Design Print Tips
UPrinting Design How-To Series: Vinyl Banner Design Checklist
  by:  |  Mar 12, 2013

Vinyl banners and other large format prints are some of our most popular products. We’ve seen them used in a variety of situations, from event announcements and trade show ads, to temporary outdoor signs and demonstration materials. Vinyl banners are durable enough be reused in moderately harsh outdoor conditions and in direct sunlight to months at a time with minimal to no fading, thanks to UV-resistant inks and high-quality 15 mil vinyl.

Vinyl Banners_800x628(1)

Banners are a bigger investment per piece compared to most other print products, and it’s understandable why you’d only want to have a few copies of any particular design.  This means making your design count, even before you send it over for printing.
Here’s some things to look over before you have your vinyl banner printed

8.) Context


Where will you use your banner? How far away will it be from your target audience? A banner intended for a trade show where you could expect people to come close enough to touch them might need to be designed differently from one hung from the side of a building.

Copying design elements from other banners without understanding what they’re used for can result in a design that simply wouldn’t work for what you’d need it for.

7.) Monitor Calibration

Monitor Calibration

This part is often overlooked, even by graphic designers. Your monitor will display colors in a different way from print products.

For example, a picture might look red on an uncalibrated monitor but come out pink or orange when printed. Consult your monitor user’s guide or online resources to see how you could calibrate your monitor.

6.) CMYK color settings

Banner design CMYK Color Settings

Your monitor will typically display images in RGB (Red, Green, Blue) while most printers use CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key color Black)  to reproduce those same colors. You’ll want to create a file calibrated for CMYK for maximum color fidelity.

Fortunately, almost all specialized design, illustration and image editing software allows you to do this. Just don’t use a word processor or spreadsheet program to design your banners. This ensures better color fidelity when printing.

5.) Size


This should reflect how you intend to use your banner. Smaller banners work well when you expect your audience to be closer, such as in more personal events and social gatherings.

Larger banners work better if your audience will be at a significant distance (30-100yds). When in doubt, it’s safer to err with larger banners, as they can still be seen well up close, where smaller ones might be useless when your audience is too far away.

4.) Color contrast

Color Contrast

If there’s something on your banner that you particularly want to be seen – such as a tagline or a logo – the colors used shouldn’t blend into the background. You’d want the colors on those elements to contrast with the background as much as is practical.

3.) Space


Less is often more when it comes to banner designs. Cluttered spaces make important images and text more difficult to figure out.

2.) Fonts


Use fonts that are easy to read. You’d want to avoid using novelty fonts to avoid confusing readers. Try to avoid using more than two different fonts, and try to stick with just one if practical. Again, make sure your text color sufficiently contrasts with the background.

Each font also has a “personality” attached to it, so try to use one that matches your message.

1.) Images


UPrinting’s digital printers are capable of producing photo-quality prints. But the quality of those prints also depends on the  quality of the images you send over.

You’ll also want to match your image resolution to your banner size in order to avoided obvious pixelation and to get better contrasts.

Rules of thumb

300 ppi or better  is always recommended for banners meant to be viewed at arm’s length.

Regardless of size, banners intended to be viewed from a few feet can get away with lower resolution.

  • 75 ppi*(pixels per square inch) – Poor to Fair
  • 100 ppi – Fair to Good
  • 150 ppi – Good to Very Good (Recommended for prints meant to be viewed a few feet away)
  • 200 ppi – Excellent
However, if the banners are intended to be viewed at several yards:
  • 150 ppi – Poor to Fair
  • 200 ppi – Fair to Good
  • 300 ppi – Good to Very Good (Recommended)
  • 400 ppi – Excellent
Why the increase in recommended image quality? This is because at several yards away, you’ll need larger prints, and lower quality images are more prone to pixelation when blown up.

Please note that this makes more sense if you intend to print a photo-quality image on your banner. With some very simple banner designs that use only a few colors and very high contrast backgrounds, you can get away with much lower resolution values.

Taking these into account before you send your banner designs for printing will not only save you time, but create more effective banners that give you the most for your money.

Love/Hate this article? Questions? Insights? Just head over to the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!