Designing With Images and Shapes

    Shapes and images add a lot to your design, the overall appeal, and the message. Keeping just a few things in mind will go a long way to designing first class print material.

    A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

    This is still true. Your images should convey your message. Looking at the flyer examples below, the simple one with the less text says just as much—if not more—than the other.

    Not only is the left flyer simpler, it is more elegant and the image says so much more than the same image does on the right. The power of a well-placed image cannot be underestimated. In many cases, the right image is more powerful to your design than a bunch of text.

    Design around a Key Image

    It may be that the overall design of your printed material is built around a particular image. You may want to find the right image first and then build around that image so that your other elements, particularly shapes (boxes, circles, lines), have a matching color scheme. Look at the flyer below. You will notice that the main design element is the image and all the other colors and elements are based on that image. Notice how this creates a elegant and clean look to the eye.

    This is not always necessary, but when you have a powerful image to use, then the other design elements should be built around it for the most powerful effect.

    In most cases, this type of image is your background of the entire printed material. This may not always be true, but in general it is if you are designing around a key image. Keep that in mind while designing. In general, this style of design is simple and elegant—minimalistic. You want the image to convey the primary message.

    Spacing of Images and Shapes

    A common error that inexperienced designers make is that they try to cram everything in. Not only does the design look messy and busy, but trying to say too much detracts from the primary message.

    Look at the newsletters below. You will see that one is simple, while the other is busy. Notice the space between the images and the other elements on the page—particularly other images and text. The busy one is not easy on the eyes, while the other newsletter has clean lines, nice spacing that creates a cleaner, more powerful look to the newsletter.

    Remember, trying to put too much into your design is never enough. It never provides the power that it should. Keep nice spacing between textboxes, images, and shapes. It will allow your message to stand out better.

    Remember: be consistent in your spacing! Different spacing looks messy.

    Use Shapes to Emphasize Your Message

    Don’t get carried away. A simple line that contrasts with the background only slightly is enough for the eye to recognize a break in the message. A gentle-colored box behind text is often significant enough for the eye to realize that certain text is separate from others or that it is meant to be emphasized. Look at the resumes below. You will see that they both have the same message, but the use of shapes is radically different. One just looks busy and messy, but the other looks clean and elegant.

    Shapes should be the subtle aspects of your design. They shouldn’t become the design or the main focus of your design. Shapes are simply a tool to allow you to emphasize and promote your message.

    Remember: subtlety is the key when it comes to utilizing shapes in your design.