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I am new to the graphic design chat here. Please provide any feedback/critique on the poster available via these links. One is on a colored background, the other is on a white background. Which is better? Are there glaring design issues here? There are no designers where I work and I could really use some constructive feedback.

This cafe is located in an academic library and is primarily targeted at college students. no other stipulations, really. My idea was to use the color scarlet (the college color) and show larger than life bubbles as a nod to how bubbly life can get when you visit the Scarlet latte cafe.

Here is my attempt.

My design concerns:

  1. One of the responses mentioned that there are too many design elements here (the 3D bubbles, the coffee-stain/textured circles, etc.) I was also concerned that the design lacked a certain cohesiveness.
  2. How is the placement of objects on the poster? I have not used a grid, and honestly don't know how to create one and design on it. I do use guides quite scrupulously in illustrator though. I guess this leads to the question, when designing posters and flyers in the future, how can I do so using grids so the nothing is askew and every thing is aligned well? I am not using InDesign and that might be part of the problem.
  3. Finally, does this look professional?
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For what its worth: the red circle on the top right of the mug should be completely inside. Also align center and align vertical the text that are in the bubbles, right now they're not centered or aligned in any methodical way. Beyond that I see no glaring issues. Depending on the wall its going on you might want a border or background so it pops more. Voting to close though because this isn't really a good fit for our Q&A. Please see graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/faq –  Ryan Aug 28 '12 at 14:09
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Yea, off topic, but also FWIW, for a critique to be useful, we need context. What type of coffee shop is this? What is the vibe you are after? Who's the audience? Etc. Aesthetically speaking, the poster seems all over the place...you have hand drawn sketchy lines, you have 3-D bubbles, you have mechanical textures, you have organic textures. I think it needs a bit more focus. –  DA01 Aug 28 '12 at 15:50
    
You're "delivered" is some better and some worse than before in my opinion. I'll do a bit of a critique later today. In the mean time take a look at this particularly Alan's answer which isn't so much about web design but professional design in general. graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/3503/… –  Ryan Aug 28 '12 at 19:51
    
Direct link to Alan's answer: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/3510/155 This is a good one, and should be voted up on that question! –  awe Aug 29 '12 at 12:17
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@makmom The link in your question is no longer working. Can you please re-upload an image to Imgur, so the question can remain open? –  Yisela Dec 23 '13 at 11:57
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2 Answers

What follows is merely my opinion... not fact.

First some general comments....

Color palette: Primarily earth tones and the warm side of the color wheel. But what's with the purple and blue then? And that one bright pink circle in the cup? None of the reds match anywhere except perhaps "Scarlet" and a couple of the circles/bubbles. Which, in itself, isn't a big issue, but if you want better color continuity, you should strive to repeat aspects. I think altering the "bubble" sizes would help lend to the idea that the image is alive and moving. Although I may shy away from a cup of coffee or tea if it were bubbling (something to think about).

Texture: You've got a dot pattern under the repeating "Now Open" text and it appears nowhere else. Why? Why wasn't the dot pattern carried over to the same color below the cup? Why is the "now open" area given this unique texture? Or why aren't other, similar, areas treated the same? The texture of the cup handle and saucer (?) should match the cup in my opinion. The hard edges of the cup simply serve to separate it from the other two elements.

Typeface(s): The retro fat rounded font wouldn't be my choice. But it's not my poster. :) However, looking at the poster I count... 6 separate families and 2 faces for one family. It's rare that I recommend going beyond 3 typefaces in any one piece. If you throw out the two faces in the Rutgers logo you still have 4 other families present. I'd suggest limiting your type choice to 2 families (excluding the Rutgers logo if you wish). Different faces of the same family are fine and encouraged. So a regular, bold, black, italic of Avant Garde are all fine. But you don't want to use Times Bold, Avant Garde Light, Futura Black, Myriad Pro Condensed Bold, etc.

Angles: When using objects at an angle its important to repeat the angle when possible. The cup at an angle does a good job of conveying action and liveliness. But the line through "café" is at a completely different angle. The angle of the cup should match the angle of that line for continuity. I understand the line angle matches the "Scarlet Latte"'s L angle, but then the cup base and rim should match that angle as well.

Now the crux of any design....

