OUGD404 - Design Principles - 10 Things...

What is Graphic Design?

A long and lasting debate.

There are many answers to this question, and there isnít a wrong one. Graphic design is what you do with it. However this is what graphic design is for me.

Graphic design has one purpose and that is to communicate. It is a clever combination of visual aesthetics and science. Graphic design is a massive variation of media ranging from anything regarded as imagery or 
anything that has been designed with a purpose to persuade, advise, inform or communicate to a specific audience.

What is the point if there is no legibility?

If graphic design is used to communicate a message to a directed audience then what is the point of it if it isn't understandable?

Legibility is an extremely important aspect of graphic design as it has to be legible to understand it, and has to be understood to communicate the intended message.

The two colour modes.

In graphic design there are two main colour modes: RGB and CMYK.

It is dependent on what you are working on in regards to which mode must be used. If the design is being created for screen based media, such as websites or blogs then the colour mode should be RGB. This is because RGB is a colour mode consisting of three different light wavelengths: red, green and blue. This is an additive colour mode which the more wavelengths involved, the more colour value it has leading to white. 

If the design is being created for print based media like flyers and posters then the appropriate colour mode would be CMYK built up on the four fundamental inks cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This is an subtractive colour mode in which the colour slowly moves to black when more inks are used.

Complementary colours.

When you observe the colour wheel, you will notice that colours have opposites, these opposites are called complementary colours. 

They are called this because when they are close to each other or placed near each other, one will make the other appear more intense and brighter, most of the time make them uncomfortable to look at. 

These should never be used together whilst designing unless the objective is to make the audience feel 
uncomfortable whilst looking at it.

There are four categories of fonts.

The groupings to categorise fonts are block, gothic, roman and script. 

Block and Script fonts are typically used as header fonts to grab attention of a viewer and at a larger scale than the body copy as they aren't normally legible at smaller sizes. Whilst Roman and gothic fonts can be used at any size and remain legible in an appropriate context.

Each font category can be identified by the following elements: 

Block fonts are generally a lot chunkier than other fonts, they have a stronger and bigger weight with smaller bowls, this makes them less legible therefore inappropriate for body copy. Script fonts are very decorative in an aesthetic sense and need to be used very carefully in context. Roman fonts are complimented with serifs and follow the rules of Times New Roman and similar fonts. Gothic fonts are 
generally sans serif fonts that can also be used as both header and body in appropriate contexts.

Understanding pantone.

The pantone matching system needs to be understood by any graphic designer. It is extremely important when communicating with both printers and clients what exact colour is wanted. It must be identified with a code found on a pantone swatch and used throughout work.

The three fonts rule.

In one piece of design, the use of fonts must be minimised as much as possible. If you use one font, the chances of it matching with the rest of the font will be 100%. 

The more fonts you use, the more you complicate and clash the design. The maximum amount of fonts on one piece of design should be three in context, unless the aim is to use as many as possible found in some pieces of designs.


Units are a very important part of graphic design and it is fundamental to understand the uses of different units and how to convert them appropriately.

For example, there are 12 points to a pica and 1 point is 1/72 of an inch.

It is also helpful to remember the dimensions of popular paper sizes such as A3 and A4.

Anatomy of type.

All graphic designers should know the anatomy of type. 

Knowing the elements of type is important to know to give graphic designers the freedom and knowledge of typography with which they have the ability to create their own typeface consistently without flaws.


Layout may seem to be just bits and pieces of visual information placed in a pretty way to get the message across to an untrained eye.

But all graphic designers should know the science of symmetry, scales and compositional grids. 

An example would be a rule of proportions and ratios, the Fibonacci sequence.

I began my thumbnail designs for my 10 double spreads and did three variations of each spread.

After I finished that, I chose my favourite of each and then started planning them out by and and then digitally.

After trying two variations of one double page spread, I wasn't happy with the outcomes I was coming out with.

I tried a different way of looking at the aesthetics and enjoyed the design better as well as doing something different. This will be followed with the rest of the spreads.

After it was all finished, I decided to send it off to LULU publishers so I could continue with the other briefs set over the holidays.

One day before the hand in, the book still hadn't arrived so I asked Phil for advice and was recommended to make it myself.

I'd never made or bound a book before so it wasn't the easiest task after most people had gone home already but after a few problems with the printer I managed to set up the print job in InDesign appropriately, and after the amount of times I did it I have it burned into my memory.

I used antique white stock and bound it with staples that were then covered with the book cover using the same stock but inverting the colour contrast.

The lulu book arrived the morning of hand in so I included that as well, in my opinion I prefer the one I made personally so I am glad I learned and I can adapt the skills I learned for my future briefs.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.