How to Create Posters in Photoshop

by David Weedmark

Designing your first poster in Photoshop presents some challenges you don't face when working on smaller projects. Posters are generally enormous files with many different components, ranging from high-resolution photos to multiple text boxes, filters and effects. Keep track of what goes where by organizing and naming layers as you work. When you have a grasp of a poster's dynamics, you can focus on the creative aspects and have some fun.

Working With Poster-Sized Files

Working in large-format documents like posters usually involves importing photos and graphics. Select high-resolution photos that don't need to be enlarged much. Sharpening filters can reduce the blur that occurs when you enlarge photos, but they require a lot of work and the results aren't always ideal. Make good use of the "Zoom" option at the bottom of the canvas to zoom in and out of your work as needed. Large files in Photoshop often mean a slowdown in performance. If your computer is sluggish already, Photoshop may not have sufficient memory to show previews when working with filters or to save your finished file -- so save your work often.

Working in Layers

When you work in layers, you can edit different parts of a poster without affecting the other parts. Double-click a layer name in the Layers panel to rename it. To group layers together, control-click multiple layers in the Layers panel and drag them onto the Folders icon. You can then expand each group as needed. If you want to move an entire group, select the group folder to move the grouped elements all at once.

Designing the Poster

Take some time to experiment when designing your first poster. For example, try curving the title text and giving it depth by using 3-D extrusions from the 3D menu. If you are using a photo, try erasing the background, something you do by clicking the background with the Magic Wand Tool from the Toolbox and then deleting it. Give some life to a plain background by experimenting with the Filter options. To see them all, select "Filter Gallery" from the Filter menu and then click the options available under each folder.

Saving and Printing

If you are printing the poster yourself and don't want a white line around the edges when you cut it, set a bleed by clicking the "Functions" option in the Print menu. Most professional printers use a 0.125-inch bleed. This puts crop marks inside the artwork instead of outside for cutting. Remember to save the file as a PSD document, regardless of any other formats you need for a printer. This is the only format that preserves the layers in case you need to edit it again. If you are sending the poster to a commercial printer, save the file in CMYK mode, even if your original file is in RGB. CMYK is required by most commercial printers for proper color separation.

About the Author

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.

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