Saturday, September 19, 2009

Creating Posters in Your Design Curriculum

Art teachers are inundated with requests for poster designs and contests asking students to design posters for some good community or national cause. Administrators often support these requests because they feel it is good for community relations.

Poster contests are inappropriate for most traditional art programs, but if there is a design curriculum in place, students will have the knowledge and skills necessary to design posters for such occasions or for class assignments in science, English, social studies, etc.

Poster design involves three major skills - typography, illustration, and layout design. These are often done by separate specialists in these fields and put together by an art director. The illustration for the Harry Potter poster (left) was done by the famous illustrator Drew Struzan but the lettering was done by type designer Robert Walker, and the poster was put together by a graphic designer.

In laying out type, students need to carefully check kerning (adjusting the spaces between letters and words) and contrast (having enough light and dark contrast) so they don't use yellow letters on a white background.

Students should start with ideation in each of these areas - What is the best typeface for the message; what is the best illustration; and what is the best layout?

In the ideation process students must be encouraged to go beyond the typical cliches. They need to be taught how to be creative and to brainstorm many ideas until they come up with one that is original and appropriate for the topic. Look at Milton Glaser poster designs (right) to see how he came up with innovative ideas.

Students need to learn how to visualize ideas by doing many thumbnail sketches of possible letter choices, illustration ideas, and potential layouts. There are many choices to be made like whether to use a horizontal (landscape) or a vertical (portrait) orientation of the paper.

Perhaps, most difficult to teach, is to prototype the design before going to the final version. There are far too many posters in which the elements are either too crowded or have large gaps because of poor planning. Students should lay out the heading, illustration and body copy on separate sheets of paper (often tracing paper works best) so they can move them around on the page to get them positioned exactly before working on the poster board itself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr. Rayala! Many helpful comments and interesting information that I will definitely share with my students as they complete their posters in the coming weeks.