22 September 2014

Musical theatre: poster design tips!

I've been involved with musical theatre groups for around 10 years now - which is a little bit scary to think as that time has flown by! I started out with ICE (Independent Community Entertainment) and Lanark Panto Club, and for the last couple of years I've been part of LAMS (Lanark Amateur Musical Society) as part of the cast and a committee member. 

With posters being one of the main methods of advertising an amateur production, it's important that they look good enough to pull in the punters! I know that a lot of community groups don't have enough budget to pay designers to produce advertising materials, so most of the time it's someone in the cast/committee that ends up creating them. 

It can be hard to know where to start designing a poster for a performance, with the amount of information you need to fit on (dates, times, prices, rights etc) and any brand guidelines linked to the actual show. (logo, graphics etc)

As a little helper to other amateur dramatics groups out there, I've pulled together some tips for creating posters and a A3 layout template that might be of use. (see below design tips)

Design tips

1. Beware of high contrast gradients or gradients that use more than two colours. These can look quite dated. Keep gradients subtle and stick to harmonious colours not too far apart on the colour wheel. For example white/grey, orange/yellow, purple/blue. 

2. Just say no...to Wordart. Over fussy text with too many effects (3D, bevel, gradient, shadow) is another way to make posters look dated. If you want to make your text stand out try using a free font from a website like dafont.com.  

3. If you're going to include photographs in your poster make sure to crop the edges carefully - organic forms like hair can be especially tricky to make look neat and professional. 

4. There might be a a lot of elements in your poster, so make sure the important details stand out by making them easy to read and in the right place. (see guide below!) The most important details are probably the show name, dates, location, price and how to get tickets. 

5. Don't steal images from Google! It can be tempting to copy and paste images you need from Google, but it's actually illegal. A great site for royalty free images is sxc.hu. 

6. Always place text on a solid or semi-solid colour background so it's legible. If you need to place it over an image try adding a low opacity shape behind it. 

7. As we tend to read from top to bottom, left to right, it makes sense lay your poster out so the most important details are easy for people to spot. Although, rules are made to be broken so sometimes this layout can be moved around if the visual idea requires it. 

Example A3 poster layout 

Some good examples

If you're looking for someone to design your poster for a low cost please feel free to send me an email to melissareilly3@gmail.com :) 

Thanks for reading, Melissa x

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