Have you ever walked past a poster that stopped you in your tracks? A poster so vibrant, so compelling, that it drew you in and wouldn't let go? That's the power of effective poster design.

Capturing attention is a challenge. But a well-designed poster can cut through the noise and deliver your message in an informative and visually stunning way.

Whether promoting an upcoming event, a product, or a cause, an informative poster can be a powerful tool for reaching your target audience. But where do you start?

"There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for."—Milton Glaser
Image source: An0ther
Image source: An0ther
Image source: An0ther
Image source: An0ther
Image source: An0ther

At Linearity, we're passionate about helping our community create posters and other designs that make a difference. In this comprehensive guide, we'll design a stunning poster that grabs attention and leaves a lasting impact.

Ready to unleash your inner creative genius? We'll cover everything from setting your goals and understanding your audience to choosing the right visuals and mastering the art of typography. And, of course, we'll give you plenty of practical tips and tricks for using Linearity Curve, a user-friendly online poster maker. You can also browse our helpful library of poster templates and custom poster options that make creating professional-looking posters easier than ever.

Jumpstart your ideas with Linearity Curve

Take your designs to the next level.

Considerations when designing your poster

Before we dive into the practical tutorial, it's essential to consider some key factors of your poster content that will influence your poster's design:

  • Define your purpose: Start by understanding the primary goal of your poster. Are you promoting an event, a product, or a cause? Knowing your purpose will guide your design choices.
  • Create a clear message: Your poster should be concise and compelling. Think about the key information you want to communicate and ensure it's easily digestible for viewers.
  • Choose the right size and format: Determine the size and format of your poster. Will it be a standard 279.5 x 432mm (11 x 17 inches), a digital poster for social media, or something entirely different? The dimensions you choose will impact your design elements.
  • Select a color scheme: Colors play a significant role in poster design. Choose a color scheme that aligns with your brand or the message you want to convey. Consider the psychological impact of colors on your audience.
  • Typography matters: Carefully select legible and appropriate fonts for your poster. Use typography to emphasize key information and create a hierarchy.
  • Imagery and graphics: Decide on the visuals you'll use, whether high-quality photos, illustrations, or icons. Ensure they complement your message and maintain consistency throughout the poster.

6 steps to design a poster with Linearity Curve

To kick off your poster design, one of the pivotal decisions is selecting the appropriate Artboard size. Poster sizes have evolved, and many of today's standards owe their origins to legendary designers like Saul Bass.

Understanding poster sizes and their significance can help you create a poster that resonates with your audience. Check out the handy table below. 

Standard dimensions Type of poster
594 x 841mm (24x33 inches) This A0 size is often called the "movie poster" size, and it's no accident. Legendary graphic designer Saul Bass was known for his iconic film posters, many of which adhered to this format. The 24x36-inch size provides ample space to showcase striking visuals and capture a movie or event's essence.
457 x 594mm (18x24 inches) Smaller and versatile, this size is popular for event posters, promotions, and informative displays. It balances visual impact and practicality, making it suitable for various applications.
297 x 420mm (11x17 inches) Often used for event posters and flyers, the 11x17-inch (297x420 mm) or A3 size poster is easily distributable and can be printed at a lower cost. It's a favorite among event organizers and marketers looking for a compact yet effective format.

Poster design also extends beyond physical prints. Consider how your poster will appear in digital formats, such as social media posts, websites, and email campaigns.

  • Aspect ratios: Each standard poster size has a specific aspect ratio, which determines its proportions. When designing digitally, ensure your digital canvas or image matches the aspect ratio of your chosen print size. This ensures that your design remains consistent when shared online.
  • Resolution: Maintaining a high-resolution design (at least 72dpi) for digital use ensures clarity when viewed on screens. Higher resolution ensures your poster looks crisp and professional when shared digitally.
  • Adaptability: Consider how your poster will adapt to different digital platforms. Create versions optimized for social media banners, email headers, and website headers to maintain a cohesive online presence.

Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of designing your poster on Linearity Curve. We’ll be using Curve on a Mac for the step-by-step tutorial below.

Step 1

Create a new document

Decide whether to start making your poster from scratch for complete creative freedom or use one of Linearity's designer templates as the base of your poster design.

If creating a new poster from scratch, open Linearity Curve and select New Document, then choose your Artboard size template.

If you’re printing on your home printer, select an A4, but A3 is a good template if you intend to work with a print shop. There are larger and smaller options available in the template space as well. 

Pro tip: Linearity Curve makes it easy to create custom-sized Artboards.

We’ll set up a digital poster from Linearity’s Templates Hub for this tutorial using this template:

It’s already conveniently set up as an A3, the size we want for our poster.

Looking for something different? Our Templates Hub has over 3,000 free design templates, so browse your options. Below are some more Linearity poster templates to inspire you.

Working with templates: If you’ve never worked with a Linearity Curve template before, understanding how to download and open one is easy. Simply select the template you like and click the Open Template button to download it instantly. Once you’ve done that, find the downloaded file in your Downloads folder on your Mac or iPad. All you need to do from there is open the file, and you’ll automatically see it in your Linearity Gallery.
Step 2

Add images, icons, or illustrations

For our poster, we’ll be advertising a new vintage fashion store that recently opened. We want to get more customers, so we want to place some posters in neighboring coffee shops and bookstores to get a bit of hype going. 

Because we’re visual thinkers, we’re going to start customizing our template by replacing the images and graphics of the template design. They’re crucial in attracting attention to your poster message.

We did this using the Unsplash Library that’s part of Linearity Curve—a great resource if you don't already have your own images or are looking for something special. 

Pro tip: Learn to add Unsplash images to your document directly from the Library tab in Linearity Curve in this quick, simple tutorial.

We searched for ‘vintage fashion’ in the Unsplash library and found tons of great vintage fashion images that we think are striking and will instantly grab the attention of passers-by. Whatever you’re designing, make sure you go as bold and colorful as possible. 

Because the form of the image is so sculptural, we stretched it to the full extent of the page. To transform your image to a new size, activate the Selection Tool in the Toolbar, and select the image. Once the image is highlighted, activate Scale Mode (within the Selection Tool menu), grab any corner handle, and drag it to your preferred size. 

Pro tip: Hold down the Shift key or click the green circle in the corner of your image to keep your image proportions while scaling. If you want to shift the center of where the resizing happens, click and drag the grey circle inside the bounding box.

At this point, you could easily remove the background of your image or effortlessly transform it into a rasterized vector illustration using Auto Trace. But for now, we like the warm background of our chosen image and how the template text works with the texture of the background.

Step 3

Update the text

It’s time to drive home the message, so craft some headline and body copy that captures attention. We started with many lines of copy but simplified things until it was clear and grabbed attention. 

"On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy."—David Ogilvy, a copywriting legend 

Your headline is your first impression, so make it count. Keep it short. Then, add the smaller bits around it. People tend to scan content quickly. You can also use subheadings, bullet points, and short paragraphs to make your text easily digestible.

Don't settle for predictable sans-serifs or tired script fonts. Embrace the potential of typography to elevate your poster:

  • Playful contrasts: Combine bold and lighter font weights for dynamic energy. 
  • Size matters: Use oversized fonts for your headline, letting it shout your message across the room. Then, layer smaller sizes for supporting text, ensuring information hierarchy and readability.
  • Color as emphasis: Don't shy away from coloring your fonts if you think your layout needs it. Because the image is so colorful here, we kept it monotone. But you can use a contrasting hue for your headline to make it pop or highlight keywords in secondary colors to guide the reader's eye.
Step 4

Be bold with your layout and composition

Ditch the predictable script. Forget centered headlines, neat rows of text, and images obediently flanking the sides. What you want is a poster that screams your name. You need to craft a layout that sings, a visual symphony that stuns the eye and lingers in the mind.

