The Basic Principles Of Graphic Design | Tamari Chabukiani | Skillshare

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The Basic Principles Of Graphic Design

teacher avatar Tamari Chabukiani, Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.

      White Space


    • 8.



    • 9.

      Final words


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About This Class

Design principles like contrast, balance, hierarchy are the building blocks of any type of effective visual communication. Without these basics, both design and content fall apart. The correct application of the principles creates a design that communicates it's a message clearly while making it look effortlessly sophisticated.

This class is mainly focused around theoretical material, the principles are studied tough observation of examples of the practical applications by other designers. The idea behind collecting, studying, and deconstructing other designers' work is that it gives you a better understanding of what components make up a good design piece. In other words, it gives you an answer to the question: why some design just seems to work?

In this class you'll learn:

  • What the 7 core principles are and how they work
  • How other designers use this principle in their works
  • How to correct your design using a design cheat sheet

Though the class is aimed at the beginners, creatives of all levels can take this class to refresh their memories of the fundamental basics.

I hope you'll enjoy the class. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Tamari Chabukiani



Tamari Chabukiani is a graphic designer, lecturer, and art director at Pragmatika. Currently living and working in Tbilisi, in a customized apartment, which also serves as the studio for Pragmatika. She loves books, paintings, and anything matcha. 

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Related Skills

Graphic Design Creative Temari
Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: If you can design one thing, you can design everything. When Massimo Miliano said these words, he meant that the fundamental principles of design as same crossed all disciplines of visual communication. If you're able to master these basics, you'll be able to create a design that is timeless. Hello, my name is Tamari Chabukiani. I'm a founder and an art director at Pragmatika Design. An independent design studio that specializes in brand identities. For the past seven years , I have created logos and identities for investing firms, digital marketplaces, AI companies, and startups from all over the world. In addition to my main job as a graphic designer, I also teach a brand design course, here at Bolivia, Georgia. The majority of my work as a lecture is dedicated to teaching students how to think creatively and how to best translate their concepts into visuals. I'm a true believer that mastery comes from learning and mastering the basics, and I believe that these underlying principles is what makes good design great. Today we're going to go to some of the basic principles that can be applied to different discipline of graphic design. Be it oval design, right identity editorial design, or UI. We'll explore how to use design principles side contrast, balanced, hierarchy, repetition, scale, white space, and tension. These tools will help you better communicate your message to the viewer while enhancing the look of your design piece. I believed that this class can benefit everyone whenever you're a complete new beginner or whenever you well entrenched in your design career and want to refresh your memory. By learning how to use these principles you improve the quality of your words exponentially, and you'll be able to create design that is well balanced, harmonious, and timeless. I hope you enjoy the class and let's get started. 2. Contrast: Design is a utilitarian art, which means that always serves a specific purpose. In order to effectively fulfill its purpose, it needs to capture attention. One of the most effective ways to capture someone's attention is by using contrasts. Contrast is a magnet to draw the eye. In other words, it helps us set priorities when it comes to information perception. There are a couple of reasons why we need contrast. Firstly, it helps us distinguish an object. Secondly, it helps us set visual hierarchy, and thirdly, it creates something that is pleasing to the eye. While most people associate contrast with a bold color, it can be applied to different components of graphic design, such as density, scale, typesetting, and so on. Let's go through each component one by one. The first thing the viewer perceives is color, and only after noticing color do we perceive shapes and texts. This way it's no wonder why research suggests that a signature color can increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent. This is a color wheel that is used for learning color theory and color font on the opposite side of the spectrum create maximum contrast. These color combinations are called complementary. Complementary colors are green and red, blue and orange, and purple and yellow. When put together these color combinations can look very vibrating and can sometimes even create a sense of motion and they'll bring a very attention-grabbing combination. These colors can look a bit too harsh and off-putting to the viewer. If you choose this combination, try to tone it down a bit by lowering the brightness of the colors. Also, try limits using fleshy images and focus solely on other elements such as geometric shapes and topography. Analogous colors are those that are next to each other on the color wheel. This combination can create a pellet that is to blend and noted to add livelihood and definition, of course, contrasts, try adding neutrals such as gray, white, and black. You can achieve contrasts in topography for different font combinations. As a rule, when combining different fonts, polar opposites