All designs have certain basics elements or building blocks chosen to convey the message — beyond the actual words or photos used. The five elements of lines, shapes, mass, texture, and color are the building blocks of design for desktop publishers. Other terms which you might hear described as elements of design are form, space, and value (as in lightness or darkness of color).
Graphic design encompasses the creation of a great many types of projects but for the purposes of these lessons we're focusing on the elements of design as they apply to typical desktop publishing projects including logos, ads, brochures, business cards, newsletters, books, and to some extent, Web pages.
For our first class we'll expand on the definitions of lines, shapes, mass, texture, and color and focus primarily on learning to recognize these elements in printed materials. In subsequent classes within this course we'll cover each element in more detail with greater emphasis on the desktop publishing and software aspects of those elements.
First Assignment: Class Samples
Spend some time gathering examples that you'll use in the next five lessons and future classes. Your first assignment is to create a folder (not on your computer, a real paper folder) or a notebook to hold your samples. If your desk looks like mine, all the sample materials you need may be there already. If not, take several days (or as long as you need) to gather the following types of material.
In your folder, put printed samples of:
- display ads and fliers
- brochures of all kinds
- business cards
- labels and packaging
- books, book jackets
Include the good and the bad — don't worry about the quality. Sift through your junk mail, magazines, newspapers, and your business card file. You can even include work that you've created yourself. Aim for a variety of materials. There's no need to sort these materials right now.
For the remainder of these lessons I'll refer to your folder or notebook of materials as your samples or 'Class Samples'. With your Class Samples in hand, go through each of the elements of design introductory lessons, in order. Concentrate on each element individually. Do the exercise included in each lesson. When you reach the end you'll go to the final assignment for this class.
Even though no one will know whether you actually do the exercises and assignments included with each lesson and class, I strongly encourage you to do so. It will help to reinforce your understanding of each of the concepts covered throughout this Graphic Design Basics course.