Anywhere you go, you are likely to see posters advertising various products or promoting certain causes. If you need to have posters printed, you may be wondering what materials are used and what specifications the printers require to create a quality end product.

This article will cover this topic and give you the information you need to make your poster stand out from the rest. 

Posters can be printed on a multitude of materials such as: 

  • Aluminum
  • Foamboard
  • Poster paper
  • Vellum
  • Vinyl

Many other materials can be used to create an eye-catching poster that will be discussed further along in the article. 

Continue reading to learn more information about what materials can be used for printing posters that will catch the attention of passersby. 

Then and Now – How Poster Printing Has Progressed

Although the lithograph was invented in 1798, it wasn’t until two years later that they figured out how to do larger-scale printing such as posters. 

Before the lithograph, posters were generally made on wood or metal and used very little color. Since the inception of the lithograph, we have come a long way and now have many options for materials that can be used for printing posters. 

You may be surprised to see the types of materials that are used for printing posters today. Technology has made it possible to print anything on nearly any type of surface that you can imagine. 

Continue reading to learn about how subject matter and placement affect the materials used when printing a poster. 

Screen Printing
Screen Printing Posters

Motives Determine Materials Used for Poster Printing

Your reason for printing a poster in the first place will significantly affect which material you use for your display. You need to answer some questions before you can make the right choice of materials for your poster. 

What is Your Intention For the Poster?

Be clear with your design and intent. What message do you want your poster to send? Who is your targeted audience? 

Some common reasons people create posters are:

  • Creating an inspirational or funny poster
  • Exhibiting artwork
  • Movies and TV shows
  • Plays
  • Promoting a band or celebrity
  • Promoting a business
  • Raising awareness for a good cause
  • Sales flyer or advertisement

Whatever your reason for creating a poster for print, you want to put out something that will catch people’s eyes. 

The general public has become blind to what is around them simply because there are so many visual stimulants and distractions. 

We eventually ignore the endless barrage of advertisements and other signage being pushed in our faces. This is why you need to choose the right material and printing methods to display the message you are trying to get across to people. 

Remember, you want your poster to stand out from the sea of signage that desensitizes us from noticing what is in front of us.  There are plenty of takeaways in this article, 5 Reasons Why Advertisers Create Attractive Posters (And How to Do Better.)

Design your poster

This one is obvious, but you need to have an intriguing design that communicates your objective if it’s a movie you want to get people into seats. If your design is for a good cause, you need to inspire people to take action.

The good news is that this website is intended to teach numerous things, including art and design, and that’s why we believe you will find value in these articles:

Placement of Your Poster

Choosing the right material for the location of the poster is essential. You don’t want to use traditional poster paper outdoors because it will not withstand moisture and other weather conditions while retaining its integrity. 

You will be wasting time and money if your intentions are for your poster to last a long time. If you create posters for a temporary event, you can get away with a more inexpensive poster paper. 

However, you will find various forms of gorilla marketing in cities where people will make inexpensive posters on paper and then go around town using wheatpaste to stick them on multiple walls. These are also called “wild posts.” Now, this form of advertising can be illegal, so proceed with caution and look up your local laws.

To learn about the various options for printing posters, continue to the next section. 

Wild post
Wild Post example courtesy of Matrix Media

15 Materials Used for Poster Printing

Here we will discuss 15 materials commonly used for printing. This list is not extensive; however, it gives you a good idea of the variety of materials available. 

Hopefully, this list will inspire you to think outside of the box when it comes to using different materials to promote the things most important to you:  

  • Aluminum composite
  • Backlit polyester film
  • Clear Acrylic
  • Corrugated plastic
  • Economy foam board (paper-faced)
  • Expanded/Formed PVC
  • Paper board
  • Perforated window film
  • Polyester fabric
  • Premium foam board
  • Strong poster paper
  • Vellum
  • Vinyl 
  • Wall and floor graphics
  • Window cling

Details Make the Poster

The type of finish your poster has can significantly affect the aesthetic value and effectiveness of the message you are trying to send. 

For example, a poster paying tribute to a particular musical group may have a different finish than one advertising a limited-time sale. Examples of different finishes you can use on your poster are as follows: 

  • Crystal Lamination
  • High-gloss
  • Matte
  • Semi-gloss

We go deeper on the subject of movie poster paper finishes in Should Movie Posters Be Glossy or Matte Finish?

Common Categories of Posters

Sometimes knowing what category your poster falls in can help you choose the materials you use to print your message on. A corporate poster will likely use different materials and finishes than that of a show poster. Here are a few different categories: 

  • Affirmative
  • Campaign/Causes
  • Corporate
  • Fashion
  • Formative
  • Infomercial
  • Political
  • Show
  • Subject

Please continue reading to learn about how technology has forced the printing industry to expand its graphic talents to other forms of media.  

Digital Movie Poster
Example of Digital Marketing on IMDB

Is Traditional Printing Slowly Becoming a Thing of the Past?

Now that everyone does virtually everything online, the printed word has sadly begun to fade. What once was a booming industry is quickly becoming a lost art.

Newspapers and printing companies are shutting down across the country due to the lack of print jobs and the pandemic isn’t helping.

To accommodate the shift in media, traditional printers are now creating digital posters as a form of advertisement for various businesses, causes, and more. Digital marketing is quickly becoming the number one way to attract the attention of the masses. 

Continue reading for some common questions regarding digital posters. 

FAQs About Digital Posters 

Here we will answer a few commonly asked questions regarding digital posters. 

What are Digital Posters? 

A digital poster is the same thing as a traditionally printed poster with some pretty noticeable exceptions. However, the similarities between the two types of media end with the fact that they both are intended to draw attention to a particular product or cause. 

Digital posters can add extra elements to attract the eye and direct the intended audience to a particular website or event. Graphics, video, and audio clips work together to create these dynamic attention getters. 

You probably see ads and banners on this post, and they are perfect examples of digital media.

How are Digital Posters Affecting the Traditional Print Industry? 

Digital posters are putting pressure on the traditional print industry, which is why printers are getting more and more creative with the materials they are using to create a visual display that will relay your intended message effectively. 

Are Digital Posters More Economical than Printed Posters? 

Using a digital poster can certainly save you some money as you are not paying for ink and distribution costs. The savings from digital marketing efforts can allow you to do even more marketing online and potentially reach more audiences. 

Advertising on social media has been highly effective for many brands and causes.

Modern Technology Renders Print Materials Virtually Endless

As you can see, poster printing has come a long way since the earliest days of the lithographic image. With technology and creative minds, a poster can be printed on virtually anything. Keep thinking outside of the box and try different materials to see what attracts your targeted audience the most. 

Either Way You Need Design

Regardless of whether you are designing a poster for the outdoors or digitally, you need design skills. That’s why we are currently producing an online course dedicated to poster design. We suggest signing up for our newsletter as subscribers will be the first to be notified.

Or go check out our YouTube channel and watch the free tutorials. They are a great starting point!