Here's the scenario: you are inspired by a scripture, a prophetic word, a vision or dream, a commission.....to produce a worship banner. But how do you come up with a design?
The following are basic concepts for successful worship banner design.
The first thing to do is pray and go into the Word. Get out your concordance and research all related scriptures to the concept you are considering. Write them down. Pray over them and highlight the ones that seem to "come alive" to you or are particularly cogent to the vision you have for your banner. Now, let the scriptures "speak" to you about the message of your banner, the words, the images and the colors.
This is very important. It's much easier to change your mind on a drawing than after you've cut up a bunch of expensive fabrics. Make your drawing as complete as possible before you start.
God is BIG. And more important, He is bigger than US. Banners should tower over us to help communicate the bigness of God. (See my post on the power of perspective for some thoughts on that topic.) Make your banner as big as you can for the venue you will be using it in. I find a good size for one person to be able to handle is a banner about 4 feet wide and 8-9 feet long. Larger widths are certainly possible, but pose challenges for traveling and strength, etc.
Vary the shape of your banners, one to another. A rectangular shape is not inherently bad, but you have so many more options! The overall shape of a banner can be changed by hanging additions, drapings, or headers. Think especially about the bottom edge of the banner...it's a chance to be creative with your design. You are not limited to straight lines. However, be careful if designing asymmetrical shapes...you may have to do some strategic weighting later to get the banner to hang straight.
Depicting certain scenes or images may require an understanding of perspective, that is, the way objects change in size as they approach a horizon point. Be aware that you can create a sense of distance and nearness by the way you handle perspective.
You may want to depict a myriad of angels on a banner scene. You can't practically do that by constructing tens of thousands of angels to place on a 4 foot wide piece of cloth, so you must use illusion and perspective. In the banner Lord of the Harvest you can see that the suggestion that many angels are approaching is achieved by scattering a few angels in the background, but arranging the sizes and detail so that the forward angels are larger and more complete. That gives the illusion that they are at the fore of a group of many.
When depicting natural images, real life forms like animals, trees, people, etc. it is best to not be literal in our renderings. Banners are a window to the spiritual. Natural mages on banners should have a "glorified" character. Think of the aspects of the kingdom and of our Creator....light, glory, brilliance, extravagant beauty....and seek ways to work those things into your natural images. For instance, in the banner Lion of Judah, there is a depiction of a natural lion. You can recognize it as a natural lion....however, it is not furry or brown. It is silver and has an eye made of a red jewel. Those changes are symbols of the spirit Lion's character, and that is what I mean by "glorified" reality.
This is the areas on the banner that do not have actual designs on them. It is the space between the designs. It is as, or even more, important than the actual designs themselves. Negative space allows us to comprehend the design. Always stand back and look at your banner and take stock of the shapes of the negative spaces. Are they pleasing? Are they too big (do you see "empty" spaces?) Always check to see that your design "fills" the available space, but without being crowded.
Texture & Dimension
Texture can be achieved by using different materials, and also by the way those materials are used. Banner making is a 3-dimensional medium. Think of it as "fabric sculpture". You are not limited by a plane. You can add dimension by padding, layering, and draping. Fabrics do not have to be glued on flat....they can be scrunched, twisted, stuffed, shredded....and they don't even have to be fabrics. You can use papers, plastics, metals, gemstones, beads, chains.....whatever your glue and stitching can hold on to the banner. Use of a variety of textures give richness to your banners.
These are the single most important element of your banner, as they are what will be the main communicating element of your design. Choose a letter style that reflects the character of your message. A strong, militant message requires a substantial, prominent letter style. A message about mercy might require a softer letter style.
- Consider the scale of your letters to the overall size of the banner. Use your space.
- Make sure the letters of your main message are readable from across the room.
- Pay attention to making the letters prominent. Padding and trimming are ways to accomplish that.
Banners are not just visual. You can feel the air currents created as they move by you. You can smell spices or other fragrances built into the design of the banner. You can hear bells, or the rustling of tinsel or taffetas, and these can be a part of the message of your banner. Think about connecting with the other senses of the worshippers other than just through sight.
Symbols are the language of the Kingdom. Learn about scriptural symbols and scriptural number & color symbology and use this language in your banner design. A good Bible dictionary like Ungers has information on this. E.W. Bullinger's book, Number in Scripture is good. I've also compiled a Bible Symbols booklet especially for banner makers that you can order from our ZionFire Shoppe.
Contrast and Color
Although the colors of white and gold may represent "holiness" in a symbolic way, it is a bad design decision to put gold letters on a white background. There is just not enough contrast to make the words readable from a distance. A solution would be to use black trim around gold letters, or use a gold letter fabric with a lot of black in it. Consider the issues of contrast and color value when making color decisions on your banner. Two colors that seem very different, for instance the primaries red and green, may have very similar color values and would therefore be difficult to distinguish at a distance. This does not mean that you can't use red and green next to each other....but that you should consider the values....say, a pale green next to a dark red.
One of the most common mistakes that I see in beginning banner makers is the tendency to put every revelation you have ever had in your first banner....and so it might come out covered with twenty words and sporting a cross, a crown, a white horse, a river, fire and Mary and Joseph waving "howdy". Much better to focus on one aspect of God's character or Kingdom and design all the elements of the banner to support that one thought. Say you wanted to do a banner on the beatitudes. Much better to do a series of banners, one for each beatitude, and make each banner a unique design to support each thought.
Here is where your scripture research will help you. Remember those special scriptures that spoke to you? That's where you will find the design elements that will make your banner's message cohesive and powerful. Pay attention to this and you will be shooting one powerful spiritual rifle bullet instead of a bunch of buckshot. Got more than you can gracefully work into the banner front? Well, you have a whole great expanse on the banner back as well. Use that to enhance and support your message. Remember that in procession, people are seeing the back of your banner just as much as they are seeing the front. Use that space to make your proclamation even richer.