What would design be without color? More importantly, what would a design look like if a graphic artist has no real understanding of color theory or simple color harmony? That said, I think this is one issue worth addressing. But since color theory is such a vast topic, let us first start with one of the basics, which identifying the different types of color combination.
Before moving on, it is important that we review the different types of color. Primary colors – red, yellow and blue – are the most basic colors as they cannot be formed by mixing one with the other. Secondary colors – green, purple and orange – are formed by mixing two primary colors. And tertiary colors are those that result from combining a primary color with a neighboring secondary color.
The Basic Color Harmony Schemes
- Monochromatic – A monochromatic color scheme uses the brightness and intensity of one color and is usually combined with neutral such as black, white or gray to provide contrast. What this does is create a simple, yet elegant effect.
- Analogous – An analogous color scheme is formed when you pair colors that are placed near each other in a color spectrum, where one is the basic color, the other is the accompaniment, while the third is used as an accent that helps create contrast.
- Complementary – Looking at a color spectrum, you will see that there are colors positioned opposite each other or facing each other. Combining these two colors make up a complementary color scheme. One example is blue and yellow. This, however, produces such a contrast, and so it is important that you are careful when to use this kind of color harmony.
- Split Complementary – A variation of the complementary color scheme, split complementary entails using one color (red, for example) and two colors that are adjacent to its complementary color from each side (yellow-green and blue-green). Although it is also quite the contrast, it produces less tension than complementary colors.
- Triadic – From the color spectrum you can also pick out three colors that are equally spread out. This is what you call a triadic color scheme. The colors used, although contrasting, create a richer, more balanced and harmonious effect that a complementary color harmony. But remember that only one of the three should be used as a basic color.
- Tetradic or Double Complementary – Probably the richest of all color harmonies, the tetratic color scheme used four colors – two pairs of complementary colors to be exact. However, just like, triadic colors, there should be one color used more dominantly to be able to achieve a more harmonious effect.
The above mentioned are just the most basic types of color schemes, but there are still other types of color combination. These schemes – hot colors, cold, colors, warm, colors, cool colors, light colors, dark colors and bright colors – are not based on the color spectrum, but are instead defined by how people perceive them. We’ll discuss these in a separate article, so stay tuned.
Designing can be tricky in the sense that you will be trying to capture the vision that a particular client has in mind. Plus, there are also some clients who can’t actually decide on how they want their business to be branded. Because of this, we are all bound to encounter a few problems in the process. But don’t worry. So long as you know how to deal with these situations properly, you won’t end up failing and your clients will surely be impressed. Anyway, there are a few possible things that can go wrong, here’s how can avoid further conflicts with your client.
When everything goes smoothly and then the client suddenly begins nit-picking…
There are times wherein your client just seems so great to work with right off the bat – they have a clear vision of what they want and have been very receptive of the work you’ve done during your meetings. But then they start complaining all of a sudden, throwing you a bunch of unjustified criticisms, that they’re basically forcing you to do work that is already outside the scope of the project. When things totally go out of hand and if it seems that they’re flexing their muscles, know when to tell them that enough is enough.
When the client initially wants black and white, then later wants color…
So you were hired to create a site wherein black and white fit perfectly with the concept and is what you and your client initially agreed upon. But then 4 weeks in your client says they wanted it colorful instead. The best thing to do is go with the flow, even if you think that color would be a dreadful choice. It will be difficult to convince your client by simply giving your opinion, so you will have to do the site in color and show your client that it’s just not a god fit.
When doing business with a friend and they take advantage of that friendship…
A lot of people say that working with friends or family is bad business, but you’ll never seem to fully understand why unless you experience it firsthand. Because they know that you’re well acquainted with each other, there’s a tendency that friends would abuse your kindness and make you do things that is beyond what you had agreed upon. Make sure that you were able to draw up a contract, no matter who your client is, and make sure they understand the limits you’ve set.
When the client makes you do all that work and then refuse to pay accordingly…
Let’s say you agreed to do a project for a modest fee as a favor. But then your client becomes extremely demanding, and when it was time for them to pay you, they would only give you a bunch of excuses. This pains you even more when you know you put the same amount of effort as you would a high-paying job. But just because you agreed to do something at a discounted price doesn’t mean they have permission to take advantage of you. So again make sure you draw up a contract so that they understand that you still mean business.
Gone were the days where the most favored fonts to use were Arial, Comic Sans MS, Helvetica Jokerman, Varsity Regular, etc. Think about it – American Airlines uses Helvetica, Jeep uses Helvetica, Evian uses Helvetica, Mattel uses Helvetica, and even Skype uses the font. As graphic artists, we wouldn’t want to use the same font over and over again. We want our work to be as original as possible. And if we choose to apply those overused fonts, it makes our work less appealing. So, as an artist, it’s high time you learn how to make your own font. All you need to do is follow the steps provided below.
