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Graphic Designer's Essential Reference by Timothy Samara

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Job:07-26153 Title:RP-Graphic Designer’s Essential Reference PB Edn
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GRAPHIC DESIGNER’S ESSENTIAL REFERENCE
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Defi ning Clear Visual Hierarchy
Strong composition depends not only on the
compositional states of the various elements,
but also on how those states contribute to
the viewer being able to navigate, or under-
stand, the content, and in what order the
content should be “read” (whether in terms
of type or purely pictorial content). Defi n-
ing this order, or hierarchy, and controlling
the sequence in which viewers will perceive
and assimilate each level of information is an
unavoidable process in every design project,
no matter how straightforward it is.
In coming to determine the most
important element (whether pictorial or
typographic), the designer most often relies
on common sense by answering the simple
question: What do I need to look at fi rst?
Beyond simply establishing this entry point
into a sequence, the designer must also
ensure that elements don’t compete with each
other. This often means making some formal
attributes
such as relative sizes, densities, or
spatial intervals
subtler or more nuanced,
while exaggerating others so that the viewer
can process the material more effi ciently
without sacrifi cing vitality and tension.
General Methods for Ordering Material
Focusing attention on one form within a
composition most often results from two
primary strategies: differentiating that
element from all others (by means of exag-
gerated scale, density, or color distinction),
and/or arranging surrounding elements so
that the orientation of their angles, curves,
or interstitial spaces directs the eye toward
it. With the fi rst strategy, viewers tend to
perceive a special emphasis on a form or
space that separates itself in some way from
the gestalt of the composition: While all other
forms share similar relationships, the most
important form has unique attributes. To
create a more complex hierarchy using this
approach
establishing decreasing levels of
importance in a sequence of elements
the
unique attribute applied to the top element
may be applied in diminishing degrees to
each subsequent form.
Under the second general strategy, known
as continuity, the relative proximity of sur-
rounding forms creates an emphasis on the
primary form and then directs the eye to a
secondary location. Designers may use each
strategy individually or in tandem.
hierarchical strategies
DIFFERENTIATION
CONTINUITY
Scale
Rotational
Alignment
Weight or Density
Axial Alignment
Alignment
Spatial Progression:
Interval
Direction
Spatial Progression:
Scale/Depth
Rhythm
Structural Focus
Proximity
Triangulation
Identity or
Proportion
Spiraling
Orientation
Stepping
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Job:07-26153 Title:RP-Graphic Designer’s Essential Reference PB Edn
#175 Dtp:204 Page:18
001-035_26153.indd 18
7/12/11 10:30 AM

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