principles

My first ever blog post

To start off, this is my first ever blog post…I’ve been meaning to blog about something for quite some time now, but I never got around to it nor did I have a topic to blog about. We were given a task in our Branding Design Class to create a blog and every week I will be writing on what we learnt in class and applying the principles to any form of media that I come across. Well here goes nothing!

I’ve always been intrigued both by marketing and design. While both have their own schools of thought, one cannot exist without the other as they do share common ground, in fact they complement one another. Quoting Aristotle “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. While this module will only skim the surface, the main purpose is to bridge the gap between marketers and designers by giving insight on the different elements and principles of design with the scope of better understanding the design world, leading up to creating a design brief. This will benefit me personally as it will fulfil my creative needs as I’ve always asked the question whether I can put into practice both areas (i.e. Marketing and Design)?

In our first lecture we first talked about the 6 elements of design, which are Space, Form (shape), Colour, Value, Texture and Time.

There are two aspects of space, actual and virtual. The former being the actual and measurable space on which the design will be implemented such as the actual dimensions of a poster or a billboard. The latter (virtual space) has to do with how design is implemented on a two dimensional medium giving the illusion of depth. Meaning that distant objects (in the background) are smaller than closer objects (in the foreground). The illusion of depth is achieved through different perspectives, leading up to a vanishing point as seen below. Renaissance artists made use of this technique.

Vanishing Point

The second is Form or Shape. A shape is the area that stands out from the space next to it or around it, either because of a boundary line or differences in value, colour or texture. There are varying types of shapes that have different physical forms that also direct eye movement. Shapes that are too complex are difficult to remember.

Thirdly, colour. To understand colour is to understand the basic principles of colour. The colour wheel is made up of primary colours which are red, yellow and blue. A combination of those three colours yield the secondary colours which are orange, green and purple. When the secondary colours are combined they form tertiary colours, which are the rest of the colours in the colour wheel. Colours opposite to each other are complimentary colours and provide contrast when used with each other, while neighbouring colours are analogous to each other and provide a more harmonious effect when used together. Saturation gives colour brightness or darkness, it is used to describe the intensity of the colour of an image. Colour can either be warm (red, orange, yellow), cold (blue, green and violet) or neutral. Hue refers to a pure colour, one that is without a tint (added white) or shade (added black). Colour is the last of the design elements.

Value is the level of light or dark in a colour – the relative degree of lightness and darkness in a design element. Value describes objects, shapes, and space. It is used to add emphasis and can evoke feelings, example high value (dark) contrast evokes drama and conflict, while low value contrast creates a calming and quieting effect. 

There are two forms of texture, actual and visual. In a 2D design, actual or tactile texture is the feel of the canvas or the surface of a book cover. On the other hand visual texture or simulated texture is suggested texture through the use of the design elements, they are perceived visually but interpreted tactilely. Texture can be used to accent an area so that it becomes more dominant than another.

Time. Capturing time in a still image is a difficult thing to pull especially in a static 2D medium. This however, can be overcome through motion blur when capturing objects, thus instigating the process of continuity through space and time, as seen below. The time element impacts how a person perceives the design and may evoke emotions.

These 6 elements of design are just the ground work. The crucial step is the successful interplay of the elements together with the design principles to produce a final successful design. Author Alex White in his book The Elements of Design says that the “one goal of graphic design is to achieve visual unity or harmony”. 

The design principles are:

Alignment: when objects are lined up with each other giving off visual uniformity

Contrast: an image with high contrast attracts the eye – instigating that the viewer is directed towards that image (this can be a juxtaposition of a subject or a value or colour contrast

Opacity: the degree of an object being visible or invisible –

Stepping: a form of measure either increasing or decreasing

Symmetry: a symmetrical pattern gives a sense of order and structure

Rhythm: the timing of events – in design this would be represented through the visual beat of an image

Foreground/Background: images/designs that appear near or far, this is achieved through the use of different colours and space

Overlapping: creates a sense of space and depth

Repetition with variation: showing objects in repetition but varying one object by changing the colour, value or texture

Positive/Negative: using the value element to create a negative or positive design

Balance: when a design is to heavy or light sided, leaving the viewer to trail off to other areas of the design. Important to have balance

Isolation: depicting something in isolation shows the importance of that object. It directs attention to that object.

Sharp/Soft Focus: used when trying to identify objects that are close in their value or the texture suggesting that the object is different from the rest – making it stand out.

Pattern: a repeated design that imposes a mechanical way of viewing things

Rough/Shiny: variations in the texture that show that an object is either rough or shiny and evokes different moods

3-Dimensional: adding a shadow gives 2D objects the illusion of a third dimension – however must be used with caution

Reflection: making the object look shiny or lifelike

Organic/Geometric: organic objects are those that are free flowing, whereas Geometric objects are precise and clear cut

As I said earlier the elements of design are used in conjunction with the above principles to create any form of design imaginable.

Earlier today I came across an article on a technique called photogravure. I found that it is a print making technique developed in the 1800s whereby a copper plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin and then exposed to a film positive, the copper plate is then etched creating a high quality print. Its use was to immortalise fine art prints and to create a photo reproduction of paintings due to its high quality and richness. Its unique qualities allow for varying tones in the ink, since the depth of each etch varies the shadows are etched deeper than the highlights, resulting in a detailed print with a mysterious feel to it. That said the process is much longer than the brief description that wrote. Applying from what I have learnt, I would say that there is a sense of balance in the resulting images through the use of colour and value. The images seem to have a soft focus and because of the use of the copper plates they have a form of texture.

Using A Centuries-Old Printmaking Technique To Immortalize A New Museum

Hope you liked the read!

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