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Habits of Effective Designers

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Tips and tricks for clear and attractive graphic communications

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Habits of Effective Designers

  1. 1. Nine Habits of Highly Effective Designers Department of Urban Studies and Planning
  2. 2. • Present a simple set of principles to follow for novice designers • Outline a set of typical problems and gotchas • Provide common guidelines for designers to fall back on • Establish a workflow for creating simple and effective graphics WORKSHOP GOALS
  3. 3. • Effective design can be lasting and powerful • You have to know the rules before you can break them WORKSHOP GOALS
  4. 4. “It is not about how much information there is, but rather how effectively it is arranged.” -EdwardTufte
  5. 5. What is Graphic Design? The art of communication, stylizing, and problem solving through type and image. Functional and utility-driven. Composition is of high importance.
  6. 6. Basic Elements Typography and Font Textual Content Color and Hue Page Layout and Balance Manipulation of Image
  7. 7. Urban Planning Graphics
  8. 8. Urban Planning Graphics
  9. 9. Urban Planning Graphics
  10. 10. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly • MBTA Map Competition • Graphs and charts • Websites
  11. 11. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  12. 12. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  13. 13. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  14. 14. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  15. 15. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  16. 16. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  17. 17. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  18. 18. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  19. 19. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  20. 20. Less is always more • When in doubt, keep it simple • The effective use of negative space is a hallmark of good design – design the negative space just as you would the positive space. Ask yourself:“What elements can I remove or simplify and still retain my message?” Pare it down to the essentials. • For repetitive information, remember the “rule of small multiples.”
  21. 21. Remove noise Skip items that don’t have meaning.They are what is known in the design world as “noise”.
  22. 22. Be hierarchical. • Communicate the relative importance of data through variations in size, weight, and intensity.You should be able to squint and clearly understand a hierarchy of your composition.
  23. 23. Good design has CRAP. • It’s okay if you have a lot to fit. • Contrast, Repetition,Alignment, and Proximity: use these principles to allow your audience to easily follow the connections between your ideas and the message of the graphic.
  24. 24. Just two fonts. • Good design can be achieved with just one or two fonts.As a general rule, sans serif fonts work well for titles, headers, and electronic media. Serif fonts work well for body text in print media.The most useful fonts have many weights to choose from.
  25. 25. Sans Serif Favorites • Can be used anywhere, good for headers and titles Arial Calibri Eurostile Franklin Gothic Gill Sans Helvetica Lucida Sans Myriad Pro Bold Swiss 721 Condensed Swiss 721 Black Condensed Verdana
  26. 26. Serif Favorites • Good for bodies, abstracts, and content Cambria Baskerville Garamond Times New Roman
  27. 27. Non-Favorites • Use sparingly, by that, I mean probably never. Brush Script Comic Sans
  28. 28. Magic number twelve. • The human mind looks for natural proportions of 2, 3, and 4.As the least common denominator, 12 is an extremely useful number for column layout, and it’s also a good point size multiple for fonts (12 pt, 24 pt, 36 pt, etc).A good rule of thumb is that a column of text should be about 60 characters wide for your eyes to easily follow. • Rule of thumb for prose and text blocks: • Print graphics: use no smaller than 6 point type • Screen-based graphics: Use no smaller than 10 point type
  29. 29. Imitate. (But don’t copy.) • Beg, borrow – but don’t steal – ideas for beautiful posters and graphics from experienced designers.
  30. 30. Be color conscious. • Like a well-written paragraph, each graphic should have a singular message. Use color to unify your message and highlight differences.
  31. 31. Bold and Contrasting Colors Use BOLD and CONTRASTING colors. Dark text on a light backgrounds. Light text on dark backgrounds. Should hold up to non-color printing.
  32. 32. Pick a Palette Find known and established color ramps and palettes. See handout
  33. 33. Don’t go off the grid. • Effective graphics follow strict principles of alignment and justification. • Grid your design for a clean and professional finish.
  34. 34. Portrait Landscape Orientation Matters…
  35. 35. Layout Matters… Alignment is important (and professional) Recommendation Organize your poster with a grid Photography “The rule of thirds”
  36. 36. The Grid
  37. 37. The Grid
  38. 38. The Margin Make your margins consistent. Approximately ½ inch around the top and sides.
  39. 39. Visual Center of the Page The visual center of your page is NOT the same as the geometric center. Visual center is slightly above the geometric center
  40. 40. Layout Matters… Create a template. You can reuse an effective poster over and over, changing the elements.
  41. 41. Design at size. • Layout your graphics at the proper size before you proceed with your creation process. • Goal: Never scale your graphics once they are complete.
  42. 42. Design at Size Design your Poster at the size of your final product. Set settings in your design software to the desired size of your final output.
  43. 43. Design at Size Design your Poster at the size of your final product. Prevents pixilation of images, allows for proper sizing of text to maximize legibility
  44. 44. Some other thoughts… Here at MIT, we do a lot of poster design… let’s discuss!!
  45. 45. Image Selection Sometimes you don’t have a choice… Book Cover Pre-chosen Event Logo
  46. 46. Bold and Beautiful But often you do… Choose images that are: Bold Relevant Colorful Indicative
  47. 47. Let the Image Guide You Use the image, beautiful pictures have a built in layout for you. Place text in areas with least amount of noise and largest blocks of bold colors TRANSIT IN BOSTON A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION THURS JAN 18, 9PM, ROOM 9-450
  48. 48. Resources See handout Copyrighted Images: When in doubt, cite your source.
  49. 49. Image Guidelines Use the largest image possible that you can find. Know your pixel size. Letter size = 1275 pixels by 1650 pixels Try to choose no smaller than this.
  50. 50. Event Poster Digestion • Should be able to get main gist of poster in seconds • < 15 seconds • Most viewers will see it in passing • More in waiting area • Less in hallway
  51. 51. Event Poster Font Size •Title/Main content: 48-60pt+ •Supplemental text: 24-36pt •Abstract/Body: 18-24pt •Stay big. Use no smaller than 12!
  52. 52. Lots of Software Available •Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator •GIMP/Inkscape •Microsoft Powerpoint/Paint The tool does not make your graphic, you do. Use the tools you have!
  53. 53. End. •We just covered a lot •Questions/Comments/Complaints Special thanks to Chris Rhie and Annemarie Gray