attract. Therefore, a combination of a serif font and a sans-serif font is considered safe. The two tend to work together well, especially in contrasting sizes. You can also try experimenting with changes in weight, spacing, small caps, and so on. Let's talk about sans serif first. A lot of sans serif fonts have very similar anatomy. Therefore, combining similar-looking sans serif will have no visual impact at all. As a rule, combining two sans serif is considered safe only when they differ visually, like extremely, for example, a condensed sans serif and the regular one. The same holds true for serifs. If you want to combine two serif designs, you should try different typefaces from two of the six sets of classifications. Try an old-style, like Bembo with transitional, like Baskerville or modern type like Didone. When talking about type size contrast, one thing to keep in mind is that the contrast needs to be sufficient enough to be perceived as such. Increasing font size by one point doesn't create much of a difference. Therefore, you should aim for at least a two-point type size increase. You can also achieve contrast by changing font weights. The rule of two unit increases relevant in this case too. For example, if you're using glide body text, instead of using regular for emphasis, do a one-way jump and go for a medium instead. Letter spacing and italics are common ways to draw attention to certain information. Increasing the spacing between letter-forms works especially well in combination with small caps. Italics were originally created to save space, but now they're used to emphasize certain information in the text. Use these two techniques sparingly only when necessary. One of the most frequent mistakes that designers make when it comes to contrast is overusing it. One or two methods of creating contrast is usually enough, meaning if you use change in size to create emphasis, there is no need to make it red, bold, italic, and underlined. Less is more. You can achieve variation in density by juxtaposing photographic images in typography or by implementing white space against the dense layout. The contrast and density is very important when dealing with multi-page publication since the variation keeps the reader engaged, while white space allows readers to rest their eye. 3. Repetition: In a nutshell, the repetition principle is reusing and repeating same or similar design elements throughout the design. It can be repetition of color, certain shapes, grid systems, or font styles. When used correctly, repetition creates a feeling of unity and consistency. Consistency is especially priority when it comes to multi-page publications and brand identities because the principle of familiarity says that the more we're exposed to certain colors, shapes, and messages, the more familiar they become. Therefore, consistent use of graphic language like colors, symbols, typography in a brand identity can create a unified look for a brand. This repetition strengthens the image of the brand, which makes it look more recognizable and more memorable. The Olympic game icon series by Otl Aicher is a perfect example of this principle. A unified skeleton, meaning the diagonal grid on which the icons are based, creates a cue that these are not just some random icons, but a series of icons for the same brand. The pattern is the most straightforward expression of this principle. A pattern basically is a certain element or a group of elements repeated in a particular sequence. And finally, the repetition doesn't need to be taken literally. It can be a repetition of series of similar shapes that become big or small in a rhythmic manner, shown in this example by Josef Muller-Brockmann. 4. Tension: >Tension, suspense, unease, nervousness, it is a moment before a culminating event, some sort of a release. Imagine a Quentin Tarantino movie at any scene where multiple people point guns at each other or a horror movie, where something bad is about to happen and music is getting more and more tense or a song by David Bowie , like Cat People. You got the point. In design, you can use tension to add visual interest to a composition. If it's used correctly, tension can captivate viewer's attention, making them feel like something is about to happen. There are different ways to create tension. For example, by placing an object at an angle, by placing objects closer together, but bringing objects to the border of your page, by scaling images and texts to the point where they bleed off the page or by cropping design elements in an unexpected way. Tension is a very powerful tool in your toolbox. That's why I tried to limit its usage because it can become very tiring to a viewer. 5. Hierarchy: Hierarchy is the arrangement of graphic elements in order of their importance. In order to create visual hierarchy, you need to make sure that certain design elements and certain contents stands out more than any other design elements or any other content. That's why the principle of hierarchy tends to overlap with two other design principles, like contrast and scale. Because the manipulations you use to make certain elements stand out are the same manipulations you use to set visual hierarchy. Strong hierarchy leads users through design and helps them absorb information in a chronological order. To create visual order, we need to be familiar with the content, which is why it's so important to read the content first before we start designing it. There are many different ways of establishing hierarchy, but we're only going to go through those that we did discuss in the contrast section. In Western culture, we read from left to right. According to studies, there are two dominant reading patterns, the F pattern and the Z pattern. This means that after initial scanning a design, the eye tends to land at the top left corner. If what we see at the top left corner is what we perceive is logical to please the most important design element