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OUGD404 DESIGN PRINCIPLES VANESSA CAIN 10 things you need to know about Graphic Design

GRAPHIC DESIGN (noun) Graphic design is the art of communication, stylizing, and problem-solving through the use of type, space and image. The field is considered a subset visual communication and communication design but sometimes the term “graphic design� is used interchangeably with these due to overlapping skills involved. Graphic designers use various methods to create and combine words, symbols, and images to create a visual representation of ideas and messages. A graphic designer may use a combination of typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce a final result. Graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created and the products (designs) which are generated.

10 things you need to know about graphic design


A small guide on the fundamental principles of Graphic Design

History of Type


Anatomy of Type


Type Classfication


Famous Type Designs


Kerning & Tracking


Colour Connotations


Itten’s Colour Contrasts




A Graphic Design Glossary


10 things you need to know about graphic design

HISTORY OF TYPE Typography has been traced as far back as 1850 to 1600 BC and originated in Greece. It began with punches and dies used to make seals and currency. In those days, typographers would use something known as a Phaistos Disk. With the language symbols carved into the disk, typographers would press this disk onto the paper or other material to print the words they wanted.


Movable type was first invented in China and usually involved ceramic or wooden components. In the thirteenth century in medieval Europe, typographers would use single letter tiles to create lettering on walls. This was a very popular form used throughout Europe until the metal movable type was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the fifteenth century. His technique allowed letter punches to create multiple copies of the same document, and it was used to print the first movable type book–the Gutenberg Bible. He perfected a workable system of moveable type, developing an ingenious process employing a separate matrix, or mould, for each alphabet character, from which metal types could be hand-cast in great quantities. These types could then be assembled into a page of text, and imprinted to paper via special inks and a printing press of his own design. For the first time, a technical system of mass production was applied to publishing. The next 50 years witnessed an explosion of printing throughout Europe and, by the year 1500, more than 10 million copies of nearly 3500 works were printed and distributed. An unprecedented diffusion of technical and social knowledge spread throughout the Western world and the education of the masses had begun.

TYPOGRAPHY (noun) the style and appearance of printed matter. • the art or procedure of arranging type or processing data and printing from it.

3. example of woodblock type



The basic typographic element is called a character, which is any individual letter, numeral, or punctuation mark. The capital letters are called caps, or uppercase characters. Small letters are called lowercase characters. Numbers are called numerals or figures.


APERTURE The opening of a counter to the exterior of a glyph.

HUMANIST A method of a letter construction tied to handwritten strokes

BRACKET A curved of diagonal transition between a serif and main stroke.

LIGATURE A single glyph made up of multiple characters.

CHARACTER The basic unit of written language. Can be a letter, a number, a punctuation mark or another symbol.

SANS SERIF A character or typeface without serifs.

COUNTER Any interior shape of a glyph. It can be completely enclosed by strokes, such as the eye of an ‘e’, or have an opening to the exterior, such as the lower counter of an ‘e’.

SERIF A small mark or ‘foot’ at the end of a stroke. Serifs are lighter than the associated strokes. SLAB SERIF A heavy serif, typically rectangular in shape, with a blunt end.

CURSIVE A style associated with handwriting, STROKE typified by slanted stems with curved A curved of diagonal transition betails tween a serif and main stroke. FONT A collection of glyphs. The font is the delivery mechanism, represented by a digital file or set of metal pieces, for a typeface. FOUNDRY A company that designs manufactures and/or distributes fonts. GLYPH The graphical representation of a character. A font can contain several glyphs for each letter.

type terminology

STYLE A stylistic member (e.g. bold, italic, condensed) of a typeface family, typically represented by a separate font. TYPEFACE The design of a set of characters. In simple terms, the typeface is what you see and the font you use. WEIGHT The thickness of a stroke. In type design, the geometry of a line (or shape) is usually described using the terminology of weight. type




A basic system for classfying typefaces was devised in the 19th century, when printers sought to identify a heritage for their own craft analogous to that of art history. Humanist letterforms are closely connected to calligraphy and the movement of the hand. Tranisitional and modern typefaces are more abstract and less organic. These three main groups correspond roughly to the Renaissance, Baroque, and Enlightenment periods in art and literature. Historians and critics of typography have since proposed more finely grained schemes that attempt to better capture the diversty of letterforms.





Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa Aa HUMANIST The roman typefaces of the 16th century emulated classic calligraphy.

TRANSITIONAL These typefaces have sharper serifs and more vertical axis than humanist letter.

MODERN Note the thin, sharp straight serifs; vertical axis; and sharp contrast from thick to thin strokes.


