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StoryViz Visual Communication Principles

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  1. 1. Visual Communication Principles Effective visual communication depends on the successful incorporation of both skills and tools. In many cases the tools receive more attention (and concern) than the skills that support the fundamental use of any tool. An example of this is the apprehension many people feel about learning & keeping up-to-date with tools for drawing—3-D modeling software, graphics packages, and even pen & pencil sketching. Understanding and mastering the skills that motivate how and why any particular tool is used is more important to the repeatedly successful visual communication. Visual communication relies on manipulating fundamental graphical elements—shapes, lines, color, text—as well as well expressing thematic content— the message motivating the work. It is a complicate challenge that requires not only knowing what you want to say, but also crafting an expression of that message visually. This is a 24 hour-per-day demand: visual communication has to work even when you are taking a break. Each of the following principles supports a body of skills that serve expert and novice visual Clarify to Amplify communicators. They each require individual practice and as such should be approached with an understanding that at any given moment it will be difficult to focus on them all simultaneously. Consider the Whole above Eventually they will all function in harmony in ways that support any given tool relevant to the state of the Parts the practice: regardless of the technology at the time, you can be an effective visual communicator by understanding principles complement available tools. Use Treatment to Convey Meaning Add an Analogy Design within a Structure
  2. 2. Clarify to Amplify Distill the content & messaging of your communicated product to the smallest set possible. Why does it work? Frequently your visually communicated product has a tiny window of impact opportunity: people are on the run or attention spans are dreadfully short. Maybe your message is one of 50 or 100 being considered for a project. Crisp articulation of a single vision helps Consider the Whole above the communicate effectively. Parts Clarity does not forego detail. In fact, it might be license Thematic coherence is critical to the overall effectiveness of communication. Small details and bits of glory are important too(!), but they must support a larger intent. Why does this work? The overall intent of your work (the “Whole”) will dictate when and how specific efforts can really shine. Consider any large effort in visual communication as a multi- course meal. While a particular course may stand out as Use Treatment to Convey a delight—an appetizer of bacon-wrapped shrimp or a Meaning flamboyant baked Alaska—it will not compensate for thematic variability or inconsistency in presentation. The visual elements when viewed from afar can Cartoonists are exemplar practitioners of considering the communicate content as effectively as the particular whole above the parts: their practice is to first “rough intellectual content of the work. Treating visual out” images by blocking in general shapes with pencil or elements such as font, color, line type, and graphic pen. The next steps include taking more time and effort elements as a suite is critical for cohesive to flesh out details of action and characters. The process communication. continues, using more refined tools such as ink & color. Why does it work? People instinctively make associations among elements and they equivalently attribute meaning based on those Add an Analogy associations. Take a pirate map for example: a hand- scrawled font, dotted lines, faded and crinkled lines, and Leverage easily understood concepts & successes graphic elements (e.g, an “X”, skull & bones flag), all from others to communicate your work more quickly work together to communicate a theme. & compellingly. Consider how and when you might want to use treatment to support your message. If you were Why does it work? designing an income tax form for first-time filers, the pirate treatment would not necessarily support the Visual communication faces the threats of time and meaning & instruction critical for success. However, the comprehension. An audience will frequently only offer pirate treatment might be effective in communicating the gift of time with a complementary increase in adventure and discovery at a science center display or comprehension. Analogies can make new and for messaging to school kids going off to summer camp. complicated concepts more palatable to audiences. A slide rule is like an abacus; a calculator uses the same principles as a slide rule; a computer is essentially a more powerful calculator; a micro-computer is the machine on your desk shrunken to a tiny chip.
  3. 3. Design with a Structure Use the physical configuration of your content to support the message; erratic graphical structure can distract focus. Why does it work? Humans are excellent at recognizing patterns among elements as well as attributing meaning to those patterns and groups. Structural features, such as an aligning grid, and consistent style structure, such as font type & sizing hierarchy, all present information in a repeated and predictable pattern. Generations of repeated formats have created platforms that can serve visual designers today. An example in western culture is the tendency for text to begin at the upper left of a page and progress to Use Type as a Visual Object the lower right. That now “simple” characteristic is an incredibly powerful tool in the design of visual Type and text are every bit as important as graphics messaging: people will begin the engagement of your and colors. text at the upper left unless you do something to force the engagement in a different sequence. Why does it work? Type matters because you can see it. That’s pretty simple, but it is often under-recognized. Take a “normal” textbook, for example: content is very often separated into verbal messaging and graphical messaging. You read the words and you see the pictures. The sneaky part is that you see the words too. Use that fact to your advantage—people who design logos, icons, and signs use this fact to their advantage all of the time. Use Contrast Get familiar with multiple font families and pay attention to the ways in which they are used. Some fonts “feel” Contrast is simply the difference between things. better in particular ways than other do: by making a This difference can be graphic—light and dark, thick choice about a unique font, you are making a unique or thin—or it can be thematic—silly or serious, statement within your messaging. Does you font look expensive or cheap. Knowing how and why to use contrast is the single most important skill in visual communication. Why does this work? The innate human capacity for identifying patterns comes from the ability to discern differences (contrast) between elements. It is instinctive to see differences among multiple elements. Knowing that an audience will automatically clue into differences is the first step in understanding how to present information. Contrast can be as straight-forward as using black text on a white background (visual contrast) to using only

