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Creating Effective Large-Format Graphics

(September 2008) posted on Wed Sep 24, 2008

It takes more than artistic talent to create effective large-format graphics. You also need to have a firm handle on the way big promotional images are perceived and how to use various design elements to make them grab the attention of viewers. Presented here are a few basic rules that, when followed, will result in graphics that print correctly and deliver their promotional message effectively.

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By Benjamin Lawless

The environment your graphic is going into is very important. In fact, it’s at least as important as the subject matter, selling point, imagery, and layout of the design. If you design and produce large-format advertisements, you have an implicit responsibility because, with every ad, poster, banner, or car wrap you produce, you are contributing to the environment around it. It’s about how your graphic adds or subtracts from the experience of the viewer in relation to the surroundings.

Start by asking yourself a few questions: How crowded is the surrounding area? How high will the graphic be placed? Are there any prevalent color themes in the area? Are you competing with other similar advertisements? How is it being mounted—window, banner stand, on the side of a bus? Sometimes you don’t have any information about the final surrounding area, such as when you’re working on a national ad campaign. So try to focus on what you do know.

The point is the only way your marketing materials are going to have any effect is if they are experienced by the audience. That means your radio ad must be heard, your video must be viewed, or, in this case, your large-format graphic must be seen. Beyond that, you have to make sure that your audience won’t have to fight to see your message. Regardless of where the print will be placed, determine the most important part of your message and place it on the graphic accordingly, such as at direct eye level. Whatever you do, though, don’t put any important content below the waist level of your target audience—it’s like a giant blind spot.

Also, make certain you’ve got the right material for the right application. For outdoor purposes, consider a UV or solvent-ink print on vinyl banner stock.


Image size and resolution


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