Supplemental blog of Kevin Woodland’s instructional site

pigeonbits:

Color palette tutorial time!

This is by no means the Only Way To Pick Colors—it’s just a relatively-simple method I use sometimes.  I’ve found it works pretty well, almost regardless of what colors you pick—as long as you can keep them organized by those light/dark warm/cool categories, and make sure one category takes up a significantly higher proportion of page space, it usually turns out pretty good!

The Elements of Graphic Design

Reviewed by Dani Tores


The Elements of Graphic Design by Alex White is a book that is about exactly what it sounds like. It discusses all the different things that go into graphic design and design in general, as well as the variety you have with all of these elements and how they work together.

I chose this book because I didn’t want a book that discussed one aspect of design. It speaks of how graphic design issues have many answers and not just one, which to me, is a beautiful thing.

No matter the discipline of the design field you’re in the book says “…each must respond to 3 questions: What are the elements I have to work with? Where do these elements go? What structure is necessary so they go together?” This made me realize design does not have to be complicated; I’ve been making it complicated for myself. I had always thought about the style more than design aspects and those three questions were eye openers.

The elements highlighted are: space, unity, page architecture, and type. In each section for the elements it explains why each is essential and its importance, as well as how they can build off of one another. There are unlimited possibilities with how you can use any of these elements.

The one thing I will take away from this book forever is a sentence from the intro, “Design is simple when you remember it is a process, not a result.” Overall this book was intriguing and I recommend it greatly if you struggle with over thinking design ideas.

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Reviewed by John Webb

I am very lucky to have found this book, the book goes far more in depth then I thought it would on how to approach tons of different situations that every graphic designer will face in their career at some point or another. My problem with most graphic design books is that they are very vague and don’t really give you any details on what you SHOULD do, just what you SHOULDN’T do. This can be quite annoying when you’re stressing on how to deal with a project and looking for help and the best you can find is “go with what you feel is right” 

This book goes extremely in depth in its explanation of typefaces and how different types work best for specific projects and even where some originated from, which I find very interesting. The book also talks about the design of tickets and flyers which is one of the main areas that I work in as a designer so it was interesting to see what the author considers the correct approach to designing flyers and tickets compared to how I approach it on my own with no real background knowledge.

My only complaint that I have about the book is that it should be updated and republished. There are multiple instances where the author refers to “VHS” and “CD-ROM“‘s which are just outdated terms, this makes me wonder if the author would approach some of these projects differently in the time gap between when he wrote this book and the modern age of graphic design that we are in today.  

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Reviewed by John Webb


I am very lucky to have found this book, the book goes far more in depth then I thought it would on how to approach tons of different situations that every graphic designer will face in their career at some point or another. My problem with most graphic design books is that they are very vague and don’t really give you any details on what you SHOULD do, just what you SHOULDN’T do. This can be quite annoying when you’re stressing on how to deal with a project and looking for help and the best you can find is “go with what you feel is right” 

This book goes extremely in depth in its explanation of typefaces and how different types work best for specific projects and even where some originated from, which I find very interesting. The book also talks about the design of tickets and flyers which is one of the main areas that I work in as a designer so it was interesting to see what the author considers the correct approach to designing flyers and tickets compared to how I approach it on my own with no real background knowledge.

My only complaint that I have about the book is that it should be updated and republished. There are multiple instances where the author refers to “VHS” and “CD-ROM“‘s which are just outdated terms, this makes me wonder if the author would approach some of these projects differently in the time gap between when he wrote this book and the modern age of graphic design that we are in today.  

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Hot Designers Make Cool Fonts

Reviewed by Lacie Snay


Hot Designers Make Cool Fonts

The book Hot Designers Make Cool Fonts by Allan Haley is all about type. The book is broken down into little essays that holds information all about font. It starts with an introduction about all of the type families. This essay explains how type face became important when the industrial revolution happened. When it comes to making money and selling products you need to advertise. And to advertise type faces are very important, lots of them. Fuller Benton explains how type faces are kind of like built like families. How brother and sisters look like their parents is how type families are built as well.

The second essay talks about how to making fonts could make you money. But it takes talent to do so. It’s not just the simple A B C and 1 2 3. It gives you some tips and some steps to take to go far with a font or text you have created.

