Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video How to design without graphics, part of Before & After: Graphic Design Techniques.
Reader Karen Klum writes lamenting her image free company's insistence on text only documents. We can use no graphics at all, she said. It's incredibly boring. What can we do? (LAUGH) Karen, to you and your silently suffering soulmates, that's a tough one. The short answer is, use more white space. It doesn't sound like much, but here's what's going on.
In image free design, you basically have two elements to work with. You have white stuff that is basically the page or the screen. And you have black stuff in this case type that goes on that page. When you fill the page entirely with black, the white disappears. It really becomes just a passive carrier for all those words. You want to get the white involved in the design. And to do that, you need to make more of it.
Now you have two visible things. You have black, and you have white. And the white now is going to play an active role in the design. You can already see that it creates kind of a zone of silence around your words. It's, it's very book-like. It makes it easier to see the words, and they're more pleasant to read. To see this in action, let's fill the brochure page with text. In this case, a list of donors. White is playing no role in this design. But by reducing the size of the list, we activate the white. It now has weight and presence, and it has shape. The white doesn't need to be white either, it can be any color, including grey.
Once we have the space, we can add a large head in beautiful type. This is adobe garamond. And by turning that head white, we give ourselves a third level of hierarchy. And that is of depth. Add a subhead and we're done. The result is a visible narrative made of beautiful type, clear hierarchy and silent space. All this, in addition to that original list of names. And you might be thinking to yourself, well, yes, that's nice.
But we need our names as big as we had them in the first place. Now what? Well, there's a solution but it requires turning the page sideways. We'll place our head, we'll place our sub head. Now, we'll take that list of names and run it all together paragraph style separated by bullets. And what we've done is borrow that original unused white. And turned it into active space that had shape. It has texture and by the turning the page grey we add that third level of heirarchy.
That depth back into it. So to review, when you have no images you need to get your white space active in your design.
This course was created and produced by the Before & After magazine team. We are honored to host this content in our library.
- How to design a logo fast
- Designing a business card
- Understanding the power of empty space
- Typesetting a list of names
- Working around a weak photo