What is design?
a design is a plan, a means to an end. When you slected your colthes this morning, you were designing. You made certain choices probably based on how you wanted to look, feel, and act today.
Choices must also be made to select and arrange type and illustrations that make up a printed product. Understanding the principles of good design will help you make intelligent choices.
Principles of design
Certain principles are basic to understanding praphic design. These include proportion, balance, contrast, rhythm, unity and color. These principles provide guidelines for developing a successful printed product.
Proportion. refers to how parts of a whole relate to one another and to the whole.
Page proportion. Before a job can be printed, its general size and shape must be decided upon. Usually the product itself will determine this. For example, a business card must be easily carried in a wallet or shirt pocket. A poster must be large enough to be read at a distance.
After approximating, the designer must decide upon a final size and shape for the product. Usually this final decision is based on how a product will look rather than on its use.
Generally rectangles are more pleasing to the eye than squares. Square shapes seem dull and unmovin; rectangles seem to convey motion and direction. A good proportion for a rectangular page is approximately two units wide and three units long. Business cards measure about 2X3.5 inches. Photographs may measure 4X5, 50X7, or 8X10. And, of course, most business letterheads measure 8.5X11 inches.
Element Proportion. The size and shape of type and illustrations in a printed product must also be properly proprotioned. Again, rectangeular elements will usually appear more attractive than square shapes. The size and shape of each element and the surrouding white space must each be considered in relation to all the other elements.
One easy and quick way to reduce or enlarge illustrations or copy is the diagonal-line method. It is a valuable aid to making design decisions.
Balance. Balance is a visual effect. When type and illustrations are arranged in a pleasing way, a feeling of stability or equilibrium is conveyed. When elements are out of balance, the printed product may look top heavy or too heavy on the right or left.
There are two types of balance: formal and informal. Type and illustrations are not placed on a common center line. However, the layout still looks balanced. Elements appear to be in equilibrium.
Optical and true centers. Printing located at the vertial center of a piece of paper appears to be too low. Major type or illustration elements should not be placed at the true center of a page. Instead they should be raised approximately one-tenth the distance from the true center to the top of the page. This position is known as the optical center. It is the part of the page that the eye sees as being the center.
Contrast. Contrast provides emphasis to a word, a series of words, or an illustration. Contrast can also be used to relieve monotony in printed message.
Rhyhm. Eye movement across a printed page may be slow or swift, left or right, upward or downward, flowing or jerky. We call this motion rhythm. It is possible to lead a reader’s eye in a desired direction by placement of type and illustration.
Unity. Unity is the harmonious relationship among the various type and illustration elements in a printed job,
Two or more typefaces should be combined in a single job only if they look right together. Typefaces with similar shapes and weights may be combined if done with care. Using several different type size and style in a single layout distracts from the clarity of the message and should be avoided.
The use of illustrations of various sizes and shapes can also distract from the harmony of a job. Unity is achieved by using the same basic shape throughtout.
Color. Selecting ink color and paper colour for a printed job is part of the design process. You must have already seen how color can be used to emphasize a word, a series of words, or an illustration in some colored book. Color can do much more than just provide emphasis, however, ink and paper colors can attract attention, hold attention, and even communicate directly with the viewer.
Color attracts attention, A visual message can not be successfully sent if the intended receiver does not look at it. Color can be used to attract attention to the message. Bright colors, for example, will drwa attention to billboard’s and posters that are read from a distance.
Color hods attention. Color also holds a veiwer’s attention over an extended period of time. Imagine trying to read a book whose text is printed with orange ink on red paper. Your head would probably begin to ache after only a very short time. Colors that are easiest on the eyes include dark green, blue, and violet.
Beside colors that are easy on the eyes, there should be sufficient contrast between paper color and ink color. Black or blue ink on white paper are the combinations most often used.
Color communicates. Colors are classified as warm or cool. Red, orange, and yellow are cosidered warm colors. They are the colors of sun and fire. Blue, green and violet are considered cool colors. These are the colors of nature: blue water, green grass, and the violet darkness of night.
People are affected by color. Warm colors tend to excite people; cool colors tend to calm them down.
Besides affecting emotions, colors can communicate directly with people. Red, for example, may say stop! Red may indicate danger. Green, however, may say that all is well; it tells the viewer to continue. Colors can be used to communicate, so choose them with care.