The TOP 5 fundamentals of graphic design

fundamentals of graphic design

1.    Colour
 – Basic knowledge of the theory of colour is very useful in graphic design.
 To fully understand the colour theory I have compiled a basic run down below.
RGB – red, green & blue, 
CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow & Key (black)

If you can recall your human biology lessons in school if you weren’t half asleep like me at the back of the class chewing your biro. Your eyes contain two receptors rods and cones.
Cones allow the brain to see colour whereas Rods convey shades of grey.

Cones come in three flavours – One for oranges, second for green and third for blue/violets.
Enough of science lesson lets head to the colours.

PRIMARY – main colours cannot make others
SECONDARY – when mixing two primary
TERTIARY – mix primary and secondary together
COMPLEMENTARY – complete opposite ends of the colour wheel

ANALOGOUS – colours close together on the colour wheel.

I struggled to understand why and what is a Pantone until I landed my first job in a print graphic design studio. A Pantone is an industry recognised colour, given a specific number from the Pantone booklet swatches (don’t come cheap but required). A print house or design can add a pantone specific number to any given colour and the print house will know the exact mix to use to produce this colour. It is the most accurate colour chart available. Comes in two flavours coated for glossy and coated papers, un-coated for matt paper.

 2.    SCALE – an important aspect of any graphic design project, sizing content in proportion is important making any type, graphics or imagery are all scaled together in proportion.
If you are designing a billboard banner this will be viewed far away, graphics and headlines need to be much larger in order to achieve the right balance. A small flyer or business card would obviously need a much smaller scale, headlines need to be in proportion with the other design elements.

 3.    TYPOGRAPHY – typefaces play a huge role in any graphic design piece, think of the fonts as the characters in a film. The lead character being the main font and actors other typefaces. General rule is no more then three typefaces unless it has been made an absolute from a client for a specific reason. Type is important for a corporate style or ID, it helps make the design consistent across the board. Type is defined through each style and characteristics to convey a specific message for the brand.

 4.    PRINT OUTPUT FILES – this one frustrates me, the amount of times I have worked with designers who have no idea what a trim mark is or dpi. Working in digital it is important to ensure that your artwork is in the correct format. Imagery needs to be in the correct resolution and to scale. Images for print should be 300dpi (dots per inch) minimum, website images are 72dpi which is ok for screen viewing. If you were to try and print 72dpi images they would appear very blurry or pixelated.

 5.    THREE AND ONLY THREE – we discussed typography above and only using 3 fonts, this is termed the rule of three in graphic design. Keeping to this rule your design will look professional, clean and precise. If you were reading a book and the fonts kept changing it would be confusing for the reader let alone messy visually. The rule of three applies to colours as well, so remember three typefaces and three main colours will make your design less distracting and complicated.

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