04 April 2019

Critique: Stars with a bang

Mia de los Reyes is today’s contributor, with a pair of posters for perusal. Since both have similar styles, I’m going to mostly talk about both in one go at the end. Click to enlarge the first one!

Mia says of this poster:

This was presented at a conference for a very specific subfield (“Stellar Archaeology as a Time Machine to the First Stars”), so I felt a bit more free to use jargon that I otherwise wouldn’t put on a poster. I was inspired by the format of Meredith Rawls’s poster, which you featured a while ago.
She also notes there are some line artifacts caused by one of the images.

Mia’s second poster is one of the things we love – an award winner! This won a grad student award at the American Astronomical Society’s 233rd meeting.

Mia writes:

This had a more general audience, hence the “take-away points” box. I know that boxes are sometimes overdone, but I personally like the way they help me organize the flow of the poster.

Mia’s use of boxes works, I think, for a few reasons. One is that the lines making up the boxes aren’t black. When I see boxes on posters, the lines making them up are often black, and it creates a very strong visual impression because the lines are so high contrast. On both posters, the lines are in the same colour palette as the rest of the poster. That makes the box draw less attention to itself, and makes the division between spaces less abrupt.

Mia also takes care to ensure the edges of the boxes align, and the spaces between the boxes are even.

Mia’s use of the limited colour palette is intentional.

(I also like the “paint chip” look of using a spectrum of colors from a single color palette. I got the color palettes in these posters here.)

As with the first poster, Mia finds places to improve. In this second poster, an equation didn’t print as well as it might have.

On both, she wrote:

I wish I’d been a bit more creative with fonts! I used Avenir for everything but now wish I’d attempted a nice serif font for the headers.

I like both these posters, but there is an effect that I can’t quite put my finger on. They look better to me at far away than up close. They closer I get, the more cluttered they feel. They may purely be a matter of adjusting the point size down a hair, and maybe widening the margins between graphs and text ever so slightly.

Another thing that might help open up the space a little is to remove the top and left axes on the graphs, particularly on the second poster. They create a box where there is no need for a box, particularly since the graphs are all enclosed in boxes.

External links

8 Beautiful Flat Color Palettes For Your Next Design Project

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