Design Principles

Design elements may be explored in their own right, but are generally considered in terms of relationships between one or more element. The following are just some things to think about, taken from a range of sources and experience/thoughts on previous courses in art and photography.

Key Sources:

  • Michael Freeman:The Photographer’s Eye
  • Alan Pipes: Foundations of Art and Design
  • de Sausmarez
  • Ian Roberts ‘Mastering Composition’
  • Theories of Paul Klee, Arthur Wesley Dow and Henry Rankin Poore

Principles of relationship

Unity/harmony:When all elements are in agreement, a design is considered unified. No individual part is viewed as more important than the whole design.

  • Symmetry
  • Asymmetrical produces an informal balance that is attention attracting and dynamic.
  • Balance: It is a state of equalized tension and equilibrium, which may not always be calm.
  • Radial balance is arranged around a central element. The elements placed in a radial balance seem to ‘radiate’ out from a central point in a circular fashion.
  • Mosaic form of balance which normally arises from many elements being put on a page. Due to the lack of hierarchy and contrast, this form of balance can look noisy but sometimes quiet.

Hierarchy: A good design contains elements that lead the reader through each element in order of its significance. The type and images should be expressed starting from most important to the least important.

Scale/proportion: Using the relative size of elements against each other can attract attention to a focal point. When elements are designed larger than life, scale is being used to show drama.A subject can be rendered more dramatic when it fills the frame. There exists a tendency to perceive things as larger than they actually are, and filling the frame full fills this psychological mechanism. This can be used to eliminate distractions from the background.

  • Cropping
  • distant cropping, close cropping
  • boundary  relationships

Dominance/emphasis: Dominance is created by contrasting size, positioning, colour, style, or shape. The focal point should dominate the design with scale and contrast without sacrificing the unity of the whole.

Similarity and contrast: Planning a consistent and similar design is an important aspect of a designer’s work to make their focal point visible. Too much similarity is boring but without similarity important elements will not exist and an image without contrast is uneventful so the key is to find the balance between similarity and contrast.

Similar environment: There are several ways to develop a similar environment:

  • Build a unique internal organization structure.
  • Manipulate shapes of images and text to correlate together.

Perspective: sense of distance between elements.
Similarity: ability to seem repeatable with other elements.
Continuation: the sense of having a line or pattern extend.
Repetition: elements being copied or mimicked numerous times.
Rhythm: is achieved when recurring position, size, color, and use of a graphic element has a focal point interruption.

Negative space: Give the eye somewhere to rest

Color: Contrast: the value, or degree of lightness and darkness, used within the picture.

Repetition

Repetition has a peculiar but generally very strong appeal, particularly when it is unfamiliar to the viewer:

  • rhythm or dynamic repetition: the movement across a picture (or more properly, the movement of the eye through a picture). Rhythm can be made more dynamic by encouraging a figure or point to break the rhythm. As the eye in Western culture naturally follows a rhythmical structure from right to left to right, it is often best to place a point on the right so that the eye has time to establish the rhythm before noticing it.
  • pattern or spatial repetition: essentially static and concerned with area. Ordered rows of large numbers of things produce regular patterns, but the slight variations in detail maintain interest. If the placing is irregular, the framing needs to be tight on the objects if they are to form a pattern.
    Perspective

Viewpoint (leading the eye): The position of the viewer can strongly influence the aesthetics of an image, even if the subject is entirely imaginary and viewed “within the mind’s eye”. Not only does it influence the elements within the picture, but it also influences the viewer’s interpretation of the subject.

Division of space

informal subdivision

high low horizons

Rule of thirds, golden mean, rebatement of the rectangle: The objective is to stop the subject(s) and areas of interest (such as the horizon) from bisecting the image, by placing them near one of the lines that would divide the image into three equal columns and rows, ideally near the intersection of those lines. The rule of thirds is thought to be a simplification of the golden mean. The golden mean is a ratio that has been used by visual artists for centuries as an aid to composition. When two things are in the proportion of 1:1.618 (approximately 3 to 5), they are said to be in the golden mean. Dividing the parts of an image according to this proportion helps to create a pleasing, balanced composition. The intersection points on a golden mean grid appear at 3/8 in and 3/8 down/up, rather than at 1/3 in and 1/3 down/up on the grid of thirds.

