The 7 essential principles of graphic design
By helloDarwin
December 17, 2018

Les 7 principes essentiels du design graphique

You probably have an intuitive idea of what's beautiful in design. You probably already know that yellow inspires joy and red passion. However, even with a keen sense of aesthetics, it's hard to really understand why one visual will be prettier than another if you're not a graphic design professional.
Especially since, these days, everything surrounding a company's visual identity is of the utmost importance. With all the advertising and content available to consumers, one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is to have communication tools that appeal to their target audience, demonstrate their professionalism and set them apart from the competition.
To help you meet these challenges, we present essential graphic design concepts and expert advice on how to improve your visuals.

1) Design alignment: the key to harmonious creation

Alignment is an essential concept in design. Whether you're working on an image, a block of text, a title or a logo, alignment is crucial to establishing a clear and coherent structure in your creation.
It's vital to recognize and use common alignments on a page, while striving to limit their number. Most design software offers automatic alignment functions, making it easier to position elements as they are moved around. Don't hesitate to take advantage of these tools, which play a fundamental role in improving the quality of your layout.
Alignment is not just a question of aesthetics; it's also an effective way of eliminating visual clutter and randomness in the layout of graphic elements.
In the world of web and digital marketing, alignment takes on an even more strategic dimension. It's no longer just a question of harmonizing visual elements, but also of integrating multimedia and interactive components, which are crucial to the design of captivating customer experiences. Alignment thus becomes a bridge between aesthetics and functionality, enabling designers to create intuitive and engaging user interfaces.
In digital marketing, the intelligent use of alignment can significantly improve the readability and effectiveness of campaigns. For example, consistent alignment in a newsletter or landing page can guide the customer's eye fluidly from the attractive header to the key action button. This structured approach is essential to maximize visual impact while supporting business objectives.

2) Contrast: energize your artwork

Contrast is another pillar of the 7 essential principles of graphic design. It's a fundamental technique for accentuating the difference between two elements, be they colors, sizes, shapes, typographic styles or the spatial relationship between elements.
Using contrast not only highlights the key elements of your content, but also considerably improves the legibility of your text and adds a dynamic touch. A layout that lacks contrast can appear monotonous and uninviting. This aspect is therefore crucial to infuse your work with energy and to bring out the essential parts of your composition.
In the field of graphic arts, contrast skills are indispensable. Over the years, this skill has become a powerful tool for designers, enabling them to create works that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. By enriching your projects with a pronounced artistic dimension, you hone your design skills and create works that capture attention and effectively convey your message.
In the digital and multimedia fields, contrast extends far beyond traditional visual elements. It now encompasses a variety of media and formats, including motion design and digital publishing. By integrating motion, for example, designers can create dynamic contrast not only in space, but also in time, adding an extra dimension to their creations.

3) Consistency: the key to coherent design

Consistency is a fundamental principle for ensuring coherence and clarity in your design projects, especially in multi-page documents. Here's how to apply it effectively:
  • Visual cues for the reader:
    • Provide consistent visual cues to make navigation and comprehension easier for the reader.
    • Place recurring elements (such as headers or footers) in the same places on each page.
  • Consistency of visual styles:
    • Ensure that illustration and photography styles remain consistent throughout the document.
    • This consistency is essential to maintain an artistic and professional thread.
  • Consistency of headings and text:
    • Headings at the same level should have the same size, color and typographic style.
    • This consistency reinforces the structure and organization of the content.
  • Define and respect graphic standards:
    • Take the time to define your graphic styles (size, position, color, alignment, etc.).
    • Apply these standards strictly throughout your document.
The importance of uniformity in design is often emphasized in graphic arts baccalaureate programs and in schools specializing in digital and web design. By mastering this technique, you'll improve not only the aesthetics of your creations, but also their functionality and accessibility for the public.

4) Rhythm

Uniformity in typographic styles dictates the structure of the document and allows you to create visual cues in the layout.
Also, the distance between elements is as important as the graphic elements themselves in the visual rendering of a page. By always using the same spacing (or multiples of a main spacing), you ensure a constant flow of reading.

