Lesson 4: The Ink Is Black, the Page Is White
Graphic Design for Non-Designers
Table of Contents
Take a look at the simple color wheel, a must-have reference for any designer. It's shown in Figure 4-1. Note the colors that are opposite one another:
- Yellow is opposite violet
- Red is opposite green
- Blue is opposite orange
Figure 4-1: A color wheel shows how colors relate to one another.
In any basic color theory class, you learn that combining different colors can lead to interesting visual juxtapositions. Think about some of the common color combinations that are used in our day-to-day lives. Green and red are used for Christmas while violet and yellow are often used for school colors and for Easter.
Why is this? It is because contrasts create visual interest. Now look at Figure 4-2. Note how the red interacts with the green and how the blue works with the orange to play optical illusion tricks on your eyes, making them "shimmer."
Figure 4-2: Red and green together and blue and orange together create a kind of optical illusion.
Visual excitement in design doesn't arise only from color and color combinations. You can create the same kind of interest with combinations of type styles and sizes or by combining images that are considered to be opposites, either of each other or of the text. Take two illustrations, for example:
- Sense & Sensibility: (Illustration 4-1) Use a contrast of size and color to highlight the ampersand to point up the contrasts of the story -- and a beautiful figure that adds a sense of elegance to the image. I also paid close attention to the placement of the images and lined up the last "s" in "Sense" to fit within the first curve of the ampersand and the dot of the first "i" in "Sensibility" fits in the center of one of the curls of the ampersand.
- Sleepless in Seattle: (Illustration 4-2) For this example, I contrasted size, type, and color. A benefit of the smaller point size of "Sleepless in" allows the "in" to fit inside the "l" in Seattle. Also, notice how I lined up "Sleepless" with the first "t" and the "l," the principle of alignment in action.
Black and White Excitement
You can create just as much visual interest in a black and white document as you can in a more colorful one. Consider using an interesting type treatment instead of color. Figure 4-3 shows the word "juxtaposition" in a simple font. In the figures that follow Figure 4-3, I am going to change simple elements of the word to create contrast and excitement in a simple black and white graphic. Yes, type can be a graphic element!
Figure 4-3: The word "juxtaposition" in a simple font.
Fonts in themselves can be interesting enough, but you can create interesting contrast by changing a single letter, as in Figure 4-4.
Figure 4-4: I changed the "X" to a contrasting font, a small change that makes a big difference.
You can also contrast a part of the word instead of a single letter, as in Figure 4-5.
Figure 4-5: The second half of the word contrasted with the first.
Figure 4-6 shows the ad you saw in Lesson 1. The contrasting fonts and sizes bring attention to the words I want to emphasize.
Figure 4-6: The headline in this ad uses the principle of contrast.
Using an interesting type treatment engages the reader, while varying the size of the words adds visual importance. Here's how it works in our ad:
- The most important word in this ad is "Sale." You want people to know what this ad is for immediately.
- The next most important word is "2." This sale is taking place for two days only, so hurry up!
- The word "day" isn't as important as "2" so it is a bit smaller. However, it's still placed with consideration, following "2" closely so people know the sale is for two days instead of hours or weeks
- "Tent" is an adjective modifying the word "sale." I made it smaller than "sale" because it doesn't really matter in what type of building the sale is held.
Do It Yourself
In this part of the lesson, we create a poster with an image and text, finding an interesting juxtaposition using type and/or color. Use these words: "Coffee" and "mug," and the image shown in Figure 4-7.
Figure 4-7: Here's the image we want to use for the poster.
Remember to keep in mind all the principles we've covered:
- Grouping elements
- Aligning elements
- Repetition of style
- Create interesting juxtaposition
What design did you come up with? My design is shown in Figure 4-8.
Figure 4-8: This is the image I came up with.
Are you having fun yet? Our next lesson covers the basics of typography. Woohoo!