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Put white to work

From: Before & After: Things Every Designer Should Know

Video: Put white to work

Another essential is to make use of white space. Now, this is going to be similar to the focal point. White space is a requirement for all design. You can't really design without it. And to see how that works, just look at the stack of coins. It's like those apples that we saw earlier. They are just all over the place, a lot of coins, no real clear place to look. We're going to have a stronger presentation if we get rid of half the coins.

Put white to work

Another essential is to make use of white space. Now, this is going to be similar to the focal point. White space is a requirement for all design. You can't really design without it. And to see how that works, just look at the stack of coins. It's like those apples that we saw earlier. They are just all over the place, a lot of coins, no real clear place to look. We're going to have a stronger presentation if we get rid of half the coins.

Now, we have a coin half, a white half, and we have an interesting line that divides the two halves. In this case, we'll turn the white half green. We still call this white space. You can think if it as negative space, perhaps. Add our headline and logo and have a handsome design very simply. Another example, here we have a page with a picture of the Sage and its description.

But along with that, we also have a gradient fill on the background, we have some shadows, we have some rectangles, we have a border around the gradient fill, a lot of extra non-communicating material, or I should say it's not non-communicating, it actually is communicating, but it's noise, it's not communicating anything about the Sage or about the copy or any of that. So, the solution here is to get rid of all that material, and rely on white space as your canvas.

Get the photograph out of that box, make it large, reduce the size of the word Sage, add the copy, and you now have a very calm, minimal presentation. The only things on it are the key communicating elements, the photograph and the text. Very handsome, simple to design, you didn't have to make all the decisions about, gee, should I put a border or a box or a background or a shadow or anything? You just don't have to make any of those decisions.

Just present the material simply and clearly in open white space. Here is a way to use white that's especially useful if you're printing on an office desktop printer, one of those ones that can't print to the edge. So, what happens typically is you'll get an unprinted white frame around your image. The real problem with that is that it's an undesignable space.

On some printers, it's wider on one side than the other, and it's going to mess up your design, at least if you have a design that wants to bleed to the edge. So, the solution for this sounds paradoxical, but it's to create more white. You bring your image in a long way from the edge of the page, and now that frame disappears, and just use the pure white background basically as a design element, very handsome cover using the material at hand.

Several ways to arrange this, you can center it, could be flushed to the right, flushed to the left, whatever. But in every case, the key is to make that undesignable white become your background in your canvas, and make your positive space, your images smaller on the page. This allows you to shape them, to move them around, to create hierarchy for them.

Great solution.

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Before & After: Things Every Designer Should Know

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John McWade
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