20 easy ways to create a professional poster that goes above and beyond

20 easy ways to create a professional poster_featured image

Out of 7 billion people, only 3 billion are internet users.

That’s why offline marketing is still a popular choice in this day and age. Posters bring your message to the people via a physical connection — that’s the kind of interaction powerful enough to drive increments of foot traffic to your business.

To help you bring people to your store, we’ve gathered easy tips for creating a professional poster that captures your brand message and looks chic on any wall. We’ve also featured designs applying these tips  — click on images with an edit in Canva label to quickly customize your own professional poster.

01. Go Black


We tend to print on a white canvas. However, some of the most visually interesting posters out there shy away from crisp white backgrounds and use black instead.

If you go black, consider printing in metallic inks or even a bright white, as shown above, to create an eye-catching poster.


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02. Keep it Stark and Beautiful


Young designers are often eager to fill every corner of a canvas. Don’t feel like you have to, though. Often, simple compositions are the most beautiful.

The posters above are stunning and don’t make use of many bells and whistles. To create them, Anthony Lane simply combined superb photography and essential content.

Distil your poster in the same way. Build it using only what is essential and create an elegant and sophisticated piece.


Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

03. Mix it Up with Grungy Type


Professional design isn’t limited to clean typefaces and tidy type. Give a typeface with character and a rebel feel a shot. You’ll wind up with a poster with a bold personality, just like the one for FAUPE above.

If you have the time, break out the felt-tip markers or any other writing utensil you like. Write out your content and create grungy custom type for your poster. Trust me, your handwriting is a lot more interesting than you think!


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04. Use Your Grid


Grids are one of the most powerful tools you can use to create posters and design pieces that feel professional and tidy. Define a grid for your poster to govern its design to create a piece that feels professionally designed, like the poster above.

Once you’ve developed a grid to serve as a solid foundation, play with different type point sizes and a few simple design elements. You can use a single color as done above or you can opt for complementary shades to build color contrast.


Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

05. Try Black & White Photography


Struggling with a shot you need to use on your poster? Turn it black and white – it is very forgiving and a great way to create a poster with an elegant feel, like the one above by Sgustok Studio.

As you work with imagery featured on your poster, give cropping careful thought. What you decide to leave out of your frame speaks to your audience just as much as what’s left in it.


Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

06. Feature a Minimal Color Palette


Complex color palettes require that you spend more time working out how they work and how they should be applied to a piece. They can be especially troubling to those new to design.

If you’re just getting comfortable with color and design, keep your palette minimal to avoid overwhelming yourself.

Try going with black, white and a bright color. Use the bright color as a dominant color, white a supporting color, and black as an accent color, just as showcased above.


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07. Cut Back on Bells and Whistles


Follow Lucas Dörre’s example above and keep things as simple as possible. Focus on making sure your photography is of the highest quality and your type is masterfully set. Don’t get caught up in adding bells and whistles, just work with the basics.

Don’t get caught up in creating and adding design elements to your poster. Keeping things as basic as possible is a great way to produce a stunning piece.


Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

08. Cut It Out


Layer design elements and creatively mask, or cut out, design elements to add visual interest to your poster. Not sure what I am talking about? Check out the poster above. In it, instead of a solid letterform, you’ll find a “B” shaped mask that reveals imagery tied to the copy featured on the poster.


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09. Go for a Classic Approach


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Not feeling like taking chances? Give a classic approach a shot. Set clean, black type over white and use an interesting image or illustration as a background.

If you want to spice things up just a tad, play with opacity, just like Little Upside Down Cake does above.


Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

10. Try a Vintage Feel


Not every piece you put out has to feel like it belongs in 2016. Vintage pieces can garner just as much attention as those that feel modern.

Don’t believe it? Check out the stunning poster above, by Jessica Svendsen. To create it, she combines


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11. Do it Just Like the Movies


Some of my favorite posters out there are created to advertise great films. Check out what’s been done for your favorite movie or draw inspiration from the myriad of movie posters out there. They offer tried and true solutions that won’t disappoint.

Unsure of what this translates into? Check out the poster above. Doesn’t it feel like something you’d see at your local theater?


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12. Juxtapose Crisp and Blurry


I love the combination of crisp, clean type with a blurry background on the poster above. I think it is a beautiful way of creating unexpected visual contrast.

In the same way, explore different ways in which you can use filters and treatments to create beautiful and surprising design solutions.


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13. Stick Out with Bold Graphics


The poster above is part of one of Ross Gunter’s personal projects. For it, he created a series of posters created with “two core elements; consistent layout and substantial graphic.”

In the same way, use a bold graphic to add excitement to simple layouts. You can use big type or large graphics that bleed off the page and seem to disobey the grid you’ve established.


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14. Combine Horizontal and Vertical Elements


Play with type set both horizontally and vertically. Set different pieces of content along a different axis.

If you choose to do so, be sure to set related content along the same axis, as showcased above on the Academic Calendar for SCAD. It will make it easier for your audience to navigate your poster’s content.


Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

15. Use Basic Shapes


Use basic shapes as design elements to create a stunning poster like the one above. You can follow the example and use beautiful, bright colors or you can give shy shades a shot.


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16. Play with Opacity


Layer color fields on photographs and play with their opacity, as shown above for a clean and contemporary looks.

Be mindful of the different colors you use for different elements. Select brighter colors for elements “on top” and darker ones for those below. This will ensure your different design elements don’t wind up lost.

Consider the examples above. If we swapped the colors used for type and the color blocks, we wouldn’t be able to see the headlines as clearly.


Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

17. Take Chances With Imagery


Consider using quirky imagery or images of single objects as design elements on your poster. Their funkiness will inevitably spark your audience’s curiosity, making them want to learn more about your posters subject.

Consider the examples above. Because we don’t commonly see the kind of imagery and image treatment featured on them we’re naturally drawn to want to learn more.


Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

18. Showcase Your Product


I love the chair lineup featured on the poster for Knoll above. If you’re creating a poster for a product or product family, consider giving it center stage on your product.

You don’t have to feature product photography on your poster either. Go the Knoll way and create beautiful illustrations of your product or products.

If you have a family of products, arrange them using the grid as showcased above. Not only will it help you organize your content and cut down on design time, you’ll wind up with a balanced and harmonious composition. If you’re just working with a single product, blow the illustration up and let it bleed off the page.


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19. Fall Off the Page


All your poster’s design elements are not strictly confined to the boundaries of the sheet they are printed on. Feel free to let them fall off and print full bleed. In doing so, you’ll create modern and gorgeous visual solutions, just like Quim Marin did in the bright piece above.


Edit this design in Canva

Edit this design in Canva

20. Unexpected Type


Surprise your audience by setting type in unexpected ways, as done in the example you see. Break your grid or set a heading or quote in a completely random way. You might end up with a poster as lovely as the one for the Amman Lab above.


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Even if you already have an online marketing strategy, it’s best to complement it with an offline one. This is especially true for businesses with a physical store — the physical connection a poster creates is powerful enough to drive increments of foot traffic.

Before you decide which places you can strategically display your posters, first you must design one. That part shouldn’t be too hard, especially now that you have all these tips and templates in your arsenal.

Happy designing!

Your secret weapon for stunning design