I'm making my first poster, ever, using a local business as inspiration. The business is a gymnastics club that already has some low-key branding, including:

  • A leaping gymnast forming an 'R' with her ribbon
  • The colors baby blue and hot pink (I have ignored the latter)
  • Use of cursive, flowing fonts

I would like to preserve some aspects of this branding.

I used Illustrator's color guide, on the 'Pentagram' set, to choose the color scheme, all based off the baby blue that makes up the background of the poster.

However, the design just looks like an amateur eyesore to me. If I'm not deluding myself,

  1. Are the colors painful? If so, how could I modify them, while maintaining the general theme?
  2. If so, why does the texture combination make the design seem amateur?

The poster

After reading all the answers, I realized I need to overhaul the design.

  • I simplified to three colors
  • I removed the film grain effect
  • I added the 'clubs' element (though they look somewhat imposing, and I may switch it out to a friendlier element)
  • I changed the fonts to better reflect the R-ribbon element
  • I added a large circle to better balance and highlight the leaping figure
  • I haven't fixed out-of-gamut colors

Second try

While it's not perfect, it's a whole lot better!

  • 1
    Is this poster going to be printed? As im sure that background will not print in a CMYK output device, period. Its way out of gamut. The purple is also a bit out fo gamut but it might work.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:13
  • @joojaa "will not print" ..sure it will; it'll just be a different color :)
    – Cai
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:20
  • @Cai well well sending out colors that are out fo gamut is a sure way t not be professional, as the result is rather random.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:40
  • Those colors will still not print it will become out very muted from the printer. Its better to choose a color that actually prints so you can estimate what your image looks like. Otherwise you will get something seemingly random and deeding on what conversion intent you have selected you might end up changing ALL colors in the image. So at best your lying to yourself at worst your going to make somebody very unhappy.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 6:09
  • 1
    @cgoecknerwald first you must set the profile proof setup option to cmyk, then just enable gamut Waring in the view. Note that unless you have a hardware calibrator and have calibrated your monitor then you have no idea what the actual color is!
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 8:00

4 Answers 4


Design is in many ways about solving the visual problems that you posed for yourself.

Here I find it difficult to point to a single element and say "Don't do that!" There are some "I would never do that!"s, but my style isn't necessarily the one you desire. The problems with this poster are IMO more along the line of "Don't do this, that and those in the same poster!" You have to be consistent in your visual language. A couple of points:

  • The colours are strong and do clash. That's not bad per se. A poster can work with clashing colours. But it would be a bold choice. Personally I wouldn't go with such a colour scheme, but if I would, then I'd consider the colour scheme itself more than enough strain/interest to the viewer's eyes and would design the poster around non-figurative elements. Probably just rectangles, to be honest.

  • The textured background to me sends the message: "Designing this, I was afraid that the large background behind the simple figure might be dull. So I slapped the texture on." Either embrace the simplicity and make it stick out in your overall composition or make the texture part of the design by tastefully contrasting differently textured shapes -- probably not with this motif, though.

  • The hand drawn ... I don't know the English name ... at the top and bottom of the poster: Getting a "good line" is an art that takes drawing artists years or decades to master. (I certainly never did, but luckily I'm not a real drawing artist.) In addition to that, it subtly clashes with the font for "State Rhythmic Academy", which is meant to resemble hand writing, but isn't really. Either a) practice drawing lines, do several of them and then choose the best and do "State Rhythmic Academy" as real hand lettering (not recommended). Or b) do just a straight line and a straight diamond in a vector graphic programme. You already have a contrast between "flourishness" (English is not my first language ...) and geometrical straightness in the "R" of the figure: It's flourish, alluding to ancient forms of handwriting, but the line itself is uniform and done ith a computer. It makes sense to expand on that contrast. For instance, I would also try how it looks to combine your chosen font with a geometric sans-serif of similar weight and x-height.

Those are the points that stick out to me the most, without going into detaills. (I'd reconsider the balance between "State Rhythmic Academy" and the figurative element in the middle, though. Right now they fight for the top spot in the visual hierarchy, with the figurative element winning, but not by a large enough margin.) Btw., I can see that, while it's not a professional job, some thought and actual talent went into the poster.

EDIT: I just noticed that the request was specificially about background and colours. I'm not deleting my other points, though, since they are part of the overall impression. If everything else would ostensibly signal that it's a professional work, then texture and colour would come across as intentional against-the-grain choices.

  • I quickly noticed that the hand-drawn line-whatsits were identical; if that element is kept I'd suggest using different versions for the top and bottom (if you draw it a bunch of times, pick the best two instead of one)
    – Weaver
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 17:41
  • @StarWeaver You're absolutely right. -- Btw., looking at it again, I think now that the lines of the font are actually slightly wobbly. It didn't spring to my eye before, because of the background texture. If that's the case, then my recommendation would be to recreate the ornament as thin rectangles, converted to paths, and then to gradually add bezier points to it to match the lines of the fonts as closely as possible. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 18:52
  • My English is really shaky today. Is my first sentence actually proper English? I meant to say: You (actively) create a problem for yourself, then you try to solve it. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 19:01
  • That's what i got out of it anyway, so, good as far as i can tel=
    – Weaver
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 20:48

I think the background colour is a bit too vivid. Also perhaps try either plain untextured background, or a texture that's a little more subtle.

Also, I'm not a fan of the footer font. Perhaps try a script style font that's a bit more regular. If you have Illustrator CC, there are fonts in Adobe Typekit that might be more suitable - Spumante is quite nice.

Also, might be an idea to use only one script style font for both header and footer. Alternatively you could keep the heading quite plain, like a san-serif font.

Here's one idea, using Spumante, and a different background, also I've toned down the other colours to make them a little less vivid.

Suggestion Example

  • Forgot to say - in google images, search for "seamless marble like texture light blue" to find a seamless background you can make into a pattern.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:00

I would suggest using softer colors like these; enter image description here

I made this using coolors.co, you can hit space bar until you find a color you like, lock it, and press space again and it will generate colors that compliment it.

Also there are a lot of hand drawn elements on the poster that don't make it look very sleek or professional. Try to find a balance between the hand drawn playful style and more sleek, clean.

Personally I think the background you've used is very 2008. Go for either a solid color or a pattern that is a little more on trend, like a subtle geometrical one.


not a designer, just came across this question and liked what you did with the circle! clubs don't look bad either, but don't get the meaning, probably cause i'm not a native speaker. :p

however, it feels like something from an ancient area that has been hanging on the wall for a long time, would try to make it more alive, like you are really there when it got printed long ago.

Here my noobish attempt with mac os preview, lots of room for improvement and would make the effect stronger if you know how, but hope the basic idea gets across.

make it fresh, crisp, alive, vibrant, whatever the term is!

less vintage

  • So what I'm getting out of this is: darken the blacks, brighten the blues and pinks. Is that about right?
    – user89925
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 21:15
  • @cgoecknerwald One interpretation of the suggestions: dropbox.com/s/tt06rt9h3ymzxbh/SRA_combo.jpg?dl=0 This simply can't be shown here due its unrespectfullnes of the original style. It will collect soon so much downvotes that it gets invisible. The left one is in full Adobe RGB colors, the right is flattened to CMYK printable colors.
    – user82991
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 16:22

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