Design process: Making Posters

Posters are a fantastic way to communicate to an audience in a large and traditional printing format. They can be used as a form of advertising in bus shelters to shopping malls and can reach a large audience this way. Posters communicate a message best when their colours, image and pattern are considered carefully and minimally. A poster that contains readable text which carries a clear message is ideal. These are the thoughts that I kept in mind while designing my own poster series.

What do my posters need to contain?

  • Characters from my Plastic Fantastics campaign
  • A clear message relating to ocean plastic/my campaign
  • A weblink to more information on my campaign
  • Campaign logo to be displayed

What do I want my posters to look like?

I want them to look like a series/set; each poster would feature a different character and message, but the layout, font, size of the elements ( text, logo, image) would be consistent. Colours would be kept minimal and complement one another on the poster.

I then drew a series of concepts, thinking about the use of boarders or not, placement of image, texts and logo, sizing of these elements and the use of either one character or many in a row.

poster concepts.jpg

I then took these ideas into Adobe Illustrator and began to draw digitally, referring to my concepts along the way. I decided I wanted to use three phrases from my stickers: I eat plastic, ban the bag and straws suck because these are three strong messages that directly reflect awareness on current issues to ocean plastic and the changes being made to straws and plastic bags. I started my designs using the happy hammerhead shark.

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I then thought about incorporating my marbled textures into the poster design, just to see what this could look like. I played with the idea of making marbled text, by importing a texture and using the clipping mask to fill the font.

Below are the first variations that I made. It was after this series that I stopped and discussed with my peers which ones worked best and why. We found that the marbled text did not read very clearly as the pattern made it hard to define certain letters. The thick marbled boarders proved distracting to the content within the frame, and made the content look small too.

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 12.26.29 PM

The thin, green boarder with the hierarchy of the slogan on top, character in the middle and link below creates balance of the elements and frames the content into a central focus. This concept works better than the ones where the content sits on a single colour with no boarder.

The blue and yellow poster with the shark resting on top of the slogan creates a sense of balance as the large image rests on top of the text. The link is in its own breathing space. My peers found that they were more drawn to this poster but commented that the colours were too pastel and needed to become brighter.

Using my colour palette that I made to use on my stickers, I began to eyedrop colour onto the backgrounds. The yellow and orange looked too muddy, so I tried out a pink. This was a lot brighter and allowed the text to contrast as well. I played with the hierarchy  of text and image, as well as moved the logo and created a back drop that would help it to stand out from the background.

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I also redesigned the marbled posters to contain brighter colour and a thinner boarder. After making the boarder a lot thinner and enlarging the content inside, this did improve these poster designs a lot. The first poster works best because the elements are all balanced and in proportion to one another.

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 12.35.27 PM

Once again, I stopped working to discuss my designs and the layout with my peers. Out of all the designs, we concluded that the best hierarchy was that of the shark reading first being balanced by an enlarged slogan as seen in the marbled design on the left.

The resting space between the slogan and the link create a clear point of what to read first and allows for each set of text to breathe rather than compete for attention. The logo being in the top right means that it is not in the way of the main message yet is not forgotten and also creates a point of balance resting near the frames and adding weight to an otherwise empty space. After making many small changes as seen in the slideshow of my process above, I concluded that the green and pink worked best:

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 6.11.15 PM

This design incorporates the best hierarchy of each element; the colour is complimentary to each other and the image, using the green boarder to compliment the green used in the character’s bag. The large image is balanced on the large font but there is space between them for breathability. The frames create a focal point for the main slogan and image and separate the link text below. The link text is in alignment with the slogan text, creating balance. The differing weights and colours add to overall readability. The logo is easily acknowledged as it rests in the top right corner and is supported by the framework of the boarders.

The overall use of flat colour reflects a cohesiveness to other parts of the campaign, such as my stickers, tee shirts and logo designs.

Now that I had settled on a design, I moved onto designing two more posters. I chose to use the penguin and make him drink from a plastic milk carton with a straw. I thought this would be ironic and funny as the penguin has the body of a milk bottle. I used a picture from google to draw over and added a straw and flipper to make it look like he is holding it.

Lastly, I chose the stingray whose body is a plastic bag for the slogan ‘ban the bag’. I was happy with the first colours that I chose; a purply blue to allow the text and image to pop out nicely, and the blue that matches his flippers for the outer boarder. These are the final three posters as a series:

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 2.37.53 PMThen, I sourced a free psd mock-up of a bus shelter to create a real world demonstration of what and where my posters could be displayed for advertisement. I chose a bus shelter as students and young adults commute on the bus for uni and as a way to save money. This is somewhere where they would be able to view my design and gain awareness for the campaign.


BusStop MockUp.jpg

A mock up of my posters in a bus shelter, where they can be viewed by young adults

3 posters hanging

A mock up example of posters in a gallery

In order to print my A1 posters, I had to set up a new document to the current dimensions of 594mm x 841mm. I had to create a bleed of 3mm so that I can trim the paper correctly once it is printed. I organized a time to use the large plotter printer with Diane and requested a lovely glossy paper. When the posters printed, I waited until the ink was dry to the touch and used a scalpel blade with a steel ruler to cut trim the edges.

Choosing the gloss paper was a fantastic idea because it provided a beautiful coated sheen to my posters which make the colours pop and add to the overall cartoon, animated art stylization of my work.


Final posters presented in studio

Poster mock up sources:

Poster mock-up 1 source:

Poster mock up 2 source:


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