Starfish Communications | Elementary, my dear Principle! Graphic design elements & principles demystified
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Elementary, my dear Principle! Graphic design elements & principles demystified

Elementary, my dear Principle! Graphic design elements & principles demystified

While it’s neither quantum physics nor fine art, graphic design can appear both deceptively simple and intimidatingly complex. Unlike math, graphic design offers more than one solution to a given problem; unlike art, it performs in response to human needs and its performance is measurable.

No matter what your take on it, however, graphic design is learnable. And as it’s the foundation of our business, we think it serves rather well as a first topic for our brand-new blog. Yeah, yeah—get those shoeless-cobbler’s-kids jokes out of your system—we hear you. And, never ones to leave a cliché sitting all lonely, we suggest … Better late than never.

We hope you’ll enjoy the weeks, months, years (we live in Vancouver, retirement is but a distant dream) to come as we explore brave new worlds or, you know, the elements and principles of graphic design. And such. So, without further a-don’t, we introduce …

The Elements of Graphic Design

Unless you’re okay with a half-baked layout—think of layout as the graphic designer’s canvas, or cake if you’re a stickler about mixed metaphors—you’ll want the right ingredients. No need to go heavy on all of them at once, and no need to be intimidated; line, shape, texture, space, size, value, and colour abound in everyday life. In this post, we’ll address the element of line.

The Principles of Graphic Design

If you’ve read this far, first of all, thank you. Secondly, while you could skip to the Principles, it’s advisable to learn the Elements before you do; also, those posts have as yet to be written.

Okay, since you’re already here … The Principles of Design dictate what to do with your Elements and how to do it. Informing every decision made in layout creation, the Principles affect text and art placement as well as the relationship between images and blocks of text. They include balance, rhythm, contrast, proximity, and alignment. But back to the Elements, starting with Line.

Line

Defined within the context of graphic design, a line is simply any mark connecting two points. Lines can be straight, curved, wiggly, fat, thin, dotted, or even implied by the way we arrange graphics or text. An indispensable and versatile element, line can:

  • organize information
  • highlight or stress words
  • connect bits of information
  • direct the reader’s eye

 

 

The versatile element known as line can define shapes as well as create movement, pattern, or rhythm. Client: Ethica Strategy

 

  • define a shape (e.g. arrange a line of type in the outline of a Christmas tree)
  • suggest an emotion (a curved line in a ballet poster will suggest elegance)
  • outline a photo to set it off from other elements

 

Note how the logo’s purple swoosh is repeated in the blue line, guiding the eye to text on the right, while the horizontal white line near the bottom sets off tag line and website. Client: Focal Point

 

We can also use line to create:

  • a grid
  • a graph
  • a pattern or rhythm when repeated
  • a sense of motion (diagonal looks more active than horizontal)

 

The versatile element known as line can define shapes as well as create movement, pattern, or rhythm. Client: GeoBC

 

If we’ve piqued your interest in the nuts and bolts of graphic design enough to read future posts, well, maybe you’re secretly One of Us. If not, we invite you to tell us about your visual and/or written marketing needs … we’re here to meet them, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.