How do I design graphically?

Graphic Design is involved in every piece of our lives, whether we realize it or not. The color of your shampoo bottle? The font on the billboard you drive by every day? The way the words curve around the top of your hummus container? That is all graphic design. And it all matters. All of those decisions were made for a specific reason, and Goodman starts to describe those in his book, The 7 Essentials of Graphic Design. 

First, you may be thinking, what do you mean by all this graphic design talk? Here is a good place to start:

Now here is what Goodman has to say.

[CHAPTER 1–RESEARCH]

Research is important because it helps the designer understand the consumer–what they want, what they need, what would make their life easier, what would improve their day. An important question to ask is, “What story does the client want to tell?” And this can only be by immersing yourself in the culture of the project you are working on. Here are some strategies Goodman suggests:

  1. Question and Answer: asking the simple Who? What? When? Where? Why? questions
  2. Find Existing Examples: gather examples from similar projects once you know in which direction the client would like to go
  3. Create a Typical Scenario: hypothetical story about an imaginary ideal customer to help agree on a basic direction for the project

[CHAPTER 2–TYPOGRAPHY]

Typography is a somewhat hidden art; although maybe never fully recognized by your consumer, it still conveys an important message. The way the words are presented on the page matter. As with pretty much all types of design, typography has followed historical trends along with the advancement of technology. These are the four main types of fonts Goodman identifies:

1.   Old Style.

2.   Transitional.

3.   Modern.

4.   Digital. 

[CHAPTER 3–CONTRAST]

Contrast has a lot of power when it comes to a graphic design project–it can tell us where to look first, which should usually be whatever information is most important. It can be achieved in a variety of ways, but one is creating order. This creates the design’s hierarchy, which guides the reader’s attention through the information presented. Contrast can also be achieved through color, by using specific hues that differ greatly from one another, or different lightness or brightness levels (value or chroma) of those hues.

[CHAPTER 4–LAYOUT]

Goodman describes the layout of a design like a map for the consumer. The viewer needs to know where they are headed so they don’t start to doubt the designer and his or her abilities. There are 5 elements of hierarchy Goodman identifies:

1.   Visual Contrast

  • Created by size, value, weight, white space, position, figure/ ground, texture, and color

2.   Symmetrical & Asymmetrical Balance

  • Symmetry achieves balance through mirrored, calm graphics
  • Asymmetry achieves balance through less predictable, more dynamic choices

3.   Sequencing or Visual Rhythm

  • Variety makes it interesting
  • Can be achieved by: interrupting normal sequence, surprise change in scale, changing quantity, etc.

4.   Depth

  • Create 3-D look to a flat page
  • Use scale, layering, and foreground/ background to accomplish

5.   Implied Space

  • Dramatic production, area the designer references beyond the page
  • Use of scale and/or use of repetition
  • Create visible tension, dynamic and visual relationship between elements
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