NHD has very specific rules on exhibit dimensions and word limit. Once your text is written and organized you are ready to begin with your exhibit design.
How big should I make the photographs?
Determing the size of your images depends on how many you will be displaying. Keep it simple.
For example, if you are making an exhibit on Albert Einstein, you probably won't make his baby photo the biggest one on the panel. It would probably be one of him working out an equation or writing on a chalkboard. For your panels - do not make all photographs the same size. Choose which photo is the most important and make it larger than the others. Build your design around the focal point.
What about color?
There are many artistic
guidelines about using color and which colors on the color wheel compliment other colors. Do a google search on "color wheel" for more information. That may be more complex than you need. Think about your topic -what colors come to mind? If your exhibit is on industrial waste does it make you think about the color lavender or garbage-can green? Look at some examples .
Now that you have a color in mind find a box of crayons and start coloring. Try many shades of the same color on your swatch, look at what I mean. If you choose to paint your panel the lighter color, then use the dark color for photo borders and possibly the text. Or find two contrasting colors that you like together, like peach and midnight blue. If you still aren't sure, show a couple of samples to friends and family members and ask for opinions.
A good rule is to use no more than three colors in your design. And remember, there is nothing wrong with black and white--especially if you throw in a touch of "hot" color like red, hot pink or orange (depending on your topic). Try a narrow red border around your photo or a fluorescent color for an "urban" sort of feel.
What tools do I use to design my exhibit?
For a low tech design use graph paper to make a scale drawing of your panels.
How do I decide where everything goes?
Designing an exhibit is like writing a paper or a book. Divide your information up into sections, so your topic can easily be followed. Keep the most important information and illustrations at the top of the center panel and make them the largest. Let's take a look at those Rose Garden Club panels again, pretending these are the center panel of a three-panel exhibit.
Panel 1 - There are two text pages on this panel. Can you tell which pictures go with the text? From this layout it is very hard to tell.
Panel 2 - Notice there is a text page at the top left? This is where the eye first falls once you have read the title, place important information here.Each caption is touching, overlapping or very near the photo it is describing. You can see the three distinct groups on this panel.
Panel 3 - This panel is designed with everything lined up.
Panel 4 - It is more interesting to arrange things in different places and on angles.
Once you have drawn your design to scale cut your panels to size and arrange the tiems on the panel. Don't attach them until you have the exhibit entirely laid out and are certain you like the arrangement!