Lesson 3. Design Principles Indepth

This lesson is intended to help you more fully understand the importance of the design principles to create stronger layouts. You will learn details on how the four basic principles affect good design. Examples of the concepts are shown in the accompanying .pdf chapters. Be sure to read the summary @ the end of each chapter. We also further discuss additonal tools, panels and menus. Lessons include:

  1. Using Contrast
  2. Using Repetition
  3. Using Alignment
  4. Using Proximity
  5. Continue learning panels, tools and menus in Illustrator
  6. Complete the .ai file due for submission
  7. Complete the quiz for this week's lessons on the student portal

Points: 50 (+ 8.33 participation points)

Estimated assignment time: 4 hours

Due: Friday, June 1, 11:59P

3.1 Using Contrast in Your Work

Using the design principle of Contrast is one of the most effective methods of creating visual Interest in your designs.

  • Contrast may be created in many ways.
  • Contrast aids in organization of your layout.
  • Understand the importance of using contrast strongly for full effect.
  • Download and read the .pdf ContrastSM here.

3.2 Using Repetition in Your Work

By using the design principle of Repetition we add consistency to our layouts. It takes a conscious effort by the you, the designer to make this effort to unify the elements in your designs. In the page you are viewing I use repetition by repeating the fonts, colors and organization of the elements.

  • Look for elements which you are already using and ask how you might turn those elements into repetitive graphic symbols.
  • The use of repetition in multi page documents is essential in tying the pages together, making them look like they belong to the whole.
  • The use of Repetition organizes the information and guides your viewer's eye through the pages.
  • Repeating visual elements unfies and strengthens the work by tying together what could be separate parts.
  • Think about how you can use and push this consistency in your work.
  • Download and read the .pdf RepetitionSM here.

Consider adding elements which serve only for creating repetition. First look for exisitng repetitions; then begin to create repetition.

3.3 Using Alignment in Your Work

The use of the design principle Alignment unfies the elements on the page into a cohesive whole. Beginning designers tend to place text and graphics on the page wherever there is space. This disregard for the other elements can create a rather messy approach. Strive to have your elements have a visual connection with something else on the page. This conscious thoguht helps you think about how the elements interact.

  • When elements are aligned on the page, the result is a much stronger, cohesive piece.
  • Centering all elements is safe. Push yourself to try an asymmetrical approach where elements are not centered.
  • Lack of alignment is probably the signle most cause of ugly design work. Our eyes like to see order which aids in communicating our message.
  • Find alignment in your work and stick to it for consistency.
  • Download and read the .pdf AlignmentSM here.

Untiy is an important concept in good design. Push to make your elements appear to be connected and interrelated by making some visual tie between them.

3.4 Using Proximity in Your Work

By using Proximity in your designs, you group related elements together. By doing this, you provide your audience with an instant visual clue to the organization and content of your message. Try to create a closeness of related elements to become one unit instead of several.

  • When you do this, several thing happen. First the page becomes more organized and the viewer understand where to begin reading the message, and where it ends.
  • White space is your friend. It allows the eye a rest between informational elements.
  • Visually show which elements should be emphasized.
  • Develop spatial relationships to signal to your audience where to look next.
  • Download and read the .pdf ProximitySM here.

When elements are close together, they become one visual unit rather than several separate units. Items related to each other should be grouped together. The basic purpose is to organize. Don't feel that every square inch of the page must be filled with something. Remember, white space is your friend.


By understanding the design principles, you may begin to create more compelling graphics. I urge you to experiment with them, see what works and what doesn't. Only be practice will you become more proficient. Look at things around you and see where the design principles are begin used, and where they are not.
As I mentioned, others have described the design principles in different ways. In this example, we see a more expanded view to the principles and how they work.
Visit this link to learn more.

3.5 Continuing Learning Tools, Panels and Menus

In the next portion of this week's exercise, we continue our investigation into the tools, panels and menus. In the demo you will see a review of the methods we have covered. Topics include:

Disregard any references to dates/times and due dates mentioned in the videos. Follow the due dates listed here.

3.6 Do It!
Make Your Garden Grow With Flower Power

The video demo shows the tools learned to date and expands into new tools, panels and menus.

  • Clicking points with the pen tool
  • Open and closed shapes
  • Stacking order
  • Cloning shapes in your document from the keyboard
  • Basic editing of these shapes using the selection tools
  • Do ItPractice the lesson, then save your file.

Save your file in a .ai format (the native file format for Illustrator) to the desktop using your name as the file name. Submit the file by uploading to the proper folder on the Learning For Life portal as instructed in 3.7.

3.7 Post comments to the Google+ Online Community

After you have completed the assignment and uploaded your .ai file, visit the course's Google+ online community and post your comments about the assignment. Describe anything new you discovered, issues you had, or comments on your experience. Visit the Google+ online community here. Once you have posted, copy the link from the Google+ site. Go the Learning For Life portal, and paste the link in the text field and attach your .ai file. Hit submit.

3.8 Review and Checklist for the Week's Lesson Assignment


Grading Check List

read contrast .pdf
read repetition .pdf
read alignment .pdf
review proximity .pdf
watch video flower power
practice making the flower on your own
post to the Google+ online community (be sure to upload a .jpg example)
submit your .ai file via the Learning For Life portal and provide the link to your post
completed quiz 3 on Learning For Life portal


Testable Items

  • How do you clone shapes within Illustrator?
  • What are the functions of the selection tool?
  • What is the effect of clicking and dragging with the pen tool?
  • What does the convert anchor tool do?
  • What is the point of origin for the rulers in Illustrator?
  • What are guides?
  • How do you change the default unit of measurement in Illustrator?
  • What are some of the methods used to create contrast?
  • Which of the design principles suggests elements related to each other be grouped together?
  • Which of the design principles suggests looking for consistencies and emphasizing them graphically?