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an introduction by isaacwong.


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THE BASICS. 1.0 Prelude 1.1 Elements of Design 1.2 Principles of Design

COLOUR. 2.1 Colour Properties 2.2 Colour Theory

04 06 10

13 14

TYPOGRAPHY. 3.1 Type Classification 3.2 Type Anatomy 3.3 Type Contrast

20 24 26

4.1 Design: A Beginner’s Guide 4.2 Past Designs by isaacwong.

29 34


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1.0 Prelude 1.1 Elements of Design 1.2 Principles of Design


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ARE YOU A DESIGNER? In varying degrees, we are all designers by nature. We design our days, our wardrobe, what we eat, whom we spend our days with constantly. By selecting and planning, we bring order to our lives. In doing so, we engage in the essence of design, for design = a plan of order. A designer is a communicator, someone who takes ideas and gives them visual form so that others can understand them. Design is about having an opinion, commenting and giving a point of view. Most of all, it’s about creating meaning and purpose.

1.0 Prelude



1.0 Prelude

ELEMENTS OF DESIGN. The basic elements that are consistent in the basic structure of graphic design.

1.1 Elements of design


Dot Dots are the building blocks of everything else in design. Any mark we make can be seen as one or more dots in combination. Every shape, form, mass, or blob with a regconisable centre is essentially a dot regardless of its size.

Single point in a center of an area can convey calm.

If the point is shifted towards the edge, it becomes tension.

Repetition can create textures and make stimulating and vivid effects through combining of different sizes.

Dots in combination can even imply direction and movement, bringing us to lines.


1.1 Elements of design

Line The line is the most fundamental and versatile of all design elements, because it is much more dynamic in character than a dot. Lines are used to divide spaces in a composition or layout, and also for decorative purposes.

There are five main types of lines. Curved line Natural and Versatile Straight line Horizontal line Passive and Steady Vertical line Active and Light Diagonal line Eye-catching and Dynamic

Line can be used to create the illusion of dimension, depth or sense of movement. It can be seen as dynamic or static, depends on its position, orientation, two or three-dimensional format.

Lines can be bent, curved, connected and intersected, etc. thus bringing various suggestions of motion and creating different dynamics for a design.

As visual awareness increases, there is also a greater sense as to how line is being used and applied in many man made objects, materials and structures.

1.1 Elements of design


Shape A shape is an enclosed area that is often bounded by an outline or identifiably distinct from its background and other shapes in texture, colour and value. A shape is limited to two-dimensions: width and height.

There are four main types of shapes. Positive When the creation of elements or their combination produce a figure or field against a ground. Geometric Simple mechanical shapes defined by mathematics formulas. Organic Any non-geometric shape that has a natural look. Negative The unoccupied or ‘empty’ area around or inside of positive elements.

Triangle Triangle has the strongest directional component of all. When used in design or composition, it is always dynamic, with most acute angle as focal point and lesser angled base as a ground of composition/information. A triangle is used most widely in portraiture paintings.

Circle Circle has no end-point and thus a symbol of infinity. It conveys less tension than any other areas and is not pulling in any direction. It’s static, balanced and harmonious. The eye is always drawn to the center.

Eclipse Eclipse is more dynamic than circle. If placed upright it suggests movement upwards, but also instability. Placed horizontally it becomes more static and repose.

Square Square is a rectangle whose sides are parallel, the same length. When the square is on one of its sides, the perception is of calm, stability, functionality. When turned on its point, it becomes more dynamic and playful and unstable.


1.1 Elements of design

PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN. The ways that designers use the elements of design in a work of design.

1.2 Principle of Design


There are eight principles.

Emphasis The principle of art and design, whereby the objects in a work are arranged so as to draw or direct the viewer’s attention to a particular, or a sequences of, element(s).

contrast contrast contrast color



contrast contrast CON trast Direction



Contrast One way to create emphasis.


Balance The elements of design of a piece are arranged so as to feel, well, balanced.


Unity The parts of a work fit together and relate to each other. The design is harmonious when all parts of work are in sync. Harmony The selection/design of elements that shares a common trait. However, without variety, harmony becomes monotony. Proportion The size relationship between objects. Refer to Size in Contrast. Rhythm The repetition/alternation of elements, often with defined intervals between them. Movement When forms, values, patterns, lines, shapes, or colors seem to create action.


