main objective is to inform the audience of a subject that they perhaps don’t have enough information about. 

Informative posters often feature simple facts that are presented in an attractive, interesting manner. 

Viewers typically spend more time consuming the information on an informative poster - because of its educational nature - compared to others that can be skimmed from top to bottom. 

This is an example of an informative poster which states the fact that 75 percent of Earth is water, a fast-depleting natural resource. The poster further asks people to attend an upcoming event to learn water conservation techniques, accompanied by a call-to-action to confirm their availability.

Promotional posters

This includes movie and fashion posters that promote an upcoming film or a fashion event being held in the city. 

A movie poster informs the audience of the release date and shows the main protagonists who’ve acted in the movie. It also provides information on when the public can watch the trailer and includes other details to entice and create excitement before the big release. 

A fashion poster, on the other hand, includes information of where and when the event is being held, the event sponsor details, the event episode and more. 

This is a simple fashion poster with very few details about the event but serves as an alert. The quote “Age doesn’t matter in fashion” may perhaps be an indication of the demographic of the stars who’ll take center stage at the event.

Travel posters

These types of posters accomplish the dual purpose of promoting the services of travel agencies and service providers while inspiring people to travel to their favorite destinations.

Travel posters feature the biggest attractions in the world. They include only the most attractive spots that usher wanderlust in people, like white-sand beaches. Display of luxury is a big part of travel posters, too, while being rich in color. 

This is a travel poster that comes with the caption “When all else fails, take a vacation”, overlaying a scenic background. The caption, along with the background, encourages people to travel, leaving behind their busy schedules.

Event posters

Event posters don’t require much description. 

However, they focus on creating buzz and awareness about the event they’re promoting. They tend to include bite-sized information, enough to draw in people, and a Call-To-Action (CTA) encouraging them to register.

An event poster’s design must quickly and seamlessly convey to people what they can expect from the event. In other words, the design must typify the theme and mood of the event.  

This is an event poster that explicitly conveys the what, where and when of the event. The copy also includes information about the performers, the medium through which people can buy their tickets and more.

RELATED: How to Design a Star Wars Poster for Free


Creative poster ideas

We have learned the significance of posters and the different types of posters. Now, let's look at creative ideas that you can employ to create beautiful, high-converting posters.

Creative poster idea #1: Use color overlays for motivational posters

Prioritize simplicity and clarity for motivational posters, and use color overlays to subdue the background. 

Motivational posters typically use an eye-catching background image that is paired with a strong, inspiring caption. At times, though, 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 motivational text on the poster draws the reader’s attention. 

Above is a motivational poster in which a transparent layer has helped highlight the text as it also subdues the background image. 

Gradients offer an equally good alternative to create focus when working with a motivational poster.

Creative poster idea #2: Don’t forget a dual-toned headline

A designer can instantly enhance their creative poster idea with a dual-toned headline. The trick is to choose two contrasting hues that stand out from the background. 

The below poster example typifies this as the caption “Stop Racism” is in contrasting colors and, therefore, grabs the attention quickly. 

Remember - human eyes are drawn towards objects which are easily 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. 

First, the title, “Shape your body muscle”, complements the photo of a man lifting dumbbells and showing off his muscular and toned physique. 

The second and the most important 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 start building muscle. 

If you’re looking for an idea for your next poster, a consistent margin width is one way to go.

Creative poster idea #4: Don’t hesitate to choose a bold color scheme

The last decade was dominated by minimalism designs, but the bold color scheme is fast becoming mainstream again. And, particularly for posters, a bold color scheme helps designs stand out from the rest. 

Take this poster example. The designer’s bold color choices have helped elevate the design as it also draws the reader’s attention and conveys the message quickly.

Creative poster idea #5: Pick a poster idea in relation to the theme

Design choices incongruent with the poster theme or topic is a more common mistake than most people think. For example, a business poster would not look like one if its design contained fun font choices and a colorful palette. 

