09 April 2015

Critique: Build a better turbine

Today’s award-winning poster is courtesy of reader Jennifer Rinker. It was presented at the CU Energy Frontiers conference, where Jennifer walked away with the win in the “Electricity Generation and Storage Category.” Click to enlarge!


Jennifer writes:

At one point I was chatting with one of the judges briefly, and he enthusiastically told me I was getting full points for clarity.

I can see why. This is very clear.

The clarity is even more impressive because the poster uses a slightly unconventional layout: two horizontal sections, subdivided by vertical columns. While removing lines is often one of the first things I do to improve a poster (see below), the horizontal line here provides a clear cue of how to read the poster. It also serves the role of “grounding” the figure of the turbine, so it isn’t floating in space.



Because this poster has such a light touch – ample spacing, subdued colours, fine lines – the table near the center surprised me a bit. The table is emphasized in three ways:

  1. It’s printed in large, thick letters;
  2. Against a darker background, and;
  3. Inside a box.  

Any two of those are probably enough to highlight the table. I tried taking away the lines of the box:


The table harmonizes with the rest of the poster much better without the box. I’d perhaps increase the contrast between the table’s background and the background of the rest of the poster.


Cream and off-white colours are very attractive for posters, perhaps because they mimic the look of printed pages in books, which are rarely perfectly white. I would be tempted to go just a hair lighter in case this poster was someplace the lighting was bad. I tried a quick and dirty colour replacement. This wipes out some of the fine lines, alas:



I’m also pleased to report that this blog – and, more importantly, the many people who have shared their over the years – had a small part in this poster. Jennifer wrote:

I designed it based on a lot of your critiques and comments on poster blog. ... I was inspired by some of the really fantastic posters on your blog.

All part of the service!

1 comment:

Meaghan Bond said...

To my eyes, this poster and another recent entry (http://betterposters.blogspot.com/2015/04/critiques-icy-bodies.html) have a lot of text - more than I would want to read in a poster session. Can you comment on an appropriate amount of text?