But most of the book is all about those people who made it far and decame designers. Those talented people who made the typefaces that are well known. For example David Berlow found the text Bureau in 1989 and it has developed so much since then consisting of over 500 typefaces. Along with, thirteen other designers who made it big in the world as well. (Matthew Carter, Jean-Renaud Cuaz, Dave Farey, Tobias Frere-Jones, Jonathan Hoefler, James Montalbano, Jim Parkinson, Jean-Francois Porchez, Quay and Sack, Robert Slimbach, Erik Spiekermann, Sumner Stone, Carol Twombly)

The last two essays in the book are all about how to make type faces a little more legible and what fonts are used for what. Such as which specific type face is better used in what sizes.

I think the most interesting part of this book is the time line at the end of the book. Instead of reading paragraphs and trying to absorb so much information it set up in a time line format and much easier to understand. It starts with the fifth century B.C. with Greek lapidary type and goes to 1996 where Microsoft releases word 97 with more than 150 free typefaces bundled.

I think this book was wonderfully designed and very eye catching. I think this book would be great for inspiration and ideas for what fonts to use to anything. It has great examples of advertisements and other examples in how the typefaces were used. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

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Eco Friendly Design

Reviewed by Ariana Behm


I found this book to be extremely insightful on the benefits of “going green” and still being able to dazzle others. This book also explains that as designers it is our responsibility to make sure we do what we can to preserve our planets resources. Some ideas the book offers include unbleached paper with highly recycled content, avoiding harmful finishing techniques, and limiting ink and varnish coverage. All of these ideas sound simple but it is more complex than that, which I found interesting. In order to do all of these ideas, you have to be smart about color schemes (how will these colors look on unbleached papers and without the varnished ink? for example). As a designer you also must consider what could be considered wasteful design, in other words keeping ideas minimalistic but also keeping things interesting.

After reading through all the ideas of being eco-friendly, the book shows pictures of examples of what they are suggesting. This is the part that I found most interesting because not only do you get to see how everything came together, but you also know that it was done in an environmentally friendly way. Being eco-friendly means a lot more than just conserving energy and recycling trash, and as designers it is important that we understand that.

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Layout: the design of the printed page

Reviewed by Samantha Flynn


1. Style

The historical formation of modern design began just before 1910 and has continued up to modern day. After the large and violent period of war and revolution in 1920 the crucial points in the period had been completed. In 1920 the Bauhaus had only been “alive” for a year. Artists, architects, and designers were able to take the ideas and creations from the time period and combine them to create what is now known as modern style.

Style and modern design are two things that are quite difficult to define. The dictionary defines style as “a particular distinctive mode or form of construction or execution in any work or art.” Accumulated experience, personal taste, and creative force of the designer are three things that can be used to create a successful layout. Modern design is hard to define because it relies on a visual body of work and is ever changing with the advancements in technology. Modern style is made up of different expressions, colors, and shapes.

There were nine essential movements that contributed to the form of modern style: Art Nouveau, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Constructivism, Art Deco, De Stijl, and The Bauhaus.

  • Art Nouveau: Prelude, could be considered the “false start of the modern movement.” This movement had indirect influence on graphic Design
  • Cubism: There has been no other event that has had such a lasting effect on the development of visual communication. Cubism influenced graphic design through collage, assemblage, letterforms, and untraditional approach to representation and form.
  • Futurism: There was a critical bridge from cubism to futurism that was built by Marcel Duchamp who introduced machine mechanics as a design element.
  • Dada: Was inspired by Marcel Duchamp, influenced graphic designers to use humor and shock value to gain attention.
  • Surrealism: The shift from Dada into artists creating illustrative art based on the unconscious. This created a new approach to graphic imagery, drawn illustrations, and photographs.
  • Constructivism: An early voice of the Russian revolution, created a new sense of order in design.
  • Art Deco: Created a trend of streamlined slickness in printed materials.
  • De Stijl and Bauhaus: From 1919-1930 the Bauhaus had reached to magazine covers, advertisements, editorial layouts, books, and brochures.

2. Form

“No study of form in graphic design can be complete without an analysis of the space it occupies.” (p.84)

A designer first thinks about a layout in his mind and then transfers it to a thumbnail sketch. After the thumbnail is created the layout is reviewed again by the designer.

Sometimes the most successful layouts are those that seem to break all the principles and rules of form and order.

3.Content

“The design process requires continuous analysis and study of the elements that go together to make the complete layout.” (p.128)

4. Response

The significant exchange: Occurs when the reader picks up a copy and turns their attention to the page. A designer who designs a layout for the printed page is in a line of communication that puts them in direct contact with the reader/viewer.