1.2 Principle of Design


2.1 Colour Properties 2.2 Colour Theory

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There are four color properties.

Hues A pure colour, one without tint or shade.

Tints The mixture of a color with white, which increases its lightness. Shades The mixture of a color with black, which increases its darkness. Tone and Value Produced by either mixing of a color with gray or by using both tinting and shading.

COLOUR PROPERTIES. Types of colors designers are able to use, at their disposal.


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COLOUR THEORY. A body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual effects of a specific color combination.

2.2 Color Theory


The Color Wheel Based on the primary colors of red, yellow and blue, the color wheel helps us understand the relationship between the visible colors.

Primary Colours In terms of colour wheel, red, yellow and blue are the three only primary colours, from which the other colours can be derived. Secondary Colours The first set of colours that result from combining the primary colours. In the color wheel, secondary colours are halfway between the two of the primary colours.

Tertiary Colours One step beyond secondary colours. They are created by adding more of one primary colour than the other, creating a colour that is slightly closer to the primary colour.


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Colour Schemes A set of colours used in a design for a range of media. The relationship between the colours can create style and appeal.

Monochromatic The colours that fall on the same side of the colour wheel, with variations of shades, tints and tones of that particular colour.

Complementary Colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel, creating a contrasting effect.

Analogous Colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel, tends to be more harmonious and pleasing to the eye. Choose a dominating colour, another as supporting, last as accent.

2.2 Colour Schemes


Triadic Colours that are evenly spaced around the colour wheel, therefore tend to be vibrant in nature. The colours chosen should be carefully balanced, that is one dominating colour and the others as accent colour.

Split-Complementary Varied from complementary, splitcomplementary uses the colours adjacent to complement, creating equally strong contrasting effect with less tension.

Tetradic Tetradic uses four colours arranged in two complementary pairs. Use with caution of balance between warm and cool colours, as tetradic tend to be visually noisy. Works best with one dominant colour.


2.2 Colour Schemes

Colour in Practical Use Understanding colour accuracy in real life practical usage.

Pantone Matching System Using a solid colour palette and a numbering system, Pantone standardizes colours referencing without the need of direct contacting. Used in wide range of industries.

CMYK colour model Used only for colour printing, CMYK consists of the release of four inks: cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black).

RGB colour model Used for digital screens, RGB consists of the three primary colors of light, red, green, blue, being emitted in different brightness.

LAB colour model Using three axis, LAB produces absolute accurate colour by adjusts the 3D axis of lightness, green-red and blue-yellow. Used for matching colours.

2.2 Colour Schemes



3.1 Type Classification 3.2 Type Anatomy 3.3 Type Contrast


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TYPE CLASSIFICATION. The system used to divide typefaces into categories.

3.1 Type Classification


Most typefaces can be divided into four basic groups.

Adobe Garamond Pro

Century Schoolbook


Times New Roman

Arial, Bold Italic

San Francisco Pro Text

Open Sans

Brandon Grotesque

Gloss and Bloom


Bauhaus 93

Engravers Old English

Serif Serifs are the finishing flourishes at the end of a character’s main strokes. They help the eyes to differenciate one character from another and follow along the line, which makes serif typefaces to be readable.

Sans Serif Typefaces without serifs. They are simple but flexable, that it is suitable for almost any application, hence remained a popular choice among the industry.

Display The typefaces that are playful and informal, usually out of order. They include script, blackletters, and decorative typefaces. They are intended for use at large sizes for headings rather than body text.

and then there is...

Comic Sans




Cancer Typefaces that should have been dead. Just don’t use them. At all. It’s just bad. Really bad. Just no.


3.1 Type Classification

Serif Serif typefaces can be divided into four subcatagories.

Oldstyle Originated from 15th century, oldstyle typefaces are characterized by curved strokes with the axis inclined to left, with little contrast between thick and thin strokes. They have head and bracketed serifs.

Adobe Caslon Pro

Transitional Originated from the transitional period of 18th century, transitional typefaces has a more or less vertical axis of the curved stroke. There are more contrast between thick and thin strokes than oldstyle. Serifs are thinner, flat and bracketed.

