Though we may not all be professional designers, we can certainly rely on using design principles to help give our projects a more refined, polished look. After spending over a decade in graphic design for print, I’ve discovered the best ideas anyone can incorporate into their graphics, regardless of skill level.
What’s wrong with this image?
Bad use of repetition.
The human mind likes things that repeat. That’s why this picture seems so disconcerting. The images shown here repeat, but in no discernible pattern. The man on the motorbike predictably runs down and across the collage while none of the other graphics follow this convention. The result is a disorganized image.
Let’s make a couple of changes in the Collage Maker:
Now how do you feel? Alive? Invigorated? Inspired?
I thought so
By eliminating the polka dot pattern and blank tile, the result is an image that’s far more soothing. While the collage is quite busy, the pattern remains obvious, keeping the brain from trying to figure out what’s going on.
Part of the reason why repetition works so well is because it creates a sense of balance.
In the design world, there are four types of balance:
Symmetrical: Most of us know this from math class. With symmetrical balance, every part of your project holds interest.
Symmetry is important in cropping. When you use BeFunky’s Crop tool in Photo Editor, choose Golden Ratio from the Aspect Ratio list. This uses a method called the Rule of Thirds. The shaded area is what will be cropped.
Asymmetrical: Obviously, the opposite of the explanation above. The example photo illustrates asymmetry in action: rather than dwell on the background, our attention is drawn to the bike.
Mosaic: In other words, orderly chaos. This type of balance finds order in disorder. Even though elements seem randomly scattered, as one unit, they make sense.
Radial: When elements radiate from a common center. The sun and spokes on a wheel are good examples of this in action.
Contrast makes important elements stand out (and you can edit it easily in the Photo Editor by clicking on ‘Exposure’).
If the graphic below contained brown text in the header, would you be able to read it? And even if you could, would it catch your eye better than the text in the rest of the image?
The bold text on top contrasts the most with the brown header, making it stand out more than any other text. Your eye immediately goes there first.
All three of the images on the right of this collage are the exact same distance from the image on the left, and the same distance from each other. In addition, the top edge of the first square on the right aligns with the top edge of the rectangle on the left. The bottom edge of the last square on the right aligns with the bottom edge of that same rectangle.
Inside the image, all of the dots and hearts are aligned in a precise way to create the patterns in each section.
Invitations and posters are the easiest place to see the importance of proximity. The way the information is grouped and its position on the page show which items are the most important.
We automatically scan invites for groupings, and read those pieces of information together.
In a wedding invite, we look for two names together to tell us the who. We look for a month, day and year to tell us the when. And so on. You get the drift.
Though you may not realize it, you’ve probably been using these principles to judge the quality of your graphics all along. Now that you have a better idea of how to create better graphics it’s time to put these ideas to work right away!
What principles are most important to you? What’s your favorite from this post?