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Design for Non-Designers

Design for Non-Designers

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Published by Mercedes Villacampa
Basic design principles for posters, publications, etc..
Basic design principles for posters, publications, etc..

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Mercedes Villacampa on Mar 29, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Composition & Layout

I. Composition The two most important design principles which determine how we react to visual cues on a page, computer screen, overhead cell, etc. are: • contrast • organization Common sense proves we see: • big things before small things (contrast of scale)

• dark things before light things on a design field (contrast of value)

• things on top before things below (contrast of placement) We prefer to see design fields with a sense of order and structure which are visually logical (organization).


II. Layout
The easiest way to achieve a good layout for your design field is to create a grid. A grid consists of a series of non printing horizontal and vertical lines which help in the placement of typography, graphic elements, lines, boxes, photos, etc. on a design field. The grid makes it possible to maintain consistency from design field to design field even though the contents of each field may change.

Another way to achieve a good layout is to create an organic design field. This is accomplished by positioning typography and graphic elements without a distinct alignment plan or pattern (grid). The layout should be informally balanced and visually pleasing. (note: the organic layout should not be used for an entire series of design fields but can be used for one or two within a grid system layout.)


III. Typography
A. Type Categories

1. Serif Typefaces–serifs are small finishing strokes at the ends of main character stems of letters. Serif typefaces are very easy to read because the serifs form a baseline for the eye to follow.

2. Sans-serif Typefaces–typefaces comprised of letters that do not have small finishing strokes at the ends of main character stems. Vertical and horizontal stems are usually the same weight. Sans–serif typefaces are usually bolder than serif typefaces. Their simplicity and neutral style are effective for most topics but should never be used for large amounts of copy because the reader’s eyes often “double–back” or have difficulty “tracking” the copy from line to line.

3. Script Typefaces–similar to handwriting or calligraphy. Script typefaces are too ornamental for presentation graphics and should be used sparingly. (note: never set copy in all capital letters using a script typeface because it will be illegible.)

4. Display Typefaces–typefaces which really don’t fit any of the other categories. Display type is usually ornamental in nature and chosen for style rather than legibility and should be used in moderation.


B. Type Fonts

The full alphabet, numbers, punctuation and symbols set in one weight and style of a typeface. ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz 1234567890 ,./';[]=-!@~$%^&*()_+?.,:"}{ Palatino Bold
C. Type Families

Several fonts that are variations of one typeface design.

D. Legibility/Illegibility or NO–NOs on the Design Field

1. Never mix two similar typefaces. Instead try mixing a serif with a sans–serif typeface. (Times with Helvetica) 2. When using a type family, limit yourself to two or three variations. More than three results in a cluttered look. 3. Avoid using fancy Display Typefaces. They are often difficult to read. 4. Avoid setting large blocks of type in italic or bold. Again, they are difficult to read. 5. Avoid setting Script and Old English typefaces in all caps. The result is illegible copy.
note: Allow enough white space around type and graphics. The reader’s eye is attracted by white space making individual elements easier to understand.


E. Type Favorites 1. ITC Avant Garde Gothic–A modern, clean, distinctive choice which is good for material that is referenced on a line by line basis.

2. ITC Bookman–A great typeface for display applications with a strong, straightforward look. Also excellent for short blocks of type requiring legibility.

3. ITC Garamond–A typeface with a classic, elegant look which is very legible. The italic version is also very legible.

4. Optima–A highly legible sans–serif typeface which can be used with other serif and sans–serif typefaces.


5. Palatino (resident font)–A good typeface for headline and display applications. Copy set in Palatino is highly legible. This is an excellent typeface to use for overhead cells anD looks good when combined with Helvetica.

6. Times Roman(resident font)–Serious, straightforward information looks good set in Times Roman. It is legible and can be used alone or with a sans–serif typeface for contrast.

7. Helvetica (resident font)–A good typeface that is unobtrusively legible. Headlines set in Helvetica look authoritative and work well with copy set in a serif typeface.

note: Avoid using Charcoal, Chicago, Courier, Geneva, New York and Monaco which are the other resident fonts in the Macintosh system. These are fonts created specifically for the computer and lack the sophistication the aforementioned fonts have.


IV. Proportions When working on any design field, rough out your ideas on paper making sure your sketches which are called “thumbnails” are in proportion to the final size of your design field. Use these thumbnails as guides when you work on your computer, making adjustments if necessary.

L. Moholy–Nagy, Director of the Institute of Design in Chicago and father of the Bauhaus movement stated, “Form Follows Function.” In other words, the composition and layout of a design field is defined by the work it has to do. Rely on the logical placement of black and white and/or color type forms, design elements and graphics, keeping visual balance and tension as your goal.


V. The Use of Color in Presentations
A. Portray Concepts & Ideas

• Natural Things–greens, blues, browns

• Warnings & Danger–yellows and reds

• Abstract Ideas & Symbols–any color could be used to create a symbolic association.

B. Coding

• Association–by using a consistent color scheme • Differentiation–by using different colors for different elements • Hierarchies–by using color schemes with increasing value/saturation levels, light–to–dark or gray–to–bright sequences indicate importance levels • Emphasis–highlighting specific words or phrases in different colors


C. Color Cautions

• If it doesn’t work in black & white, it won’t work in color. • Don’t overuse color. Two or three colors on a graphic field is sufficient. • Dark green or dark blue type on a black background should be avoided but both colors work well on a white field. • Yellow type on a white field is impossible to read but works fine on a black background. • Red type works fine on white or black backgrounds.
D. Color Systems

1. RGB–computer colors seen on the screen are produced by mixing Red (R), Green (G) and Blue (B) beams of light. RGB is an additive process.

2. CYMK–pigments, inks, dyes and toners are applied to a surface to create colors. Pure Cyan (C), Yellow (Y), Magenta (M) and Black (K) mixed together would produce black. By subtracting some values of C, Y, M and K millions of other colors can be produced therefore CYMK is a subtractive process.

3. RGB to CYMK Conversion–RGB colors (computer) are converted to CYMK when printed on a color printer. The translation from RGB (additive) to CYMK (subtractive) is a difficult task and many times what-you-see on the computer is different from what-you-get on a color printer. You can choose color palettes that are flexible so that color variations are not important or you can check the software you are using to make corrective color adjustments.


VI. Static/Moving Images
A. Static Images–can be

very effective if they are used to support written material. The addition of color to a static image can further enhance its effectiveness.
B. Moving Images–are

more difficult to assess as to their effectiveness because of their relative “newness” in presentations. Animated objects and icons as well as Quicktime™ movies, etc. are evident on the Internet, Home pages, educational games, software applications and product demos. In many cases I think “moving images” are overused. They’re “cute” and entertaining but do they teach?

Consider the following criteria when contemplating the use of moving images: • Production–is the necessary software and expertise available to help you incorporate moving images in your presentation? • Space–is their enough storage capacity on the particular media you are using to include moving images? (animation is a real memory hog) • Questions–????? Are moving images better than words? Can you set up Action/Consequence Scenarios? Do you have a metamorphosis sequence (larva to butterfly)? Have you tried other strategies but moving images seems right?

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