SLAB SERIFS Numerous bold and decorative typefaces were introduced in the 19th century for use in advertising.


Gil Sans



HUMANIST SANS SERIF Note the small, lifting couter in the letter ‘a’ and the calligraphic variations in line weight.

TRANSITIONAL SANS SERIF Helvetica is one of the world’s most widely used typefaces. Its uniform, upright character makes it similar to transitional serif letters.

GEOMETRIC SANS SERIF Some sans-serif types are built around geometric forms. Futura, the O’s are perfect circles, and the peaks of the A and M are sharp triangles.


10 famous type designs

HELVETICA neo-grotesque designed by Max Miedinger 1957

FUTURA geometric sans-serif designed by Paul Renner 1927


GIL SANS humanist sans-serif designed by Eric Gill 1926

BASKERVILLE serif designed by John Baskerville 1757

DIDOT serif designed by Ambroise Didot 1784


TIMES NEW ROMAN transitional serif designed by Victor Lardent 1931

BODONI serif designed by Glambattista Bodoni 1790



old style serif designed by Claude Garamond 1989

GOTHAM sans serif designed by Tobias Frere-Jones 2000

FRANKLIN GOTHIC sans serif designed by Morris Fuller Benton 1904




Legibility and readability are fundamental to successful typographic design. Often the terms are used interchangeably. Yet, there is a difference between them. Legibility is concerned with how easy it is to distinguish individual letters. The simpler a type design is, the more legible it is. So why do less-than-legible typefaces even exist? Because typeface designers love to create unique and distinctive designs, of course. While it is generally better to always choose a legible type, there are times when distinctiveness may be more important than legibility. For example, when selecting a font for a unique and distinctive company logo. Readability refers to the ease with which a reader can scan over paragraphs of type. In other words, how easy it is to read! While legibility is basically dependent on the typeface design, readability is dependent on the manipulation or handling of the type. A highly legible typeface can be made unreadable by poor typographic design. Factors which affect readability include: line lengths, point size, leading, typeface selection, spacing, type alignment, and background.


KERNING Kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result. Kerning adjusts the space between individual letterforms. In a well-kerned font, the two-dimensional blank spaces between each pair of characters all have a visually similar area. The related term kern denotes a part of a type letter that overhangs the edge of the type block.




Tracking differs from kerning in that tracking is the adjustment of space for groups of letters and entire blocks of text. Use tracking to change the overall appearance and readability of the text, making it more open and airy or more dense. Tracking often changes line endings and shortens lines of text. Tracking can be further adjusted on individual lines or words to improve hyphenation and line endings. Tracking should not replace careful copy fitting. Use tracking adjustments carefully and avoid extreme changes in the tracking (loose or normal tracking following by a line or two of very tight tracking) within the same paragraph or adjacent paragraphs.

Tracking affects line endings and hyphenation, as well as getting rid of widows and orphans.







Blue is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolises trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. Avoid using blue when promoting food and cooking, because blue suppresses appetite.

Red is the colour of extremes. It’s the colour of passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the colour of fire and blood energy and primal life forces, and most of red’s symbolism today arises from its powerful associations in the past.

Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. Black is a mysterious colour associated with fear and the unknown. Black gives the feeling of perspective and depth, but a black background diminishes readability. Black contrasts well with bright colours. Combined with red or orange, other very powerful colours, black gives a very aggressive colour scheme.

Green is the colour of nature. It symbolises growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money. Use green to indicate safety when advertising drugs and medical products. Green is directly related to nature, so you can use it to promote ‘green’ products. Dull, darker green is commonly associated with money.


Effective graphic design depends upon the combination of various elements. Colours are one of the most important of these elements, as they are representative, symbolic and used for communication designs. Study of colours and its effect on individuals has been influential and very important. Designers and artists must have an understanding in the connotations of various colours, and be able to utilise them correctly in design.




Yellow is pure, bright and sunny yellow is the easiest colour to see. People who are blind to other colours can usually see yellow. Yellow is full of creative and intellectual energy. Yellow symbolizes wisdom. Yellow means joy and happiness. People of high intellect favour yellow.

Orange is a power colour. It is one of the healing colours. It is said to increase the craving for food. It also stimulates enthusiasm and creativity. Orange means vitality with endurance. People who like orange are usually thoughtful and sincere.

Purple is the colour of good judgment. It is the colour of people seeking spiritual fulfilment. It is said if you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind. Purple is a good colour to use in meditation. Purple has been used to symbolise magic and mystery, as well as royalty. Being the combination of red and blue, the warmest and coolest colours, purple is believed to be the ideal colour.








