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Design Principles

Lesson 16 from: Create a Photo Album: Workflow and Design

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

16. Design Principles

Next Lesson: Typography

Lesson Info

Design Principles

we know the quote in Spider Man. Where were the with great power comes great responsibility, right? I love that. So here's the thing. We have all this great power now within design. I mean power to make all kinds of amazing documents and length and hyperlinks and flowing text and magical things, but we want to learn to use it responsibly. Way wanna have lots of that responsibility? So that's what we're gonna talk about and just getting started with some words of wisdom and some design basics. Here I have a quote that says the big problem in most contemporary design practiced today is that it's not really graphic design but graphic decoration. Interesting. And some people might be thinking, What's the difference, Right? Well, design is actually a very purposeful, purposeful thing, and our goal with design is not necessarily some. To make something just pretty design is all about functionality and making something useful, right and usually the byproduct of a well designed piece of all of...

that well crafted usefulness. It tends to be pretty beautiful, a swell, but that's not not the thing right. That's not the main goal, is just to make something pretty otherwise. Designing something would be a simple is throwing in some flourishes and some ding bats and drop shadows and whatever. And we would say, Oh, it's beautiful that's so well designed. But that's not designed. That's graphic decoration. So we're gonna talk a little bit about this difference. What is designed then? Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose, right? That's the whole thing. Design is done with intent. It's purposeful arrangement and organization of things. So that's what we're going to talk about. It's not not just whatever you know. Looks good at a flourish, not quite the same thing. There is a book that I super highly recommend. Maybe some of you have this or you've heard of it. It's called the Non Designers Design Book by Robin Williams, not the comedian, but the fabulous designer Ah, woman named Robin Williams And I have had the honor and the pleasure of getting to meet Robin. I actually got to take her out to breakfast in Santa Fe, where she lived, and strangely enough, I ran into her in the streets of London a few years ago when I was teaching another workshop. So this is my husband and me and Robin. And strangely enough, we were at this conference and I just told everyone You've gotta get Robin's book. And then I we broke for lunch and I walked across the street and ran into her in London. In the intersection. Is that weird or what? But anyway, her book is so super fantastically awesome. Andi, she was kind enough to let me share a quick little example with you from her book. So this is from the introduction, and it says good design is as easy as Learn the principles. They're simpler than you might think. Recognize when you're not using them. Actually put it into words and name the problem and then three, apply the principles and you will be amazed, Right? So that's the information right there. Now here's a little good before and after for you. This is not something that we might really say is designed. This is text on a page that maybe wasn't given a whole ton of thoughtful placement, right? It's just here. It's centered. We have some bold going on, but it's not as well organized, and it's not as well presented and as useful as it could be. So Robin redesigned it to be this Now it doesn't have. Dingbats doesn't have drop shadows and flourishes and all of those things. It's the exact same information. Exact. Same test but organized, structured, it has a hierarchy. It has alignment. It's so much easier to read right, and it's nicer looking. It looks finished. It looks like someone spent some time on this and build something useful. This looks like Microsoft Word, and I don't know a quick job. Someone wasn't really spending much time on that. But this is actually purposefully done and you see the power that it can have. There's not even images or anything. It's just simple organization. So we're gonna be talking about some design principles, and I just wanted to kind of show you some quick before and afters of a few things. And this is just sort of a random generic business card that I threw together based on some things I've collected over the years and just kind of random. And I think actually, the original card that inspired this example actually had a horizontal front and a vertical back. So that was just kind of a little disconnect there, but just kind of random. Just some random images on the back and a front like this. And I thought, Well, once we learned these principles that we're going to talk about, how might this look differently? And then I just redesigned it, according Teoh. Those principles and I took the green out of here and just used it and made it more of a highlight and simplified everything. A lot of designs, really about being simple. And you don't want to complicate things in a design, because designs about being useful and complications are not very useful. So we want to keep that stuff clean. Another bit of words of wisdom is a well defined A problem is already half solved, right? So that's a really good one. We like to define our problems so we know what it is we're trying to solve. And so we're gonna give some words to this. We're going to talk about some of these principles. Robin really suggests that you when you have a design problem, she says, you've got to put it in words, and then you'll, you'll get closer to the solution. So one of those has to do with contrast. There's a lot of different principles and design, just like in photography. We have principles, and I remember my high school photography teacher talking about harmony and repetition and all of these things and how you can incorporate them into your photographic compositions. And it's photographers. Ah, lot of us have studied that we sort of just do it naturally. We may not even be aware of the things that we're doing. And we often think that because we're photographers that we can also be designers. And we may have a good visual I, but it's always helpful to actually study some of that stuff, and there are some principles that apply to design as well. So