September '21

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Kicker HEADLINE SUBHEAD 3 0 G R A P H I C S P R O S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G C O L U M N T I T L E | A U T H O R N A M E 3 0 G R A P H I C S P R O S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G R A M B L I N G S F R O M T H E A T E L I E R | M A T T T O U C H A R D Y ou look at your layout, then review again. It just doesn't feel right. Something is off-kilter. And at that moment, you have a decision to make: let it go out the door or start the revision process. What you've just experienced is something that often besieges both the green apprentice and the seasoned professional with unbiased impunity. It's the loss of equilibrium, and with it goes the strength of one's design. Referenced in hundreds of online articles and printed in university textbooks from Basel to Boul- der, artists have been searching and striving for balance since our first symbolic doodlings during the prehistory Paleolithic age. So why all the chatter about balance? Simply stated, balance directs the eye. All those lengthy articles about the virtues of good balance frequently do nothing more than fill up page real estate (which I'll try to avoid with this column). Universally speaking, the four most identifiable and widely used forms of balance are: symmetry, asymmetry, radial (or rotational), and pattern (sometimes written as mosaic or crystallographic). You can do an online search and read about balance in art. For every yin, there is a yang, but not every design layout will require pure balance — especially if design tension is the goal. However, without question, finding and embracing equilibrium in your design will instantly elevate your art higher than the Flying Wallendas or famous tightrope-walker-without-a-net, Philippe Petit. WELCOME TO THE BALANCE DOME Here, residing underneath the protective roof of all-things art are a number of steadfast rules of design layout. Employing even a few of these rules will result in a more cohesive and focused final product. The first thing I use when approaching any piece is the matrix. It's how I establish zones or item relationships (primary, second- ary, and tertiary) in my work. From a few quick hand sketches, one can find the best solution for the content (art, typography, logo, mandatories) before a laborious effort is executed on the computer. Bring out your inner neanderthal with some fast geometric doodles. The framework and your composition will greatly ben- efit as you create a design hierarchy. The arrangement of your known design elements, the hierarchy will establish organiza- tional flow. From top to bottom (or left to right), the spatial relationship that forms will guide the viewer's eye precisely where you want them to go first. Within the domain of hierarchy, one can use a number of variables, such as scaling, contrast, hues, diametrical objects, THE MATRIX MINISTRY FINDING AND EMBRACING EQUILIBRIUM IN YOUR DESIGNS Sometimes the best way to establish spatial relationships in the matrix is to sketch it out. From a two-minute pencil sketch to a tight, design marker comp, this die-cut store display unit retained all of the loose, hand-drawn style the client preferred in the final 5'-tall standee. (Image courtesy Matt Touchard) With several action photos to select from, this CD package design (and large-format, tour support digital assets) used multiple images with repetitive, staggered place- ment. Folded panels revealed symmetrical photos for counterpoint and continuity. (Image courtesy Matt Touchard; photographer: Astor Morgan)

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