By Stefanie Lepp and Shawnee Holmes
The IMA program is an intensive course that educates students in interactive and media vocations and prepares them for a professional career in many different fields. We gain so much useful knowledge that we thought we should share some tips with all of you! So here are just a few useful tidbits that our very wise instructors taught us about design and design life:
The rule of thirds is probably the most basic rule of design and photography! It is a simple concept that makes a design or photo more visually pleasing to the eye than a randomly composed one. There are several ways to achieve this, to start off you could simply divide your page into thirds either horizontally or vertically and then place the elements of your design into one or more of the sections. If you would like to start to taking your design a little bit further you could then start playing with adding both the three vertical and horizontal lines and place elements on the intersecting lines. Whatever you end up doing, the rule of thirds is an easy and reliable way to improve your design and make it look professional.
As new designers we don’t usually like our own work, but as we practice, we may suddenly start to improve and find our niche. One of our problems, though, is that we seem to stick with the same concepts: color, typography and even layout! Don’t always stay the same! We like the familiar fonts that look good with everything (Hello, Bebas!) and the colours that represent our own personal style. The only problem with this is not all instances call for an upright, all caps font like Bebas nor do all websites or posters require a nice purple hue (my favorite color!). We have to get outside of our comfort zones and learn how to design for children’s stores, restaurant chains, concerts and many other platforms. We may have to work with fonts we don’t like (like whimsical, fun fonts for children’s stores) or layouts that may not seem creative to us. In the end, a design must be functional and portray whatever product you are trying to sell.
Typography is a powerful element to any design and in some cases can be more influential than what is actually written. Good practices of typography in design are to stick to two or three typefaces and make sure they communicate with each other and the overall look and feel of your design. Other rules to consider when dealing with typography are spacing, alignment, sizing, readability, color, grouping, leading, and kerning. It seems daunting at first, but as you get more comfortable with choosing typefaces, it gets easier and your designs will become more professional looking.
In any design whether it’s a website, poster, animation etc, the main purpose behind it should have some kind of meaning and should be fully functional. The way to achieve this is by following a few design principles called the three C’s: composition, components, and concept. Composition is the visual structure of a design. It takes into account the visual flow, space between each element, grouping, alignment, and placement of the varying elements. It focuses on what each element looks like together as a whole instead of looking at each separate element.
Components are the separate elements that go into the composition of a design. This would be your photographs, backgrounds, typography, icons, and whatever else you are using in the design.
Concept is what drives your whole design forward, it’s the underlying meaning for your composition and each component that makes up your design. It’s a somewhat abstract and intangible meaning but without it your design doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a neat thing you did in Photoshop.
We hope these tips help you with future projects and assist you in reaching your maximum potential as a designer.