Making a Promotional Flyer

As a graphic designer I make a lot of promotional flyers. When they’re done, they look clean and colorful, while still displaying the necessary and appropriate information. Each promotional is specific to the target group and the company being promoted. What some people don’t realize is that there is more to it, than just picking a logo or a picture and adding information.

First, the person hiring you will establish some basic guidelines and provide the basic information necessary for the promotional. Along with the information you will receive as part of the job, the customer will include his or her vision of the project. This will sometimes look something like this:

(Example of some guidelines and information from the client.)

Quick Tip: You should also have your own notes as you talk about what they want.

The next steps occur when you need to bring in a prototype or sample piece based on the outline and information you gathered. In this case, I am making a solicitation flyer for a magazine named The Purple Patch. It is a student run magazine that publishes student work out of Missouri Valley College. They need a flyer targeting students and soliciting submissions. The flyer also needs to be colorful, whimsical, and imaginative.

Here, the first step was to establish what we know, which I have done above. Then I came up with several ideas and sketches (I don’t think it is necessary to show the sketches, so I won’t). I then set up another meeting with the editors and primary staff and presented my ideas.  They liked three out of five ideas, so I moved forward with them.

For this example I have chosen one, which we call the “Alien Girl.” The Alien Girl started out as an ink drawing by Acacia Decker, a close friend and amazing artist.  I saw it and thought it was wonderful, because I could picture it in color as a flyer. I spoke to Acacia and she allowed me to use it. Here is what I started out with:

The picture was scanned and saved as a jpeg. This is important, because it makes the picture cross compatible. That means it can be opened in multiple programs with ease. Although, that doesn’t sound like much it can be a big problem when you’re trying to edit the picture, insert it to a Word document,  or just place on your site. So now we have the picture.

The next step is to add color and sharpen the lines. This also includes cleaning up the lines as well as possible. This is important for a professional look when printed. For the Alien Girl, I cleaned up the lines by brightening it as it scanned. It is an option on most scanning software programs. Then I opened the Alien Girl jpeg in Photoshop.

This step is somewhat complicated. Depending on your program’s specific’s you can add color fairly easily. I used Photoshop, but there are other programs out there that do most of the same things. There are some free ones if you just want to dabble.  Personally, I like Photoshop, because I know the program and nearly all publications have access to it. This helps with compatibility. Although the final is saved as a photoshop document, I also save it as a jpeg.

Step one was adding color, which looked like this:

As you can see the color is minimal and unevenly dispersed though out the picture. This is okay, because this will become a full color poster so it’s not a problem right now. The main things to consider at this stage are the colors, placing of the words, and balance.  Here the colors are clean and mostly solid. The two exceptions are the hair and the tentacles which have highlighted look to them.

Step two is blending and shading:

As you can see the picture has more color. The hair is all colored in and somewhat shaded. The tentacles are nearly full color with particular attention paid to shading. There are also accents of color on the face, tentacles, and hair.

The third step is adding color to the face and solid color to the diversely colored background, which looks like this:

Now that the background is solid I can add smaller details and highlights to it. This will also help me determine what kind of colors would look good with the overall picture. It will provide a foundation for how the information will be displayed.

Another thing you must have noticed is that the face is in full color. There is also some color added to the details on her face. The tattoo like drawings are dark solid teal, light blue, solid red, and solid purple.  These colors compliment each other and create a cold and hot balance.

The fourth step is to add a highlighted background:

The picture is now in full color. The lips have remained black, but can be changed. Here is an example with red lips:

For the final flyer I added the information that needed to be on it. I used Word for this step, because it has some fairly nice features if you play with it. It also gives it a clean look with neat and even lettering. You can easily change the size and font type, which makes it great for busy people. The final flyer turned out like this:

This flyer has all the information, while retaining the imaginative and colorful look that attracts the public. It was produced using Word for the final steps. As you can see I added information bubbles with some shading. The bubble colors are reminiscent of water and soap bubbles with light highlighted blue for the inside and a dark semi-transparent teal for the shadow.

Another thing you may not have noticed is the consistency of the overall layout. Each section is somewhat highlighted with the shadows going in the same direction. When using highlighted colors it helps to keep in mind that each represents a direction of lighting. With this said, I chose an upper left corner light that slants down.  This lights up her face, makes the background pop, and gives the bubbles a cohesive look.

The bubbles were also set up to match the facial accent colors, which make them look cleaner and neater. It looks sleek when printed or posted. The only part that does not completely follow the lighting rule is the hair. Hair has a lot of different shades and colors to it, naturally. It is lighter when closer to the light  everywhere except the very top, which is a little darker than most think.What this does is make your eyes move across the entire picture and over to the information.

Lastly, the I chose black lips rather than red. This made her face stand out more, which makes the flyer pop. The red would have made her look chic, which is fine, but it does not attract as much attention as it should. Black is classic. It is also the least used color, so I wanted to employ it at the end.

I hope this was helpful. These are some of my tips and tricks for making a promotional flyer. Thanks for reading.