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Design Basics - 101

Design Basics - 101

Art is subjective. Usually, no one can say that art is "right" or "wrong" is all a matter of personal opinion. Design, however, follows a doctrine of rules to be considered favorable, or productive. When we design we are trying to broadcast a message, define a system, and adopt a concept for the most advantageous result. In order for that to happen, and to be useful or understood, we must make sure we are effectively communicating. This is is where design fundamentals, or design principals come in.

The fundamental principals of design span from graphic layout and positioning of elements on a page/screen, to the organization of ideas built into the design an development of physical objects. Examples of good design follow principals like "Affordance" (a push plates on doors that swing away as opposed to pull handles), "Wayfinding" (every map on display should have a "you are here" symbol or marker), and a "Form follows Function" theory (it has to work before it needs to look "pretty"), and other common principals to make the message more clearly understood.

Located here are a variety of basic design tenets that you should utilize in all of your projects within my classes. Though some of these sections may not directly apply, or be taught to you, (Graphics students: ALL of these apply to you), they are good principals to adhere to whenever design is involved. Some of the topics are very specific to arts/design/printing/digital, others are theories that are a "best practice" when creating, designing, or developing. Feel free to share with me your ideas of other topics that should be included here.

As a note, these are not open yet for review. Once I complete the contents on these pages I will open them up, but for now these are just placeholders for things to come.

Looking for something specific?

Please let me know if there is something specific you would like to see here.

This Weeks
Key Principal of Design...


What does the spacial relationship between a set of objects have to do with their association? Everything!

For more on this principal of design, follow this link.

Color Theory

Red means stop. Green means go... But what might Pink, Orange or Blue say?

Color theory discussion are located here, along with a review on harmonies, complements, analagous colors and an amazing color wheel utility.

Gestalt Principals

Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka was quoted as stating "The whole is other than the sum of the parts" (not "greater").[Ref.]

When we deal with principals of perception we rely on the law of Pr├Ągnanz. This section will focus on those rules.


Light verses pigment. Printing vs. Web.

The relationship between colors and how they are percieved continues here. Centered more on application of use, the focus here is on the final medium in which the color will live in.

Tonal Values

Remove the color from an image and it can still share feelings and mood based on it's tonal value.

Review Low, Middle, and High tonal values as well as their major and minor counterparts.

Pantone® & Inks

The Pantone® Color Matching system is a standard in the printing industry that has found it's way into the digital world.

Good vs. Bad Design

SOmetimes you just can't argue with a properly laid out and thought out composition. THese tricks will show you how to accomplish just that. © 2010-2017 Phlume Artist Management LLC. All rights Reserved.
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