Category Archives: Principles of Design

Articles on the Principles of Design

Investigating Good Design: Del Taco Campaign

If you’ve spent any time around passionate designers, you’ve probably heard them say they never turn off their designer’s eye. Everywhere we look we’re evaluating design, layout, colors and more. But what are we actually thinking about and is it beneficial? Sure it is! We’re critiquing, which helps us improve our own designs.

Want to know what kinds of things go through my head, even when I’m not at “work”?

The Del Taco “Go Bold or Go Home” Campaign.

Investigating Good Design: Wrigley’s Tea Escapes

Design is a delicate balance between theory and aesthetic sensibilities. The more you practice the theory—the elements and principles of design—the more it will become second nature and your ability to intuitively know how to create, fix or critique a design will improve.

It is helpful to go over each element and principle individually, but it is equally as helpful to see how each element and principle of design works in the context of a single design. Below we will analyze the design theory behind this Wrigley’s Tea Escapes packaging from Hornall Anderson.

Enhance Your Designs with the Principle of Unity

This seems like the perfect opportunity for a good quote.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

That Lincoln was a smart, well versed man. Unity binds together elements and strengthens what it supports. It is so in any aspect of life, even design!

Unity in graphic design is what ties everything together. It is the sense that the design is consistent, it agrees with itself in each element, there is nothing sticking out that says, “I don’t belong!” Sometimes people refer to the principle of unity as harmony.

Enhance Your Designs with the Principle of Rhythm

Just as in music, a good rhythmic design is very appealing! You feel almost like you can dance to a catalog that has images and key text in predictable places as you flip from page to page and section to section. The design has a visual beat you can follow!
What is Rhythm?

Rhythm is repetition. Rhythm is consistency. Rhythm is an established placement of elements and it brings immense unity to a layout.

Enhance Your Designs with the Principle of Proportion

Have you ever seen a design that looks so absolutely perfect all you can do is stand in awe of its aesthetic qualities? What is it about those pieces that make them so visually stunning? And, more importantly, how can YOU create a design like this?

The answer is Proportion.

As always, as you read through this article, notice the uses of the elements and principles of design. See how proportion depends on them and helps create and support other principles.

What is Proportion? Proportion can be recognized in several ways; it is the use of the design elements size and scale, evenly distributing the viewer’s attention and the use of the golden ratio.

Enhance Your Designs with the Principle of Emphasis

I’ve written about the principle of emphasis before, in Stand Out from the Crowd, where I gave practical ways to emphasize different parts of your design. You will see that much of emphasis is achieved through strategic use of the principle of contrast.

The principle of emphasis is used to support direction. Think of emphasis as the stepping stones on the path of direction; emphasis tells the viewer what is important and where to look next.

Emphasis supports balance, too. If your focal point is smack in the center of the layout, that’s rather boring, but use the rule of thirds to place your eye-catching element and you instantly improve the layout.
What is Emphasis?

Emphasis is about hierarchy. Although many other principles contribute to hierarchy, emphasis is what they all ultimately lead to.

Enhance Your Designs with the Principle of Economy

The design principle of economy is the embodiment of the quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

What is Economy?
The Principle of Economy is the idea that you use as much as you need to communicate the message. This does not mean that the design is minimalistic, but rather that it only contains the essential.

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