John McWade presents a biweekly series that touches on all areas of design, helping designers new and old sharpen their skills and create more powerful work.
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- Hi everyone. John McWade. Here's an easy way to design a good looking name out of just type and a basic shape: square, circle, triangle. It's great for signs, for product labels, whatever, and it's interesting. What I like is that it shows the unique strengths of each of those shapes. A square can't do what a circle can and vice versa. We want to take advantage of that. Let's have a look. A square or a rectangle is planted on the ground, stable and stationary.
It doesn't want to move or roll or tip. It's a masculine shape straight, not curvy. It's also a built shape. It doesn't occur in nature. It's the shape of structure, walls, buildings, monuments. We're going to make a sign for our restaurant. All we're going to do is assemble a collage of rectangles like this. I'm doing this by eye just making it up. Where things overlap, we can add other rectangles or not.
Trust your eye on this. These are masculine shapes. I'm using masculine colors which tend to be dark. If you know the colors you want, great. If you don't, you can rely on a site like Adobe Color to build a palette for you based on a theme, super easy. What you'll notice though is I have a narrow value range. These are all pretty much the same range of dark. That creates a uniform background. A low contrast background for the name.
This is Wade Sans Light masculine type face, stylish, hard-edged, angular, upper case, which is also masculine, and that's all there is to it. It's hanging together so well because all the elements, shapes, colors and type are saying the same thing each in it's own way. You can put this on the building. It can go on menu covers. It's easy to make, super versatile.
There are a million ways you can do these squares. Let's look at another one. This time we'll go feminine. Draw an oval, very light color, a circle, very light color, another circle, very light color. Soft shapes, soft colors, soft edges, gentle transitions, very feminine.
Squares can't do this. Now, the typeface, Helvetica Neue Ultra Light, barely there, all curves, feminine. What's more feminine than curves and white? Super light. Add the tagline in gray and it's beautiful. Great product label, shopping bag, whatever you need. Shapes, colors, type all working together.
One more, this with triangles. If you've been following my work, you've seen this before. A pyramid on the ground is a stable shape, but otherwise triangles are unstable. They're tippy. They're unpredictable. They're full of crackle and tension, almost electric, and wherever they overlap, they form more triangles. We have a little collage here. Again, just make this by eye and color it with bright snappy colors.
Lots of energy here. Nothing subtle. These are party shapes and party colors. Add the name. This typeface is Roxy, full of triangles, too, and playful, and our secondary information in Atlas. Same thing and we're done. Very cool. Again, all the elements compliment one another, and that's your design for today. See you next time.