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Before & After: Things Every Designer Should Know
Illustration by John Hersey

Get extreme


From:

Before & After: Things Every Designer Should Know

with John McWade

Video: Get extreme

Another kind of focal point, another way of getting simple is to do what I call Get Extreme. And this usually takes the form of making one element on your page extremely big. Here's an example. Take a simple Dingbat Font. Dingbat fonts are full of tiny graphics that are small enough that you'd normally overlook.

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Before & After: Things Every Designer Should Know
1h 5m Appropriate for all Feb 27, 2013

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Appearance may not be everything, but how something looks has a fundamental impact on how it's perceived, what it communicates, and whether it succeeds. In this course, author John McWade of Before & After magazine shares foundational graphic design techniques that will make your page, screen, product, or presentation look and perform its best.

These design essentials can be used by nondesigners as tips, tricks, and shortcuts, and by professionals as building blocks to greater understanding. Each lesson is a short, easy-to-understand how-to that can be applied regardless of the brand of software and hardware you use. This course was created and produced by the Before & After magazine team. We are honored to host this content in our library.

Subjects:
Design Page Layout Typography Design Techniques Design Skills
Author:
John McWade

Get extreme

Another kind of focal point, another way of getting simple is to do what I call Get Extreme. And this usually takes the form of making one element on your page extremely big. Here's an example. Take a simple Dingbat Font. Dingbat fonts are full of tiny graphics that are small enough that you'd normally overlook.

And just enlarge one of those graphics to super size, add your line of type, and you've really created a dynamic, a kind of exciting, interesting to look at poster out of something very small. Another example is the clock. In this case, the art on the clock is kind of the scrawled handwritten name.

Key here is that it's so big it doesn't quite fit the space. It bleeds out on to both sides. It's very attractive. It is the focal center of the clock. It doesn't have to be handwritten. Here, we're using Helvetica Neue-Black with very much the same effect. Key is to make it too big to fit the space. So, get extreme with it. Another example, a magazine ad built around a single statement.

In this case, we've taken the number 48 and just enlarged it to super size, bled it right off the left side of the page, added the copy, added a photograph, picked a color from that photograph to color the 48, and just by getting extreme, created a handsome design, clear focal point, clear hierarchy, simple presentation, easy to read.

A last example, we're creating a poster out of two visual elements: the Geisha and the fan. We have a favorite design instructor who will tell her students to make one element large and the other one small, and typically they will come back with this. And one is larger, in fact, and one is smaller. But that's not what she means. What she means is this, one element extremely big, and the other one tiny.

Place the fan on top of the Geisha, and add the copy. And what's interesting here is that the copy which is beautifully set becomes kind of a second focal point on this poster. And every line on the page, note, I mean her nose, her line of sight from her eyes, her lapel shapes are all pointing straight down the page to the fan and the headline.

She is so big, she doesn't fit the space. So, an extremely large picture, a tiny image makes a very handsome poster.

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