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Princeton Architectural Press, New York and

Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore


6 Foreword

8 Back to the Bauhaus Ellen Lupton

10 Beyond the Basics Jennifer Cole Phillips


Point, Line, Plane


Rhythm and Balance


























Time and Motion

Rules and Randomness


244 Bibliography 246 Index

74  Graphic Design: The New Basics

Hue is the place of the color within the spectrum. A red hue can look brown at a low saturation, or pink at a pale value.

Intensity is the brightness or dullness of a color. A color is made duller by adding black or white, as well as by neutralizing it toward gray (lowering its saturation).

Value is the light or dark character of the color, also called its luminance, brightness, lightness, or tone. Value is independent of the hue or intensity of the color. When you convert a color image to black and white, you eliminate its hue but preserve its tonal relationships.


Aspects of Color Every color can be described in relation to a range of attributes. Understanding these characteristics can help you make color choices and build color combinations. Using colors with contrasting values tends to bring forms into sharp focus, while combining colors that are close in value softens the distinction between elements.



Shade is a variation of a hue produced by the addition of black.


Tint is a variation of a hue produced by the addition of white.

These colors are close in value and intensity, and just slightly different in hue.

Saturation (also called chroma) is the relative purity of the color as it neutralizes to gray.

These colors are close in hue and value but different in intensity.

75  Color

Graduated Color Wheel Each hue on the color wheel is shown here in a progressive series of values (shades and tints). Note that the point of greatest saturation is not the same for each hue. Yellow is of greatest intensity toward the lighter end of the value scale, while blue is more intense in the darker zone.

Use the graduated color wheel to look for combinations of colors that are similar in value or saturation, or use it to build contrasting relationships. Robert Lewis, MFA Studio.

76  Graphic Design: The New Basics

■+■=■ ■+■=■ ■+■=■ ■+■+■=■ CYMK is used in the printing process. While Color Models painters use the basic color wheel as a guide Surfaces absorb certain light waves for mixing paint, printing ink uses a different and reflect back others onto the set of colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, which are ideal for reproducing the color receptors (cones) in our eyes. range of colors found in color photographs. The light reflected back is the light C, M, Y, and K are known as the “process we see. The true primaries of visible colors,” and full-color printing is called “four-color process.” Ink-jet and color laser light are red, green, and blue. The printers use CMYK, as does the commercial light system is called “additive” offset printing equipment used to print books because the three primaries together such as this one. create all the hues in the spectrum. In principle, C, M, and Y should produce black, but the resulting mix is not In theory, combining red and rich enough to reproduce color images with green paint should produce yellow. a full tonal range. Thus black is needed to In practice, however, these pigments complete the four-color process. combine into a blackish brown. This is because pigments absorb more light than they reflect, making any mix of pigments darker than its source colors. As more colors are mixed, less light is reflected. Thus pigment-based color systems are called “subtractive.” Offset and desktop printing methods use CMYK, a subtractive system. Nonstandard colors are used because the light reflected off Transparent Ink Printer’s inks are transparent, so color mixing occurs as colors show cyan and magenta pigments mixes through each other. Color mixing is also more purely into new hues than the performed optically when the image is light reflected off of blue and red broken down into tiny dots of varying size. The resulting colors are mixed by the eye. pigments.

■+■=■ ■+■=■ ■+■=■ ■+■+■= RGB is the additive system used for designing on screen. Different percentages of red, green, and blue light combine to generate the colors of the spectrum. White occurs when all three colors are at full strength. Black occurs when zero light (and thus zero color) is emitted. Any given color can be described with both CMYK and RGB values, as well as with other color models. Each model (called a “color space”) uses numbers to convey color information uniformly around the globe and across media. Different monitors, printing conditions, and paper stocks all affect the appearance of the final color, as does the light in the environment where the color is viewed. Colors look different under fluorescent, incandescent, and natural light. Colors rarely translate perfectly from one space to another.

Transparent Light The medium of light is also transparent. The colors of an emitted image are generated when different colors of light mix directly, as well as when tiny adjacent pixels combine optically.

77  Color

Optical Color Mixing This detail from a printed paper billboard shows the principle of four-color process printing (CMYK). Viewed from a distance, the flecks of color mix together optically. Seen up close, the pattern of dots is strongly evident.

Whatever color model your software is using, if you are viewing it on screen, it is RGB. If you are viewing it in print, it is CMYK.

120  Graphic Design: The New Basics Hierarchy through Contrast The Russian constructivists discovered that the dramatic use of scale, photography, and color imbued their political messages with a powerful and provocative voice. These pioneers used contrast in the size, angle, and value of elements to create hierarchical separation.

This project asked designers to build a hierarchy by combining an image of their hand with a list of autobiographical facts. Elements were restricted to 30 or 45 degree angles; scale, position, color, and transparency were employed to control the transmission of information. Viviana Cordova, MFA Studio.

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121  Hierarchy


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Menu of Options Designers use scale, placement, alignment, type style, and other cues to bring visual order to a body of content. Expressing hierarchy is an active, inquisitive process that can yield dynamic visual results. Typography I. Jennifer Cole Phillips, faculty.

HyunSoo Lim

Claire Smalley

Katie MacLachlan

Anna Eshelman

138  Graphic Design: The New Basics

Data Layers: Static This map uses point, line, plane, and color to indicate geographic borders, topographical features, towns and cities, and points of interest, as well as radio systems used by pilots in the air. The purple lines indicating radio signals read as a separate layer. Aeronautical map, 1946.

Data Layers: Dynamic An image of Hurricane Katrina has been layered over a satellite photograph of Earth. The end user of a Google Earth overlay can manipulate its transparency in order to control the degree of separation between the added layer and the ground image. Storm: University of Wisconsin, Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorogical Satellite Studies, 2005. Composite: Jack Gondela.

Data Layers Maps compress various types of information—topography, water systems, roadways, cities, geographic borders, and so on—onto a single surface. Map designers use color, line, texture, symbols, icons, and typography to create different levels of information, allowing users to read levels independently (for example, learning what roads connect two destinations) as well as perceiving connections between levels (will the journey be mountainous or flat?). Sophisticated map-making tools are now accessible to designers and general practitioners as well as to professional cartographers. Google Earth enables users to build personalized maps using satellite photography of the Earth’s surface. The ability to layer information over a base image is a central feature of this immensely powerful yet widely available tool.

139  Layers

Comparing Data Layers In this graph from Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth, the designers have used color and transparency to make it easy for readers to compare two sets of data. The graphs show how climate change is affecting the life cycle of animals and their food supplies. Alicia Cheng, Stephanie Church, and Lisa Maione, MGMT Design, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006.

173 Modularity

Extrapolations in Excel These elaborate drawings utilize the gridded compartments of an Excel spreadsheet as a catalyst and a constraint. Danielle Aubert, MFA thesis, Yale University School of Art.

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Graphic Design: The New Basics  

How do designers get ideas? Many spend their time searching for clever combinations of forms, fonts, and colors inside the design annuals an...

Graphic Design: The New Basics  

How do designers get ideas? Many spend their time searching for clever combinations of forms, fonts, and colors inside the design annuals an...

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