Rule of odds: The “rule of odds” states that by framing the object of interest with an even number of surrounding objects, it becomes more comforting to the eye, thus creates a feeling of ease and pleasure. The “rule of odds” suggests that an odd number of subjects in an image is more interesting than an even number. An even number of subjects produces symmetries in the image, which can appear less natural for a naturalistic, informal composition. Related to the rule of odds is the observation that triangles are an aesthetically pleasing implied shape within an image.

Baselines and ground contour: foreground, middle ground and background division.ensure that you indicate the contours of the land, even if it appears flat. Use variations such as differences in soil colour, texture, vegetation, wind in grass etc. Light and shadow on land.

Overlapping forms: overlapping forms give a feeling of depth to space. If forms do not overlap there is no depth.

Tie together: If you have a distinct division of space that extends from one side of the painting to the other, tie the two divisions together by crossing the division with something in the foreground.

Simplification

Images with clutter can distract from the main elements within the picture and make it difficult to identify the subject. By decreasing the extraneous content, the viewer is more likely to focus on the primary objects. Clutter can also be reduced through the use of lighting, as the brighter areas of the image tend to draw the eye, as do lines, squares and colour. In painting, the artist may use less detailed and defined brushwork towards the edges of the picture. Removing the elements to the focus of the object, taking only the needed components.Merge shapes that have similar values into larger shapes of one value.

Creating movement

Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the artwork, often to focal areas. Such movement can be directed along lines edges, shape and colour within the artwork.

Shape

  • turbulent shape arrangements.
  • variety in division of space.
  • repetition with variety: pattern, rhythm
  • active, passive mix. Need place for the eye to rest. But depends on overall aim of picture.
  • odd number groups – maybe we like to see things in pairs, so we look for completion? Variety in threes.

Rule of space: The rule of space aims to give the illusion of movement, or which is supposed to create a contextual bubble in the viewer’s mind. This can be achieved, for instance, by leaving white space in the direction the eyes of a portrayed person are looking, or, when picturing a runner, adding white space in front of them rather than behind them to indicate movement.

Other techniques that can act together:

  • There should be a centre of interest or focus in the work, to prevent it becoming a pattern in itself;
  • The direction followed by the viewer’s eye should lead the viewer’s gaze around all elements in the work before leading out of the picture;
  • The subject should not be facing out of the image;
  • Exact bisections of the picture space should be avoided;
  • Small, high contrast, elements have as much impact as larger, duller elements;
  • The prominent subject should be off-centre, unless a symmetrical or formal composition is desired, and can be balanced by smaller satellite elements
    the horizon line should not divide the art work in two equal parts but be positioned to emphasize either the sky or ground; showing more sky if painting is of clouds, sun rise/set, and more ground if a landscape
  • Variety: no spaces between the objects should be the same. They should vary in shape and size. That creates a much more interesting image.

Focal point:

  • staccato focal point: a small point or line that the viewer’s eye gravitates to
  • focal area: a specific area of colour or value

focus may be achieved by:

  • directing lines,/intersection of lines or implied lines,
  • contrast in colour, saturation, temperature,
  • texture, moves to areas of high density and detail.
  • shape or relation of shape to boundary, value. Isolation. rule of thirds.

A composition may have primary and secondary focus of interest. Not all images have to have a focal point or focal area. Or focal area may be large. Or there can be more than one and the interest is in the relationship between the two.

Eye movement

the aim is to keep the interest of the viewer and keep their attention in the frame.

  • types of path: C forms, S forms, I forms.
  • entry point, often in bottom left . Avoid splitting painting in two.
  • avoid leading eye into a corner, take it back in and around.
  • avoid trapping the eye in one part of the frame.
  • repeat colour spots. Linking lights, guiding darks and lights
  • let the brain fill the gaps.

 

Futurism

Edited from Wikipedia

Futurism (Italian: Futurismo) was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized speed, technology, youth, and violence, and objects such as the car, the aeroplane, and the industrial city. It glorified modernity and aimed to liberate Italy from the weight of its past.

It was influence particularly by the art movements Precisionism, Rayonism, and Vorticism and also:

Although it was largely an Italian phenomenon, there were parallel movements in Russia, England, Belgium and elsewhere.

The Futurists practised in every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, urban design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture, and even Futurist meals.

