An image is worth a thousand words, so they say. So of course we want our work represented visually in a pleasing and aesthetic way. Whether you are designing a blog image, book cover or website header, you will want to think through these basic elements. They won’t all apply every time, but in general, they are good elements to follow.
Balance and Hierarchy
We all want to feel settled and at peace right? Well, we want our designs to be the same, so when people look at our work they don’t feel the need to get violent or bang their head against the floor. Ha! I’m extreme, of course, but bad design can have this effect. One mistake I see all the time in a balance of hierarchy in a piece. If different elements are competing for attention too much, the overall message get’s lost. There should be a clear header or main element and a clear way to visually navigate through the rest of the piece. If something feel off or unsettled in a design, it’s mostly likely a balance issue.
The Golden Rectangle
You don’t have to me a math wiz to see that this is super cool. The Golden Rectangle is a known as a perfect design. Supposedly, Pythagoras discovered this ratio. And the ancient Greeks incorporated it into their art and architecture. Apparently, many ancient buildings (including the Parthenon) use golden rectangles. It was thought to be the most pleasing of all rectangles. It was not too thick, not too thin, but just right.
As you can see with this photo, the spiral of the golden rectangle is placed over the top. Everything seems to flow naturally into the face of the person. The shapes are naturally dividing the space – but it is not obvious. The weight of the dark bottom would represent the bottom part of the golden rectangle. Can you see it? The weight, balance and flow is perfect. Hence a very pleasing image.
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Keep your fonts to a maximum of three. Many more and you start to look unprofessional. The fonts you choose need to fit well together and be different enough to comp lent each other. I like to pair a bold font with a delicate one, or a script-y font with the a basic. Here are some examples to help you out.
We already talked about what makes a pleasing image but you certainly want to ensure the quality of that image ahead of time so that when you use it, it isn’t pixelated, too big, etc. If you are designing for web you want your images to be RGB (made up of Red, Green, Blue) and 72 dpi. If you are designing for print, say your book cover, you want it made up of CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), and at least 300 dpi at actual size. No matter how amazing the shot, if it is blurry, you will look unprofessional. YUCK —>
We’ll talk in more detail about using images on a book cover next week. An entire post just for the perfect cover!
Choose colors that represent the project for which you are designing. I wouldn’t use red and green if I’m doing a book cover on the history of the Easter bunny. Here is a great website to learn more about color theory. Again, I’ll talk more about this next week.
Is there a design feature that you always seem to notice? We all have styles we’re drawn to.
What is your favorite style or theme?