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Includes 20 step-by-step projects for: y adverts y logos y websites y posters y letterheads & business cards y menus y newslet ters y gift wrap & invitations y CD & DVD packaging

———————————— Tony Seddon & Jane Waterhouse


———————————— for non-designers ————————————

Tony Seddon & Jane Waterhouse

Graphic Design for Nondesigners explains the basic pr inciples of graphic design, including the effective use of space, color, and type. It distills the hard-won knowledge of professional designers into simple dos and don’ts, and illustrates tips and hints through clear comparative examples. Not forgetting the bewildering choice and costs of equipment, it outlines the best and most cost-effective materials, and offers recommendations for hardware and software options.

y Graphic design for non-designers

At some point in your life, you will produce a piece of graphic design. Whether that be a birthday card, a poster, or an ad for your office notice board, do yourself proud — m a k e i t g r e at ! A r m e d w i t h t h i s book, packed with everyday design projects and simple workthroughs, yo u c a n g ive yo u r d e s i g n th e professional touch.


design # ———————————— ———————————— ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE, TIPS & TRICKS



Software I

f you’re really serious about graphic design, there are some really serious software

packages to consider. Be aware that professional design software is highly sophisticated, with lots of

features, so the average learning curve is quite steep, especially if you’re trying to get your head around basic graphic design principles at the same time.

n The user interface

of Adobe’s Photoshop looks daunting at first but basic functions such as colour correction and cropping are actually fairly easy to master.


There’s also a lot of built-in automation of everyday image-editing tasks which help with the more complicated work.

Graphic Design for Nondesigners

Professional design software Adobe’s Creative Cloud software packages [] are extremely popular with design professionals, particularly because applications can be subscribed to as single units or as part of a larger package. Like many other software companies, Adobe now offers its software on a subscription basis rather than as a perpetual license. Photoshop is the image-editing application of choice—so much so that digitally altered or enhanced images are often automatically referred to as Photoshopped images. If you can afford only one design application, Photoshop is probably the one you can achieve most with, as its typographic functions are also very sophisticated. There’s a cheaper option which you can buy outright—Photoshop Elements. This has loads of great, easy-to-use features that make complex image-editing tasks a breeze. Photoshop only creates single-page documents, so for multipage layout work the professional choice is either InDesign, part of the Adobe Creative Suite, or QuarkXPress [], which was one of the applications responsible for the success of the original desktop publishing (DTP) revolution. These DTP applications are essentially highly evolved word processors that can produce very sophisticated layouts with all text, images, and graphics in place. The book you’re reading was designed using Adobe InDesign. Professional design software doesn’t come cheap, so it’s fortunate that you can now subscribe to many applications on a monthly basis. It’s normally also possible to download a trial version of your chosen application; this will run for a limited period so that you can evaluate it and decide if you want to subscribe. I highly recommend that you do this.

Software piracy

Word processors Alternatively, there’s the word-processing software which everyone has on their PC or Mac. For Windows this is probably going to be Word; for Mac owners it may be either Word or Pages which is bundled with new Macs as part of the iWork software package. There are plenty of alternatives of course, too numerous to mention here, but the point is that this software is relatively easy to use and a cheaper option than the professional applications. There’s no reason at all why you can’t use your basic word processor to produce sophisticated pieces of graphic design, either as documents constructed entirely on screen, or by printing out and assembling material using traditional cut-and-paste methods. The principles we cover on the following spreads can be applied regardless of the software you choose.

As tempting as it may seem, please don’t download pirated software. Apart from the obvious fact that it’s against the law, you won’t get any of the benefits provided for registered owners, such as online support and tutorials. These are important extras for design novices as they’ll help you get up to speed quickly.

n Pages, part of Apple’s

iWork software package, is a powerful word processor capable of producing complex layouts. It can also be used on an iPad or even an iPhone if you’re often on the move.

Courtesy of Apple.

% This page was laid

out using InDesign from Adobe. It is the layout software of choice for many professional designers. While it isn’t simple software to master, it is extremely powerful and very highly featured. If you plan to take your design work further, this is one piece of software you should take a look at.

Getting Started


Sourcing images T

here’s a simple choice to make when you need an image for one of your graphic design

projects—do you create it yourself, or do you use one that someone else has created? If you’re not an

accomplished photographer you could be forgiven for opting to go with the latter, but if you don’t have a go yourself how will you ever discover that latent talent waiting to burst out?

