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Production Poster Design - Level 1

In this level, you will design a production poster that reflects the themes of a show. The final challenge will be to create a digital poster design for a production of your choosing.

On your journey to tackle the Final Challenge and complete the Level, you will need to earn 2 Power Ups and gain 2 Experience Points along the way.



In this level, you will:

  • Power Up by checking out other professional poster designs to get inspired
  • Gain Experience by identifying the theme and mood of the show you are designing a poster for
  • Gain Experience by discovering and identifying the elements of graphic design
  • Power Up by collecting the information you need for your poster
  • Take on the Final Challenge by creating a digital poster design

This Level Up Challenge is based on a unit designed and developed by a student Thespian.

POWER UP: Get Inspired!


All great designers take time to get inspired, and many often do this by taking a look at other’s work!

You can fill up your inspiration cup by visiting the website of Frank “Fraver” Verlizzo, an American Design Artist and Drama Desk Award Recipient who is well known for designing the posters of many prominent Broadway Productions such as Sunday in the Park with George, The Lion King, and Little Women to name a few.

You can also draw inspiration from the catalog of work by Dreamfly, a company that specializes in promotional posters for theatre.

TO POWER UP: Research production posters from a variety of sources and designers. Which ones are your favorites? What do you like about them?

GAIN EXPERIENCE: Get in the Mood!

Example of a mood board, created by Shirlee Idzaovich

It’s time to get in the mood! Pick a show you'd like to design a show poster for. After you've read your play/musical, identify the “Three Ps and the T” of the show - Plot, Protagonist, Premise, and Theme! You may also consider the mood of the show and whether there are any symbols in the show. These are all important points about the show that you can consider capturing and conveying through your show poster art.

TO GAIN EXPERIENCE: Read your play/musical and identify the information needed. Create a mood board by collecting images from the internet and placing them in a slideshow, or you can use a digital tool such as Canva. Look for images that represent the elements you identified about your show. You will be able to refer back to this board that establishes your vision throughout the design process.



Now that you have gathered all your inspiration and planned out your vision, it’s time to get to work! Read this article titled "10 Basic Principles of Graphic Design" (source: Medium) to learn how to create images that will grab the attention of viewers through harnessing the elements of graphic design.

TO GAIN EXPERIENCE: Revisit your favorite production posters that you found in the first activity. Identify how the designers of these posters used the principles of graphic design to create compelling images. Find an example of each of the 10 principles of graphic design.

POWER UP: Get some Guidelines!


Yes, design is all about being creative, but the truth is there are some rules designers have to follow, since there is certain information that a production poster must have on it.

Read the article "What Features Should Appear On Any Production’s Poster?" (source: Sold Out Run) and learn more about a production poster’s MUST HAVES.

After reading, consider revisiting your favorite production posters that you found in the first activity and take note of what information they all contain. In addition, check out how these posters organize all the important information.


On most posters, you'll probably see the following:

          • company name
          • show title
          • name(s) of the playwright and/or people who wrote the music/lyrics/book
          • the licensing company
          • director's name
          • show dates and times
          • location of the show
          • ticket information
          • and more!

TO POWER UP: Collect all of the necessary information for the show that you chose to design a production poster for so you can be sure to include it on your final poster design.

*NOTE: If you are designing a poster for a show that is happening in your area, be sure to collect the accurate information about the company, the director, the show dates, show times, and location. If you are designing a poster for this challenge just for fun, you can imagine that information for a fictional production of the show!



You’re finally ready! It’s time to design! During this journey, you powered up by getting inspired by other designers and learning what information a production poster needs to contain. You also gained experience by creating a mood board for your show and identifying the basic principles of graphic design. Now, using the power ups and experience points you gained along the way, you are ready take on the final challenge: designing a production poster for the show you chose.


Be sure to include all the information you outlined in Activity 4, and try to employ the principles of design you demonstrated in Activity 3! You’ve made it! Happy Designing!

TIP: Be careful not to use show art from online that is copyrighted. You could create your own photos or drawings to use, or look for stock and/or fair use photos.

TO COMPLETE THE FINAL CHALLENGE: Create a production poster design for the show that you chose. You can do this by creating a color sketch on paper, or you can use a digital tool such as Canva, PowerPoint, Google Slides, or others.