Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing a small-space advertisement, part of Graphic Design Tips & Tricks.
- Hi, everyone, John McWade. Today we're looking at a company called Mad About Mud. Dirt bikes, ATVs, trucks, buggies, ground-shaking, bone-jarring motorized outdoor fun stuff. Problem is, their graphics look like they were done in church, and we need to get them looking more like mud. Common design problem, think less about layout and more about making your design look like what it is. Let's have a look.
It's a simple ad, clearly presented. Logo at the top, great photo, obvious offer, everything clean, centered, buttoned up. The data's here, but what's missing is pretty obvious. It's that sweaty, growly, mud-slinging vitality. It's too clean. The photo's the muddy part, but it's so small you can't feel that, and all that white around it just puts a hush on everything.
Even the logo is too clean. Sharp edges, very neat, so let's get some energy into this thing. Best thing we have is a great photo, so throw everything aside, turn the page sideways, and fill it with photo wall to wall, and just like that, it's transformed. It's in our face, it's rattling our teeth, we're there, we're on the ground in the scene. Next thing, we need a typeface that feels like mud.
Mud is all about texture, cracks, bumps, splatters, irregularities. A lot of typefaces fit this description. We're going to use one called Sabotage. It's muddy, it's oozy, and it's condensed. Condensing your type intensifies it. Here it is in nice mud colors. Next step, we're going to need a face for the small type, and for this we'll use Trade Gothic. It has clean edges that I just complained about, but that's a trade off for its readability in small sizes, which you can see here.
It's condensed, but much less than Sabotage, so when it gets small, which you can see here on the outside, it's more readable. Besides, by the time we're done, it'll be covered in mud, so we're fine. Next step, we need a place for that type, so I'm going to mark a horizon like this and delete the background except for the flying mud. I'll sample a mud color from the tire and build a background with it. This gives us a smooth field for our type, but it keeps the mud, and it keeps that coming over the horizon feel to the buggy.
Now, set in place the offer. This is Sabotage, question is how big. This is going to be up to you. It's usually an issue of how much emphasis you want to give it. Here it is much bigger. Send it behind the mud layer, and we're getting pretty intense and dirty, but at this size it's too big for the other things we have to fit there, so let's split the difference like this. Still big enough to have lots of rumble. Add the logo back in along the margin. We're not going to change it, it is the logo, but the mud splatters help, and the angle helps keep it energized.
Last step is to add color, both of which are sampled from the photo. The small type, which looked clean a few screens ago but is plenty muddy here is at 20% tint of the background color. And there ya go. Grubby, earthy, same data, full of energy. Before, after. To review, get your image big, big equals engagement. Rather than viewing it politely from a distance, get your type big and dense to sustain the intensity, and use the off-kilter quality of the image to drive the off-kilter placement of everything else.
And that's your design for today, seeya next time.