Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video How to transfer your look to a new format, part of Graphic Design Tips & Tricks Weekly.
- Hey, everybody, John McWade, senior author here at lynda.com. Today I'd like to talk about what I consider to be a critical design skill, and that's the ability to take a design, or take a look that you've created in one place and transfer it to another place. You may have created something for print, that then needs to be transferred to the web or a brochure that needs to be transferred to a poster, or just a brochure that needs to be transferred from the outside to the inside.
And by transfer I mean, repeat the look that you've created. You know, sometimes you just come up with a beautiful thing, the messaging, and the copy, and the images, and the layout all just click, and you look at it and you go, "Wow, that's gorgeous!" And your client looks at it and goes, "Wow, that's gorgeous! "Let's make everything look like that." And if your silent response to that is, "Uh-oh," that's a clue that you haven't really understood what it is you've done.
You've just lucked out. So, I'd like to talk for a little bit or show you what it takes to transfer a look. So, I have here the cover of a brochure called Healthy Living, it's for a local hospital. I just made it up for purposes of this illustration. And we have a young, pretty, healthy, girl eating her salad, you know, a little bit of copy, the colors from that copy are derived from the salad, and so on.
And we just want to move that to the inside. And what makes this challenging is that the inside has a different format, it's a different size, we'll have entirely different copy on the inside, we'll have a different photo on the inside. And so, it's how do you duplicate the look? So the place to start is by taking an inventory of what you already have. And, like I said, this starts with this young model, she's pretty, she's healthy, she's making eye contact, she's smiling at us.
We have copy, the type here is set in myriad pro light. It's a great typeface for this kind of thing, very open, very fresh, projects a feeling of health and cleanliness. The color is a bright salad green, or a kind of a lime green, Popsicle green, the subhead is set in the same myriad pro light type, but gray, so it recedes a bit. Those are the obvious things. The colors are derived from the picture.
And these are the colors that are in the picture, or the basic colors that are in the picture, they're not, however, in the proportions that you see them in the picture. In the picture we see a very little bit of red, even though red is almost the focal point. And a lot of white, a lot of flesh tone. What's harder to see is that this picture is sort of photographed in open space. It's not confined to this cover, but she's been photographed against a predominately white background that just sort of fades off into infinity.
And it's very open, very fresh, very free flowing. You know, her shape is an organic shape that just kind of moves off into all directions. So when we add our copy to this, you can see that the only reason the picture is cropped the way it is is because we've encountered the limits of our sheet of paper. But your eye kind of filters that out. And the impression you have is that she is in a much bigger, more open space.
And so, that's what we want to capture. That feeling is what we want to capture on the inside. When you're thinking about how to go about this, you know, after you've stared at this page for maybe a half an hour, your first temptation might be to just draw a border around it. You might not do this, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen this done. And I think this is probably an effort to contain the problem, you know, to make it smaller.
You don't have this infinity of what do I do and where do I go, and how do I even start. It's sort of the visual equivalent of saying, "Um." And it would be fine, but the problem is when you draw a rectangle, you create more rectangles, you know, you now have a black rectangle, you have a white rectangle inside the black rectangle, you have straight edges, hard lines, sharp corners, and what it does is make you realize that this is a rectangular space.
It's a finite space. And you had no sense of that before when it was empty, it was just open space. You know, the confined space is very different from the look of our cover model. And even if you pick up a color from the cover, which is a good thing to do, and bring it over, it helps because it lowers the contrast, but there's still a rectangle that confines the space. And you begin creating something that looks and feels different from the cover.
So, don't do that. We place our photo on the spread, and this picture is a good one. It has a lot in common with the cover. He's young, he's good looking, he's healthy, he's smiling, he's making eye contact, but he's in a rectangular frame. And so no matter where on the spread you put this photo, it creates a rectangle, and whenever you create a rectangle, you create another shape in the negative space. And so now you have these two funky shapes.
And if you leave it like this, you need to design to those rectangles. Rectangles are very different from the feeling of the front. And it doesn't matter where you put the picture. If you put it over here on the left, and you get these two funky shapes that have nothing in common with our cover model. And even if you enlarge this picture, and just fill one whole page with it, which is really a logical thing to do, you've still created a sharp, vertical division. And the inside now has a white page and a dark page that themselves feel different from the cover.
