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Poster Design

Good visual designs are based on underlying grid systems that help to provide consistent locations for type and graphic elements, resulting in an ordered, legible design. Combining type and image further expands the building blocks for visual communication. This is true whether a designer is working in a static format (such as a book or a poster), or an interactive format (such as a touch screen or an application interface). These building blocks remain the same whether the goal of a project is to communicate pure information (such as an instructional manual), or to communicate something more emotional (such as Maya Lin's Vietnam Memorial).

In this assignment, students will create a poster for a lecture series that will be displayed in a University student center. Students will use text and images to communicate informational and emotional content.

Your poster will be 11" x 17", vertical orientation. The final poster must be printed on paper (at least 80-lb) at full size and mounted on foam core using spray mount, trimmed flush to the edges of the poster. 

Use an underlying grid to create your design. You must use ALL of the text provided. You can select any number of images from the ones provided and treat images in any way you'd like. You may also create graphic elements such as rule lines and shapes. You may explore color, or design in black and white. You may choose your own fonts.

Students will complete this as an individual assignment.

Learning Goals
  • Develop proficiency with using a grid system to organize content for a
    screen or paper design
  • Understand how font choice and typesetting can affect legibility
  • Work iteratively through sketches and multiple layouts under different constraints
  • Develop a proficiency in laying out type and images
  • Explore the information and emotions that they communicate
  • Learn how to give and receive feedback in a constructive way during critiques

What to do
Utilize all of the text and select from the images provided here. Here's a google folder with the images.

Produce at least ten sketches of different designs using grid, content, and images. Sketching roughly in pencil is the fastest way to look at a page layout holistically.

Create a document in InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, or Sketch. Your poster size will be 11" x 17" in vertical layout.  Your final design should be printed on 80-lb paper (or greater) at full size, mounted on foam core, and trimmed flush to the edges of the poster.

For your digital iterations, employ a variety of typefaces and sizes to explore hierarchy. Instead of making one big text box, break up the content and move it around the page. If you are not confident with color, try just using color in the background.


Stage 1: Produce at least ten sketches of different designs using the grid. - Due 1/23
Stage 2: Produce iterations on these 10 sketches using the grid. - Due 1/25
Stage 3: Two digital iterations of your poster. - Due 1/30
Stage 4: One final poster design - Due 2/1

Final Deliverables

On the important links page, upload a single PDF (named with your unique secret ID, e.g. "A2_611.pdf") with the following content in this order:

  • Final poster design
  • All digital iterations you created in the lead-up to the final design, with labels indicating where in the process they arose
  • 10 sketches (can have multiple on one page)
  • Label every page with your unique secret ID
  • Remove ALL identifying information, i.e. name, PID from your submission
Grading Rubric



Check -


Check +

Organization (40%; final)

Does the solution provide a clear point of entry? Is there a clear hierarchy of content? Is there progressive disclosure of content?

Poster has no hierarchy and no clear point of entry.

Attempt made to organize material in a hierarchical manner.

Poster is organized in a clear manner with a clear point of entry. There is a clear progressive disclosure of information.  

Emotional Quality (40%; final)

Is there a clear emotional quality expressed through type, layout, images, and colors?

Little or none emotional quality - little variation in type, colors, images, layout

Poster attempts to convey an emotional quality

Clear and impactful emotional quality through different mediums

Legibility (5%; final)

Does the solution conform to the rules? Is all information visible and legible?

Rules are not followed and/or information is not legible  

Slight variation from provided rules with legible information

Conforms to all rules and text is clearly visible.

Craft/Professionalism (5%; all)

Are the deliverables presented in a professional and timely manner?

Poster is turned in late and is not professionally printed

Poster has minor defects

Poster is in pristine professional condition and is turned in on time

Process (10%; all)

Were the sketches and poster examples varied and exploratory? Did the design improve over time with clear inspiration from previous iterations?

Sketches and poster examples not varied and exploratory. Connection between iterations not clear.

Sketches and poster examples somewhat varied and exploratory. Connection between iterations is somewhat clear.

Sketches and poster examples are varied and exploratory. Connection between iterations is clear.