Graphic design ...

Page layout & composition


By Daniel Vidoni
October 2004

I began doing desktop publishing (DTP) in the late 1980s using Apple Macintosh. These wonderful computers had an excellent user interface but only black-and-white screens. At the time this wasn't a problem seeing as 99% of the artwork graphic designers created was in black-and-white anyway.

Corporate reportOver the years I have created:

  • Restaurant menus
  • Wedding invitations
  • Large colour posters (A2 sized)
  • Phone cards
  • Logos
  • Brochures & Flyers
  • Books
  • Business cards
  • Entrance tickets
  • CD artwork
  • Bookmarks
  • Full-page newspaper ads

Black-and-white posterDesigning in black-and-white

Being constrained to black-and-white during my formative years gave me a unique perspective and discipline which I could not have acquired any other way. The question always was, how does one make a page layout look great when there are only two colours to choose from ?

The answer is by focusing on form, balance, negative space, choosing fonts wisely, and generally treating the page like a piece of real estate which you intend to build a fine house on.

Once the content (graphics, photographs and text) is supplied the job of the graphic designer is to make it all work together in a complimentary fashion, and convey whatever message is required.

BrochureComposition theory

Composition theory is equally applicable to a page layout for a magazine, a prize-winning photograph, a web site or a billboard. Essentially, once you understand how to compose a balanced image you can design anything and it will be beautiful.

A tree is a good example. Trees are not symmetrical, but in a strange and compelling way they are balanced and very attractive. Symmetry does not guarantee beauty. You will notice that none of my designs on this page are symmetrical, yet they are all balanced.

A2 colour posterColours in the rainbow

In the mid-nineties I began using colour in my work. This added another creative aspect and required that I learn all about colour theory. Which colours complement other colours? And which colours tend to argue with each other when placed close together. There is also the psychology of colours - red being associated with danger and financial deficit. Soft greens and blues associated with health and freedom.

At the beginning of the 21st century software evolved to a point where alpha channels could be employed to do transparency effects. More learning was required and further refinement of my skills resulted in the artwork you see today.

Despite all these innovations and technological leaps, at the core of all my designs there is still the black-and-white foundation of form and balance. All my visual art reflects this, if you study it.



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