contrast is one of them, and contrast, of course, could be a difference in size like big versus small. It could be a difference in thick versus fin, so that could be typography or other design elements. It could be a difference between light on dark, and this other quote that I really like is that if you make everything bold, nothing is bold. That's why contrast is so important, we need to be able to distinguish one bit of information or one part of a design or something. We need to have differences there. So we have that contrast and not everything is bold. It helps us organize content. So here's an example. This is just like a little Let's say that you know Halloween is coming. Let's say we're designing a little mailer for a little portrait, mini costume session or something you might be doing. And this might be something that someone might dio. They might put a picture here and they might have a lot of text and, you know, some color whatever. And they may think that's perfect. That's great. Um, but it can be better. And if we apply some contrast to this, we could improve the text. It's really hard to see. Like a hierarchy of information here is just difficult to find if we're in a hurry and obviously, just like we wanted to simplify our clients lives in our lives and reduce some of their choices and things. We want to remove roadblocks when we're doing design, and when representing someone with information we don't want to make it hard for them to find or laborious to go through, so the principles help with that. So let's say we redesigned this toe have contrast. And so that means contrast with typography, right? So we've got a totally different type face for the headline up there for boo, right? Totally different typeface here. It was just set, kind of like everything else, but maybe slightly bold. If you're going to go big, like go all in right, so really make your contrast noticeable. So that's huge right there on Guy made the image a lot larger, so we have contrast ing space, even on the color, works nicely. The text is reversed out there in that typeface with the black box around it, so that's add some more contrast, and this is much easier to read. There's some other principles at work here to that help, but that's a nice little example of contrast and how it can be useful. Another principle is a repetition, and you can repeat all kinds of things you can replete colors. Of course, we're probably aware of that when we talk about our branding and we know we have our brand colors and we repeat those on things so we can repeat colors. We can repeat type faces, different shapes. We can repeat sizes of things. And of course, we can repeat design elements. So we are pretty familiar with this. I think it's consistencies, basically the key on. That's how we can take lots of different pieces, whether it's a business card or letterhead or envelope or something or your website. That's the consistency that we'd want to be building between all those different pieces. And I think there's a lot of fun ways you can do that with in your studio, even for different pieces. So these air two different pieces that I had for my portrait with kids and families and then I had seniors and I kept the look the same. I mean, the insides might be a little different, you know, The information, obviously for the seniors was different, but I overall, they still have the similar feel. So I'm repeating shapes here with the circles. Onda. Obviously you'd like colors and all of those things, and that really helps. Just unify all of it. So what you want is for someone to be able to look at any one of your pieces and recognize your brand, and not just because the logo is hiding in the corner somewhere. But just because the whole piece as itself, still looks like you and your brand, right? So my seniors, they look like a bloom. Seniors, They I didn't redesign something to be an edgy, grungy teen thing, because problems not edgy and grungy that way. So it looks like a bloom seniors. And that's great, because I would attract the clients who are drawn to that. And we had such a good time with all the seniors. Alignment is one of my favorite at once, and the thing is that it should be meaningful. Okay, and I think this is a big one for a lot of people. They sort of don't pay any attention to alignment. And I like the analogy of it's sort of like maybe your room when you were a teenager, or maybe now, but you would go in the room and, you know, if you were like me, you know, socks over here like closed their whatever. Everything was just scattered about the room. And now I try to be more organized and grown up about that. But that would be meaningful arrangement. And in our design pieces, it means placing things purposefully, strategically on a page so that it means something. So here, this is like a business card example, and it says this text is all over the place without a common alignment, right? So it's just scattered, and people tend to do this a lot because they feel like they need to fill space right and don't feel that pressure. We'll talk about that in a minute, but we want to be able to organize the text so that it makes sense. So it makes more sense to align things to a common point than it does toe have them scattered all over the place. I've seen the business card examples where the names over here, the phone numbers over here, the address is over here, and the email or something is down here, and people just sort of feel like they have to fill all of the corners of the card. But you don't. In fact, don't be afraid of white space. I love this, And if there's any designers out there in the Internet there probably cheering about the white space. Don't be afraid of white space. I'm sure when when you guys compose your photographs, you are very aware of negative space in your images, one at the times that you compose them and I'll never forget this one image. And I wish that I could remember the photographer that shot it so I could give them proper credit. But I was on an airplane reading whatever airline magazine, and there was this great article about Billy Joel, and it had this fabulous opening image of him on the piano, and he was the vertical image and he was down here playing, and this the entire rest. The image was just black. He was in a spotlight, and you just saw the spotlight coming down and just hitting him at the bottom on the piano. And I literally, my job just dropped when I turned the page and saw that because