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Visual Design, Info Design 12 May 2010 Visual Design Grid Color Typography Visual Design : The Grid A grid orders the elements on a page – whether the page is literal (paper) or figurative (a screen) Paper (print) – size is known, fixed

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visual design
Visual Design




visual design the grid
Visual Design : The Grid

A grid orders the elements on a page – whether the page is literal (paper) or figurative (a screen)

Paper (print) – size is known, fixed

Web (screen) – size is unknown, layout may be fixed or fluid

visual design golden ratio 1 3
Visual Design : Golden Ratio (1/3)

The Golden Ratio (or the Divine Proportion, Golden Mean, Golden Rectangle, etc) is a visual representation of a number called Phi (pronounced fi) … it’s found throughout nature -- in space, physics, DNA, math, art, architecture (see Greek or Egyptian works)

The Golden Ratio is a measurement between two segments of a whole. If line “A” has two unequal parts, “AB” and “BC” – the golden ratio, 1.618 [actually 1.618033988749895], is achieved where A/B = B/C

visual design golden ratio 2 3
Visual Design : Golden Ratio (2/3)

Source: Design and the Divine Proportion

visual design golden ratio 3 3
Visual Design : Golden Ratio (3/3)

Source: Design and the Divine Proportion

the nautilus shell
Once you start splitting a golden rectangle by the ratio, you can keep sub-splitting it down forever. The spiral this produces exactly matches the growth of the Nautilus shell in nature. The Nautilus Shell

Source: Anyone for thirds?

visual design rule of thirds
Visual Design: Rule of Thirds

Simplified Golden Mean

Symmetrical design is, usually, boring. Most designs can be made more visually interesting by mentally dividing the area (page, photo) into thirds vertically and horizontally and placing the most important elements within those thirds.

Examples: photos1, photos2

color importance
Color Importance
  • 80% of the brain is devoted to processing visual information
  • The two categories: form and color
what is color
What is color?

The visual effect caused by the spectral composition of light which is emitted, transmitted or reflected by objects [Color Logic for Web Design, p 7]

The experience of color is always relative to context – relationship to adjacent color can cause noticeable differences in visual perception

See Color Perception (in 3000 Words) In William Bechtel and George Graham (eds), A Companion to Cognitive Science, Blackwells, 1998.

color models
Color Models
  • Sir Isaac Newton developed the first color wheel in 1666
  • Computer monitors use additive color model : RGB
    • Projected light
  • Printers use subtractive color model : CMYK
    • Reflected light
color three primaries
Color – Three Primaries
  • Red: #ff0000 or #f00 in CSS
  • Blue: #0000ff or #00f in CSS
  • Yellow: #ffff00 or #ff0 in CSS
color the secondaries
Color – The Secondaries
  • Orange: #ff9900 or #f90 in CSS
  • Green: #00ff00 or #0f0 in CSS
  • Purple: #ff00ff or #f0f in CSS
color the tertiaries
Color – The Tertiaries
  • Yellow-Orange: #ffcc00 or #fc0 in CSS
  • Red-Orange: #ff6600 or #f60 in CSS
  • Red-Purple: #cc00cc or #c0c in CSS
  • Blue-Purple: #9900ff or #90f in CSS
  • Blue-Green: #00cccc or #0cc in CSS
  • Yellow-Green: #ccff00 or #cf0 in CSS
color harmony
Color Harmony

Analogous color: side-by-side on color wheel

Complementary color: opposites on the color wheel

Triads: where the points of an equilateral triangle touches the color wheel

additive subtractive color
Additive & Subtractive Color


  • Hue – the specific color
  • Saturation – intensity
  • Value – brightness
    • Color Principles Lecture – Relative Value (Part1, 11.11)
color theory chevreul 1 2
Color Theory: Chevreul (1/2)

French Chemist (1776-1889)

  • Highly contrasting colors used in sufficient quantities will make each appear more brilliant; when used in small quantities the eye blends and creates a new, duller color.
color theory chevreul 2 2
Color Theory: Chevreul (2/2)
  • When colors are not analogous and not complementary, one will give the other a complementary tinge
  • Colors that are adjacent to one another tend to optically mix to create a new color
color theory bezold effect
Color Theory: Bezold Effect

Changing only one color can significantly alter appearance

color theory albers 1 2
Color Theory: Albers (1/2)

L: r102/g102/b104; R:r153/051g/153b; C: r153/g102/b204

Perceived hue will change based on surroundings; Bauhaus (1888-1976)

Three colors below (and next) appear to be four

color theory albers 2 2
Color Theory: Albers (2/2)

L: r153/g204/b000; R:r204/255g/153b; C: r051/g204/b102

color theory movement 1 2
Color Theory: Movement (1/2)
  • Depending on the background, warm colors tend to “advance” and cool colors “recede”
    • Thus, pick your colors for visited/not visited links with care
    • Also be aware of cultural meanings (green = “go” so might not be a good choice for “went”)
color theory movement 2 2
Color Theory: Movement (2/2)

Which color advances?

harmonious guidelines
Harmonious Guidelines
  • Use a limited color palette
  • Experiment with harmonies – match with tone
    • Dynamic, strong contrast = edgy, attention-getting, energizing
    • Subtle, low contrast = fluid, low key, sophisticated
  • The art of arranging type, designing type and modifying type glyphs.
  • Serif and sans serif
  • Limited web palette
  • Monitor inconsistencies
  • Readability
    • There is an optimum line width, and it is determined by the number of characters in the line. A general rule of thumb is 2–3 alphabets or 52–78 characters (including spaces).
design examples
Design Examples

URLGreyHot – navigation

Portfolio 1 – overall (see samples)

Portfolio 2 – grid, typography

Business – broken grid

Inspiration: ZenGarden, DailySlurp (color)

visual design resources
Visual Design : Resources

Feeling Your Way Around Grids

Design Grids For Web Pages

Designing Blog Theme Templates

color resources
Color Resources

Choosing Effective Color Schemes

Why Color Matters

Tool: Color Harmony Chooser

Browser Safe Palette

typographic resources
Typographic Resources

Web Design is 95% Typography

The Elements of Typographic Style Applied To The Web

Five Steps To Better Typography

recap genres 1 2
Recap: Genres (1/2)
  • Individually:
    • Find three sites that you believe best epitomize the genre you worked on last week. Feel free to develop a “sub-genre” – such as “news” as a subset of “media.” Also, try to find at least one that categorically fits but visually breaks the genre.
    • Identify what “makes” this genre immediately self-apparent – regardless of entry point
    • Identify content types found in this genre
recap genres 2 2
Recap: Genres (2/2)
  • Regroup– discuss – reach consensus. Try to agree on one or two example sites. What do they have in common?
    • Color?
    • Type?
    • Grid?
    • Page width?