Designing: The Basics
When it comes to graphic design, you can create just about anything. From a business card to pamphlet, to designing illustrations for a website, there are a variety of tools that allow you make what you want, how you want. Programs like Photoshop allow anyone to design artwork for their own personal use, the limitations basically being your imagination. But, when it comes to designing some form of visual, there are some key basic aspects to any creation.
On something like a business card, one of the most major parts is the text. While it may not always be what “makes” the design, what is written is fairly important, as it likely carries the majority of the information in the figure. Different features of type, like font and size, can often be overlooked, but when thoughtfully planned out they can create a strong foundation for any design. In her book “7 Essentials of Graphic Design,” Allison Goodman explains some of the different strategies for putting together certain types of fonts and styles. While there are many different problems that can come from choosing what fonts to use in a design, the main rule to follow is to use at least two fonts, maybe more, to keep it interesting, but make sure the fonts work well together, and don’t clash. Another thing to consider is what a certain font will do for a design, particularly, what mood will it convey, what personality does it carry? When looking at a font thinking about those factors will help you choose what type to use, because if you know what feeling you want your design to invoke, you can narrow down which fonts you may use. There are many other nuances to consider when picking out different styles for text, but if you keep that in mind, the type should be presentable, and hopefully aesthetically pleasing.
Contrast and Layout
Goodman also discusses two other significant aspects of design: contrast and layout. Let’s start with contrast. Many different things in a design can have contrast, such as colors, sizes, and even text. Effectively using contrast will help make a design interesting and engaging, and keep it organized. Contrasting color usually serves primarily to make artistic and pleasant, but it can also draw attention to specific parts of a design. Making what is most important the lightest or darkest value in an image will make it more prominent, causing a viewer to look there first. Contrasting text can be done in a variety of ways, one of which being to simply have some slight contrast in the different fonts used. You can also contrast text in its placement on a layout, by putting what is more important in the center and having extra informative text under it or to the side. One last way to contrast text is to vary the color and size of different portions of type in the design. Creating different objects and text have different sizes can emphasize what is important, but it can also create a specific order for what you want the viewer to look at. Making the primary aspect of a design the largest will obviously draw attention to it, but carefully what may be middle-sized and what is smallest will also determine what viewers will look at next.
This leads into layout, which combines the other aspects to create “specific direction to the viewer.” This means that when someone looks at the design, they should have a pretty good idea of where to look first, second, and so on, as well as what information is being given. There should be some form of clear hierarchical structure that allows the viewer to follow a relatively straightforward train of thought without becoming lost or confused. One of many ways to achieve this is through balance. Giving a layout some form of balance will help define your design, and help the viewer navigate it. You can use symmetrical balance, where the design is even and mirrored,and will create a calm, clean layout. Or, you can use asymmetrical balance, which combines a variety of factors, like white space and size, to create balance. This can often lead to a more energetic layout, but both types can be useful and effective in the right situation.
My Business Card
Through working on my own personal business card, I thought about all of these different factors during my design process. Two that I focused on heavily were text and balance. I knew I wanted to keep my design simple, so it wouldn’t have a large amount of writing or graphics on it, but it still needed to be interesting. Keeping this in mind, I had to make sure the placement of both text and my logo made sense on each side and didn’t feel out of place. When it came to what types of font to use, I had a difficult time deciding what I wanted. What ended up helping me best was just experimenting with different fonts that I liked, but may not have necessarily thought of using together. In doing this I was able to decide on fonts, and a design, that I liked and felt was representative of me, and that created an engaging business card.
“Elegante Press Business Card.” Featured image provided by Flickr.