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“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.
Walt Whitman (1819–1892), American, Essayist, Journalist, Poet
tone \'to
n\ n
7 a 1: color quality or value
7 a 2: tint or shade of color b: the color
that appreciably modifies a hue or white
or black
In visual communica-
tions, tone (also identified
as value or shade) means
the degree of lightness or
darkness apparent on the surface of an object. Tone is also the rela-
tive degree of a color’s lightness or darknessits content of black
or white. It can be characterized by the degree of light that
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th e la n guag e of gr ap hic d es i gn
19 56
Experimenta typographica
Amsterdam, Holland
Willem Sandberg (1897–1984) was a
Dutch typographer and graphic designer, as
well as a unique presence in the Dutch cul-
tural world during the 1940s and 1950s.
He was born in Amersfoot, Holland,
and studied art at the State Academy of Art
in Amsterdam. As a young man, he served
as a printer’s apprentice in Herrliberg,
Switzerland. In 1927, he studied in Vienna
and then at the Bauhaus in Dessau. Follow-
ing his return to Amsterdam, he worked as
a graphic designer until he was appointed
deputy director of the Stedelijk Museum in
Amsterdam in 1938.
His main sources of inspiration were
Hendrik Werman and Piet Zwart, both
groundbreaking Dutch typographers whose
pioneering work abandoned the tenets of
conventional symmetry. Sandberg also ini-
tially agreed with the “neue typographie”
of Jan Tschichold and began to incorporate
lowercase typographic characters and un-
justified text in the majority of his work.
During World War II, Sandberg be-
came a wartime hero as the only surviving
member of a Dutch resistance group that in
1943 burned down Amsterdam’s Municipal
Office of Records in protest against the ad-
ministration of the Nazi government.
After Europe’s liberation in 1945,
Sandberg became the director of the Ste-
delijk Museum. It was at the Stedelijk that
he personally designed hundreds of its
catalogs and posters, providing the mu-
seum with a unique brand and identity. As
a designer, he produced innovative work
characterized by the use of bold type, viv-
id colors, textured papers, and signature
torn-paper forms.
From 1943 to 1945, while hiding from
the Germans and working for the under-
ground resistance, Sandberg produced the
falls on an object and how it is then reflected,
and ultimately perceived. It is also one of the
most important principles in visual commu-
nication because it helps define an object’s
size, form, and position relative to orienta-
tion and composition.
Because the majority of our perceptible
world is defined by color, it is critical that we
understand its characteristics and effects.
Tone gives a composition unique character-
istics that cannot be achieved with flat color.
These visual characteristics are spatial
depth, texture, and movement. Tone can
also increase visual impact in a powerful
and immediate way or create extreme visual
restraint and nuance that is still obvious and
palatable to the eye of the viewer.
Color is an absolute presence in our vi-
sual world; therefore, it is extremely difficult
to extract the characteristic of chroma or hue
from all of its other qualities.
A tone (or shade) is a color to which black or
another dark color or hue has been added
to make it darker, thereby tending to make
(continued on page 182)
Blok Design
Mexico City, Mexico
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