Beginners Guide to Great Looking Visuals: Step by Step Tutorial

Visual communication basics guide to good looking ads

So how to make good poster, advertisement or any of visuals? Can I make them look good? Let me take you on a journey to awesome looking visual content.

This is one of the most common questions I hear from my peers, small business owners and beginner advertisers. Most of the time we can evaluate from emotional perspective if something looks good or not. This feeling comes kind of from inside us.

But the million dollar question – what is it, that makes the poster or advertisement look good?

You are in luck today – I have the answers for you. I will share the basic knowledge of visual communication – the rules of great looking graphics.

Free book Beginners guide Good Looking Visuals

Good looks are all about the right proportions.

Yes, that is right. All the well designed things around us can be broken down to simple formulas. And the better news – you can learn and understand those formulas as well, so that you can apply them in your visuals.

Okay, enough with the small-talk. Let`s dive in.


Step by step guide to good looking visuals.

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Pin it! … or Share it!

Start here!

I will use a real life example. Say, I am a proud owner of a coffee shop. All I need – design a A2 size poster to communicate the fact I have a new Parmesan cheesecake.

Here is the empty poster.

Empty poster


Step 1: Divide the available space in three equal parts.

This is famously called The Rule of Thirds. What it does – it helps to set the space for main elements and the secondary elements.

Divide the available space in three equal parts. You can do it either horizontally or vertically. Here I am doing it horizontally.

Making great visuals - rule of thirds

Step 2: Desicion time – what is the main element?

Now you have to really think a bit carefully.

Essentially every piece of visual content consists of two main parts: image and copy. One should be dominant and will take up two thirds (2/3) of the poster. The other – secondary element – will be squeezed in the rest of one third.

If you have an image that speaks on it own (something unusual, shocking, emotional etc.) then it probably should be the main element.

If you have loads of copy to add – in this case I would consider making the copy as the main element.

Let`s make our cheesecake case, so that copy is the most important part. The looks of the cake itself will not be that impressive.


Step 3: Add images and text according to their importance.

The most important element – the primary element – should take 2/3 of the space.

The secondary element is added to the rest of 1/3.

Have a look.

Making great visual content: adding elements


Step 4: Align and style the copy.

Making great visuals: aligning and styling the copy

Now it is the time to style the copy.

First – choose the fonts that fit your brand or business. You might have already fonts chosen for you.

Then add the correct sizes. And here we come to the other frequently used rule in visual communication – The Golden Ratio (aka. Golden Cut). Mathematically it is defined as a multiplier of 1.6

To properly add the font sizes, do like this:

  • First choose the size for the main copy – this case Parmesan Cheesecake. Add it to the visual;
  • See what size it happens to be. In this case – 48 px;
  • Then you should add the correct size for the next level of copy. Take 48px and divide by 1.6. We get 30px – this will be the size of the next level;
  • Repeat until you have added the correct sizes for all the copy. Just divide or multiply by 1.6 every level. You can also skip one level if it is needed. Just make sure you increase or decrease every font size by 1.6.

This also means that you have to decide which parts of the copy should be visible first, and which parts are less important (like, some side info or small print).

Our poster would end up looking like this. I decided that my customers should see that I have a new cheesecake and try to encourage them to try it out.


Step 5: Colors and extra elements.

Now is the time to add colors. I would advise the colors that fit your brand. If you have already colors chosen for your business – take those. If not – get creative.

I added a background for the price, so that it pops out a bit.

Making great visuals: adding colors

Bonus Step: Minor adjustments for better looks

Athough essentially ready, we can do some final touches to make everything perfect.

The need for this step depends on every single case. I see that there is a bit more space for the cake and website might just look better on the bottom of the poster.

You are allowed to move elements around the design as long as you stick to the Rule of Thirds. Do not ruin this precious proportion.

Let`s have a look.

Extras and minor adjustments to your visuals, posters, great advertisements

Perfect! It looks beautiful, doesn`t it? The poster is ready. Now you can print it and place all over your coffeeshops.

Visuals in the coffeeshop


Is this some wizardry? Magic? No! Visual communication is a set of rules, that you can learn and understand.


Tools do not matter.

If you want to apply this knowledge, it doesn`t matter what tools you use. Either it is Powerpoint, Canva, MS Word or fancy software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop – the rules themselves are the same everywhere. Tools merely help you achieve some tasks faster or prepare your visual for specific use, e.g. printing house, newspaper.



Here you go! The basics of great visual content explained. These step by step principles can be used to design practically anything – posters, socia media images, ads, PowerPoint presentations etc. Try to apply this guide the next time you make your promos.

By the way – here is a FREE e-Book on this topic. It features more in-depth information and couple of more examples on this same poster design. Check it out!

Free book Beginners guide Good Looking Visuals


Was this article helpful? Did you discover a new world today? Let me know in the comments section.

Images from Pixabay.


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