Perception: Wertheimer’s principles of perceptual organization, established vision as a creative experience rather than just simply seeing.

Illusion: How absolute is sight? Illusions can question this by making our eyes see something that isn’t really there. The visual paradox: “An awareness of illusion and perceptual ambiguity reminds us that things are indeed not what they seem.” (p.142)

20th Century Type

Reviewed by Michelle Keasal 



My education in Graphic Design has just begun, but I’ve already discovered a love for typography in particular. The book I chose to review examines typography in the 20th Century, starting with 1900 and delving into each decade separately, ending with the 1990s.

The trends and innovations in typography discussed in the book are paired with historical events, cultural shifts, and invention that occurred during that time. Major points in history are touched upon, including the Industrial Revolution and the advent of mass production, warfare and propaganda, the emergence of youth culture in the 60s, all the way through the modern age of digital technology and non-print media.

The author provides beautiful examples of graphic design within each decade, as well as strictly typographic examples, complete with type name and size. Art movements pertaining to the examples and points in history are discussed as well.

What I love about this book is how the author successfully illustrates the fact that typographic and graphic design trends are always changing, and that they are impacted significantly by what’s going on in our world. Conversely, typography and graphic design can be powerful tools that have been – and continue to be – used to spark emotion and action within people living in these volatile time periods. 

Great Design Using Non-Traditional Materials

Reviewed by Alden Cook


The book I chose was Great Design Using Non-Traditional Materials by Sheree Clark and Wendy Lyons.The book is mainly about what people have created using unusual things. Interacting with the materials is something that the artist can say is unique and creative. Actually being able to see the objects or art is something that the printed page cannot do. Nowadays, people use computers, and that can take away from the feel of the project. Another thing is that with computers, the definition of graphic design has been dramatically changed. The uniqueness of using this type of non-traditional art method can bring more people to one’s work. One thing people can say is using some ecological materials can bring friendliness to the project. One of the reasons why I got this book was because of the design of the cover. The reason is that the book itself looked like it was made from recycled materials. What I found interesting was what someone could create just by using stuff one can find in the woods or in the recycle bin. In my opinion the contents in this book are considered graphic design because of how the art is presented and the creative idea that art can be created from anything.

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The Modern Magazine

Reviewed by Maia Evans


Author: Jeremy Leslie

This book explores editorial and typographic design of various publications. From the huge entities of Elle and Vogue, to smaller magazines like Nylon and High Fructose, and even very small local architecture and design journals spanning only about eight pages.

Magazines (and other graphic heavy publications) are interesting because they can be enjoyed on two levels: By intensely reading individual articles, or by simply flicking through and enjoying the feel of the magazine as a whole.
This book follows the latter, barely any text to be seen. There are mainly just labels along the sides describing which image is which. Honestly it’s kind of nice, I think picture heavy books get a bad reputation as being meant for either toddlers or coffee tables. The Modern Magazine has a lot of rich content that really doesn’t have much need for explanation. It’s like stepping into a museum with a highly extensive collection of publication design without having to leave your couch. It’s very useful to have all this information at a glance, to notice trends and get ideas.

Truly wonderful, I highly recommend this book for a look-through for anyone who appreciates good design.

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Less is More: The New Simplicity Graphic Design

Reviewed by Julie Bohnlein


Heller and Fink’s Less is More describes the style trends of past graphic design, specifically the cycle of simple design. Simple design contains elements of the de Stijl and Bauhaus art movements —geometric shapes; using few, but bold, colors. It became a commercial trend in the 1930’s during World War II, when cutbacks were seen in all faucets of life. Graphic design during this time was stripped down to it’s fundamentals. This trend up kept up after the war; advertisers started using more whitespace, less literal photos, and more typography.

In the late eighties and early nineties, design quickly became very complex, with young designers wanting to change the rules of design, almost in an act of rebellion. This new complex style also lead to a lot of experimentation; like using the quirks of a computer program while laying out typography, or deconstructing a layout so normally invisible elements (grids, crop marks, holding lines) are seen on the page. Less wasn’t seen as more during this time, more was more. Ostentatious became the new austere.

Recently (late nineties), simplicity has made a return to graphic design. That’s just how the cycle works: when a trend, like the visually exhausting and complex design of the eighties becomes a trend, it gets overused; when something get’s overused, it gets rejected and people want to see something new or different. 

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