Old 11-12-2008, 11:11   #1 (permalink)
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Design Basics

Thought Id get a new thread started up for newcomers or anyone who is seeking to learn some the fundamentals of design.

I might need some help with this is theres alot to go into this post, so if anyone has suggestions or improvements then I will add them into this post.

I can't tackle this whole subject all in one go, so will do a bit at a time.

SELECTING FONTS

I'm gonna start with selecting fonts, fonts are the most basic building block of any design so its important that you come to recognise good font design.

Try to pick fonts that are versitile and dont have many nuances this way you can get used to setting them and use them on all kinds of jobs.

Heres a few classics that you should own and that will serve you well.

CLASSIC FONTS
Helvetica
Universe
Trade Gothic
FF Din
Avante Garde
Gridnik
Garamond
Caslon
Baskerville
Bodoni
Lublin graph
Futura
Georgia

The above fonts are a good place to start and having got accostomed to using them you will gain a better appreciation for good font design.

Some of the more modern foundries have been producing some excellent fonts of late, Below are some that i think are worthy of mention.


CONTEMPORARY FONTS
Akkurat
Replica
Bryant
Gotham
TYP1451
Hoefler Text
Didot
Stag
National
Soho


This is just a few that i can think of now but when it comes to looking for other more specific fonts there are some very good foundries that you should familarise yourself with. I make a habit of checking back on them every now and again to see if there has been any good font releases

DECENT FONT FOUNDRIES
Lineto Foundry
Village Fonts
Hoefler & Frere-Jones
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Old 11-12-2008, 11:20   #2 (permalink)
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GRIDS – THE FOUNDATIONS OF DESIGN

Nearly any quality design, whether print or screen based, has the comforting backbone of a grid system(s).
A grid can be a basic/standard 4-col A4 layout with baseline for print, or a far more flexible custom grid ideally suited to your (and your chosen format/media's) needs.

All grids should be flexible (and broken if necessary). You should never feel constrained by a grid system – it is there to help you, not hinder your creative process. Nor should you worry that your work will start to look stale and regimented, many pieces of quality, and seemingly free-flowing designs have been based on a quality system, even if you can't see it.

An excellent link (found by Limbo™): The Grid System

Lots of info and links on that site, with references to the golden section/ratio, grids in print and web design etc.

For any noob/padwan wanting to study more, always good to look at early Modernist design,
particularly Bauhaus, Constructivism etc.

For anyone wanting a book to give them a good foundation on all things modular,
you can't really go wrong with Brockmann's classic:
Grid Systems in Graphic Design – Josef Muller-Brockmann

Whilst Brockmann's seminal book is essential reading, it obviously doesn't cater for grids/CSS frameworks etc for web design.
Here are a few links/resources for the web side of things:
960 Grid System
Blueprint: A CSS Framework
Design by Grid

Last edited by Tom : 11-12-2008 at 15:27.
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Old 11-12-2008, 11:26   #3 (permalink)
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Im gonna try and get this post to follow a logical order so I will probably go something like this

selecting fonts
setting type
layout and use of grids
Printing and finishing (Think tez will have to write this section)
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Old 11-12-2008, 13:11   #4 (permalink)
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KERNING

The term kerning refers to adjusting the space between two letters. If letters in a typeface are spaced too uniformly, they make a pattern that doesn’t look uniform enough. Gaps occur, for example, around letters whose forms angle outward or frame an open space (W, Y, V, T, L).

Because the space between characters expands as the type size increases, designers often fine-tune letterspacing when working with large letters.

(Ellen Lupton)


So basically its important to pay attention to kerning when your dealing with type at larger sizes. So generally speaking it is necessary on headings and is especially important on logos.

The aim of the game is to manually adjust the letters so that you end with an even appearence with no unsightly gaps running through the letters.



Take the example above.

Figure 1
the type has had no adjustment, the letters are set apart too wide and the gappy appearence makes reading more difficult.

Figure 2
Care has be taken to set the letters tightly packed and spacing adjusted to give a uniform look.

Figure 3
I have exampled a word that suffers from problematic letters. The combination of the TT makes the word look akward and mismatched

Figure 4
letters has been optically adjusted to reduce the conflict between that pairing of letters.

In short always try to have a keen eye for the spacing between lettering at large sizes, there isn't a science to it the goal is simply to make the words look balanced and together.
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Old 11-12-2008, 14:11   #5 (permalink)
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TRACKING

Tracking is often confused with kerning but the 2 things are not the same.

In general tracking is used on larger stretches of text and at smaller point sizes.

Some fonts with their default tracking will have a tendency to look spotty and have undesirable rivers of negative space that runs between the words.

It is important to say that tracking isn't always necessary in some instances a st text may look fine with its default tracking but its down to you to use your disgression on whether or not it ought to be used.

In his book "Typographie" Emil ruder refers to a pattern of grey. what he means by this is the overall density of colour that can be achieved by setting either wide of close.

A wider set text will produce a lighter grey.
And closer set will produce a denser black grey.

Its useful to be aware of this when your creating an overall design and to be mindful of the balance of white and black. This affect can be further achived by larger fonts or the use of bold fonts.



The paragraph on the left is set at default tracking, it looks to wide and has a spotty appearence.

