Have you ever been struck by a beautiful visual design? Did it evoke emotion, purpose, and bias toward a product, service, or company?
We’ve all had moments that a design touched our hearts and minds. It didn’t happen by accident. The creator of these amazing pieces isn’t only a visual artist making some kind of visual art.
The person who makes visual designs is a visual designer. They follow tried and true steps to wiggle their way into your psyche and into the deepest parts of your soul.
Have you always wanted to master the power of visual design for yourself? Keep reading to find out how you too can make mind-blowing designs that pack a punch.
Having a Story to Tell
Before you make a visual design, you must absolutely have a story to tell. Otherwise, you have nothing to share. Sometimes the hardest part is trying to find the story in the first place.
Looking at a blank piece of paper is the scariest thing for a visual artist or a writer. Writer’s block happens to every writer at some point, but the phenomenon happens to every creative. This is true for visual artists, writers, musicians, and even dancers.
The trick is to get started, even if it’s no good at first and lacks direction. Another is to search out a story through adventure, emotion, or research.
Once you have the story you want to tell, you can get to work in telling it. If you aren’t sure why it’s so important, read more about the why and how of telling stories visually.
Back to Basics: Making a Firm Foundation
No one likes rules, but every successful visual design follows rules — even if it means the designer is breaking them. First of all, though, you have to know what they are.
You can’t bend or break a rule you don’t understand. If you do, it ends up as an unsuccessful design that falls flat. If you’re breaking rules, you have to know why and how you’re going to break them to make the visual design a success.
It’s important to know that in this field if you’re skipping any of these steps or breaking design rules for no other reason than you’d rather not incorporate it, it’s called laziness or ignorance by your peers. What you’ll hear from clients is various forms of something about the design “just doesn’t feel right” or “doesn’t feel complete.”
To overcome this, it’s essential to master the basics of visual design: elements and principles of design. That’s the difference between a master visual designer and an uninitiated novice. Having a deep understanding of elements, principles, and thousands of hours honing your craft help, too.
Top athletes never stop going back to the basics even after decades of working on them. The same is true for a master visual designer.
Elements of Visual Design
There are six foundation elements to visual design. Anything design you ever see is a combination of these elements.
Sometimes, people also add negative space, otherwise known as whitespace, as an element of design. This is the space around, between, and inside of shapes, such as letters or elements of a design. You can have micro and macro whitespace, as well as passive and active whitespace.
The five types of lines are vertical, horizontal, diagonal, zigzag, and curved. Lines vary in length, width, weight, texture, and style. The styles are continuous, dotted, dashed, or gestural.
To modify a simple line, you can use direction, shape, size, texture, value, and color to achieve all of these types, styles, and qualities.
Shapes are parts of a design made up of lines of varying qualities, types, and so on. A shape can and often are made using several elements in a design.
Color helps to set a tone to your piece that line and shape alone can’t achieve. Texture helps to define a surface to give it depth and volume in a three-dimensional aspect. Value is the lightness or darkness of a thing, which also works hand in hand with texture to create volume.
Principles of Visual Design
There are several principles of visual design that follow the elements. This is basically how you use the elements of design.
All of these work together to create a successful visual design. Space has already been covered as positive shapes and negative whitespace. It’s such an important usage of shape, line, and form that many times people do actually call it an element rather than a principle.
Hierarchy is a way of showing the differences and significance between different page elements. This can be a header for text or something that stands out as most important.
Close proximity of elements being together group objects and automatically create similarity. But using similarity, rather than duplication, of otherwise identical objects creates interest in the total design instead of monotony.
Scale helps to identify a range of various sizes to create interest and depth, adding to the volume of an object or scene.
Gestalt is a viewer’s perception of design. This can be cultural use of color or shape to invoke certain feelings, thoughts, and actions.
Mastering Visual Design
Visual design mastery is not out of your reach. You can attain it if you have persistence and dedication. It takes hard work and passion.
It also takes a story. What is yours?
If you’re in need of more skills to tell the story, or you’re still searching for one, you’re in luck. Keep browsing our articles to find the latest and greatest advice for creatives, masters and novice alike.