X50 // Design Elements // Color Fundamentals
Form and Space
It is the combination of content, form, and ideas that come together to
create graphic design. How an element appears within a composition is de-
termined by its placement, scale, color, balance, repetition, and other visual
variables. By manipulating form, it is possible to create an optical illusion and
to make a two-dimensional space seem like it has depth. Elements can even
appear to recede or advance. They may be static or give the impression of
movement, but they are always governed by the compositional space.
Color can help the eye find a focal point and it can suggest where a viewer
should focus. It can affect the spatial relationships on a page and can em-
phasize content and suggest movement and depth. Color relationships can
cause a viewer to experience space and information differently. By choosing
specific hues and by altering value and intensity, a designer can enhance the
message being communicated.
SUse of light and subtle color allows the images projected on these
screens to draw viewers in and shows them where to focus. Spatial
relationships are suggested, even though the images are two-dimen-
sional. Design: Shual Studio, Ramat-gan, Israel
XTLike a fun-house mirror, this composi-
tion plays with the viewer’s perception of space
and depth by employing undulating lines and two
vanishing points. The repetition of color adds em-
phasis to the illusion. Design: Melchior Imboden,
Buochs, Switzerland
WThe form of the “devil’s pitchfork” gives the
illusion of depth in this poster for the Philadelphia
Youth Orchestra. Design: Paone Design Associ-
ates, Philadelphia
TSkillful use of color makes this illustration
seem three-dimensional. By matching the red
used in the composition with the tone that is
commonly associated with Mini Coopers, the
designer taps into viewers’ previously held as-
sociations. Design: Ames Bros, Seattle
Chapter 2 // Form and Space //51
X52 // Design Elements // Color Fundamentals
background, the foreground ele-
ments should offer contrast by being
lighter, brighter, or more intense. It
is desirable to achieve a balance
so that the background comple-
ments, but does not overwhelm, the
foreground, and so that the most
important elements stand out.
Foreground and Background
A message can be most easily
understood if there is adequate
contrast between elements in the
foreground and background of a
composition. These spatial relation-
ships can also reference depth and
distance. It is particularly important
to differentiate text elements from
their background since a lack of
contrast can make it difficult for
viewers to read content. Altering the
color of text, shapes, or imagery is
an easy way to make certain items
appear to be in front of or behind
others. By placing components ac-
cording to their relative importance,
a designer can achieve visual bal-
ance and encourage the message
to be read and/or understood by
the audience.
The specific tone and intensity used
for the background is important to
the success of a composition. If the
background color is too intense,
or bright, it runs the risk of being
overpowering. On the other hand, if
a muted or dull tone is used for the
SSince most of the colors used here belong to a
similar value range, the type acts like texture and the
bright red elements stand out against the back-
ground. Design: STUDIOKARGAH, Tehran, Iran
SBright red stands out and creates real foreground space because
it is offset with the darker color of the shadow and the cool blue green
background. It is the contrast between warm and cool tones that makes
this composition stand out. Design: Uwe Loesch, Mettmann, Germany
Chapter 2 // Form and Space //53
WThe blue green background contrasts
the warm hues used for the type and makes
this simple composition exciting and engag-
ing. Design: Alex Girard, Santa Barbara City
College, Santa Barbara, California
TThis eye-catching combination may
remind viewers of a road sign, but it is sure
to stop them in their tracks.
Design: Uwe Loesch, Mettmann, Germany
TIn this poster, the foreground, middle
ground, and background are created with
color. Using a cool blue in the background
makes the silhouetted figures appear to be
in front of the other multicolored elements.
Design: Susana Machicao, La Paz, Bolivia

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