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Advice on poster design

Here are a few things to consider when designing a poster for your theatre production.


Keep things simple - most posters are seen at a glance, in passing, so don't present too much information in one hit.


The image is the thing that will most likely attract the eye initially - then the viewer will want to know more, so 'eye-catching' is the main ingredient you want to present graphically.


The job of the image is to give as much information about the nature of the production as possible - if it's a popular favourite you'll want to play to that rather than offer some obscure/arty new take on it. If recognition is already on your side, use it.


Slick graphics are easier to produce these days thanks to computers - but don't pile on the special effects, gradients, lens flares and bevelled 3D titles, too heavily. Professionals know that simple graphics still win.


Don't use a font that is so fancy it can't be read at a glance - especially for the title. Don't squash your lettering too much. A bit of space on the poster allows the important stuff to show up.


The essentials should stand out - what, where and when are the three most important bits of information you want to get across, the prime info: the title of the production, the venue, and the dates. These should stand out the most.


Things like the theatre company, ticket details, and author are of secondary importance - things people will look for if the prime info has hooked them in. You'll probably want these things on your poster, but they shouldn't fight for attention with the more important aspects.


Unless you have a well-known name (local or more widely known) it's best to leave the cast and credits off the poster and save them for the programme.


If you insist on including a review quote, make it short and snappy - be harsh and choose just one phrase, not a paragraph. One, two or three words are best.


Check and double-check the poster for any typos or spelling errors. Triple-check dates, phone numbers and web addresses. Get someone else to check it over as well - a pair of fresh eyes is always a good idea.


Technical advice


Make sure your poster is produced at high-resolution. 300 dpi is usual for printing, though sometimes you can go a little higher which will give you room to enlarge later on, if you need to.


If your artwork includes elements that go off the edge of the paper then you'll need to include a bleed. A bleed is a border of artwork outside the actual print size - 5mm is usual. That way there'll be no white strips if there's any slippage in the printing. Don't add it later - set it up from the start.


Make sure your printer can print from the kind of file you intend to send them. If possible get a proof from them before the final run is printed, just for a final check-over.


Always keep a master copy of the file that remains editable - you never know when you might need to change something.



Unless otherwise stated, all artwork, design and content is © Garen Ewing 2017.
Please do not use content from this website without first obtaining permission and providing the appropriate license fee - thank you.