Today was design day . I had made up my mind to spend the entire day on understanding the elements of Design. Picked up a book titled " The Non – Designer’s Design Book" by Robin Williams. Had heard a lot about this book from various sources and hence plunged in to it, considering that it is the best book available or visual novice.
The book starts with a basic premise that once you name something, you are conscious of it, you can control it and you have power over it. Though the author tends to relate the above premise to the understanding of typography and design, the premise holds good for any aspect of our lives..Anyway that makes for another post someday.
Coming back to the book,
The first part of the book made me realize that there are 4 basic principles of any good design:
Proximity : Items relating to each other should be grouped close to each other. When several items are in a close proximity, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units.
Repetition: Repeat visual elements of design through out the piece. You can repeat colors, shapes, textures, spatial relationships, line thicknesses, fonts, sizes, graphic contents etc
Alignment: Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. This creates a clean , sophisticated fresh look
Contrast : The idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If the elements are not the same, them make them different. Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on a page.
The second part of the book deals with typeface / font
There are six types of font :Old Style, Modern ,Slab Serif ,Sans Serif ,Script , Decorative
The book gives a nice insight in to what differentiates one font from another and also goes to a great length to emphasize on the relative usages of the fonts in various situations. Using Size, Weight, Structure, Form, Direction and Color of the fonts, the author gives a wide range of interesting examples to present content.
The book can be quickly read and digested with in a couple of hours. However, the difficult part is in the application of the concepts in our daily lives, like presentations in our work , sending formal communication to others, creating letterheads, envelopes, developing websites etc.
The book definitely serves as a quick reference for a lot of nuances one must take in to consideration while designing stuff.
One thing is for sure, I will never look at a newspaper articles/ ads / magazine / flyers in the same way as I used to do earlier. The basic principles of design will always make me look at the various elements in the content and the ways in which the design principles were applied / misapplied.