Taking your own photographs Before the advent of digital cameras it wasn’t easy to produce photographic images in a form that you could easily use for a graphic design project without specialist knowledge and equipment. For most of us the only option available was the nearest photo lab where your exposed film could be processed and printed—at considerable expense if you needed a nonstandard print. Added to that, the skills then needed to take the prints and combine them with type and other imagery in a graphics project were not available to most nonprofessionals. However, now that we have digital cameras, everything has changed. For a relatively small outlay you can buy a consumer-level digital camera capable of capturing images of a very high quality. Advances in camera technology mean that most compact digital cameras are now able to produce images that will look great when printed at a large size using an inkjet printer or perhaps a laserprinter. The majority of you will already own a digital camera—your mobile phone—but if you’re thinking of upgrading to a better digital camera, there are some basic points to consider.

% Before you use your

digital camera, read the section of your manual that covers how you should hold it. This is more important than you may think, and your images will be sharper, with less “camera shake,” if you get this right.


Graphic Design for Nondesigners

!The Canon Powershot G9 X Mk.2, a compact camera which is more than capable of producing high-quality images suitable for use in your design projects.

Choosing & buying a camera

Courtesy of Canon.

Your first consideration when choosing which camera to go for will probably be based on your budget. In the past, compact cameras (unless they had a very high specification) were generally cheaper than SLRs. However, there are now many competitively priced SLRs on the market designed with the novice photographer in mind. Just take a look at any camera retailer’s website and check out the great deals available. This means you can base your choice on a broader range of criteria, namely how and where you plan to use the camera, and what kind of pictures you want to take.

,The cameras on smart

m Canon’s EOS 750D is

designed for the novice photographer and features a host of useful functions to help you get the best possible shots. A camera of this quality will cope with a vast array of photographic

situations, not least because the lens is interchangeable with other Canon lenses. It is an ideal choice for anyone serious about photography for use in their design projects. Courtesy of Canon.

phones are becoming increasingly sophisticated, capable of taking highly detailed shots. This iPhone 6, for example, has both an 8-megapixel camera and a 1.2-megapixel camera at the front to enable a “selfie” to be taken. Courtesy of Shutterstock.

Getting Started


Choosing color S

o—how do you set about choosing which colors to use in combination for your latest

design project? It’s entirely subjective, of course—

it’s up to you what message you want to convey—but you can use a color wheel to help with your choices.

, These combinations

were created using the color-wheel methods discussed on these pages. You can choose as large a range of colors as you wish using these methods, depending on how many divisions the wheel you are using has. Take a look at the website which is run by Adobe. It features hundreds of color combinations submitted by contributors, and is one of my most visited bookmarks.

Equidistant points

Adjacent points

Complementary color sets

Monochromatic color


Graphic Design for Nondesigners

Using the color wheel There are several ways of working with the color wheel, each of which will provide you with markedly different combinations. The first is to take colors that appear at equidistant points around the wheel. This will provide you with a set of distinct colors, and you can choose as many as you need, but for this example, let’s say you need four colors for your illustration. Pick a strong color for areas of the illustration that define edges and borders, and use colors of lesser prominence to fill the areas in between. The second method is to pick four colors that are adjacent to each other on the wheel. This will provide a harmonious range of colors that won’t necessarily provide a strong signature color, but will nevertheless provide a good range of hues that work well together. The third method is to choose colors that are directly opposite each other on the wheel. Obviously this only works for pairs of colors, so try picking two colors that you then combine with simple black and white, or a pair that will work with any other two-color choices.

Don’t forget that you can always start with just one color, then use different shades to create a monochromatic color palette for your piece. If you do this it’s best to start with a color near one of the three primary colors in order to give you the freedom to create a decent range of lighter tints. If you start with a light color, the available range will be limited. I like this method for choosing colors as it doesn’t rely on the use of a computer. You can use it working with paint, using colored markers or pencils, or even cut paper for collages. In fact, I would recommend that you get your hands dirty and use some paint rather than just stick to the computer as it will help you develop a real-world sense of the quantities of color that go into the final mix.

,! To demonstrate

how different color schemes work for an actual illustration, we've created a few examples for you. As an exercise, try to match the color combinations to the method we used to pick them. The color wheel from page 072 is repeated for easy reference.

The Ingredients of Graphic Design


Preparing images H

ere’s the scenario. You’ve been out and about taking some shots for your latest

design project with your digital camera, but when

you download them to your computer they look variously too dark, too red, too fuzzy, and so on. These are all problems that can be fixed quite easily with image-editing software.