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  • Transcripción

    1. 1. Visual Communication Principles Effective visual communication depends on the successful incorporation of both skills and tools. In many cases the tools receive more attention (and concern) than the skills that support the fundamental use of any tool. An example of this is the apprehension many people feel about learning & keeping up-to-date with tools for drawing—3-D modeling software, graphics packages, and even pen & pencil sketching. Understanding and mastering the skills that motivate how and why any particular tool is used is more important to the repeatedly successful visual communication. Visual communication relies on manipulating fundamental graphical elements—shapes, lines, color, text—as well as well expressing thematic content— the message motivating the work. It is a complicate challenge that requires not only knowing what you want to say, but also crafting an expression of that message visually. This is a 24 hour-per-day demand: visual communication has to work even when you are taking a break. Each of the following principles supports a body of skills that serve expert and novice visual Clarify to Amplify communicators. They each require individual practice and as such should be approached with an understanding that at any given moment it will be difficult to focus on them all simultaneously. Consider the Whole above Eventually they will all function in harmony in ways that support any given tool relevant to the state of the Parts the practice: regardless of the technology at the time, you can be an effective visual communicator by understanding principles complement available tools. Use Treatment to Convey Meaning Add an Analogy Design within a Structure
    2. 2. Clarify to Amplify Distill the content & messaging of your communicated product to the smallest set possible. Why does it work? Frequently your visually communicated product has a tiny window of impact opportunity: people are on the run or attention spans are dreadfully short. Maybe your message is one of 50 or 100 being considered for a project. Crisp articulation of a single vision helps Consider the Whole above the communicate effectively. Parts Clarity does not forego detail. In fact, it might be license Thematic coherence is critical to the overall effectiveness of communication. Small details and bits of glory are important too(!), but they must support a larger intent. Why does this work? The overall intent of your work (the “Whole”) will dictate when and how specific efforts can really shine. Consider any large effort in visual communication as a multi- course meal. While a particular course may stand out as Use Treatment to Convey a delight—an appetizer of bacon-wrapped shrimp or a Meaning flamboyant baked Alaska—it will not compensate for thematic variability or inconsistency in presentation. The visual elements when viewed from afar can Cartoonists are exemplar practitioners of considering the communicate content as effectively as the particular whole above the parts: their practice is to first “rough intellectual content of the work. Treating visual out” images by blocking in general shapes with pencil or elements such as font, color, line type, and graphic pen. The next steps include taking more time and effort elements as a suite is critical for cohesive to flesh out details of action and characters. The process communication. continues, using more refined tools such as ink & color. Why does it work? People instinctively make associations among elements and they equivalently attribute meaning based on those Add an Analogy associations. Take a pirate map for example: a hand- scrawled font, dotted lines, faded and crinkled lines, and Leverage easily understood concepts & successes graphic elements (e.g, an “X”, skull & bones flag), all from others to communicate your work more quickly work together to communicate a theme. & compellingly. Consider how and when you might want to use treatment to support your message. If you were Why does it work? designing an income tax form for first-time filers, the pirate treatment would not necessarily support the Visual communication faces the threats of time and meaning & instruction critical for success. However, the comprehension. An audience will frequently only offer pirate treatment might be effective in communicating the gift of time with a complementary increase in adventure and discovery at a science center display or comprehension. Analogies can make new and for messaging to school kids going off to summer camp. complicated concepts more palatable to audiences. A slide rule is like an abacus; a calculator uses the same principles as a slide rule; a computer is essentially a more powerful calculator; a micro-computer is the machine on your desk shrunken to a tiny chip.
    3. 3. Design with a Structure Use the physical configuration of your content to support the message; erratic graphical structure can distract focus. Why does it work? Humans are excellent at recognizing patterns among elements as well as attributing meaning to those patterns and groups. Structural features, such as an aligning grid, and consistent style structure, such as font type & sizing hierarchy, all present information in a repeated and predictable pattern. Generations of repeated formats have created platforms that can serve visual designers today. An example in western culture is the tendency for text to begin at the upper left of a page and progress to Use Type as a Visual Object the lower right. That now “simple” characteristic is an incredibly powerful tool in the design of visual Type and text are every bit as important as graphics messaging: people will begin the engagement of your and colors. text at the upper left unless you do something to force the engagement in a different sequence. Why does it work? Type matters because you can see it. That’s pretty simple, but it is often under-recognized. Take a “normal” textbook, for example: content is very often separated into verbal messaging and graphical messaging. You read the words and you see the pictures. The sneaky part is that you see the words too. Use that fact to your advantage—people who design logos, icons, and signs use this fact to their advantage all of the time. Use Contrast Get familiar with multiple font families and pay attention to the ways in which they are used. Some fonts “feel” Contrast is simply the difference between things. better in particular ways than other do: by making a This difference can be graphic—light and dark, thick choice about a unique font, you are making a unique or thin—or it can be thematic—silly or serious, statement within your messaging. Does you font look expensive or cheap. Knowing how and why to use contrast is the single most important skill in visual communication. Why does this work? The innate human capacity for identifying patterns comes from the ability to discern differences (contrast) between elements. It is instinctive to see differences among multiple elements. Knowing that an audience will automatically clue into differences is the first step in understanding how to present information. Contrast can be as straight-forward as using black text on a white background (visual contrast) to using only

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