Pleasing graphic design can be broken down into four steps. Any good designer knows that designing involves more than throwing elements on a page. Want to know how to create professional looking documents? Well, keep reading.
Novice designers often place design elements arbitrarily. Some believe that filled space is good space. This misconception leads to bad design. White space is advantageous, and scattered design makes information inaccessible.
Proximity simply means you group related items together. Move them close together so the human eye can recognize them as a cohesive group. It’s a visual cue that the reader will understand almost immediately. Items or groups of information not related to each other should not be placed in close proximity. Don’t confuse the reader by forcing them to figure out what belongs where. Don’t confuse the idea of proximity with simply placing any items close together. The items should have a logical connection for proximity to make sense.
Novice designers sometimes put elements wherever they’ll fit. This can create a messy unprofessional appearance. Good alignment means nothing is aligned on the page arbitrarily. Each item should have a visual relationship with something else on the page. Paying attention to alignment forces you to pay close attention to what’s actually on the page.
Properly aligned items create a pleasing appearance. Readers know that, although the items may not be in close proximity, they certainly are all a part of a system. Lack of cohesive alignment is a major cause of bad design.
The idea of repetition involves including reoccurring images that repeat throughout your piece. It doesn’t matter if you’re designing a newsletter or a website, repetition is important. The repetitive element can be a logo, font, photo, or whatever you want. Repetition unifies your design.
To create a consistent webpage, stationary system, or e-book, you need a strong display of repetition. Readers must be able to understand that all of the pages are related. Repetitive elements establish continuity, and present a professional appearance.
Contrast is a terrific way to add visual interest to your graphic design. Contrast results from placing two vastly different elements together in close proximity. If two elements are slightly different, then it may look more like conflict than contrast. Contrast is good. Conflict is bad.
Contrast can be created in a variety of ways. You can use an extremely large font with an extremely small one. You can contrast a large sans serif font with a small serif font. The possibilities are endless. But remember, you want contrast not conflict. Conflict occurs when two items are too similar to have an immediate noticeable difference.
For example, using two serif fonts in one design is likely to create conflict. Even if they’re different weight sizes or colors, their characteristics are still too similar to create good contrast. However, graphic design rules aren’t set in stone. Just remember that you must know the rules before you can decide if it’s a worthwhile idea to break them.
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By: Andy Eaton