- Prior to drawing each character, you would also have to create a grid. This serves as a foundation for accurate drawings. Know that when you want to make the perfect font, it will take time, and some artists even spend almost one whole day just to finish one single character. But if you’re pressed for time, you might want to create your designs on paper first until you’re satisfied with your whole design. This way, you’ll already know what to digitize. And this make your work on the computer a lot faster to finish.
- It would be best to use vector based programs such as Illustrator, Skencil, Xara Xtreme, Inkscape or CorelDRAW – whatever you like. Just make sure that you draw accurately. You want each of the characters in your font to be 100% the same when it comes to size or else you end up with something that looks like a 7th grader’s handwriting. If the software you use has a math function, you will want to use. Another reason why you need to be particular with every detail on your font is to prevent problems when you use FontLab.
- However, if at the moment you are quite unsure about creating your own font (but believe that that the design you have come up with has the potential to sell), you might want to consider asking other more seasoned graphic designers to help you out with development. This, way you also get to learn from them by seeing them in action. But also see to it that you make it much less of a hassle for these professionals by make sure that you are a hundred per cent accurate with the drawings you provide them.
So there – all it takes to create your own font is a good software and time and effort to produce accurate drawings. Also remember that when you’re creating a font for a certain client, make sure you know what they want and that you understand what the font is intended for. Or if you wish to put your font in the market in hopes that some other designer or business would be interested in using it in their own projects, you may need to create a few alternative scripts as this would make your design much more appealing.
When designing an icon for a computer, you have to keep in mind that it has to have these three characteristics: attractive, meaningful and functional. Attractive because your icon will need to be recognizable to the user, meaningful because the user must instantly be able to understand what purpose the icon serves, and functional because the icon has to actually work. So how will you be able to achieve all that, you might ask? With these simple tips:
- As I’ve said, you need it to be recognizable. Meaning that if you’ve already chosen what kind of object to create, you need to capture all its characteristics so that the user knows exactly what it is. An envelope, for instance, which is widely known to represent “mail,” comes in different styles. It, however, is more recognizable in baronial form than in catalog form, so it’s best you recreate the baronial design.
- To make your icon even more meaningful, create an icon that embodies a good metaphor. One example is the copy icon on Microsoft Word. You can easily identify its purpose because the icon is of one document on top of the other.
- When creating an icon that’s easily recognizable, it is important for you to be able to know your client or your market. Always remember cultural differences. So if you want to make a St. Patrick’s Day theme for an Irish client, make sure you create a shamrock (which is a symbol of Ireland) instead of the four-leaf clover (which superstition says is a symbol of good fortune).
- While you do need to make an icon recognizable, it is also important to keep it simple to make it more versatile. This way, you can use it in a wide range of projects instead of just one. And this makes the icon more bankable. Another way of making it more versatile is by creating icons in vector forms. That way it can be scaled and can be used for different purposes.
- Regarding the scaleability of your icon, make sure you program it in a way that it can be scaled up or down. Icons are usually used in small scales, but there are instances where you would need them in larger formats, especially now that large LED Internet TVs are growing trend.
- Even though it should be kept simple in design, you need to find a way to make it stand out because not all the time will the icon be displayed with a single-colored background behind them. So what you do is experiment with irregular shapes and color, as well as incorporate gloss and shading, to allow the icon to pop out from the background.
- One trick that a lot of artists usually incorporate in their design is light source. Why? Because it’s something that can easily show consistency between a variety of icons they make for one particular project. The current version of Google Chrome, for example, utilizes icons with shadows that can be seen on the right.
In terms of packaging design, one of the styles I am most fond of is minimalism because I just love how a simple design can turn into a bold and brilliant display all in itself. It’s because of their simplicity that minimal packaging designs have a tendency to make consumers curious. Not all that convinced? Well here are seven examples of products with minimalist packaging, and I’ll tell you why I think they’re such clever designs.
- Undercover Wine by Ampro Design. This design firm wanted to give out clever holiday gifts to their clients to reinforce their reputation of always being able to think out of the box. What they came up with was the humorous Undercover Wine, a bottle of Pinot Noir covered up in simple white packaging to assume the appearance of a bottle of milk.
