10 golden rules of graphic design

By February 22, 2015Graphic design

Rule number 1

Less is more

Clean and simple graphic design gives a touch of timelessness. Always try to simplify your work, leaving only key elements in your graphic solutions. One of the more often plagues of less experienced graphic designers is mixing multiple fonts and using variety of different font types and cuts in one design.

Try repeating graphic elements in a visual and not using bunch of different ones.

When I say simplify – I don’t mean utter minimalism, but sticking to one dimension of purity can elevate your graphic expression. Every graphic element you use in visuals of some project must have a meaning, a reason why it is used on specific positions. Even if it requires lengthy description 🙂

Rule number 2

Don’t be afraid of color

Color is integral part of our lives. Sky is blue, sun is yellow, and cherries are red. Colors touch emotions, associate, leave impressions, influence the mood of the observer. Color can accentuate and separate graphic elements. Enriches the visual.

Foundation of every graphic design is black & white visual. In most prepress designs you will use up to 3 colors, of which 2 are basic – black & white. Good visual looks good even if it is black & white and devoid of any other color. If you use more colors, specially on overlapping elements – it is mandatory to use complementary colors.

With proper colorization of some mediocre graphic design, you can easily give, if nothing else, an eye-pleasing effect to your graphic solution.

Rule number 3

Typography of our lives

Choosing fonts is constituent part of every graphic design – unless you deal exclusively with photographies. 3 fonts are more than enough. One for headings, one for basic text and one for accentuation. While choosing fonts, try to evaluate what kind of impressions chosen font leaves on you. Is it eye-pleasing and nice to read or you struggle with recognizing particular characters? Ask yourselves if that font fits in the whole story you are trying to point out.

Never stretch fonts, be careful of kerning (character spacing), combine serif and non-serif fonts. If you use 2-3 different fonts, make sure they don’t “fight” – some fonts simply don’t go together.

Rule number 4

Create your “signature”

I don’t have anything against copying, specially if the design you are copying from is good. I consider it an integral part of graphic design. But – if you are already copying an idea, a part of the visual or complete design – copy exclusively from the best.

It is commonly said that it is impossible to come up with something new and that everything is already seen in graphic design. Partially it is true, but not all variations have been seen, nor all ideas covered. Graphic design is very wide conception and you can create something entirely new if you would only dive a bit deeper in an ocean of infinite ideas.

Exploring the depths, you will eventually find your “signature”, unique, not a copy. Search, experiment and enjoy designing.

Rule number 5

Whites are your friends

While creating a graphic visual, it is not necessary to fill up all white space. Look at the whites as a sort of graphic elements. It is not said without reason that particular graphic design is – “breathable”. With leaving spaces of white you are giving your eye a chance to focus on key graphic elements of the design, to find “key spots” and focus on important.

If the design is clustered with elements, our eyes won’t be able to find a link of connection, won’t be able to discern crucial segments of the design and most likely – never read an intended message.

Rule number 6

Communicate visually

Graphic design transmits the message. Combining photos, whites, fonts, colors… graphic elements in general – you a re creating a medium that carries specific message.. That message must be clear and direct. If the observer asks himself: “What was meant by this?” – the design failed.
Good preparation (brainstorming) and knowing the matter of what your design is about to cover – is half job done. The only thing that is left to do is – imbed chosen graphic elements into the visual to convey a message to targeted audience.
Try to think outside of the box, do not be too direct nor too obscure. Try to fit graphic elements of surprise into the visual – elements that might not necessarily fit together – try to stimulate observer’s reaction.

Rule number 8

Size matters

Accentuate graphic elements with sizing. Bigger photo is more significant, bigger text carries more important message. Specially pay attention to sizing when designing logo. Logo has to look good no matter of its size, and each part of the logo must be visible and readable when scaled down.

The eye of more experienced graphic designer “has a feeling” when a particular graphic element has to be bigger or smaller.

Through experience you will develop that professional deformation. 🙂

Rule number 9

Easy with those effects

Almost all contemporary graphic software (Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw…) come with piles of powerful filters and effects that you can use on your designs.

If a particular graphic element accentuates nicely with some effect – or simply looks better when pulled through a filter – be my guest. But don’t get carried away and cluster the design with effects.

Remember – the truth is always simple.

Rule number 10

Organize yourselves

Preparation is half job done. Sketch the design you are about to create, imbed all the elements on your drawing. Think about the project, try to visualize it. Inform yourself about similar existing projects, make a better design then existing competition.

Specify the deadline if it is not already specified, and stick to it. Every hour take a break for 15-20 minutes. Don’t overtax yourself, give your brain a chance to defocus and you will be more concentrated. And creative too.

Rule number 11

Break the rules of graphic design

Human brain reacts to incongruity, to flaw, illogicality. Our eyes will catch blunder in design before catching an intended message.
Rules are made to be broken, don’t be afraid to experiment. That’s how trends are developed.

© 10 Golden Rules Of Graphic Design – by Optimum Design