that negative space, that's what we call whitespace active white space, it's It's serving a purpose. It's so powerful. It's compelling, whether it's in a photograph or on a business card. But it's really it can be a powerful thing. You see this a lot on Chipotle does this a lot with their billboards, where they have a whole blank billboard and in the corners, the burrito and a tagline or something. And I just think that's so powerful. And white Space never killed anyone that as far as I'm aware of, I don't think it's It's killed anyone, but people get afraid of it. It's kind of like dinner conversation. You people get afraid to pause or have moments of silence, but moments of silence can be powerful. Right? Silence can be dramatic and compelling, and that's important. So same thing with our designs, moments of silence, active white space. Don't be afraid of it. Another great, uh, principal is called proximity, and this has to do with the organization and grouping of information, and this can really send a very strong subliminal message. So here's an example of stuff, and it's basically a list of stuff, and I literally wrote lots of stuff. Awesome stuff beyond your wildest dreams. Stuff still more stuff on. Then we have sort of an indented, bulleted list that says, somehow different stuff, unique stuff, more stuff. All right, so that's a gibberish, basically. But what would we expect or infer about that bulleted list that's indented into the second part. It's somehow different, right? There's something about those last three items that they're groups together for some kind of reason. They belong together. That has to do with proximity. There's somehow grouped, different moved. Something is separating them, and it helps us organize information. So on this this business card here, it says this information is related and is therefore grouped together. And then there's two other unrelated pieces of information and says this information is not and thus is separate, so you can use proximity to help separate, organize and structure your content. Here's another example. Let's say that you were planning a street portrait Siri's and you're going to go out and invites people to join you, and you're going to do street Portrait's around your town. Whatever. And if you looked at this little example and I asked you to just quickly tell me how many street portrait Siri's there were going to be like, how many sessions air in the Siri's would be hard to say right? We just have this blob of text who knows? I don't even know. I don't even know what this is. But if I take the same information and I redesigned it and I'm using some of these things like that we've talked about already. Contrast between the typography, alignment and here proximity I can see we've got uptown downtown in midtown groupings, three sessions in a Siri's, and you don't have to actually read the whole thing to figure that out. You can just look at it, and because it's grouped like that, we can easily see how that fits together. And, um, we don't even have to actually read it right, So that's that could be super powerful. And I just think it's really important because we tend Teoh see things like this in the industry. And this was a postcard that came to me, and I have blurt it all out to keep everyone safe and innocent. But if we look at this, there's all kinds of conflicting stuff going on. For example, if we talk about alignment over here, all of these different images, I mean, if if we literally look, the alignment of the tops of these images are all three different, it's like a stair step. I don't know how well everyone can see that, but they're all three different. Andi, the spacing between things is also not equal. There's just there's no consistency and repetition of alignment or anything here and over here we have some text that's left aligns some of its centered. We have another grouping of centered text over here, and it just makes it a little bit less organized. On the back was kind of the same kind of the same way. So lots of different things. This is another example. I don't even know where I found that. But this'll is for a bridal show and you know, it's a lot of text. So we want to think about that stuff, a lot of text on bond, lots of different colors that I'm not sure if that's like a studio color. That's the color of the event. But we want to just be purposeful with all of these things, right? So I just did it quick. I mean, I just threw this together in a minute, so just to have some consistency and really edited down the text and just tried to make you know a clarification there and use an image that was maybe a little bit more significant to what the subject and everything was so just kind of a quick, a quick redesign to simplify, right? The key is often just really simplification. How does this relate to our albums? Well, it's, you know, that's totally up to you. I think the key is again to be consistent and just be conscious of what you're doing. And the neat thing about design is unlike mass, there's not a right answer, right? Venture as creative. We probably like that. We like that there's no right answer and we can do anything. But of course, and you can. And of course, as they say, rules are meant to be broken. But they also say that they're broken best by people who know them right. So we want to know them and then choose to break them. Don't just break them, cause we don't know. But if we're doing album design, something like this, we just have a lot going on here, and it's kind of complicated. So we've got we've got a white stroke around this image, black strokes around the others. We've got images that are rectangular mixed in with an oval, so there's just some consistency that could probably be strengthened if we had a more uniform look to the album. And some of the images have drop shadows, but not all of them on. Then. You know there's some design elements that may or may not relate to the rest of the look of the album. Sometimes, you know, people want every spread in an album to be totally unique and totally different and not at all related to the rest of the book, and that that would be a good opportunity to use some consistency and try to keep it, keep it together, whatever that may be. So whatever design it is that you want to go for, just do it with purpose and intent and consciousness, and I think it will be a lot stronger. Here are the same images, and I just stripped down the design so everyone has