Function: What is the desired function of the poster? Looking at the poster, the user's eye bounces all over the place. Each element is as important as the next. It's as if you're playing ping pong with the user's eyeballs - asking them to visually dance all over the poster in order to gain the information. You need to categorize the elements into levels of importance and then design accordingly. If the fact that the café is now open is the primary message, that should be readable from 10 or 20 feet away so a user will want to walk up and see what exactly is open now.

Again.. just my opinion. I can be wrong (often) :)

As for grids in Illustrator ... View > Show Grid.

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Also, based on this: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/9189/… there's little reason to use Indesign for a single poster. –  Scott Aug 28 '12 at 23:47
    
thank you! that was the kind of feedback i was looking for. –  makmom Aug 29 '12 at 16:44
    
addressing the issue of "function" -- the poster was supposed to announce that the Cafe is 'Now Open'. I wanted 'Now Open' to be large enough that people 10 or 20 feet away could read it and want to walk into the cafe, but at 36" wide and 24" high, i simply could not figure out how large to make the text. I also was then concerned about the large size of the cup. I felt compelled to keep things at a reasonable size, but ended up with little visual hierarchy that tells viewers what is the main message. –  makmom Aug 29 '12 at 17:02
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Okay some feedback, take it or leave my taste and your taste doesn't have to be the same. These are only suggestions and things that I would do to improve upon this design:

One of the responses mentioned that there are too many design elements here (the 3D bubbles, the coffee-stain/textured circles, etc.) I was also concerned that the design lacked a certain cohesiveness.

I don't think there are too many elements but there are too many styles which addresses your concern about cohesiveness. You have the very modern text for "Scarlett latte cafe" and the shape of the mug, the line on the right and the yellow boxes.... but then you have very large chalk strokes for the handle and well I'm not sure - table? Then there's ink strokes around the brown circles.

While I appreciate the cohesiveness you attempted with the brown circles connected by the red line, I don't think it works and I'll talk more about that later.

How is the placement of objects on the poster? I have not used a grid, and honestly don't know how to create one and design on it. I do use guides quite scrupulously in illustrator though.

Those brown circles, particularly pastries being by its lonesome is off. There's also some strange spacing on the days of the week with Sun being far from Saturday then Saturday close to Friday then Friday far from Mon-Thurs.

I guess this leads to the question, when designing posters and flyers in the future, how can I do so using grids so the nothing is askew and every thing is aligned well? I am not using InDesign and that might be part of the problem.

There are lots of books specifically on this topic so I'm not going to answer it. Check some of the books out.

Additional Help

Okay you didn't ask this specifically but here are some things you should really consider, it goes in a bit with what Scott mentioned about Function.

First thing is "Now Open" appears 3 times, twice hard to read especially from a distance. If this is an important part as I believe it is, it should probably be much larger perhaps only written once but taken up that entire space.

The brown circles: coffee, tea, pastries.... lunch. One of these is not like the others which ruins the entire thing because it ruins your coding. Perhaps instead of lunch you could put sandwiches or salads or soups or add additional "circles" with a combination of these.

The yellow vertical by the mug is really nice in my opinion but I would put it behind the horizontal strip for the hours and make it almost invisible if not completely invisible behind that strip. The reason is because right now you're highlighting Mon-Fri separating them from the Sat/Sun. I don't think this is intentional. I would also give the yellow box the same texture on the bottom half as the top half.

The Logo is a bit unclear. Is the red circle behind cafe part of it? It looks that way but then the red line is interfering with it. Its one thing to have a background with the logo but I would be very cautious intersecting an element with the logo. Perhaps slightly adjust the red line so that the "bend" goes above the "cafe circle". Speaking of which detail is everything so make it café (with an accent).

I kind of like the circles especially in the mug but as I mentioned in comments the one on the top right is a bubble thats coming through the mug... I would crop the right side or move it left a bit. I will say however it makes me think of soap and bubbles not steam or coffee.

Last is those ink outlines and chalk lines. I would just make them normal strokes since everything else is a regular stroke. Maybe even take the line beneath the mug out entirely since it already has the yellow to "sit" on.

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Ryan...yes, thanks for the (correct) clarification of my comment. It's not so much that there are too many elements, but there are too many contrasting styles. –  DA01 Aug 29 '12 at 3:39
    
thanks very much. very useful insights. –  makmom Aug 29 '12 at 16:43
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