5) Simplicity: the elegance of the essential in design

Simplicity is a fundamental maxim in design, embodying the principle of "Less is more". It's crucial to the creation of an effective, aesthetically pleasing layout. Here's how to exploit simplicity in your work:
  • Power of simplicity:
    • Never underestimate the impact of simplicity in art and design.
    • A simplified approach can often communicate your message more powerfully and directly.
  • Improvement through reduction:
    • Rather than adding elements, ask yourself what you can remove to strengthen your visual.
    • This reduction technique is essential to creating clear, captivating artwork.
  • Streamline to enhance:
    • By removing superfluous elements, you highlight the most important aspects of your design.
    • This helps focus the viewer's attention on the central message of your work.
  • Application in digital and physical media:
    • Whether in a digital context or on a physical medium, simplicity enhances legibility and visual impact.
    • It's particularly relevant in web design, where screen space is limited.
By incorporating simplicity into your designs, you create more refined and effective works. This practice is not only an artistic technique, but also a design philosophy, essential for communicating effectively in our constantly evolving visual world.

6) Colors: emotional expressions in design

In the world of graphic design, colors play a vital role in defining the emotion, tone and mood of a visual. Each color has its own symbolism, which subconsciously influences our perception. Here's how graphic designers use colors in their projects:
  • Color symbolism :
    • Green often evokes nature, red passion, blue serenity and black luxury.
    • These associations help to effectively communicate the project's message.
  • Defining a color palette:
    • At the start of a design project, it's crucial to choose a palette of 3 to 5 colors.
    • These colors can be complementary or of different hues to create visual harmony.
  • Uniformity in visuals:
    • Ensure that photos and illustrations respect this palette for overall uniformity.
    • Using a color as a reminder can reinforce a specific message or concept.
  • Influence of color on perception:
    • Color greatly influences the way we perceive a design.
    • Some designers prefer to work in black and white initially, adding colors later to adjust the visual impact.
  • Color in visual communication:
    • In graphic communications, color is more than just an aesthetic choice; it's a powerful tool for conveying emotions and ideas.
    • It must be used with intention and precision to enhance the effectiveness of the message.
By intelligently integrating color into your design projects, you not only enrich the aesthetics of your creations, but also strengthen the communication of your ideas. For a graphic designer, mastering the art of color is essential to creating designs that captivate and communicate effectively.

7) Typography: the art of selecting the right fonts in graphic design

Typography is a fundamental aspect of design, and an area where the technical skills of a graphic designer are paramount. Here are a few tips for choosing the right fonts:
  • Choosing classic fonts:
    • Don't be overwhelmed by the multitude of fonts available.
    • Opt for classic choices such as Helvetica, Futura, Frutiger, Garamond, or Univers, which are sure-fire values in typography.
  • Categorizing fonts :
    • Fonts can be grouped into four main families: serif, sans serif, script and special shapes.
    • This categorization helps the graphic designer to make informed choices according to the project.
  • Screen and print fonts :
    • For screen displays, linear fonts are preferred for their legibility.
    • For print, serif fonts are often recommended for their elegance and clarity on paper.
  • The importance of typography in design:
    • A graphic designer needs to master the art of typography to enhance the visual communication of his projects.
    • Typography is not just a question of style, it's a powerful tool for conveying a message and creating a mood.
  • Developing typography skills:
    • Mastering typography is one of the key technical skills for any graphic designer.
    • It requires a thorough understanding of the nuances and applications of different fonts.
By integrating these practices into your graphic design work, you will not only enhance the aesthetics of your creations, but also their ability to communicate effectively. For a graphic designer, typography is an essential area where precision, creativity and technique meet.

In a nutshell

That's it! You now have the basic knowledge and practical tips to create beautiful visuals yourself. The next time you create a communication tool, keep these 7 elements in mind so you can be confident of the quality of your layout.
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helloDarwin

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