Graphic Design & Techniques Design for Non-Designers
The First Steps • Know Your Target Audience ~How will they interpret your message? ~What needs are you trying to meet? • Find Inspiration ~Keep an idea file for copies of materials where the design/layout have impressed you ~Don’t be afraid to “steal” ideas from others • Have all information ready before beginning your project ~Helps to avoid backtracking and loss of time ~Allows you to visually plan out your project (troubleshoot)
Principles of Design • All designs have certain basic elements or building blocks chosen to convey the message - beyond the actual words or photos used. • How we place those items on the page determines the structure of our designs. It affects the overall readability and determines how well our design communicates the desired message. • The principles of design govern that placement and structure.
Balance Proximity Alignment Repetition Contrast White Space Six Basic Principles of Design
Balance • Visual balance comes from arranging elements on the page so that no one section is heavier than the other. Or, a designer may intentionally throw elements out of balance to create tension or a certain mood. • Items that offer balance to each other do not have to be identical or duplicates. A shaded block of text can provide balance to a photo on a page.
Proximity • Group related items together. Place items physically close to each other, so the related items are seen as one cohesive group rather than a bunch of unrelated bits. • In design, proximity or closeness creates a bond between people and between elements on a page. How close together or far apart elements are placed suggests a relationship (or lack of) between parts.
Alignment • Nothing should be placed on the page randomly. Every item should have a visual connection with something else on the page. • How you align type and graphics on a page and in relation to each other can make your layout easier or more difficult to read. It can create a stronger cohesive unit or bring excitement to a stale design.
Repetition • Repeat some aspect of the design throughout the piece. You can repeat color, shape, spatial relationships, line thicknesses, sizes, etc. • Repeating design elements and consistent use of type and graphics styles within a document - or series of documents - shows a reader where to go and helps them navigate your designs and layouts safely. • Repetition can be thought of as “consistency.”
Contrast • The idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If the elements (type, color, size, line thickness, shape, space, etc.) are not the same, then make them very different. Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on the page. • In design, big and small elements, black and white text, squares and circles, can all create contrast.
White Space • Did you ever participate in that crazy college pastime of VW Beetle stuffing? Were you ever the guy on the bottom struggling for a breath of fresh air or the last one in trying to find a place to stick your left elbow so the door will close? It wasn't comfortable, was it? Imagine trying to drive the car under those conditions. • Designs that try to cram too much text and graphics onto the page are uncomfortable and may be impossible to read. White space gives your design breathing room.
Bored by the monotony of typewritten or single typeface documents. Do you go wild when confronted by the variety of typefaces available on our computer? Solution: Use two or three fonts in your document. Make sure that these two fonts are different so that there is no confusion. 1) Too Many Fonts
Stop shouting. On-line TYPING IN ALL CAPS is considered shouting and is frowned on in most cases. In print, shouting is never worse than when it is done with decorative or script typefaces. It’s hard to read. Solution: Avoid using all caps in blocks of text. If you want to emphasize certain info, use a bold face of the font you are using. 2) Typing in ALL CAPS
Frames are wonderful when used in moderation. A frame loses its ability to emphasize blocks of text if every other block on the page is boxed. Solution: Use other ways to show emphasis, such as contrast in font size, bold faces or white space. 3) Overuse of Frames & Boxes
A font can set a mood and makes a strong impression. If you select a font that is inappropriate for your subject matter - or one that is too trendy or dated - you will end up confusing your intended audience, or appearing unprofessional. Solution: Always select a timeless font over a frilly or trendy one. Avoid at all times the following font types: Child’s handwriting, brush scripts, illegible fonts. There will be exceptions, but very rarely in our communications. 4) Choosing the Wrong Font
Clip art is abundant and fun to use. It can spice up fliers, newsletters, and posters. Yet too many pictures on a page make it hard for the reader to concentrate on what the documents says. Solution: Use clip art with moderation and with purpose. Choose clip art that supports your text or illustrates a point. If the clip art does not enhance your message, choose to use other design elements. 5) Excessive Use of Clip Art
Type The type should never inhibit the communication
What to Know about Type • Type is the basic building block of any printed page. • Readability is as important, if not more, as the design/layout itself. • Think about the all the ways that your piece will be used. Will the typeface you’ve chosen hold up under all circumstances, big or small. • Type can be used as your design element by: ~ Assigning it a color. Warm colors (reds, oranges) come forward and command our attention. Cool Colors (blues, greens) on the other hand, recede from our eyes. ~ Changing the weight of the typeface (thickness of the strokes) to create contrast. ~ Making your newsletter headlines and subheads bolder to create hierarchy.
Layout/Design The Design is intended to help clarify and support the content
Layout/Design 101 • Keep it simple • Use graphic devices such as white space, rules, images, and layout to help the reader understand the content. • Use graphic devices to direct the reader through the material.
Page Organizer ~ Use a grid to help organize elements on the page. Make sure that the grid is flexible, but that the grid sections are not too small. Divide the page into four or five columns for most flexibility. ~ Use multiple columns to organize text and visuals into smaller (more easily read) blocks of information. ~ Divide text into two or three equal columns for best results on a standard page. ~ Use a single wider column with a smaller column for pullout quotes and other types of supporting content. ~ If printing, make sure to accommodate for three-hole punch, or other bindery techniques by adding a little extra white space to the inside margin. Layout/Design 101
Text Organizer ~ Grab the reader's attention with headlines -- visually but also in content. ~ Avoid headlines that create interest that is not met by the following copy. ~ Write short clever headlines of five to eight words for ideal results. ~ Use subheads to break the body of text into smaller, more understandable sections. ~ Use block quotes to separate long quotations -- four or more lines -- from the body text. ~ Use captions to clarify and give support to the image. Make sure the image supports and clarifies the content. Layout/Design 101
Text Organizer (cont.) ~ Use pullout quotes as an excellent vehicle to visually break a large body of text, or to give the reader a summary of what is on the page. ~ Use sidebars, related stories or blocks of information that stands off from the main body of text. They are a good way to add interest and help support the content. ~ When stories feed into multiple columns, set headlines to span all columns of a story. ~ Set bylines and continuation lines smaller than headlines, and with a style that distinguishes them from body text. ~ Set continuation heads above continued stories, and if stories are nested (run in multiple columns at different column depths), use a rule or box to span all columns. Layout/Design 101
White or Negative Space ~ Leave plenty of white space around type and graphic elements (an eighth to a quarter inch depending on size relative to the layout). ~ Leave a little more white space at the bottom of a page relative to the top of the page (e.g., 0.75 inch at the top and 1 inch at the bottom). This will optically balance the page so it won't look like it is slipping off at the bottom. ~ Create a wide margin to direct the reader's attention into the copy or image area. ~ Use at least a quarter-inch gutter between columns. ~ Use left aligned (unjustified) text to create visual relief. Be careful that the "rag" indents on the right are not too big. ~ Increase leading (white space between lines) to lighten the look of the page. ~ Invite the reader into the page by leaving open space at the top and along the left margin. Layout/Design 101
How do you see it? Good Aspects: ~ Use of borders and shading ~ Headlines stand out ~ Format is balanced What could be Improved: ~ More white space around text ~ Resist the use of hyphenation ~ Allow more space between Header and start of information.
How do you See It? Would this Newsletter attract your reader to the material?
How do you See It? What a difference contrast makes!
Don’t Be a Wimp (in your designs) • Use Color • Place information in frames and boxes • Hierarchy, Hierarchy, Hierarchy • Use Clip Art to add to your materials • Make it FUN for you and your reader!