Reflections on Color from “Graphic Design The New Basics”

Up until now, we’ve been working in black and white for all our projects, and for good reason – color is complicated. The world however is not black and white – it is a full spectrum of colors, so it’s important to understand color and how to incorporate it into design.

There are the usual ways to describe color like primary, secondary, and tertiary colors that most of us learn in elementary school. You’ve likely heard of complementary colors as well. But color can also be described in more detail. Each hue has a distinct value (light/dark) and intensity (brightness/dullness) to it measured by shade, tint, and saturation.

Another aspect to consider is the different color models. Printers for example use a subtractive color model known as CYMK, whereas screens use an additive system known as RGB. While colors can be described using either model, knowing how these models work to form colors and when to use them is key in designing with color.

Once you know the basics of color and which model to use for your project, you have to consider how colors interact with each other. Colors together create different effects causing some aspects of your design to come forward while others fade to the back. Using this to your advantage is one way to emphasize particular areas creating drastically different designs.


Reflecting on The Fundamentals of Typography (Chapter 1)

What factors affect the text you’re reading on this blog right now? It turns out, quite a lot. The first chapter of The Fundamentals of Typography aims to provide an overview of the history and development of type.

Ironically, where this chapter fell short, for me, was in its design. It is quite possible that the design would be better suited for print than for reading on a screen, but on screen, the design was scattered. Attempting to provide an overview on a subject with such a rich history is daunting and requires careful thought in delivering it so that readers can comprehend it. Unfortunately, for this chapter, the typography and overall design detracted from its delivery. In many cases it was difficult to determine whether you were reading a heading or an example. That being said, it certainly drives home the point of just how important typography is in our every day lives.

Of notable interest in the reading was the transformations of many of our letters we use today and how their writing styles have been dictated by their mediums. The letter ‘A’ we’re so familiar with today, was originally flipped upside down, and representative of an ox. Chinese is typically written down the page rather than horizontally to account for the fact that it was commonly painted with a brush and ink or paint that needed to dry.

Reflecting on Allen Haley’s “Fonts vs. typefaces, explained by a designer”

The terms fonts and typefaces seem to be used interchangeably these days. Admittedly, that’s because their differences have been masked by the advent of desktop publishing. Unfortunately, its hard to really deduce this from Haley’s article, “Fonts vs. typefaces, explained by a designer”. Despite the title, I found the article lacking any real explanation of what make a font versus a typeface.

Instead, I turned to two other articles, Jen Kim’s “Typeface vs Font: What’s the Difference” and John Brownlee’s “What’s The Difference Between A Font And A Typeface?”. The two articles artfully depicted the differences in addition to explaining the meticulous process of crafting a typeface.

In Jen Kim’s article, the differences were explained quite creatively through a designer’s illustration of a typeface twins where each twin may look a like but weigh slightly different. Each twin is a font, and together they form a font family or typeface. It ended up being quite a good analogy for explaining the concepts.

John Brownlee’s article was similar to Allen Haley’s but included pictures that really helped. For someone who’s never actually seen any sort of analog printing equipment, it’s hard to grasp the idea of a typeface or why it would have ever been relevant, so seeing the characters displayed in their rows was a good inclusion.

Reflecting on Roberto Blake’s “5 Reasons Why You Need a Design Blog”

In this day and age, people are thinking of themselves less as an employee, and more as a brand. Regardless of whether you’re currently seeking a job or happily employed, it’s a good idea to pay attention to how you market yourself. Robert Blake offers 5 reasons why a design blog is important today in his article “5 Reasons Why You Need a Design Blog.”

Whether you think so or not, you have skills that set you apart from someone else. You are an industry expert in something, and a blog allows you to share those skills with the world. Thanks to search engines like Google, Bing, and Duck Duck Go, there’s no telling who might stumble upon your work. Many great careers have been started from a simple blog, but if you don’t put your skills out there for people to find, you’ll be missing out.

One of the biggest benefits of owning a blog is building an audience. No matter how quirky or weird you consider your style, once you have a blog, you might be surprised to find just how many others are just like you. Maybe you won’t find your next customer in your town, but thanks to the internet, that doesn’t matter. Your next customer might be on the other side of the world, but again it likely wouldn’t happen without a blog.

If all else fails, a blog is a great way to document your growth over time. I recently heard someone mention that whenever they visit a blog, they like to check out the first post on the site. It’s something I try to do whenever I visit a blog of someone I aspire to be like. Most of the time, I find a post not all that different from my own. It’s a good reminder that even the best have to start somewhere.

Reflecting on Karen Cheng’s “How to Survive Critique: A Guide to Giving and Receiving Feedback”

When it comes to improving your work, whether it be writing, design, or even just communication, being able to accept critique from others is a valuable skill. Being able to give critique is equally as important. In “How to Survive Critique: A Guide to Giving and Receiving Feedback”, Karen Cheng offers suggestions for both.

When providing feedback to others, you want to do so in an open environment free of fear. She mentions that using the “hamburger method” of sandwiching the bad between the good is a good way of doing so. I don’t necessarily agree with this. If something bad is bad, there’s no sense in sugar coating it. I do, however, agree with providing actionable suggestions making sure to explain why you’re making the suggestions. Often times, this will provide a different perspective or insight that might have otherwise been overlooked.

Receiving feedback is more challenging. First and foremost, Cheng suggests to have your work and something to say about it ready. Even if you’re only just starting, being able to explain your rationale can generate valuable feedback. The hard part about receiving feedback is accepting other’s suggestions without getting defensive. Being able to listen to particularly critical feedback without feeling crushed is a skill. Rather than becoming angry, focus on taking notes to capture what’s being suggested – this way, you can review and decide what changes to make later. The more notes you take, and the more critiques you receive, the better your end design will be, and the better you’ll get at receiving feedback for the next time too!