So far, we've covered most of the formal issues in Layout. So it's time to tackle the more complicated ideas. Images are a designers most impactful tool. They are universal, require little explanation, and like the saying goes, one image is worth 1,000 words. Before we delve too deeply into images and meaning, it's important to know how to use them. The first step with any image is knowing how and when to crop it, and yes unless you're working with a piece of fine art, it's okay to crop an image. You're the designer, you make the rules.
Let's start with the nitty gritty. First, never crop a person at a joint. This tends to make someone look like they lost a limb or their head. I find it best to crop an image of someone mid-limb. This way we know that there's actually more of the leg there. Next, focus on the subject. Is there an old car in the background that doesn't add to the message? Every element is a distraction from the main focus, so zoom in and crop out anything extraneous. And look at the edges. This is a good trick photographers use.
Look at each corner in the frame. Is there an element there that doesn't need to be there? Crop these out. Now, let's look at the way a crop can change a message. This book cover uses an image from a Victorian circus poster. In this form, it looks like a book about circus life. But the tight crop into one detail of a larger image creates the idea of tightrope and balance. This book is about life out of balance. Cropping an image is the best way to focus on the important elements and tell a story, but leave a sense of mystery.
This works on Illustrations and Photography. It eliminates the unnecessary parts of an image and forces the viewer to pay attention. The biggest hurdle designers face with images and cropping is fear. Is it okay to crop someone's image? Absolutely, it's your layout. If it doesn't work nobody is going to blame the photographer. The page is your world, you are the boss, do what needs to be done to create something strong and powerful.
- What makes a successful layout?
- Layout elements: shape, line, color, texture, type, and space
- Using balance and tension to create a dynamic layout
- Adding drama with contrast and scale
- Working with proportions: golden section, rule of thirds, etc.
- Creating the right grid for your design
- Choosing simplicity or excess
- Adding an element of surprise
- Making images and typography work together