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Seven Graphic Design Principles for Your Custom Print Projects in South Kansas City

How a Local Print Shop Can Help You Create Professional-Looking Flyers, Mailers, Signs, and More

Only the bravest of souls attempt graphic design for themselves. It’s not an easy task because it requires you to have knowledge of art and marketing principles to be highly successful. While some graphic designers are self-taught, the majority studied the subject in school and have years of practice under their belts. If you’d like to attempt graphic design yourself, or if you want to come prepared to meet with a professional graphic designer near Overland Park, it’s important to understand the principles of graphic design. Here are seven graphic design principles to get you started.

Color Choice in Graphic Design

The colors you choose to incorporate in your design can set the mood and tone. Choose the wrong color, and your message can feel confusing. You will also need to be careful about how you use multiple colors. Professional graphic designers in Johnson County are so successful because they understand color theory. One of the most basic color wheels, which helps explain color theory, contains only primary and secondary colors. Imagine a pie, but each slice is a different color. Starting at the top of the pie and moving clockwise, are yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, and green. Add in tertiary colors, which combine the two colors on either side of it on the color wheel. This is where we get colors like yellow-green or red orange. There are two ways of achieving harmony in your color choices. First is using a color scheme of analogous colors, or three colors that are side-by-side on the color wheel. For example, you could choose yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange. The second way is using complementary colors, which are those directly opposite each other on the color wheel, like yellow and purple or blue and orange. To set the right mood, you’ll want to choose an appropriate color scheme. Consider:
  • Blue: calm, soothing
  • Red: powerful, extreme, anger
  • Yellow: happiness, optimism, creativity
  • Green: nature, growth
  • Purple: mystery, spiritual, romantic
  • Orange: energy, vitality, adventure, excitement

Follow the Rule of Thirds - and Keep It Balanced

Balance in design can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. It is responsible for the structure and stability of the design. Each element of your design has a “weight.” Symmetrical balance is achieved when the weight of the elements are distributed evenly on both sides of the design, if you were to cut it right now the center. Asymmetrical balance is never evenly distributed, but relies on scale, contrast, and color. The rule of thirds is a great way to help balance your graphic design. The rule of thirds is a graphic design guideline (and can be applied to any visual art) that says an image should be figuratively, not literally, divided into nine equal parts with two vertical and two horizontal lines, and important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or where they intersect. Using the rule of thirds can create energy and interest in your design. Consider your favorite piece of art or photograph. How is it composed? Is it symmetrical or asymmetrical balanced? Is the main image centered, or is it set off to the side and following the rule of thirds?

Choose the Right Font

Graphic designers have experience with typography and selecting appropriate fonts for the pieces they design. In general, outlandish and interesting fonts are not the way to go, even if they do look cool. Fonts come in two basic styles: serif and sans serif. Serif fonts have a stroke attached to the end of a larger stroke, like Times New Roman or Garamond. Sans serif fonts do not have those extra strokes. Fonts with serifs tend to feel more traditional, sophisticated, and formal, whereas sans serif fonts are modern and neutral. You can cleverly combine complementary serif and sans serif fonts in your graphic design. Some common font pairings include:
  • Helvetica Neue and Garamond
  • Myriad Pro and Georgia
  • Futura Bold and Souvenir
  • Montserrat and Courier New
  • Century Gothic and PT Serif
  • Franklin Gothic and Baskerville
  • Gill Sans Bold and Garamond
  • Avenir and Minion
It’s not so easy as choosing two fonts that look nice together. You also have to consider more complex concepts, like leading (the space between lines of text) and kerning (the space between individual letters). A professional graphic designer watches for variations in leading and kerning and makes adjustments as necessary.

Using Repetition Repitition Repitition in Graphic Design

Using repetitive visual elements in your graphic design creates a rhythm and ties together consistent elements. Repetition can occur in shapes, colors, and fonts. Repetition is part of graphic design especially important for brand recognition. If you’re practicing graphic design or looking to hire a local print shop’s graphic designer to complete work for you, you’ll need to consider how you can use repetition to help make your business instantly recognizable to consumers.

Mastering Visual Hierarchy

A design hierarchy occurs when extra visual weight is given to the most important part of your design. Bold fonts, particularly large fonts, placing an element higher on the page, or adding more detailed and colorful visuals can create hierarchy in your design. For example, if you are designing a flyer for a special event in Leawood, you wouldn’t make the name of the occasion in the smallest font on the page. You’d want it to be instantly obvious because it’s important. Similarly, you wouldn’t make less important details take over the majority of the design. When in doubt about how to use visual hierarchy, start your design off by putting the most important detail in the largest font or highest position and work from there. You can adjust your layout as you go to achieve balance and harmony throughout your design.

Make Contrast Work for You As You Design Printed Materials

Contrast is the difference between two elements, usually dark versus light or small versus large. Contrast helps guide the viewer’s eyes to key elements. It’s also important in making sure your design is legible. One of the most basic ways to use contrast is to employ a dark-colored background and apply a light-colored text over the top of it. The difference - or contrast - in color makes both highly visible. Designs with low contrast can be confusing to look at because your eye is not drawn to anywhere in particular to start.

It’s OK If There’s Blank Space

Skilled graphic designers love leaving blank areas, called negative space, in their work. Negative space simply means the empty areas around the elements of your design. The positive space is the image or object itself. Negative space allows the eye to rest, but it can also be used creatively. For example, you can use negative space to create shapes or highlight important components of your design.

Need Help? Our South Kansas City Print Shop Is Here for You

If you’re still confused about graphic design, or if you never knew there would be so much to consider as you try to design business signage, greeting cards, training materials, or displays, you’re in luck! AlphaGraphics South Kansas City is Olathe’s expert in both printing and graphic design. To finish your big print project, send us a message online, or call us at 913-236-8888 with all your ideas!

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