Times New Roman

Modern They have a more refined and more delicate style, with dramatic contrast between thick and thin strokes. There is curved strokes on vertical axis, with little or no bracketing.


Slab Serif From early 19th century, they have distintively heavy square serifs and hardly any stroke contrast when all the strokes having the same width. They are often geometric or square in style.

Roboto Slab

3.1 Type Classification


Sans-Serif San-Serif typefaces can be divided into four subcatagories.

19th Century Grotesque They have contrast in stroke weight, with some letters being spurred.

Franklin Gothic

20th Century Grotesque Also called neo-grotesque, they are generaly more refined and have less pronounced stroke contrast. It is also the first introduction to single-bowl letter “g”.


Geometric They contain strong geometric shapes such as the perfect circle in the letter “O”. They usually have even stroke thickness.

Century Gothic

Humanistic Attempts to improve legibility of sans-serifs by applying sans-serif structure into classical Roman form. Humanistic typefaces are based on proportons of Roman capticals and oldstyle lowercase with apparent stroke contrast.

Gill Sans


3.1 Type Classification

Ascender Line Cap Height Mean Line / Median x-height Baseline Descender Line


TYPE ANATOMY. Describe specific parts of letterforms.

3.2 Type Anatomy


Typography employs a number of technical terms to describe specific parts of letterforms.

Stroke Any line that defines the basic letterform.

Cross Bar The horizontal stroke in a letterform that joins two stems together.

Arm Short strokes off the stem of the letterform.

Cross Stroke The horizontal stroke in a letterform that intersects the stem.

Ascender The portion of the stem of a lowercase letterform that projects above the mean line.

Ligature The character formed by the combination of two or more letterforms.

Descender The portion of the stem of a lowercase letterform that projects below the baseline.

Terminal The end of a stroke that does not include a serif. Spine The spine is the main left to right curving stroke in the letter “S�.

Axis / Stress The orientation of the letterform, indicated by the thin stroke in round forms.

Stem Vertical, full-length stroke in upright characters.

Beak The half-serif finish on some horizontal arms.

Shoulder The curved stroke aiming downward from a stem.

Bowl The fully closed, rounded part of a letter.

Tail The curved or diagonal stroke at the finish of certain letterforms.

Counter The partially or fully enclosed space within a character.


3.2 Type Anatomy

TYPE CONTRAST. Ways to make content more visually inviting.

3.3 Type Contrast


Type is a beautiful group of letters, not a group of beautiful letters. Here are a few ways to create hirearchy in arrangement of content.

Font Pairing Combining sans-serif font with a serif font, or vice versa, to create structural contrast. Avoid combining two similar styles as there is little contrast in fonts.

Minion Pro Bold Gill Sans MT Regular Century Gothic Regular

Merriweather Bold

Myriad Pro Bold Myriad Pro Semibold Myriad Pro Regular Myriad Pro Light

Font Types Limit font types to only two, at most three, to avoid visual noise and chaos. Alternatively, make use of weights in the same typeface also remains consistency.

Open Sans Regular Open Sans Light OpenSansSemibold

Kerning and Tracking Kerning refers to the spacing between some individual characters, where as tracking adjusts spacing for the entire week. Leaving suitable spacing helps in readability.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque luctus, quam ut semper Left leaning Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque luctus, quam ut semper Centre leaning

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque luctus, quam ut semper Right leaning

Alignment Readability can also be depended by alignment. Left leaning is suitable for body texts and paragraphs as readers do not need to search for the first line. However, pay attention to It is aligned when it feels aligned.

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3.3 Type Contrast

There are three responses to a design: yes, no and


is the one to aim for. Milton Glaser

Designer of “I Heart NY� logo for I Love New York Campaign

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DESIGN: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE. Somethings I think it’s useful when I do graphic design in real life.


4.1 Design: A Beginner’s Guide

Day One

Step-by-step guide when you first started designing.

Numero Uno Don’t Panic. Don’t mix with buttons and stuff right away. That is not your priority. Organize your workspace first, both digitally and physically.

Physical Space Find a place that inspires you and relaxes you. The last thing you want while halfway designing is to be uncomfortable about where you are and be stressed all over it. Bonus points if the place has coffee, stable internet connection, and a power source. Extra bonus points if it’s a cafe. Jackpot if it’s Starbucks. Alternatively, you can make your bedroom your own place of relaxation. Customize it so that it inspires you while you work and, most importantly, feel comfortable doing designs in it. Look for bedroom inspirations if in need of guidance.

