Skill Level Appropriate for all
- [John] In Barnes and Noble the other day, I came across this. This is a page from New Beauty magazine. Topics are hair, and skin, and makeup, and wellness, and fitness, very feminine, and gorgeous. Design-wise, New Beauty is as pretty a magazine as I'm aware of. Just front to back, full of great detailing. And detailing we can learn from. Look at this layout. I love this. Just type and flowers.
It's beautiful. I looks like a poster. What's interesting, too, is that it's easy, at least its construction: soft gray page, center a headline on it, lay flowers on top, and if we just stop there, you can see its simplicity. Then add text. Its beauty, of course, is in the details. In this case, it starts with the magazine's display typeface with is called Chiswick. It's a ditto style, very light on the page.
Dittos just say elegance. They have an upright stance, and these beautiful hairline strokes and serifs. The leading, or line spacing here is super-tight. It's negative. It's about 120 points on 90 points. The space between the lines is about the width of a letter stroke, and by that I mean this, the channel between the lines, this space is the same as these spaces. Leading this tight works only in caps.
Lower-case letters would collide. The flowers obviously are on top. Don't forget the shadows. I'd say this is a job for Photoshop, but it's so convincing, it may have been shot live, flowers literally on the paper. If not, it certainly looks like it, and that realism is important. The type coloring is soft black, shadow gray, and olive pulled from the flowers. The captions are in a contrasting sans serif called Graphik, or grafeek, g-r-a-p-h-i-k, also a house style used throughout the magazine.
One sentence each, very clear, so you have the contrast of style and size. I just love looking at this, zooming in, seeing detail, colors here, contrasts there. One of the hallmarks of good design is that you like looking at it; you just enjoy what you see. It's a way to measure your own work, too. Once you decide something, do you like looking at it? I think the lesson here is how effortless a design can look when you don't try to force things.
Note what's not here: no panels, no borders, no corner effects, there's nothing artificial. It's type and four flowers. Done. And it looks like what it says: natural, fresh, organic, clean, wholesome, done. I think this is a classic case of letting the art work. Your job is to just get out of the way. This is why I like magazines. They're full of ideas like this you can transfer to other venues, and it's good practice to do that, if for no other reason than practice.
So I did. Type on the page. I sized each of these lines to make a rectangle. The rectangle would look like this. The L and the Y, these L's and these Y's have arms at the end that kind of mess up this line. Not too bad, there's not much to do about that. Add the photos, in this case they're in the back. This is easier. There's no masking required, and here it works fine.
Then captions if you want them, or whatever your project calls for. This would work as a brochure cover, a webpage, whatever. It's a different look, no dressy, earthier, more masculine. The headline type is Century Old Style. Again, tightly set, which is a rule of thumb for display type. That's type that's big. The thin side line gives is a faintly hand-tooled look, nice and woody. Captions are in Benton sans, although any number of styles would coordinate with Century.
And by the way, this handling of type, style, shape, tooling, is also a treatment that I've seen elsewhere, and you probably have, too. So to review, simply find designs you like looking at, then combine the parts into something new, and that's your design for today. See you next time.
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