The only way we could make this picture work is if we crop our model out of his background. And now he has a nice organic shape that mimics hers. And we're off to a good start. But I don't want to show you this picture, I would rather show you this one. This is the same model, and he has all the same qualities. You know, he's smiling, he's making eye contact, he's fit. He has now, you know, a nice organic edge around him, like she does.
And he's feeling more like the front. Now add the copy. To do the copy, the headline is in the same typeface and basically the same size as on the front, same color, bring those elements over. The lead paragraph is the same myriad pro light, same as the cover, colored gray so it recedes a little bit. The right edge has kind of a ragged line to it, which is a good thing, that's very natural, very organic feeling.
And now we're starting to get a good look on the inside that feels a lot like the outside, in type, in color, with the model, and with the open white space. You may be tempted as you work to make this headline bold. Not that you will, but it's an easy temptation. And the bold looks good. The reason we do things like this is because we tend to work on the spread in isolation.
We're sort of making the spread itself look good, and we kind of lose contact with the front. But what happens when you make it bold is one, it's a different kind of thing than the cover, there's nothing like it on the cover. It would be worse, I think, if we were making a different typeface, but even a heavier version of the same typeface is foreign to the cover. And what you also do, because this type is now bold, it creates a much stronger horizontal line that wasn't there before, and you don't want that.
Another thing you don't want to do is add a panel to the page, a color behind the model. The good thing about this panel is that it's colored green, so we've picked up that color from the cover, but you can tell that a huge amount of green looks very different from a small amount of green. But the real problem here is now the page has two basic zones on it. It has a green area and it has a white area divided by a sharp horizontal edge.
And that's a very different feel from the cover, too. This would be a perfectly fine design some other place, some other time, but not here. And it doesn't matter what color we make that panel, we turn it yellow to pick up the color of the squash in her salad. You know, it lightens it, so the contrast isn't so great. But still it's two panels. The blue is the color of her jeans. The other thing when we add a panel like this and the horizontal edge that accompanies it, is that when we add that line, we automatically get another line right here, that wasn't there before.
And with that line there, the headline becomes more obvious, and we can also see this line and this line. None of those lines were there before. None of those stripes were there before. And just by adding that panel, we've now created stripes. And stripes have nothing to do with the cover. It's a different form factor. So you don't want to go to any of those places. So let's take all of those away and get back to where we were to this light, open, free-flowing look that we have.
And it would be great if we could stop right here, but we have a lot more copy to add, so we'll do that in three columns which are the natural break points for this text. They have a nice ragged, right organic edge and feel. And now the inside of this brochure has a great deal in common with the cover: the type, the colors, the model, the openness of it. But there's two more things.
It is different from the cover in color. The cover is a lot more colorful than the inside. Because he's wearing black, and our type is green and gray, basically the inside of this is black, white, green and gray. And so we want to bring some of the cover color to the inside. And to do that, we'll pick up some of the blue that she's wearing, and brighten it a bit on the inside. There's so little blue that we're bringing in that brightening it will actually make it look bright to color those heads.
The final step will be to bring from the outside to the inside those red cherry tomatoes, which have the same role on the inside as they had on the outside, and they are a focal point. And so now we have an inside made up of entirely different material than the outside that has a very similar look and feel to the outside. It's not like when you open this brochure you've landed in some foreign place. But you're in the same place and there's just a flow from one to the next.
I think the only thing more that we can do to make this more like the cover is to Photoshop some of those distant curtains from behind our cover model and put them behind our guy. If we go back to the first photo of the guy and put him in, this works, too. But there are two reasons I chose not to do this. The two models are starting to look like too much of the same thing. They're both wearing blue, and they're both predominantly vertical.
So we're kind of copying the cover, which we don't want. Instead we want to complement it and just pick up the feel, which we've done with this version. So, that's how you do it. You start by taking inventory of the things you've designed: your colors, your typography, your images, and you look particularly for the abstract qualities that you may overlook.
In this case it's like the lightness and the airiness of our cover model. And don't introduce foreign elements into the design, even inadvertently. And that's your design for today. We'll cover this topic again, it is a critical design skill.
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