The paragraph on the right has a tracking of -25 which makes for a better overall impression and improves legibility.
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Old 11-12-2008, 14:40   #6 (permalink)
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LINE LENGTH OR THE MEASURE OF A TEXT

This one is really important in my mind and is crucial to creating good typography. Quite often designs that come up on here could be improved simply by getting the measure of your text correct.

The correct measure for a text should be something between 7-12 words per line. And that will not only create the optimum legibility but also it will look better.

Great big long lines of text are tiring to read and also have a stringy appearence because they are long in length but have a very short height. A smaller width text will have nicer proportions, the paragraphs will be more balanced in height and width.

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Old 11-12-2008, 15:04   #7 (permalink)
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Typography Books


Last edited by Limbo : 30-06-2014 at 10:21.
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Old 11-12-2008, 15:27   #8 (permalink)
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To give example to the last section on line length im exampling a basic design for a newsletter.

It should be obvious from the example on the right that using the correct line length can make your design more vital and create interesting tensions between black and white. To add to that the information is easier to to read and take on board

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Old 11-12-2008, 15:58   #9 (permalink)
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LEADING

Leading is the space between lines of text in a given paragraph.

Generally id say a leading of 120% is roughly correct



Text 1
The spacing is quite extreme and the block of text begins to read as seperate lines rather than a shade of grey.

Text 2
This is called "set solid" when lines are set this close it impairs readability and descenders and ascenders begin to touch, which is an uncomfortable effect.

Text 3
Is about correct, the type is 10pt and the leading is set to 12pt which makes for a comfortable read
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Old 11-12-2008, 18:16   #10 (permalink)
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CONTRAST, SPACING & "THE SWISS LOOK"

The counter or interior "white" also shares in the form of a letter, and the type designer must constantly balance form and counter form when drawing. The various effects obtained by the combination of letters are determined by the interplay of the white counter and the white of the set width.
Emil Ruder

Basically what this means is that you are striving for a balance between the printed are and non printed area of type.

The swiss were good at this and use big bold letter forms set with tightly packed leading and letterspacing to create an intense white counter form between letters.

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Old 11-12-2008, 18:54   #11 (permalink)
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all good CM
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Old 12-12-2008, 11:55   #12 (permalink)
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HEADINGS & CREATING IMPORTANCE


There is a multitude of different ways that you can set a heading apart from text and denote it's importance over a body of text.

"Display work refers to words or type matter which is made to stand out from the rest of the text by a specially striking arrangement or by use of larger, bolder or italic faces etc"
Muller Brockmann



Heading1
Setting the heading apart a clear distance at the top of the text field

Heading2
Setting it at the top of the text field this time with a larger face to denote importance

Heading3
An open line of leading

Heading4
Using no spacing, just bolding the face to give it prominance. This one is especially useful where you have limited space or a lot of text, you will see it in newspapers alot.

Heading5
Uppercase and bold with no open line of leading.

Heading6
Use of colour is another good way to differentiate a heading from text although i wouldn't reccomend using to many colours on any design.

Heading7
Preceding the heading with an underscore. This is one you'll see alot in todays design scene, its a more decorative way of differentiating the heading from text.

Heading8
Another one that is used alot at the moment, a simple underscore set one line underneath the heading to imply a partial underline.

Theres many other ways you can create heading this is just a few i can think of. always best to keep it simple though and not use too many indications of imporatsnce all at once. Another favourite on todays scene is underlining and typographic rules above text you will see this all over the work of khoi vihn. best used sparingly because it can begin to look overdone.
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:02   #13 (permalink)
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Charming – I'm going to nominate you for the new years honours list.
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:13   #14 (permalink)
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cheers man, been thinking about doing this for ages Im glad i have started it now though. PGO's one on programming it really good, shame he ran away!

Ive picked up alot of stuff from books and that over the last year or so, so its good to get it out.
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:14   #15 (permalink)
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Cool stuff, mate. Always useful.
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:36   #16 (permalink)
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You should put this on a wee site.
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:43   #17 (permalink)
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em dash not undesrcore
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:58   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Ive picked up alot of stuff from books and that over the last year or so, so its good to get it out.

How about a reading list as well? Be good to know which books have helped you. I'm expanding my library, only got Muller-Brockmann's grid systems for print work at the moment.
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Old 12-12-2008, 13:03   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dusteh
How about a reading list as well? Be good to know which books have helped you. I'm expanding my library, only got Muller-Brockmann's grid systems for print work at the moment.


@Dusteh - Yeah gonna do that at the end somewhere

@Limbo - that would be cool, gotto get my own sorted first mind

@Fred - I'll add that correction.
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Old 12-12-2008, 13:14   #20 (permalink)
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STRAIT LINES & "THE SWISS LOOK"


Swiss design uses strict grids to create order in their designs. To reinforce the underlying grid and enhance the sense vertical alignment you'll often see that they will stack type on top of each other as apose to running it in a line.



1
Consider the address block in the first example, the subheadings run on the same line as the corresponding address information, whilst this is ok it can create rivers of undesired space that run through the lines.

2
A simple solution and one that serves to reinforce the underlying grid onto which the address is placed is to place the address info under the sub heading thus creaing a ridged left edge with no rivers.

3.
A heading running strait in one line, pretty boring.

4.
Again you can stack the type to create a hard left edge, this is especially good with CAPS as they can sit together without any conflict arising between descenders and ascenders of lower case type. This also creates an inetersting pattern of type
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