Its key figures were the Italians Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, Antonio Sant’Elia, Bruno Munari, Benedetta Cappa and Luigi Russolo, the Russians Natalia Goncharova, Velimir Khlebnikov, Igor Severyanin, David Burliuk, Aleksei Kruchenykh and Vladimir Mayakovsky, the Belgian Jules Schmalzigaug and the Portuguese Almada Negreiros.

Important Futurist works included:

See my post: Filippo Marinetti
Although Futurism became identified with Fascism, it had leftist and anti-Fascist supporters. They tended to oppose Marinetti’s artistic and political direction of the movement, and in 1924 the socialists, communists and anarchists walked out of the Milan Futurist Congress. Futurism expanded to encompass many artistic domains and ultimately included painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, theatre design, textiles, drama, literature, music and architecture.
Futurism as a coherent and organized artistic movement is now regarded as extinct, having died out in 1944 with the death of its leader Marinetti.

Nonetheless the ideals of Futurism remain as significant components of modern Western culture; the emphasis on youth, speed, power and technology finding expression in much of modern commercial cinema and culture.  A revival of sorts of the Futurist movement in theatre began in 1988 with the creation of the Neo-Futurist style in Chicago, which utilizes Futurism’s focus on speed and brevity to create a new form of immediate theatre. Currently, there are active Neo-Futurist troupes in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Montreal.

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art is a museum in London with a collection centered around Italian futurist artists and their paintings.

African Graphic Design

There is no Wikipedia on African Graphic Design!!!

A history of African art (not graphic design contrary to the title) is:

http://guity-novin.blogspot.nl/2010/03/history-of-graphic-design-african-art.html

And interesting websites with artists are:

A Google search for African typefaces tend to be rather kitsch zebras and unusable. Not the typefaces more commonly used in Africa – these are the common Adobe and Microsoft ones. But African designers have used these with colours in slightly different ways that I have yet to properly analyse.

Some examples from an NGO brochure in Kenya (I unfortunately do not know the designer).

Textile design gives possibilities for different colour schemes:


Zulu House Pattern
Zulu House Pattern
Julio Senna, Brazilian inspired by Africa
from 4 Vector free designs

Working with Images

NOTE: I am planning to do a lot more here using also work on Photobooks and Manuals I do for work. Linked to the discussion on grids and layout. Linking back also to the work on Fanzines in Part 1.

The type of book will in many respects determine the sort of images and also the approach used.

Images may be of many different types – line drawings in colour or monochrome, photographs, artwork produced in Digital Software like Illustrator or Photoshop.

Image resolution:  images need to be scanned at high resolution for printing purposes. 300dpi is a general rule of thumb. But the resolution required will depend on the particular printer, print process and also effect required.

Copyright: it is important to ensure that Copyright is available. Large publishing houses usually have a picture research department to deal with this and quality issues, but freelance designers may have to obtain copyrights themselves or use their own images.

Ways of integrating images: Images can be ‘full bleed’ (running over the page), cut-out, treated as a vignette, put in a box.

See Project: Working with Images

Text 1: artistic poem – Jabberwocky

Text 2 Travel article – Venice

 

Typography

What is Typography?

Typography (Greek: typos “form”, graphein “to write”) is:

the art and technique of setting written subject matter in type and arranging that type in physical or digital form to make written language most appealing to learning and recognition.

Many books on typography take a narrow Western perspective looking, apart from an overview of development of alphabets (See History of the Alphabet). In this project I focus on these Western traditions. But other cultures have a rich traditions of calligraphy with vibrant contemporary innovations, including printed typography. I begin to look at these in Assignment 4 (See Islamic Calligraphy ) and this is an important area where I would like to research in future, building on my academic study of linguistics and Asian languages and my interest in Japanese and Chinese traditions.

Definitions

Type: the name of the individual metal letters used in letterpress printing.

Font: characters in a given typeface – all the uppercase and lowercase letters, punctuation, numbers and symbols in different point sizes.

Typeface: group of fonts of related design eg italic, bold, upper case, lower case etc.

Typography: design and use of typefaces.

Typesetting: act of using type to create words, sentences, lines of text.

Typeface Design: Typeface design is sometimes considered part of typography; most typographers do not design typefaces, and some type designers do not consider themselves typographers.

