Graphic Design Basics

The elements and principles of graphic design used in desktop publishing

Principles of Design
Principles of Design: Balance, Proximity, Alignment, Repetition, Contrast, and White Space.

Get a better understanding of the basics of graphic design by studying the elements and principles of graphic design that govern effective design and page layout. Graphic design is the process and art of combining text and graphics and communicating an effective message in the design of logos, graphics, brochures, newsletters, posters, signs, and any other type of visual communication.

Designers achieve their goals by utilizing the elements and principles of graphic design.

By following each of two learning paths on these concepts of graphic design basics and their application in modern desktop publishing, those with no formal graphic design training can improve their page layout and text compositions.

Although individual lessons within these two Graphic Design Basics classes can be taken out of order, I recommend following the lessons sequentially to get the full benefit.

  1. Elements of Graphic Design Basics Classes
    The building blocks of design are defined and illustrated in these lessons and exercises - including lines, shapes, and texture. Explore each element individually and as a part of the whole.

     

  2. Principles of Graphic Design Basics Classes
    Learn how to use alignment, contrast, white space, and other principles of graphic design to create effective page compositions through these graphic design lessons and exercises.

     

How to Do Desktop Publishing > Graphic Design Tutorials > Graphic Design Basics > Graphic Design Basics Course

 

Graphic Design Tutorials > Graphic Design Basics > Graphic Design Basics Course > Elements of Design Class

Although individual lessons can be taken out of order, I recommend following the Graphic Design Basics course and these lessons on the elements of design sequentially to get the full benefit.

1.1 Building Blocks of Design

The first class describes the 5 elements of design: lines, shapes, mass, texture, and color.

Also describes other elements sometimes included as basic building blocks.
1.1 An Introduction to the Elements of Design (with brief lessons for each of the 5 elements)

1.2 Lines
Everyone knows what a line is, right? Look more closely at the great variety of lines, straight, curved, thick, thin, solid, and not-solid.

1.3 Shapes
Squares (and rectangles), triangles, and circles are the three basic shapes. Examine their role in design including the psychology of shapes in logo design. Class also touches on freeform shapes.

1.4 Mass
How big is it? Take a look at mass or visual weight of graphic and text elements. This class includes a large section on size and measurements for type and paper and images.

1.5 Texture
In addition to the actual texture of the paper we print on, look at the textures we create through techniques such as embossing and the visual texture created with certain graphics techniques.


1.6 Color
What is the meaning of red? Which colors go well together? Color symbolism and association is the primary focus of this class. It also touches briefly on the mechanics of color reproduction on the Web and in print.

Graphic Design Tutorials > Graphic Design Basics > Graphic Design Basics Course > Elements of Design Class

Graphic Design Tutorials > Graphic Design Basics > Graphic Design Basics Course > Principles of Design Class

Although individual lessons can be taken out of order, I recommend following these Graphic Design Basics lessons on the Principles of Design sequentially to get the full benefit.

2.1 The Big Picture

Different instructors or designers have their own idea about the basic principles of design but most are encompassed in the 6 principles of balance, proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast, and white space.

Learn the definitions of each principle.
2.1 An Introduction to the Principles of Design > Lesson 1: Definitions > Lesson 2: Application

2.2 Balance
Symmetrical, radial, formal, and informal ways of arranging elements on a page to achieve visual balance is the focus of this class. Also covers the rule of thirds and other structural elements that aid in creating visual balance of a page layout.
2.2 Balance > Lesson 1:Symmetrical > Lesson 2: Asymmetrical > Lesson 3: Radial > Lesson 4: Rule of Thirds > Lesson 5: Visual Center > Lesson 6: Grids > Self-Test

2.3 Proximity/Unity
Learn how to arrange elements on the page through proximity — keeping like items together and creating unity by how close or far apart elements are from each other.
Not in lesson format. Study the principle of Proximity

2.4 Alignment
While centered text has its place it is often the mark of a novice designer. Learn how to align text and graphics to create more interesting, dynamic, or appropriate layouts.


Not in lesson format. Study the principle of Alignment as well as How to Use the Principle of Alignment in Page Layout and Use Ragged-Right or Fully-Justified Text Alignment Appropriately and Use Centered Text Alignment Sparingly.

2.5 Repetition/Consistency
Get an understanding of the importance of consistency for the reader and ways to create a consistent and balanced look through different types of repetition.


Not in lesson format. Study the principles of Consistency and Repetition.

2.6 Contrast
Big vs. small, black vs. white. These are some ways to create contrast and visual interest. Learn a variety of ways to use contrast.
Not in lesson format. Study the principle of Contrast

2.7 White Space
The art of nothing is another description for this principle. View examples of good and bad use of white space and how to avoid trapped white space.
Not in lesson format. Study the principle of White Space as well as How to Add White Space to a Layout and Use More White Space.

BONUS LESSON: Pull from all the elements and principles of design to create Emphasis.

Graphic Design Tutorials > Graphic Design Basics > Graphic Design Basics Course > Principles of Design Class