It is a little cliched but “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This quote couldn’t be more true when it comes to logos and graphics in general.
You might not think so at first, but that statement has been proven time and time again. There are some basic design principles that you can follow which will result in better graphic designs.
Make sure your design has a balance of positive and negative space. The negative space in a design is just as important to the overall balance of the graphic. Negative space can be used for breathing room or emphasizing certain parts of your designs, but too much empty white (or black) space will look unfinished and unprofessional.
Negative spaces are often created by using shadows that create depth within an image that otherwise would not have any dimension. This also leads into our next principle – ‘direction.’
Direction refers to how lines go on a surface. Horizontal direction creates motion while vertical direction feels more stable like it’s holding up something above it, like if you were wondering what holds up the sky? The answer is gravity!
Vertical direction can also create the illusion of height in an object, which is often done with buildings and trees. You may have noticed that many tall structures are built looking up towards the sky – this creates the feeling that it’s reaching for something higher than what we see on earth.
Scale refers to how objects are sized in a design. For example, skyscrapers are taller than houses and trees, which means they have more scale. The same is true for smaller objects such as cars – you can tell that the Volkswagen Beetle has less size because it’s shorter compared to other vehicles on display at the car showroom.
Use repeating elements to create unity in the design. Repetition creates a sense of harmony and order, which is perfect for logos. I also like it when designers repeat colors or fonts throughout their work because they create cohesion across different sections that might not have anything in common other than color or font choice.
Repetition can be subtle as well – take this post’s header image: there are only two circles with “jazz hands,” but you probably knew what was going on even if you couldn’t see any words!
Use alignment to convey a sense of order and organization in your design so that all elements are on one axis or grid. Alignment is great for creating visual harmony because it eliminates any tension between different components.
Align items horizontally with the help of spacing like margins, padding, and line height; align vertically by using leading space (line-height). Remember to use whitespace consciously, so you don’t end up with cramped content.
If everything isn’t aligned properly, then there will be ambiguous situations where the eye doesn’t know which piece of information should stand out more than another – avoid this! For example: when I have a list of points in a paragraph such as “I want eggs” vs. “I want milk,” – the eye will land on I want eggs because that’s where it feels like there should be more content.
The proximity principle is one of the rules that can help you create better graphics and improve your design. Proximity has to do with how items are placed with each other.
You want related items close together, but not too close, as this could lead to overcrowding and confusion for users who have a hard time finding what they need. The more logically grouped things are, the easier it will be for people viewing them to find what they’re looking for.
A good example of this would be designing an infographic about coffee shops around town: put all the information regarding cafes under “Coffee Shops” so when someone clicks on that section, everything within it is right there at their fingertips! Try grouping things together and using proximity in your design – it’ll help you create better graphics with simplicity.
Use contrast to create interest by placing two different colors next to each other. If you have two very similar colors, keep the proportion of one color much larger than the other.
Contrast is a great way to create depth in your design without it being obvious or overbearing. I often use one technique to take an image and place a white square on top of it using PS with 50% opacity. The result is a layer where each side has its illumination – more pronounced when combined with darker images. Asymmetry will always produce contrast; look at how unevenly distributed these items are!
The Color Wheel: use elements from all three basic color schemes (monochromatic, complementary, and analogous) for maximum impact–knowing which colors work well together will keep your design cohesive
Lights: use a range from dark to light, or just one color. You can also use the same hue of different values (lights and darks) to create contrast without resorting to two colors on top of each other. If you want more depth, go for a light-dark gradient.
Adjust the size of objects according to their importance within the composition. Scale is one of the most important principles to understand when designing a logo. More detailed objects should never be scaled larger than objects with fewer details. If you do, it will destroy any sense of balance in your composition and ruin the whole thing.
When scaling an object, make sure its proportions remain accurate so that all parts of the design maintain symmetry; otherwise, there’s no point in having them at all!
A good design should be balanced, flexible in layout, and easy to understand. It’s also important that your designs are aligned with the principles of repetition for unity and proximity for clarity.
The final step is making sure you use contrast to create interest from a simple design by adding two colors next to each other or making elements different sizes according to their importance within the composition. Which principle have you used before? Let us know how it went!