How to get started with poster design

I would like to share with you what I learned in the past 6 years as a print designer for Karpe Noktem. If you want to get started with designing posters, you need to adhere to some basic rules.

I presume that you have some notion of how Photoshop works. If you use different software, that’s no problem: Paint Shop Pro or GIMP will do as well, as long as you know some basics such as choosing the correct canvas sizes, the behaviour of layers, etc. What I want to emphasize is that you don’t have to be a photo manipulation wizard or artist prodigy to make a good poster. If you don’t know how how to do something, be sure to google it. You can find plenty tutorials online.

1. Start out with a proper poster template

This is the absolute minimum required for a good print design.

When you start a new file in Photoshop, select the proper canvas size (A4, A3, …) and set the document resolution to at least 300 dpi. This ensures the quality of the poster when you try to print it.


Use guides to mark the middle of the document — this makes aligning things easier. Also consider placing extra guides at least 1 cm from the borders of the document. This’ll keep you from putting important elements, such as text, too close to the document borders. Proper margins give your poster a more sophisticated look.


If you have to use some kind of branding template or adhere to a style guide, put all compulsory elements in place first. Think of colours, logo’s, etc. Then you have the ‘bare bones’ of the poster, and you can continue from there. Continue reading How to get started with poster design

How to learn to use Adobe Illustrator

Today, I want to give you some tips and tricks for when you want to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. I’ve been using Illustrator for two years now. In the beginning, I really struggled with the pen tool and the fact that the program is so different from Photoshop! I hope I can help some of you by sharing how I started out using Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator is not Adobe Photoshop.

Forget everything you think you know about Illustrator since you know Photoshop. You’ll thank me later.

Gather some resources

Surf the internet. You can find many tutorials online that deal with illustrator, the pen tool and all other stuff you need to know to craft basic vector images. Some tutorials cover one tool, other are step-by-step explanations of the process of a particular image. There’s even a game for learning the pen tool!

Some resources I used to learn Illustrator:
Illustrator shapes tutorial by milkbun
Tutorial part 1: The basics of illustrator by modernreligion
Tutorial part 2: The basics of vectoring by modernreligion
Illustrator tutorial: gear wheel by surgio
The bézier game

Get your hands dirty.

You learn fastest by doing. Reading tutorials is fine, but step-by-step going through all the actions in a tutorial is better. As an example, here’s the first thing I created in Adobe Illustrator by following this tutorial by Milkbun.

Web Continue reading How to learn to use Adobe Illustrator

Free skillshare class: Yuko Shimizu’s masterclass in inking (one week only)

For those of you who always wanted to try out Skillshare: the illustrator Yuko Shimizu is offering her masterclass in inking for free, the coming week only.
If you use the link below to enroll, you get a free month of Premium Membership on Skillshare for unlimited access to hundreds of online classes:
Yuko Shimizu – Mastering Inking: Basic and Pro Techniques
I believe this link is valid for three days.

I can definitely recommend Skillshare! Last year I took a course in handlettering there, and it’s lots of fun.

Another interesting read: Yuko Shimizu’s website features a FAQ with advice for starting illustrators.

Unwritten bij Yuko Shimizu
Unwritten, by Yuko Shimizu

Introduction to cartoons and comics

In the wake of the tragedy in Paris of last week, there has been a lot of attention for comics and cartoons, especially as a medium to voice an opinion or tell a personal story.
Sarah McIntyre has written this nice introduction to drawing cartoons and comics. It includes answers to frequently asked questions, some cool project ideas and lots of examples from numerous web comics.

Vintage posters from The Netherlands

It turns out you can find cool stuff in the digital image libraries of the Netherlands. The following vintage posters are from the 19th and 20th century. I found them on a website called Het Geheugen van Nederland. If you click on a thumbnail, you will be directed to the image library, where you can view or download a high resolution version. I really like this type of vintage illustrations. I hope you do too. Enjoy!

vintage-affiche-van-ysendyk-koffie-thee vintage-affiche-ballon-nijmegen vintage-affiche-thee-eureka vintage-affiche-chocolade-melk vintage-affiche-kat-lezen-boek vintage-affiche-eekhoorn-lezen vintage-affiche-burgers-fiets

Handlettering course on Skillshare

In January 2014 I bought access to an online course on Skillshare. I started with the course on hand-lettering in January but couldn’t continue because of exams. Then when the summer holidays began I could start right where I left off.

Practice for the course on hand-lettering
Practice for the course on hand-lettering

For those of you who don’t know about Skillshare: it’s an online learning community, a bit like Coursera, where you can take online classes on different subjects. Where Coursera specializes in academic courses from universities, Skillshare mostly caters to creatives and entrepreneurs. Some examples of courses you can find on Skillshare are calligraphy, logo design, entrepreneurship, creative thinking and writing film scripts.

a screenshot of the skillshare website
This is what Skillshare looks like if you’re taking a course.

You can either pay a monthly fee for full access, or you can buy access to specific courses, which is what I did since I don’t always have time. Once you have paid for a specific course, you can always access the course materials.

The course I bought is called “Lettering 1: The First Steps of Hand-Lettering: Concept to Sketch”. The teacher, Mary Kate McDevitt, gives short video lectures and exercises and shows us tips and tricks on handlettering. It’s really cool and for 25 dollar for the whole course it was an absolute bargain.

I’ll keep you guys up to date about my progress. I’m having loads of fun drawing all kinds of funky letters and practicing fancy handwriting. For those of you who can’t wait for blogposts: you can take a look at my project page on Skillshare.

Stop motion short: the history of typography

I’m working on a Skillshare project at the moment (more about that here) and I came across this handy stop motion video that explains the history of typography in a mere 5 minutes! I think it’s really handy for when you want to search for a specific font but you don’t know the exact category — knowing the different between humanist sans and geometric sans is really useful when browing sites such as myfont and! This video makes it really easy to find out what kind of font you’re looking for.

If you like this kind of stuff and you want to learn more about typography, be sure to check out the book Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton. It’s quite a good primer on everything font-related. If you live in the vicinity of Nijmegen, you might be able to borrow it from me. ;)