Basic Graphic Design

Wether you design your business brochures, flyers, web page, or ads there are some things that you need to know. There are some basic graphic design principles that those of us trained in the commercial art/graphic design field don't always share. Here's a short list of elements of graphic design that you can use today.

Color

This is the first and most important. Color is everything. It's why we buy HDTV sets to get better color. You want to consider your product first. Is there a color that fits the item? Are you selling beach items, chose a sand color. Are you selling electronics, chose a metallic color. Next make sure the color is eye-catching but possible to look at. If you can't stare at the color for at least the minimum amount of time that you'd want your customer's attention, then don't use it.

Line

And I don't mean "a line" I mean the line of the elements in your project. Stand back and squint at your creation. Notice the line of the text and the images. Where are the lines moving? They should all direct your customer's attention from the top of your page to the bottom in a seamless movement. If you notice an out of place line the directs your eyes back to the top of the page or stops it all together then you need to rearrange a few items.

Form

Related to line. Squint again and notice the text as a block, or rectangular form, instead of individual lines. Notice the images or art as shapes. And notice the entire piece as a form. All of the forms should flow from one to another. Each form should direct your eye to the next form on the page from top to bottom, again in a seamless flowing line.

Movement

I've already touched on this but this is very important. You want your customer to start at the top left corner and end in the bottom right corner. The traditional form of movement is a "Z" meaning the eye should start in the top left, go to the top right, make a diagonal to the bottom left, and end up in the bottom right. This form is ideal for advertizing and web pages with a lot of graphics or images. The exception would be a page with all text, where you would want the reader's eye to move left to right on each line.

Space (Negative space)

We all pay attention to the amount of space that we use on our projects. What about the space that you don't use? Do you notice that? Well it's just as important. Stand back and squint again. Notice the percentage of items filling up your project, what is the percentage of negative, unused space? While you want to make the most of your space available, you don't want all of it used up either. Using too much makes an ad look busy too little it looks empty. An appropriate percentage can be anywhere from 60% to 80% used space and 40% to 20% negative or unused space. Keep your percentages in that range and you'll have a nicely balanced ad, web page, or project.

Texture

This is becoming important again with web design. All of the really cool and interesting textures that you can use for anything from backgrounds to text is amazing. Remember one thing that a texture carries almost as much weight to the eye as a photo. Just as you would not place a lot of photos on your page don't use too many textures. Also watch your placement of these they can pull the eye away from where you want it to move.

Remember one thing, when it doubt simplify.

About The Author

Copyright 2004 Kelly Paal

Kelly Paal is a Freelance Nature and Landscape Photographer, exhibiting nationally and internationally. Recently she started her own business Kelly Paal Photography (www.kellypaalphotography.com). She has an educational background in photography, business, and commercial art. She enjoys applying graphic design and photography principles to her web design.

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