different tastes. Of course, I like to try to keep my stuff really clean like this, and my thought behind it is that I wanted to be timeless, right? I don't wanna reflect a lot of trendy stuff because over time those things changed. They can provide some entertainment toe look back and see those fun trends from the past. But we have enough of that with our hairstyles and our clothes and all of that stuff. So I really try to keep my designs timeless. And so to me that really means simplicity. The other thing is to that. I think it's nice to let the images speak for themselves, right. We work so hard is photographers to capture beautiful images and really tell a story and capture all this emotion. And I just kind of feel like a lot of times, if we're adding so much to the page, it actually ends up sort of competing with the images that we worked so hard to take. We're now sort of taking away from them, and they're having to compete with the design elements that maybe don't even need to be there. So just something to think about so you can be conscious of that when you are doing some design work. So again, the recommended resource is here. We'll talk about quickly for learning more about design would be Robin's book, as I mentioned, and these air also in the Resource Guide with links and everything but Robin's book is so fantastic, and what's really great about it, too, is it's like this thick. It's just a tiny little book. It is not like a big, fancy intensive design theory manual. It's an easy read, and it's for non designers, so it's is awesome, and you can start using the things you learn right away. Some other great resource is that I recommend before and after. Magazine is so great, and they have these articles. It's be a magazine dot com, and they have all of these little articles that you can subscribe Teoh. And as a subscriber, you can choose between getting the PdF or you can actually have them send. You printed a printed piece. And what super great is? There's no ads or anything. Each article, each addition, is just one lesson. Basically, they're just lessons. So one here is called Make a Theme. Here's one called What Typeface Goes With That? And it's about how to choose typefaces and typography. They have, um, like how to design a business card or a brochure, or how did build a color scheme or anything like that? And it's just fantastic. Um, you can subscribe to that. They also have a great blog's. So I highly recommend their block. Jon wait over there is wonderful and does a great job. So check out the blogged and then they also have a book, how to design cool stuff. And that is essentially their past lessons and articles put into book form. So that's a great book that I recommend you pick up. Another thing that I highly recommend is called Adobe Cooler, and I don't know if you are familiar of this, but you already have it, and you you just may not know it, and I'll show it to you hopefully earlier. I can remember to do that, but Adobe Cooler It's basically a way to pick color schemes and, um, things like that in your in design, or actually even in Photoshopped to its there as well. The place to find it is from the window menu under window extensions cooler, and you can actually generate color schemes based on complementary colors. Tertiary color schemes like you can do all kinds of things. You can also, this is my favorite part. You can sort of crowd source for color schemes, So if you were designing like a summer splash marketing piece. Whatever you can search within the panel, it's just a panel that opens an in design or in photo shop. You can search within the panel first summer. Just type the word summer and you'll see all these color schemes that other people have built and tagged with summer. And you can just click, and they'll instantly be added to your swatches panel. Is that crazy or what? Amazing. So cooler. Check it out for printing. If you're designing postcards or business cars, O R posters or I don't know what lots of different things some trade printers to check out that I'd recommend would be four over dot com or got print dot com or ps dot com. And they are actual press printers that will print nice bulk of stuff for prices. You just can't believe, and you can choose often like rounded corners. Or some of them offer specialty inks and gloss finishes and specialty like you can have a piece that's entirely Matt. With just some things that are glossed or foil, you can do foil. There's so many things, it's it's really awesome. So check it out and you can request sample packs and stuff from them so you can see what I'm talking about. Of course, with design. If you're feeling like you, just you just design is like, not your thing and you're super apprehensive. I did mention we have our template collection, So if you're into that, if you want to check it out at Rock your workflow dot com, it's on sales. You can score it for a good price, and it re size is like I said it because my husband's a genius. So the script will take the corresponding library and resize it to your book, which is pretty slick.

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Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Yep, love your work Khara! I am now using Indesign to make my first wedding album thanks to you. So clearly explained and nicely presented. Such a powerful program that makes a complicated task seem easy, with as many variables in layout and design as I can imagine. I am just so excited! I would recommend this course to anyone who is running any size photography business. It will help simplify your workflow and increase your output.

1106 Imagery

This class is so good! I learnt so much about albums, and selling them the right way. Having never really used Indesign before, I was nervous about using it as my main platform to design albums. I'm shocked, but I really enjoy using the program! It's so simple and easy using Khara's methods of designing. I also never used bridge before too (Lightroom faithful here), and it's fantastic for sourcing images for the albums. I'm learning a few upsell methods too, so it's very exciting for my business! Thank you for such a great course :)

Adrian Farr

Khara's advice is so simple yet makes absolute perfect sense! She really knows how to get the best out of her albums and packages. If you want to learn things that will help you improve your business/workflow, then seriously buy this course!

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