If you’re not particularly computer literate and haven’t used image-editing software before, don’t worry; many common problems don’t require much knowledge or training to fix. Adobe Photoshop ( can be purchased on a monthly subscription basis for a relatively small outlay, and I’ll use it here to demonstrate some basic image-correction techniques. If you own and use a different application, these basic techniques are still relevant as most applications use similar terminology and tools.

Color correction

Color Balance Color Balance Color Levels:






Red Green

Magenta Yellow


Cancel Preview

Tone Balance Shadows



Preserve Luminosity

All digital cameras, even expensive SLRs, sometimes capture images with a slight color cast. Images might look a little too red or blue, depending on the lighting conditions when the photographs were taken. This can be balanced out very easily using the color adjustment features in Photoshop. If you’re completely new to this kind of software, experiment with a copy of one of your photos—the software is very intuitive and there are many excellent tutorials available online at Adobe and elsewhere. Start with the basic adjustment tools such as Color Balance or Hue/ Saturation before you move onto the more complex tools—the options are accessed via the Image > Adjustments menu.

Q% If you are new to Hue/Saturation Preset:

Old Style

Ok Cancel

Master Hue:






Colorize Preview


Graphic Design for Nondesigners

image editing, you can perform basic color corrections easily with Adobe Photoshop’s auto settings. However, autocorrection doesn’t really give the best results, so it is worth getting to grips with the manual color correction tools.

Two of the best (and easiest to master) to get you started are Color Balance which utilizes additive and subtractive color principles (see opposite page), and Hue/ Saturation which provides some useful presets such as “Old Style” shown to the left.

Color relationships It is useful to remember which additive and subtractive colors lie opposite each other in the color wheel (see pages 072–073). The arrows on the wheel below indicate that removing red from an image increases the level of cyan, removing green increases magenta, and removing blue increases yellow. Tools such as Photoshop’s Color Balance panel indicate the color relationships clearly in the form of labeled sliders. Before


% If your camera can R: G: B:

f/6.3 1/160 s ISO 200 18 mm

Basic White Balance:



-28 +22

Tint Auto




















Tiff – ColorBalance_original_0358

Save Image

Open Image



shoot images in the RAW format, you’ll be able to use Photoshop’s built-in support to make a vast array of color adjustments in a single panel. The great thing about working with RAW images is you can go back and make further adjustments without losing any of the detail contained in your original shot. Check your camera’s manual and, if you’re able to shoot in RAW, consider using it as a default.

Making It


Giftwrap T

here are thousands of different giftwraps available from retailers with designs that

are appropriate for all manner of events. However, if you really want to personalize a gift, what better

way to do it than to design your own giftwrap? This project shows you how to use simple shapes and color combinations to form repeat patterns.


1 Uniform alignment


2 Offset the pattern To achieve the offset pattern above, we’ve simply moved each alternate row along to the left so the centers of the circles on alternate rows are aligned. Immediately, the pattern looks much more interesting, and we’ve got something we can take further.

3 Add some color We’ve taken alternate diagonals, which were created when we offset the pattern in step 2, and applied two complementary colors. Use the techniques we discuss on pages 072–081 to pick the best color combinations. If you wanted to you could apply several colors randomly for a more varied overall effect. 3


Graphic Design for Nondesigners

Rows and columns of a simple repeated shape can look OK, but the arrangement is a little dull and unadventurous. However, this provides us with a good place from which to start working on a more interesting arrangement. The process of generating lots of identical shapes in this way is often referred to by design professionals as “step-and-repeat.”

4 Find visual inspiration Using simple geometric shapes is an excellent way to get started with your designs, but you can also take your visual inspiration from images that you’ve shot yourself, or found in books or magazines.

5 Patterns from images Once you’ve found an interesting image to use for reference, you can either trace the shape on your PC with whatever drawing application you favor, or use traditional pen and paper. A lightbox will prove very useful if you prefer not to use a computer.



6 Step & repeat Once you’ve created a basic single form, such as this repeat pattern inspired by the image of the windmill, you can use the same step-andrepeat techniques you applied to the circles to build up a complex pattern. You could also combine two or more different forms in your design if the general shapes of the forms are able to link together without creating awkward areas of trapped space.


The Projects: Giftwrap


Graphic design for non designers  
Graphic design for non designers