03 Mar The Five Elements of Graphic Design
Graphic Design is the art of putting together colours, images, and other elements with the ultimate goal of conveying a message, affecting a certain emotion, or sparking the audience’s curiosity.
Whatever the goal of the graphic design may be, understanding its fundamentals is essential in creating an artwork. Let’s talk about the Five Elements of Graphic Design.
Simply put, Typography refers to the visual aspect of letters and numbers. While mainly about the aesthetics of letters and numbers, typography can be an essential part of a graphic design as the right typography techniques can help send the correct message to the audience.
Some of the important elements of typography include; typefaces and fonts, alignment, and hierarchy. Typefaces and fonts are often interchangeably used, but a good way to remember the difference is that typefaces are the family of fonts (e.g. Times New Roman, Arial, and Verdana, etc), while fonts are the style in which a typeface is typed (e.g. Regular, Bold, and Italic). The rule of thumb that most designers adhere to is sticking to 2-3 types of typefaces per design, this is not only to avoid a cluttered look, but also can potentially help with brand recall and association.
Alignment and Hierarchy both play major roles in typography and in overall graphic design. In order for a group of words to be (1) easily readable and (2) be distinct, a graphic artist will need to understand how to work the alignment of words and to understand which words are to be bigger than the rest of the words.
Choosing the correct colour for your artwork can help potentially convey the right message to your target audience. A good artwork is not only composed of the right combination of letters and images, but more importantly a colour that is representative of the kind of look, feel, and overall vibe the graphic design intends to have.
Depending on the message, certain colours can emit specific messages. When creating logos, the colour blue is often associated with trust, green with being eco-friendly or natural, black may portray exclusivity, and white calmness and peace.
However, colours may be interpreted differently depending on the target audience. Hence it will be vital the target audience for specific graphic designs, and from there, the specific colours of the artwork can be decided.
Space is an essential element in elevating a graphic design. With the proper use of both positive space and negative space, a graphic work can appear more cohesive and less cluttered.
What is “positive space” and “negative space”? Positive space is that space in an artwork where all the elements are placed, while negative space is the rest of the space and background.
With the proper use of space, elements within a graphic design can convey a clearer message. For example, elements that are closer to each other can be perceived as more related, while those with more space in between can be seen as less connected. Ample space around a visual element can also elevate its importance. However, the same technique may wrongfully convey a sense of loneliness in the design.
Texture is the supposed “feel” of a visual design. A graphic design’s texture can be the same as the usual textures we feel through touch; rough, smooth, glossy, sticky, and bumpy, among many others.
Texture can be vital to the overall look of a graphic design. Often, graphic artists will use images related to the overall design to showcase the type of texture the viewers should “feel” from the artwork. If the graphic design is about industrial items or the construction industry, a pack of nails, steel roof stacked together, or a smooth slush of cement are the items used to show texture. In contrast, when doing designs for a skincare brand, water droplets, glass, silk, and other smooth images are used to portray clear skin – this also helps send the message to viewers that the skincare product is meant to make their skin as smooth and silky as the images used.
While it can often be missed by a layman’s eye, texture is one of the more crucial elements that a graphic design should have in order for its message to be translated in a clearer, more elaborate manner.
The last, but most definitely not the least element would be image. Image can be considered as the most important element within a design. An image in itself can convey a message, tell stories, and set the mood of the design.
Regardless if an image is an illustration or a photograph, graphic designers often rely on images in order to get the artwork’s message across. And it is because of this fact that images may play the most vital role in most graphic designs.
Choosing the correct images to add to a graphic design can be a task on its own. Hence it will be important to understand what kind of image you would want to be the centre of the attention and what images will play more secondary roles within a design. From there, you may be able to play around with your options more and come up with a final graphic design faster.
The advantage both experienced and beginner graphic artists have now is the existence of websites that provide images in both illustration and photography formats. Websites such as Envato, Stock Photography, and Getty Images, may help not only reduce the time spent in creating images from scratch, it also provides a graphic designer the liberty to play with different elements more easily in order to achieve the final design they are aiming for.
Graphic design should be created with all the said elements put in place together with the correct techniques. In this day and age where graphic design must not only be beautiful, but more importantly, impactful, it may be unwise to stray away from the basic elements of graphic design and have your visual ideas be put to waste.
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