Last updated on November 16th, 2017
So you think you know design? Many aspiring designers understand color theory, composition, and even have a good grasp on typography, but miss some of the key principles of graphic design. J6 Design refers to the basics—balance, proximity, repetition, alignment, contrast and space—but there are some more complex unspoken guidelines, cardinal rules of the design world that everyone who works in design should know and understand. Whether that work is as a designer or a client, understanding what you should expect from a professional will help you not only to provide better service, but to utilize service more fully.
Main Highlights on Principles of Graphic Design :
1. Less is Always More
Entrepreneur.com applies this specifically to logo design, pointing out that too much detail can limit recognition, whereas overly simplistic logos can get lost in the shuffle of color and shape that is today’s graphic design scene. However, this is one principle that applies to design as a whole as much as to this specific area of the field.
This doesn’t mean that minimalism is the only way to go, however. The key with this principle is that every line, color and shape of a design should be integral to the final piece, not just there for the sake of presence. If there’s an element to a piece of graphic design work that you personally like but doesn’t add to the final product, remove it. You should remove extraneous elements of graphic design bit by bit as you continue down the path to a finished piece, like chipping and scraping down a block of stone into a sculpted masterpiece. There may be veins of color and texture in the stone that you like, but you wouldn’t leave them if the only way to complete the sculpture was to remove them!
2. Design to Last
This is more particular for logos, but applies to anything that needs to be used and re-used. Book covers, websites, posters, pretty much anything that’s not seasonal or for a particular event—all these things should be able to withstand the test of time. Making design “timeless” seems like a difficult goal, but is easier when taken from a subtractive perspective instead of the additive perspective that applies to most graphic design.
When you have something designed or set out to design something for a client, try to avoid anything that could apply a date to the piece. If your business intends to paint the storefront in a couple months, but you want a poster to advertise for a standard sale now, focus on the interior of the store or the type things that will be on sale instead of the store itself. This assures that you can re-use the poster design later with a quick change of dates listed and not worry about anyone realising that you’re reusing a previous piece of work. In the simplest of terms, the best way to make sure a design lasts is to remove everything that applies to a specific date.
3. Maintain Your Color Palette
Maintaining a copacetic and cohesive color palette is more important for corporate and business design than anywhere else; according to Smashing Magazine, something as simple as changing the saturation on a given color can completely change the feeling it evokes, so this is a place you always need to be careful. If your logo is primarily red, avoid using greens in design—except around the winter holidays, of course. In the United States and the United Kingdom, using the corporate standard blue and white is perfectly acceptable, but throwing red into the mix can make the final piece look like an exercise in patriotism. Color combinations mean certain things to certain people, so maintaining a color palette across all your designs that is analogous rather than complimentary is recommended.
Principles of Graphic Design – Colors Theory
4. Contrast is King
The simplest of the four less known principles of graphic design, contrast is one of the most important elements of any design. Graphic pieces lacking in contrast are hard on the eyes; go too far and you can actually give viewers genuine headaches. If you don’t want your design to be a pain, you should periodically convert to grayscale and check the contrast between elements and remember that if it won’t print well in black and white, it won’t print well in color. Professional designers across the globe, from the teams working for Designhill to completely independent freelancers, follow this principles of graphic design to make sure their work is as appealing as possible in all forms of media.
Establish Your Own Rules
Remember that every rule has an exception—working in high contrast may not make a difference if your design work is meant for a clinic for the red/green colorblind, and if the client can’t afford color printing then maintaining a cohesive color palette doesn’t really matter. Every designer and design client should have their own basic graphic design principles and stick to those as much as anything else. You know what you want to see and what you want to make, trust your own intuition.