Take this poster example. It’s a restaurant poster announcing a 30 percent offer on the weekend menu. The copy combines with an image of a mouthwatering food item, encouraging people to visit the restaurant and take advantage of the offer. 

In other words, the poster design is coherent as the font, color choices and design elements complement each other. 

Creative poster idea #6: Include product images in your poster

A designer must know if he/she can incorporate a product image into their design to lend a focal point to the poster or even to purely reinforce the messaging. 

In this cosmetic poster example, the designer has included cosmetic products to not only reflect the poster’s theme but also make it 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 ram home the key message: “Stop ocean plastic pollution.

Plastic bottles and other objects floating on the ocean is not an uncommon sight. 

And, with the help of a graphical illustration, the designer has helped convey the message emphatically.

Creative poster idea #8: Use objects and icons to guide the eye to key information

Intelligent use of objects and icons helps effortlessly draw the reader’s attention to the key part(s) of a poster. 

In this poster example, the arrangement of fruits at the top and bottom directs the eye to the centrally-aligned text. 

The design also complements the theme of the event that’s being advertised. 

Creative poster idea #9: Add poster depth with a transparent background

Earlier we mentioned the importance of adding a color overlay to subdue the background image. 

Now, a transparent background can also help increase the depth of your poster. 

Take this poster example where the designer has provided extra depth by including a transparent background. 

In addition, a bold color palette combined 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 (if not more) 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 of the graphic 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 easily noticeable

When your poster contains key information such as location, address and contact details, ensure they are easy to spot and read. After all, searching for those details from top to bottom, only to find it lying around somewhere, is a pain. Also, the poster may not solve the problem effectively. 

Take this poster example. It first answers the question ‘what’, which is that it is a celebration of womanhood. 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. It, however, doesn’t have to, and can assume the focal point of the poster. 

Take this poster as an example. 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 going to include a lot of information, then effective use of colors and shapes can help 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 helps convey 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 help 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 entire canvas

This is similar to not being afraid of negative space in your poster. 

Not always do you have to use the entire canvas and fill it up with content. 

Effective use of space is an important part of any 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 your minimalism principles. 

Creative poster idea #19: Ensure the poster design matches the event

This is particularly true for event posters. 

You don’t want your music festival poster to wear the look of 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.

But, whatever information you’ve included in your poster must be easy to consume 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 strike 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 the theme of your poster. 

As it does with this Valentine’s Day poster example. 

This 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 and have fun with your poster design to impact 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 among the audience.

Creative poster idea #23: Add photos to boost 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 size of the poster. 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, as a marketing tool, must provide enough information to persuade the readers to take action. 

This creative poster example has one Call-to-Action (CTA), the perfect number for each poster.

Adding more than one CTA could confuse the reader and clutter your designs. 


5 Tips to Design a Poster in 2021

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 is likely to vary based on the event or purpose of your poster. If your organization has brand guidelines that must be followed, Picmaker gives you the option to upload your brand logo, custom font and brand colors, and incorporate them into your poster design.

Creating a poster takes less than 2 minutes!

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 is used to grab the reader’s attention and lend 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: Don’t hesitate to amp up contrast

You have only one chance to capture a reader’s attention. Employing a high contrast between the poster elements can help achieve the main goal of grabbing 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 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 have been and remain an effective tool for marketing and advertising as they possess the inherent capability to boost a brand’s image and clearly communicate the message. 
  • Posters come in a variety of formats and cater to different purposes, but each type of poster needs to be tailored to maximise their 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 customise it based on your requirements. 
  • Don’t hesitate to experiment with high-contrast colors in your poster design as this helps you grab the reader’s attention. But ensure your color theme is on-brand. 
  • Include photos in your poster (if necessary) to add credibility and add a layer of professionalism to the design. 
  • 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. 

Which type of poster have you created using Picmaker? Share your experience creating the poster in the comments section below.