Principles of Design 1: Contrast

There are four main principles of design that we’ll look at this year, Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. That’s right, we’re aiming for CRAP in our work!

Contrast is probably the easiest and most obvious one. I mention contrast all the time when looking at your designs, and there’s good reason for that – it’s essential.

The most obvious type of contrast is colour/lightness, white and black. You put those two things next to each other, or one on top of the other, and things are going to appear opposite. It doesn’t get any more opposite than that. White is basically all of the colours of light, and black is none.

But that’s too easy. You don’t get to take credit for that one in this assignment. It doesn’t count.

Instead, you’ll focus on:

  • colours (other than black/white)
  • size
  • shape
  • scale
  • layout
  • type
  • alignment
  • and more!

Assignment: You’ll design a poster for an upcoming event. You can use a real event or make one up. You can make it for a sporting event, concert, meeting, bake sale, art showcase, whatever! You need to use AT LEAST THREE types of CONTRAST (again, white/black doesn’t count.) Pick 3 off of the list above to utilize, but you’ll need to EXPLAIN the types of contrast you used. If you think you can fit in more than three, even better.

You’ll put your poster together using InDesign, but you can incorporate Photoshop or Illustrator files. Make it 11 inches by 17 inches (either portrait or landscape orientation, up to you) with a .25 inch bleed. Resolution should be 300 dpi.

You need to incorporate images (high quality), some kind of shape(s), and text that is different levels of importance (such as a headline and details.)

Once you’re done, your reflection will consist of explaining the types of contrast that you used and how they drew attention toward or away from elements in your poster. Explain that clearly in a document and hand it in for your reflection mark.

More about contrast:

How to use InDesign:

Open the program (DUH!)

Click “New file”

Give your file a name (NO UNTITLED FILES WILL BE OPENED)

Change the Units to Inches

Make it 11 inches by 17 inches. You can make it Portrait or Landscape orientation (your choice!)

InDesign is often used for multi-page documents, but you only need one

Make sure you have a .25 inch bleed

Click Create

The first thing you should do is Save. Open the File menu and choose Save, or press Ctrl + S

Save it in OneDrive! (and make sure that you OPEN THE PROGRAM)

Like Illustrator, there are different Workspaces you can use. The program usually opens on Essentials, but I’m a big fan of Essentials Classic. Up at the top right of your screen, you can choose a different workspace (and I recommend that you do.)

Any other panels can be opened from the Window menu. I HIGHLY recommend opening the Properties panel:

Many of the tools on the left hand side will look familiar to the ones in Illustrator and Photoshop. Perhaps the most important one here (other than the Selection tool, of course) is the Frame tool. Every element you add MUST BE IN A FRAME. This tool looks like a rectangle with an X through it. You can also press F to activate the tool:

With that tool active, you need to draw out a frame:

You can use frames for images, text, or just use it as a shape by changing the Fill and Stroke.

If you want to put a picture or Photoshop or Illustrator file in a frame, you NEED TO go to the File menu and choose Place (or Ctrl + D)

IMPORTANT: images and files Placed in InDesign are not automatically embedded. By default, they are linked to wherever the file is on your computer. When you create something in Illustrator or Photoshop, or when you download a photo (preferably from Unsplash or The Noun Project), PUT THEM IN A FOLDER IN ONEDRIVE!

If you need more help getting started with InDesign, I recommend visiting THIS PAGE and checking out some of the InDesign Get Started course tutorials.

When you are done, MAKE SURE YOU PACKAGE your file to drop it off! If you don’t package, I won’t open it!


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