Sports Posters

May 30, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

It seems that just about everyone has a camera these days, and those little digital cameras make some mighty fine photographs!  They are even very capable of making excellent sports pictures ... something that not too long ago would have been thought impossible for the average parent.  Yes, today, everybody can be a professional sports photographer - at least for their own child, and especially in a sport like baseball where there is plenty of light to get the shot.  So what do you do to make something beyond ordinary? 

That, of course is the difference between the parent and the pro.  I have already posted "How To" tips for shooting baseball, basketball, and football; that is not what this article is about.  This article focuses on what to do with those photos once you have them. Sometimes a special moment will stand out, like this first collegiate touchdown.

Cody Sneed Poster

For the past couple years, I have provided a custom poster to each senior on the baseball team. 

It is a memento like none other they will receive.  Each poster is unique to the player, yet it has common elements.  My only directive from the coach was that it had to fit in an 8x10 frame.  Knowing your limitations and intent is the real key to putting together a successful poster.  Just like taking a picture, a sharp image of a fuzzy concept is not going to be successful. 

First, select the photos you want to use.  For the this one, I chose a picture from each of his four years in High School.  Each of the photos must be able to stand on its own if your poster is going to be successful -- in sports images, that usually means that action, eyes, and the ball are in the shot.  In creating these posters, sometimes I have had to limit the drama or tension in original so that focus is retained on the individual.   One of the downfalls I have seen -- and been a victim of, is to clutter the page with too many pictures. 

Drew Jones-2013

Placement of the pictures gets you into design territory.  “The basic elements of design include color, line, shape, scale, space, texture and value and these are the fundamental pieces that make up any piece of work.”  Graphic Artists go to school and specialize in things like this, but there are a few simple rules that can help anyone design like a pro:

  1. Use an odd number of photos.  Even numbers tend to make it look stagnant.
  2. Keep the viewer's eye on the page. The principle of closure sounds simple enough, but there are literally hundreds of tricks to do this, and the better you get at visual communication, the more likely you will get paid for your work!  The same compositional rules that you use for taking photographs applies to making composites ... the rule of thirds, golden mean, Fibonacci Spiral, color contrast, complementarity, etc. all developed from successful visual artists like Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Monet, Wright, and Brockmann.  
  3. One thing you do have to be careful about is consistency of exposure and color balance when you are putting multiple photos on a page.
  4. Since these are specifically action posters, make sure the action always directs inside.  ie:  don't have the player running or throwing the ball off the edge of the page!

You probably also notice that there is a background, not just a plain color that the photos sit on.  I will take pictures of abstractions of the sport throughout the season to build a library of possible backgrounds to use on poster like this. Sometimes, the background provides enough information that more text is not necessary!  In this example, the WVSSAC logo on the baseball fills in the blanks.  Likewise, the blue is close enough to the team colors to be meaningful, but different enough to allow the jersey to stand out.

Other considerations you will get into include font style and size if you are going to place text on the page.  Kent University has a good, easy to understand page for getting started with design, including typography.   Of course, you will need the software to assemble all of these elements!  Although others also allow you the flexibility and freedom to make these posters, the standard that is used by graphic artists around the world is Photoshop.   you want to learn Photoshop?  That is an endeavor that will take much longer than a blog post!







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