If this year’s design trends are anything to go by, it’s time to rip up the rulebook and embrace imbalance. Let tension and visual weight guide the eye on a dynamic journey. Place your headline off-center, let elements bleed off edges, or introduce unexpected angles to challenge viewers' expectations. 

Think beyond flatness. Build a world within your poster, layering elements like transparency, shadows, and cropping to create depth.

White space isn't just the absence of stuff. It's an active participant, guiding the eye and emphasizing key elements. White space lets the viewer's imagination breathe and gives your message room to resonate.

Create visual rhythm. Repeat shapes, lines, or colors throughout your design. Push the boundaries of the canvas. This creates intrigue and encourages engagement with your poster's message.

We’re going for something that feels retro yet minimal. Extend some lines by selecting the rectangle shapes that were part of the original layout and resizing them to connect with the typography (use the left and right arrows on your keyboard if it’s easier to move the lines this way).

Step 5

Finishing touches: fine-tune your poster design

With your layout singing, it's time to sort out the last few elements. Let’s add some more depth to the layout. Because we have a graphic image and a clean background, we can bring parts of it to the foreground and let our graphic elements intersect with the image. 

Let’s start by duplicating the image layer. You can do this by selecting the image clicking on Edit in the top menu, and then selecting Duplicate and Repeat. Or, save yourself a bit of time using the Command + D keyboard shortcut.

Select the new layer in your Layers Tab and navigate to the Style Tab on the right-hand side of your screen. Scroll down and click on Remove Background under the Image dropdown menu. Linearity Curve will automatically remove the background within seconds, and you’ll have a ‘cutout’ of the main element in your image to shift around.

Move it up in the Layers Tab by selecting the (now background-less) image layer and dragging it above the white shape layer. This makes the image appear stepping over the line, bringing some depth to the layout. 

We also needed something that speaks more visually to the brand, so we added a graphic symbol next to the text logo. You can take a standard graphic from the Iconator library, where you’ll find thousands of free vector images for your projects. 

Step 6

Export and share

Once you're happy with the design and content of your poster, download it for print or share it digitally. 

To save your design for printing, choose a suitable file format like .pdf or .jpeg. For a digital, web-friendly version, we recommend saving it in .png, .svg, or .jpeg.

To do this, click on the File name menu item and open the Export dropdown menu.

Select your file format and click Export.

If you're printing, choose a professional printer and high-quality poster paper, or print your posters at home with a large enough printer.

Roll a few posters up, pop them in your satchel, and hit the streets to spread the buzz. Make sure you also share your digital posters via email lists, community forums, and social media. Don’t forget to tag us and use our hashtag #linearitycommunity so we can make it a viral sensation together. 

Put your best foot forward

Great job, you just made your first poster with Linearity Curve. But we want you to know it's just the start, so keep exploring and experimenting with poster design. Don't be afraid to push the boundaries of what a poster can be.

With Linearity Curve as your tool and your creativity as your guide, you can design posters to get everyone talking.

Please share your designs with us—we can't wait to see what you come up with.

Jumpstart your ideas with Linearity Curve

Take your designs to the next level.

Frequently asked questions

What are good poster design references?

Here are a few unforgettable poster ideas that will inspire you to do your best work.

Hope - Barack Obama Presidential Campaign (2008):

  • Designer: Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant)
  • Design process: Inspired by Obama's hope-centered campaign message, Fairey wanted a recognizable image. He used a stencil-like style illustration, with bold contrast, and Obama's hopeful gaze to create a motivational poster that became a symbol of unity and change that resonated deeply with voters (and ended up winning him the 2008 presidential election).

We Can Do It! - J. Howard Miller for Westinghouse (1943):

  • Designer: J. Howard Miller
  • Design process: Originally created to boost morale among female factory workers during WWII, Miller used a strong, iconic illustration of Rosie the Riveter flexing her arm and a bold, empowering slogan. This seemingly simple design became a lasting symbol of female strength and perseverance, far beyond its original purpose.

