Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video Common but versatile looks, part of Graphic Design Tips & Tricks Weekly.
- Some typefaces are so specialized that you'll use them once or twice in a career. Others, though, are much more common, more generic, and far more versatile. They go with many, many things. Helvetica would be an example of that, Georgia, Myriad. Some design techniques are like that, too. They just work in a lot of situations. This is one of those. It's really simple, all you do is start with a very pretty photo and then you place type in the center of it, and usually in some kind of frame.
In this case, it's a circle. The frame can be embellished, it can be plain. Most often you'll set the type in all caps, that's because it's something of a title, and you'll often spread the type out. It's a really nice look, you can use it over and over. It has a warm, textured quality to it, kind of story-like. There's a handmade quality about it and for any story, any message that's in that range, this is worth trying.
A few things to be mindful of. First is that you'll want a typeface that compliments your picture. This type is called Vanitas, it's early 20th century, stereotypically Parisian, kind of highbrow. The subhead is much smaller. It's Miller Text, a serif face, a lot of detailing. Good contrast with Vanitas, a contrast of style and a contrast of size.
Its texture, there's a lot of detailing in those serifs, also compliments the texture in the cityscape behind it. Because there's kind of a sepia tone to this, I picked up the colors for the two typefaces right from the Eiffel Tower. More often than not, this'll be your model. A primary typeface big and a complementary secondary face that's small. It's all centered, that's important because the centered is the placid place.
It's not moving, all eyes go there. That's what we want. Aligned left or right would put asymmetrical tension into the design, it would start creating movement. An entirely different feel. So, here's another. Different look, same technique. Two typefaces as before. Anastasia is set in Mozart Script. Very fine-line penmanship picks up the feel of the lace behind it.
The type above and below is Minion Pro, a serif face, all caps. Again, very small, very loosely spaced. It's just quiet and elegant that way. The fourth line is also Mozart Script, so you have alternating typefaces. Minion, Mozart, Minion, Mozart, centered in a double line frame. Really pretty.
It's also a little bit busy. The type is very fine, the photo is finely detailed. The lace, the flowers, the leaves of the book. I like it, but if it's harder to read than you want, you can try adding white translucency to the frame like this. This is about a 40% translucency. Very nice. Here's a third look. This is slicker, more modern. Just a thin line of Gotham Black, uppercase, stretching across the image.
Small line of Minion Bold in contrast above it. It's the same typeface we just saw. Everything's centered, but no frames. I like this look. I mean, it's so clear, yet so understated. The Kent and Dane name, the Signature Denims, I can take it all in. It's not shouting at me and yet there's a lot of presence in this. There's so many ways to do this. I have one more. In this case the type is all similar.
Uppercase, very condensed. There's a contrast of weight and size. It's new, it's slippery. Joe Surf is set in a face called Dharma Gothic C, that's Dharma, D-H-A-R-M-A. And the sub-line is in Bebas Neue Light, that's Bebas, B-E-B-A-S. Squarish box in the center with a very lightly translucent tint of black.
That's all there is to it. Start with a nice picture, frame your type in the middle like a title, usually in contrasting faces. Darken or lighten the frame as necessary. Your type will almost always be black or white, keeps it simple. Joe Surf in yellow is an exception. But that's the fun, you'll find exceptions. Because this technique works for so many things, it makes a good template and you'll find a lot of templates that use it.
They're great for getting ideas. You might poke around at canva.com and go from there. And that's your design for today, see you next time.
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