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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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Every pictorial element falls on a continuum
between the literal, or representational, and
the abstract. The method of making the picto-
rial element is referred to as its mode, and the
degree of stylization and, therefore, inter-
pretation, imposed by the designer is defi ned
as mediation. A photograph of a fi gure and a
stylized, geometric drawing of a fi gure are
both representational
but if the photograph
is lit dramatically and the fi gure’s position
highly contrived (in contrast to the neutral
presentation of the drawing), the photograph
may be considered more mediated than the
drawing. Still, photographic images tend to
be perceived as “real,” or “believable,” simply
because they depict an empirical experi-
ence. Illustrative images, even if extremely
naturalistic, will always be perceived as
inventions and, therefore, less credible than
photos. Choose the degree of abstraction, the
image mode, and mediate it according to the
conceptual and informational necessities of
the project.
Mixing Image Treatments
As with all compositional strategies, creating
contrast among visual elements is key
and
this is no less true for imagery. Along with
overall compositional contrast (achieved
through scale, spacing, and positioning
changes), combining different image modes
is effective in creating tension and liveliness
in a layout. Its important, however, that while
the different image modes being combined
contrast each other decisively, they also share
some visual qualities so as to clearly relate.
Working with Imagery
Tip
Whenever Possible, Customize Photography
1 Colorize, tone, or ghost the image
to reduce the sense of realism.
2 Crop subjects in an unconven-
tional, dramatic way.
3 Combine photographs—or parts of
several—in unusual confi gurations.
4 Introduce a texture, pattern, or
abstract visual language into the
photographic space.
5 Silhouette objects or fi gures to
remove them from their expected,
natural environments.
6 Present photographs in unconven-
tional shapes, instead of rectangles.
Although the semantic content
of the images is the same
(seeing any of them establishes
the same factual knowledge),
the mode of representation has
consequences for our percep-
tion of meaning that may be
associated with the image. The
photograph’s clarity alludes
to the apple’s freshness and
All three images depict the
same subject, an apple, but
using different modes. In this
example, the “pure” photo-
graph is the least mediated;
while the two illustrative
images are inherently more
mediated than the photo-
graph, the paper collage is
more mediated than the
charcoal drawing.
organicism; the charcoal draw-
ing skews its allusion toward
the act of creation, and may be
read with a somber overlay; the
collage of cut paper in primary
colors suggests a childlike, or
educational, metaphor.
Sharpened, stylized plant
images drive the identity for
a design studio, above.
Grow Creative: Portland, OR:
United States
Important elements in the
book cover, right, are colorized
in the production process.
DesignLiga: Munich, Germany
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Job:07-26153 Title:RP-Graphic Designer’s Essential Reference PB Edn
#175 Dtp:204 Page:20
001-035_26153.indd 20
7/12/11 10:30 AM

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