Keep Calm and Carry On - Ministry of Information, UK (1939):

  • Designer: Unknown (possibly one of several artists hired by the Ministry)
  • Design Process: Created as part of a series of propaganda posters to boost morale during the Blitz, this witty slogan, paired with a retro font and simple crown design, created an eye-catching poster that aimed to convey a sense of stoicism and resilience in the face of adversity. Its unexpected humor and understated message led to its resurgence as a pop culture phenomenon decades later.

Earthrise - Apollo 8 Mission Photograph (1968):

Photographer: Bill Anders

  • Design Process: This image wasn't initially intended as a poster, but its awe-inspiring power propelled it into cultural icon status. Astronaut Bill Anders captured the moment the Earth rose above the lunar horizon, showcasing our planet's fragility and beauty against the vastness of space. This image became a global symbol of environmental awareness and the interconnectedness of humanity.

Think Different - Apple (1997):

Creative Director: Lee Clow (TBWA/Chiat/Day)

  • Photographer: Richard Avedon
  • Design Process: Aiming to reposition Apple as a brand for bold thinkers and creative rebels, Lee Clow commissioned photographer Richard Avedon to capture iconic historical figures who embodied that spirit. The stark black and white image of Albert Einstein paired with the simple yet powerful tagline "Think Different" perfectly encapsulated Apple's innovative spirit and became a rallying cry for nonconformists worldwide (and a remarkable business poster if ever there was one).

How do I write great poster copy?

To create the best poster text, let's draw inspiration from the expertise of award-winning copywriters throughout history:

Advice from 8 advertising giants on great copywriting: 

1. Focus on a single message

Claude Hopkins, another advertising pioneer, emphasized the importance of a singular message. Your poster should convey one key idea or call to action. Avoid cluttering it with excessive information.

2. Use persuasive language

Elmer Wheeler, known for his "Don't sell the steak—sell the sizzle" mantra, emphasized the power of sensory words and emotional triggers. Your text should evoke emotions, connecting the viewer with your message.

3. Make it scannable

In the digital age, people tend to scan content quickly. Use subheadings, bullet points, and short paragraphs to make your text easily digestible.

4. Know your audience

Rosser Reeves, famous for the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) concept, stressed the importance of understanding your audience's needs. Tailor your text to resonate with your target demographic.

5. Test and refine

David Abbott, an advertising legend, advised continuous testing and improvement. Don't be afraid to experiment with different text variations and gather feedback to refine your message.

6. Collaborate with a copywriter

If crafting compelling copy is not your strong suit, consider collaborating with a professional copywriter. Their expertise can help you refine your text to perfection.

7. Maintain a consistent tone

Leo Burnett, known for his iconic advertising campaigns, believed in maintaining a consistent brand tone. Ensure that your poster text aligns with your brand's voice and values.

8. Proofread meticulously:

Helen Gurley Brown, a successful editor, emphasized the importance of proofreading. Errors in your text can undermine your message's credibility. Double-check for typos, grammar, and accuracy.

How do I choose the right color palette for my poster?

Forget safe palettes and predictable gradients. In advertising, your color choices become emotional weapons. Choose wisely; your poster will resonate from billboards to social media feeds.

  • Bold and vibrant: Think Coca-Cola red or Apple's minimalist monotones. These saturated hues demand attention and exude confidence, perfect for driving brand recognition and promoting energy.
  • Muted and earthy: Palettes like olive green, ochre, and clay evoke feelings of nature, trust, and authenticity. Opt for these tones if your message champions sustainability, organic products, or a down-to-earth brand identity.
  • High contrast: Juxtapose bright pops of color against dark backgrounds to create drama and visual interest. Think McDonald's golden arches against their red backdrop, or the iconic yellow taxi against the urban cityscape. This approach grabs attention and emphasizes key elements.

Patagonia's Mountain Campaign does this really well: Their posters often feature earthy tones, blending greens, browns, and blues to evoke the natural beauty of their products. These muted shades are further complemented by bold sans-serif fonts, creating a sense of adventure and environmental consciousness.