The contrast is formed by the juxtaposition of light and dark values and their relative saturation.

The contrast is formed by the juxtaposition of different hues. The greater the distance between hues on a colour wheel, the greater the contrast.

The contrast is formed by assigning proportional field sizes in relation to the visual weight of a colour.

The contrast is formed by the juxtaposition of light and dark values. This could be a monochromatic composition.


Johannes Itten was one of the first people to define and identify strategies for successful color combinations. Through his research he devised seven methodologies for coordinating colors utilizing the hue’s contrasting properties. These contrasts add other variations with respect to the intensity of the respective hues; i.e. contrasts may be obtained due to light, moderate, or dark value.


THE CONTRAST OF COMPLEMENTS The contrast is formed by the juxtaposition of colour wheel or perceptual opposites.



The contrast is formed The contrast is formed by when the boundaries be- the juxtaposition of hues tween colours perceptually considered ‘warm’ or ‘cool.’ vibrate. Some interesting illusions are accomplished with this contrast.


HOW DOES PANTONE WORK? Pantone is a standardised colour matching system, utilizing the Pantone numbering system for identifying colours. By standardising the colours, different manufacturers in different locations can all reference a Pantone numbered colour, making sure colours match without direct contact with one another. The most commonly referenced colours are in the Pantone solids palette. The Pantone Solid palette consists of 1,114 colours, identified by three or four digit numbers, followed by a C, U, Or M suffix. Originally designed for the graphics industry, the pantone solids palette is now used by a wide range of industries, and is the most commonly used palette. For example, Pantone 199 Red can be identified as Pantone 199C (C= Coated Paper), Pantone 199U (U= Uncoated Paper) or Pantone 199M (M=Matte Paper).




ALIGNMENT A term used to refer to the proper positioning of all typefaces and size variations along an imaginary reference line.

A Graphic Design Glossary

ASCENDER The part of a lowercase letter, which rises above the main body, as in the letters “b”, “d”, “h”, and “k”. BASELINE An invisible horizontal line on which the feet of all characters on a line of type are set, used for proper alignment of type. BLEED A printed image that extends beyond one or more of the finished page margins and is later trimmed so that the image “bleeds” off the edge of the sheet.


BODY TEXT The main portion of a book or other document, excluding front matter and back matter CAP-HEIGHT In typography, the distance from the baseline to the top of the capital letters. CHARACTER Any letter, figure, punctuation, symbol or space. COLOUR SWATCH A sample of a specific colour, either printed or stored digitally, used to describe a particular printing ink or combination of printing ink colours. CROP MARKS Lines drawn or printed on a photograph, overlay, or printed product to indicate the proper cropping of the image or print in question.

FONT In typography, a set of all characters in a typeface. GUTTER In typography, the term refers to the space between columns of type, usually determined by the number and width of columns and the overall width of the area to be filled. HALFTONE Any image, such as a photograph, that exists as a series of small dots of varying size and colour density, which serve to simulate the appearance of continuous gradations of tone. Halftones are necessary in the reproduction of photographic images; most printing presses cannot print continuous tones, so photographic images must first be converted to a series of dots in order to be effectively printed. KERNING In typography, the reduction of letter-spacing between certain character combinations in order to reduce the space between them, performed for aesthetic reasons. NEGATIVE SPACE In design, the space not occupied by the text or images. PALETTE The collection of colours or shades available or used in a project, graphic system, or program. PANTONE A brand-name for a popular colour matching system, or series of printed colour swatches used to match, specify, identify, and display specific colours or coloured ink combinations

PIXEL Shorthand term for picture element, or the smallest point or dot on a computer monitor. PRIMARY COLOURS Any set of colours within a particular colour system that are the most basic colours for that system. All other colours can be produced from the primaries, but the primaries cannot be produced by combinations of other colours. SANS-SERIF In typography, characters (or typefaces) without serifs, which are lines crossing the free end of the stroke. “Sans serif ” means “without serif ”. SCALE The act of/or the computer function that facilitates, altering the size of an image or font proportionately. SERIF In typography, an all-inclusive term for characters that have a line crossing the free end of a stroke. The term serif refers to both that finishing line and to characters and typefaces that have them. TRACKING In typography, the adjusting of the letter-spacing throughout a piece of typeset copy. TYPEFACE In typography, a specific variation within a type family, such as roman, italic, bold, etc. WEIGHT In typography, the lightness or darkness in print of a particular typeface, based upon its design and thickness of line.


Type and Colour