Design Process

Creating the design for new banknotes is a demanding task. As well as being complex works of art, they are important security documents that incorporate a range of security features that make them difficult to counterfeit. These features need to be integrated effectively into the banknote without interfering with the aesthetics of the banknote.

Banknotes offer an opportunity to honour Australians who have made important contributions to the nation. The notable Australians that presently feature on our banknotes were selected in consultation with various respected members of the community, including designers, art curators, historians and psychologists.

At the outset, the designers are given a detailed brief about the elements and security features required on the banknote. As well as focusing on the portrait of the individual that appears on a banknote and other elements that relate to the person's contributions to Australia, the brief includes an outline of the constraints associated with producing a security document and the suite of security features to be included.

Once the theme for a banknote is established, the designer can then develop the actual design. Using reference materials such as photographs and paintings, the designs involve a combination of hand-drawn and digital elements. If the banknote is part of a series, a 'family' feel will be developed through the establishment of common elements. This will, for example, include consideration of the design structure, line treatments, artwork, placement of portraits and security features and style and fonts chosen for text and numerals.

Throughout the process, the designers remain in contact with technical experts from the Reserve Bank and Note Printing Australia Limited (NPA) to ensure that what they are doing is consistent with the Reserve Bank's requirements and NPA's production capabilities. Once a design concept has been formally accepted by the Reserve Bank, other skilled artists and designers at NPA begin the lengthy process of converting the design into a banknote. Part of this involves transforming the design into large-scale line drawings.

To ensure the banknote is a secure document, many design iterations are required so that the right balance between design and security can be achieved. Throughout the process, the Reserve Bank also consults with a range of stakeholders to ensure that the banknote meets the various needs of the community. Advice is sought through a number of channels during the development process, including a Design Advisory Panel made up of experts from a range of fields including design, Australian art and history and banknote development and production, subject-matter experts and focus groups comprising members of the public.

Once all of the design work is done, printing plates can be made and trials are undertaken. Only when all of these preparations are completed can the actual production process begin.