4.1 Design: A Beginner’s Guide


Digital Space After a while in the design field, your files, with random names and big file sizes, are going to be messy. Never name your files as "Untitled" or "Default" unless you are certain that you can recall the contents of the file few years later. Build a folder categorizing system that is easy for you to navigate through the files, and save your files in the respective folder everytime instead of desktop. If possible, invest in a portable hard drive for both storage expansion and ease of transmittion of files.

Graphic Design Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Illustrator

Sketch (macOS)

Adobe XD

UI/UX Design

Decide on which software works best for your design. When in doubt, Adobe Photoshop is always the versatile app to start with, as it is flexible enough to do both graphic designing and photo editing.

Illustration Adobe Illustrator

Editorial Design

Experiment with the software, play with it's functions. Pick the ones you might be using heavily out and embed into your software workspace. That way, it will save more time in your future design process.

Adobe InDesign

Web Design Adobe Dreamweaver


4.1 Design: A Beginner’s Guide

Colours There are literally millions of colour combinations to choose from. Start from the basics.

Numero Uno Never use Google for design inspiration. They are either poorly sourced or low resolution. Sites like Behance (*, Dribbble ( and designspiration ( have dedicated editorial teams to curate designs and showcase designers.

Start from Zero Using black and white alone can help mold your shape and form in designing, as you only need to focus on the content. Start adding in colours only when confdent.

Applying colours Never underestimate monochrome. It can emphasize on the colour of the design so well that the colour can be associated to the design with enough exposure. Limit yourself to use only a maximum of five colours as your colour palette for each design. This reduces the chances for visual nuance, while still remain elements of accent colour. You will built up your own style of colour swatches on the way.

*Behance is, for some reason, blocked by RP Internet as per writing. 4.1 Design: A Beginner’s Guide


Type Serif typefaces can be divided into four subcatagories.

Numero Uno Refer to Cancer in Type Classification.

Brandon Grotesque Medium

Century Gothic

Myriad Pro

Raleway Light

Open Sans

Source Sans Pro

Adobe Garamond Pro

Playfair Display


Roboto Slab

Typefaces used San-serif is useful in most times, as it is neutral and contemporary. Example of some of the san-serif fonts I have used in past designs include, • Brandon Grotesque • Century Gothic • Myriad Pro • Open Sans • Raleway • Source Sans Pro Serif is old, formal and professional. I seldom use them unless for body text. Example of some of the serif fonts I have used in past designs include, • Adobe Garamond Pro • Merriweather • Playfair Display • Roboto Slab How to choose fonts When looking out for free typefaces, ensure that it provides free personal and commercal licensing. Personal license is only for personal projects, whereas commercial license permits you to use for commercial projects. It's best to buy typefaces to support the creator of the typeface.


4.1 Design: A Beginner’s Guide

PAST WORKS BY ISAACWONG. 4.2 Past Works by isaacwong.


Lesson 02

Designing a sticker that expresses my unique personality, with only a limited colour palette of three colours. Created using only Adobe Illustrator. 35

4.2 Past Works by isaacwong.

Lesson 07

Creation of word art, without using other elements but only the alteration of the word itself to convey the meaning. 4.2 Past Works by isaacwong.


Created with only Adobe Illustrator in an hour. 37

4.2 Past Works by isaacwong.

Lesson 03

Creation of 8 album art concepts for selected artist. Featuring 'Riptide' by Vance Joy. 4.2 Past Works by isaacwong.


Created with Adobe Illustrator. Additional photo editing with Adobe Photoshop. 39

4.2 Past Works by isaacwong.

Copyright 2018 isaacwong. Made for T256 Colour and Typography Lesson 11 - 12

Colour and Typography : An Introduction by isaacwong.  

Made for T256 Colour and Typography Module, Lesson 11 - 12. All written content, excluding last chapter, are either heavily based on or a di...

Colour and Typography : An Introduction by isaacwong.  

Made for T256 Colour and Typography Module, Lesson 11 - 12. All written content, excluding last chapter, are either heavily based on or a di...