Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video What is layout, part of Learning Graphic Design: Layouts.
- Layout is the universal design tool. It's the presentation. To layout a page, means to use type and graphics and space, to create story, and voice, and engagement. Most layouts are static, nothing moves. They don't have to be; layouts can also move as they often do on the web, but for this course we'll focus on static layout and the reason is that everything we need to know can be learned there. Get the still page mastered and adding motion is a snap.
When you think of layout, chances are you think of it as a mechanical thing. You have a page, which is a finite space, you have a fixed amount of material that go into that space, you may have a grid of columns and your job is to fill that space in a way that looks good. There are two main kinds of layout; there's grid layout and there's free-form layout. Grid is structure. It's a set of horizontal and vertical guides that govern or at least guide where things go. The simplest grid is what you'll use for a letter, a white paper, a report, data; just a single sheet typically one column that you fill with text and perhaps a head and subheads.
Very little need to be expressive because the value is all in the words. A more complex grid layout is what you'll find in a magazine, a periodical, any repetitive document; you create a grid. You might think of it as a framework to accept text and headers, and images and such, and that framework becomes the layout, which you then fill issue to issue with different content. The details will vary but the overall look won't. It's like a newspaper. Most layout though isn't built on a grid.
There's not a preset structure. Most layout is free-form. It starts with a blank page and grows more organically. Free-form layout is like a printed version of live speech or play, or gesture, sometimes even music. It's fluid. The look of the layout uniquely conveys the content of the layout. If the content changes, the look changes. It may end up looking structured, but that's not where it begins.
We're gonna look at both kinds starting with grid layout.
John also provides two start-to-finish projects, which show how these design principles play out in real-world layouts.
- Keeping the layout simple
- Handling images
- Adjusting page margins
- Using a grid for design