See:

Research: Western Typeface classification

Research: History of Type Design

Project 3.1 : Type Samples Sketchbook

Typography

Typography has a ‘specific purpose of so arranging letters, distributing the space and controlling the type as to aid to the maximum the reader’s comprehension of the text. (Stanley Morrison 1928)

Typography is performed by typesetters, compositors, typographers, graphic designers, art directors, manga artists, comic book artists, graffiti artists, clerical workers, and everyone else who arranges type for a product. In modern times, typography has been put in film, television and on-line broadcasts to add emotion to communication. Until the Digital Age, typography was a specialized occupation. Digitization opened up typography to new generations of visual designers and lay users.

The arrangement of type involves consideration of:

Through:

Research: The language of type: Typography principles pdf 

Research: Modernist typography

Typographers: Joseph Muller Brockman, Jan Tschichold, Massimo Vignelli, El Lissitsky, 

Research: Experimental typography

Experimental typography 

Typographic Art

Typographers: Emigre Magazine, Robert Massin, Kurt Schwitters, Dada,  Concrete poetry, Filippo Marinetti, Wolfgang Weingart, Neville Brody, David Carson

Exercise: Experimental typography: 20,000 Leagues

See also Typography Resources 

International Design Approaches

Design Timelines

Designhistory.org (Western design only)

33 famous graphic design companies from around the globe

For cross-cultural Street Art from my Illustration course see my post on that blog: Street Art 

African graphic design

See Post on African design

Middle East and Africa

https://design.tutsplus.com/tutorials/100-artworks-from-the-top-20-designers-in-the-middle-east-and-africa–psd-5036

Kenya NGO Design

Uses flags and colours in shape of a country

NGO Report with colour-coded sections with bold colour combinations

Nigeria TV brilliant colours

Ethiopia and Eritrea

Influence of Arab Street Art

EYE Magazine: http://www.eyemagazine.com/blog/post/Pride-and-posters-in-Eritrea

More curvy designs from Ethiopia NGO with limited but bright palette

Sudan

Ibrahim El-Salahi

See also http://www.designindaba.com for directory of African designers.

Islamic Design

Islamic Design

Saudi Art

Iranian Art: Geometric

Iranian Art: Modern

Shirin Neshat

Japanese design

Cross between Zen minimalism, off-centre balance and Pokemon playfulness with very crowded collage.

Zen Aesthetics

Toko Shinoda

Koichi Yamamoto

Japanese Woodcut

Yayoi Kusama

https://designschool.canva.com/blog/japanese-design/

http://gurafiku.tumblr.com

For more on my study of Japanese design, art and illustration see my post on my Illustration blog: Japanese Styles

Latin America

EYE Magazine: http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/beyond-latin

European Design

Wine Bottles from different countries

Signs from London

Art Nouveau

Art Deco

Dada

Expressionism

Expressionist woodcuts

Futurism:

Filippo Marinetti

Modernism

Post-modernism

EYE Magazine from Greece: http://www.eyemagazine.com/blog/post/signs-of-a-city

 

International Swiss Style

Overview

Experimental Jetset Lars Muller Norm

Wim Crouwel

 

edited from Wikipedia International Topographic Style

The International Typographic Style, also known as the Swiss Style, is a graphic design style that emerged in Russia, the Netherlands and Germany in the 1920s and developed by designers in Switzerland during the 1950s. The International Typographic Style has had profound influence on graphic design as a part of the modernist movement, impacting many design-related fields including architecture and art.

It emphasizes cleanliness, readability and objectivity. Hallmarks of the style are asymmetric layouts, use of a grid, sans-serif typefaces like Akzidenz Grotesk, and flush left, ragged right text. The style is also associated with a preference for photography in place of illustrations or drawings. Many of the early International Typographic Style works featured typography as a primary design element in addition to its use in text, and it is for this that the style is named. The influences of this graphic movement can still be seen in design strategy and theory to this day.

History

The style emerged from a desire to represent information without the influence of associated meaning; i.e.)objective information. In the year of 1896 the Akzidenz Grotesk Typeface was released by H. Berthold AG type foundry as an attempt to capture an objective style, and from this point the International Typographic style evolved as a modernist graphic movement that sought to clearly convey messages in a universally straightforward manner.

