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The Elements of Graphic Design : Space, Unity, Page Architecture, and Type
This very popular design book has been wholly revised and expanded to feature a new dimension of inspiring and counterintuitive ideas to thinking about graphic design relationships. The Elements of Graphic Design, Second Edition is now in full color in a larger, 8 x 10-inch trim size, and contains 40 percent more content and over 750 images to enhance and better clarify the concepts in this thought-provoking resource. The second edition also includes a new section on Web design; new discussions of modularity, framing, motion and time, rules of randomness, and numerous quotes supported by images and biographies. This pioneering work provides designers, art directors, and students--regardless of experience--with a unique approach to successful design. Veteran designer and educator Alex. W. White has assembled a wealth of information and examples in his exploration of what makes visual design stunning and easy to read. Readers will discover White's four elements of graphic design, including how to: define and reveal dominant images, words, and concepts; use scale, color, and position to guide the viewer through levels of importance; employ white space as a significant component of design and not merely as background; and use display and text type for maximum comprehension and value to the reader. Offering a new way to think about and use the four design elements, this book is certain to inspire better design.
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March 15, 2011
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Excerpt from The Elements of Graphic Design by Alex W. White
fill up a place, which may be better ... when I
have made it empty. - William Shakespeare
(1564-1616), As You Like It
Emptiness is an essential aspect of life. It is the unavoidable opposite of fullness, of busyness, of activity. It is the natural and universally present background to everything we see. Emptiness is silence, an open field, a barren room, a blank canvas, an empty page. Emptiness is often taken for granted and thought best used by filling in. It is generally ignored by all but the few who consciously manipulate it to establish contrast, to create drama, or to provide a place of actual or visual rest. It is best used as counterpoint to filled-in space. Composers and architects use it. Painters, photographers, and sculptors use it. And designers use it. The most important step toward sensitizing yourself to using space is first seeing it. Gregg Berryman writes in his Notes on Graphic Design and Visual Communication, "Everyone 'looks' at things but very few people 'see' effectively. Designers must be able to see. Seeing means a trained super-awareness of visual codes like shape, color, texture, pattern, and contrast. These codes make a language of vision, much as words are building blocks for verbal language." Being trained to see more critically is best guided by a teacher, but such training relies on exposure to excellent art and design samples.
The figure/ground relationship
The single most overlooked element in visual design is emptiness. The lack of attention it receives explains the abundance of ugly and unread design. (Ugly and unread describe two separate functions of design which occasionally occur at the same time. Ugly refers to an object's aesthetic qualities, an evaluation of whether we like the object. Unread is inﬁnitely more important, because an unread design is an utter failure. A printed document, regardless of its purpose or attributes, is never intended to be ignored.) Design elements are always viewed in relation to their surroundings. Emptiness in two-dimensional design is called white space and lies behind the type and imagery. But it is more than just the background of a design, for if a design's background alone were properly constructed, the overall design would immediately double in clarity and usefulness. Thus, when it is used intriguingly, white space becomes foreground. The emptiness becomes a positive shape and the positive and negative areas become intricately linked.