there. This is why you usually see logos on the left side of a web page or a person's name at the left side of a business card. This principle, although important, can be undermined by another principle which is size enlargement. Leading lines are lines, shapes, arrows, pointing fingers, photo manipulations that directs you through the layout to a focal point. By using leading lines, you can control where viewers eye go when they see your design. You can easily manipulate the chronology of information the viewer will absorb. These manipulation can be something as obvious as pointing fingers or it can be something to view [inaudible] in a more subconscious level. Original cropping or unusual shapes are dynamics which serve as a navigators for the eye and lead it in a particular direction. In design, what is invisible is just as important to what is visible. Space is essential for separating and organizing the elements in your design, and help it to look orderly and well-balanced. Spaces can serve as invisible dividers. We can use them instead of a bar and other design elements. In fact, the more wide space you leave surrounding a design element, the more it will stand out. Alignment creates a sense of order by grouping related objects into a unified design. When certain design element is off-grid and not aligned with the group, it stands out and becomes more noticeable. The rule of thirds is basically dividing your frame into nine equal rectangles and placing the most important object on any of four intersections. The point where these lines intersect is known as point of interest. Using the point of interest as a focal point for your composition, will create a more dynamic and engaging composition than placing the object in the dead center of a format. Because the studies have shown that people's eyes naturally tend to gravitate towards one of these points of interests rather than the center. The rule is widely used in photography and many digital cameras have an in-built grit with two vertical and horizontal dividers. You can apply this principle to any format, be it landscape, portrait or square. Obviously people read and pay attention to bigger objects because they're hard to ignore. The bigger the object, the more important it looks. That's why using large-scale images and flashy texts will draw viewers attention to the content you'd like to emphasize. 6. Balance: Balance and design is the distribution of elements in the format. You can achieve balance for the object placement, correlation, and spacing. Today, we're going to talk about two types of balance, symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance occurs when weight is distributed equally on all sides of a composition. It is most prevalent in classical compositions, and though pleasing to the eye, symmetrical balance is very static. Therefore, it can sometimes look boring. On the other hand, asymmetrical balance looks less flat than symmetrical. It also looks more dynamic and unpredictable. In an asymmetrical composition, fun, visually heavy element on one side might be balanced by a handful of flight weight on the other. Generally, it's easy even for a non-professional to note [inaudible] balance composition. A well-balanced design feels right, whereas unbalanced composition just looks a bit off. The notion of balance can be applied to the balance of positive and negative spaces in logo design and in typography as well. 7. White Space: White space is the space that surrounds design elements. Even though it's called white space, it doesn't have to be necessarily white. It can be any texture or any color. White space is basically any area that is free from texts, photos or any other graphics. Why do we need it? White space acts as a divider between design elements and helps us find relevant information. Cluttered design can be highly distracting and confusing for the viewer. Just as it's hard to find an object in a cluttered room, in a cluttered design it's hard to find the information you're looking for. Therefore, the more white space you have, the more content that surrounds will pop. In multi-page publications like books for example, margins, a form of white space are important because they give the eye space to rests. Books are published with limited budget tend to have smaller margins as it is a way of saving money on paper. This of course, affects the readability of the book. Imagine walking into a Zara shop. Now, contrast it we walk into a Chanel shop. The first thing you will notice in mass market stores is that they are cluttered and filled to bursting with clothes in all sizes. However, hand shop sectional have very few clothes hanging inside. This creates a sense of luxury and exclusivity. The same principle holds true for graphic design. To less cluttered the design is, the more exclusive and more expressive it looks to the viewer. In other words, less is more. 8. Scale: Scale is not the same thing as size, scale is relative. It's the relationship between two design elements, or a relationship between design elements and the format. When all the design elements, like topography or other graphics are the same size, design looks flat, the hierarchy is weak and click steps. The scale helps you emphasize certain objects by showing their importance. It can also help establish hierarchy and set a focal point. When playing with scale, you can bring some objects closer to the viewer while moving other objects away. These contrasts in sizes can create the sense of dimensionality and movement. Also applying an unexpected size to an element is a fun way to mix up your design. 9. Final words: Thank you guys so much for watching. I hope you enjoyed this class. There will be more in the future so make sure that you stay tuned. I have created a minute sheet [inaudible] which you can download from the description box below and if you're interested in what I do, my Instagram handle is tamari.chabukiani. Have a great day.