Two major Swiss design schools are responsible for the early years of International Typographic Style. A graphic design technique based on grid-work that began in the 19th century became inspiration for modifying the foundational course at the School of Design in 1908. Shortly thereafter, in 1918 Ernst Keller became a professor at the Zurich School of the Applied Arts (Kunstgewerbeschule) and began developing a graphic design and typography course. He did not teach a specific style to his students, rather he taught a philosophy of style that dictated “the solution to the design problem should emerge from its content.”This idea of the solution to the design emerging from the problem itself was a reaction to previous artistic processes focused on “beauty for the sake of beauty” or “the creation of beauty as a purpose in and of itself”. Keller’s work uses simple geometric forms, vibrant colors and evocative imagery to further elucidate the meaning behind each design. Other early pioneers include Théo Ballmer and Max Bill.

The 1950s saw the distillation of International Typographic Style elements into sans-serif font families such as Univers. Univers paved the way for Max Miedinger and collaborator Edouard Hoffman to design the typeface Neue Haas Grotesk, which would be later renamed Helvetica. The goal with Helvetica was to create a pure typeface that could be applied to longer texts and that was highly readable. The movement began to coalesce after a periodical publication began in 1959 titled New Graphic Design, which was edited by several influential designers who played major roles in the development of International Typographic Style. The format of the journal represented many of the important elements of the style—visually demonstrating the content—and was published internationally, thus spreading the movement beyond Switzerland’s borders. One of the editors, Josef Müller-Brockmann, “sought an absolute and universal form of graphic expression through objective and impersonal presentation, communicating to the audience without the interference of the designer’s subjective feelings or propagandist techniques of persuasion.” Many of Müller-Brockmann’s feature large photographs as objective symbols meant to convey his ideas in particularly clear and powerful ways.

After World War II international trade began to increase and relations between countries grew steadily stronger. Typography and design were crucial to helping these relationships progress—clarity, objectivity, region-less glyphs, and symbols are essential to communication between international partners. International Typographic Style found its niche in this communicative climate and expanded further beyond Switzerland, to America.

One of the first American designers to integrate Swiss design with his own was Rudolph de Harak. The influence of International Typographic Style on deHarak’s own works can be seen in his many book jacket designs for McGraw-Hill publishers in the 1960s. Each jacket shows the book title and author, often aligned with a grid—flush left, ragged-right. One striking image covers most of the jacket, elucidating the theme of the particular book. International Typographic Style was embraced by corporations and institutions in America from the 1960s on, for almost two decades. One institution particularly devoted to the style was MIT.

Associated movements

During 1900s other design based movements were formulating, influencing and influenced by the International Typographic movement. These movements emerged within the relationships between artistic fields including architecture, literature, graphic design, painting, sculpting etc.

De Stijl was a Dutch artistic movement that saw prominence in the period between 1917-1930. Referred to as neoplasticism, this artistic strategy sought to reflect a new Utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order. It was a form of pure abstraction through reduction to the essentials of form and colour, employing vertical and horizontal layouts using only black and white and primary colors. Proponents of this movement included painters like Piet Mondrian, Vilmes Huszar and Bart van der Hoff as well as architects like Gerrit Rietveld, Robert van’t Hoff and J.J.P. Oud.

Bauhaus was a German-based movement that emphasized purity of geometry, absence of ornamentation and the motto ‘form follows function’. This was a school of thought that combined craftsmaking with the fine arts and was founded by Walter Gropius. The goal was to work towards the essence of the form follows function relationship to facilitate a style that could be applied to all design problems; the International Style.

Constructivism was an art/architectural philosophy that emerged from Russia in 1920s. The style develops by assorted mechanical objects that are combined into abstract mobile structural forms. Hallmarks of the movement include geometric reduction, photo-montage and simplified palettes.

Suprematism, which arose in 1913, is another Russian art movement similarly focused on the simplification and purity of geometric forms to speak to values of spirituality.

All of these movements including the International Typographic styles are defined by reductionist purity as a visually compelling strategy of conveying messages through geometric and colour-based hierarchies.

 

James Goggin

Practice website    archive

It’s Nice That

James Goggin is a Chicago-based British and/or Australian art director and graphic designer from London via Sydney, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Auckland, and Arnhem. Together with partner Shan James, he runs a design practice named Practise working with clients across Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North America. James has taught at design schools in Europe, Australasia, and the United States, including Werkplaats Typografie, Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), and at Rhode Island School of Design, where he is currently a visiting thesis critic. He frequently gives lectures and runs workshops around the world, and occasionally writes about art and design practice. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Design Archive, and he has been a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale since 2010.

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