If you are a designer who has been tasked with creating a large-format banner for a client, it is easy to slip up if this is something which you haven’t done before; thankfully, there are a number of simple, easy-to-remember guidelines which will help you to design print-worthy banners;
Use CMYK Colour Mode
When you go to set up your document, one of the first things you should do if you are designing a banner is to change the colour mode from RGB to CMYK: This will ensure that the colours which you work with on the screen will more accurately translate to the final printed article;
RGB colour mode is perfect when it comes to designing elements which will only ever appear onscreen: such as a website layout or online advertisement, however, it is not optimised for print jobs, which are typically based around a four-colour system.
Think About Your Boundaries
When you design banners, it is important to consider the final dimensions of the printed product – sure, a bit of text near the edge of the design looks great on your screen, but this could very easily get cropped out of the actual banner. Resulting in a poorly realised look which, generally, would not be desired in a banner print.
Think ahead and leave plenty of room for error in your designs, have a chat with the company that will be doing the print-job to get their guidelines on margins and bleed areas. Some companies may even provide you with templates, already set to the correct size, with guide-lines in place;
Whilst your creativity should never be compromised, it is important to consider the media you are working with and the limitations of printing technology, so that you can achieve great results with all of your designs.
Use High Resolution Images or Vectors
If your design requires the use of photography, ensure that all images are of a suitable resolution. Ideally, you will be scaling images down in your designs instead of up. Up-scaling typically results in blurry, messy images, whereas scaling down to fit will generally retain the sharpness of the image.
Where possible, vector shapes should be used. This applies to graphical elements as well as blocks of text, the beauty about using vectors is that they can be scaled up and down with no loss in quality – a crucial feature when it comes to designing for print.
Article by Pierre Gaston
Pierre Gaston is a graphic designer who specialises in the production of mesh banners for his clients.