- Boxed Water by Andrew Kim. Similarly, you have Boxed Water Is Better packaging which looks just like a milk carton. The concept of this product is to promote sustainability and has done so by replacing PET water bottles with FSC-certified Tetra Pak boxes, but I bet the message wouldn’t be as clear if the Tetra Pak wasn’t white with bold black texts.
- Waitrose Herbs by Lewis Moberly. Usually, we either purchase herbs that are tied in a bundle or we grow it ourselves in our own herb garden. What makes Waitrose Herbs look really cool, other than the fact that it was actually neatly packages, is that the herbs were actually incorporated into the design. Then the labels used bold fonts to complement the bold flavors these herbs bring about, and they were made even more fun with a few amusing snippets.
- ChariTea by BVD. Design firm BVD aimed to give the product a “unique, characteristic packaging in which the contents play a highly visible leading role,” and it completely showed. The tea was placed in a transparent bottle (that had the logo and the name in plain text) that enabled the color of the three tea varieties to clearly show.
- Toscatti by Anagrama. The design for Toscatti kitchen products is a great example for taking a simple object and turning it into a completely attractive product. Anagrama simply used color on the packaging, with a distinct figure placed on the upper left which indicated the product’s size. And when marketed as a set, they simply had to stack up the products, and you could see the analogous color scheme.
- Help Remedies by Parlfisher. Help Remedies is a series of over-the-counter medication that treat simple issues such as headache, allergies, insomnia, nausea, fatigue and many more. And what’s great about the packaging is that consumers know exactly what to get. For instance, if you accidentally ate something with nuts that you know you’re allergic to, you can get the “help I have allergies” pill box that below indicates it containes 8 tablets of 10-mg loratadine antihistamines.
- OUZO Zarbanis by Mouse Graphics. This product is a popular alcoholic drink that’s unique to Greece. And the packaging, although minimalistic, just reminds you of Santorini. The bottle is clear and the font colors used are black and cyan, which is a color commonly associated with the country. Plus, it has a small image of a Greek-styled church.
A lot of people confuse vexel art with vector art, pretty much because they look the same. However, there is a huge difference between the two. There is also this misconception wherein people think this type of digital art is a combination of raster overlays and vector graphics, or that it is easy to create vexel art simply by using the pen tool or lasso selection in Photoshop or any raster based programs. All of the above mentioned aren’t at all true. There are just so many false notion regarding vexel art, and so I would like to share will all of you what vector art really is.
Vexel vs. Vector vs. Raster
What vexel art is is the layering of various raster based shapes and lines, raster being objects made up of pixels. And by doing this, you are able to mimic the appearance of vector based images. Vectors, on the other hand, are made up points that, when all connected, produce a certain object. Also, images made of vexel art and raster art are blurry and pixelated when resized. This is because, when using pixels, the colors used are specific to each small square. Meaning that if you zoom an image, your computer will not know how to precisely add color to the additional squares. Resizing vectors are different. Instead of increasing pixels, you increase the distance between the different points. That explains why they do not look at all blurry.
However, this doesn’t mean that when you’re using a raster based program you automatically produce raster and vexel. But notice that when you manipulate the size of a vector in Photoshop, for instance, you see pixelated edges. But if you finish resizing it, you still get the smooth and clean edges. This means that what you get is still a vector and not a raster, and certainly not a vexel.
The History of Vexel Art
It was only in June 2003 that the term “vexel” was coined. But people were already creating vexel art way before digital artists decided to give it a name. A lot of artists had a habit of making images with layered shapes using raster based programs. They usually used a pen tool or lasso selection tool, which is why they were, back then, under the impression that they were making vector art. This sparked a long and winding debate as to what vector art is and how it is truly made. Eventually, it was decided that the new technique they were using should be given a separate label – vexel, which is a cross between a vector and a pixel.
Why Make Use of Vexel Art
Now that you have an idea of what a vexel is and how it is different to raster and vector, you may be confused as to why you should make use of vexel art at all. Why bother using vexel art when you have vector art that seems to be a better technique to use. Well, that all just comes down to artists’ individual preferences. There may be some people who are more comfortable with this type or digital art or with using raster based programs. Or they may be some who, at the moment, cannot afford to purchase vector based programs, especially those who are still starting out in the business.
People think that to work as a graphic designer is rather easy, that all they do is sit in front of a computer and simply “photoshop” images. But even though the digital age has provided graphic design hopefuls with lots of opportunities, the field has started to become a lot more competitive. Because of the continued progression of technology and digital art, graphic designers always need to be able to edge out the competition. In order to do that, they need to have all the essentials. That said, the following are things that graphic designers should never work without:
- Sketchbook – You have your computer, so why need a sketchbook? Sometimes it’s just easier to open up a sketchbook and doodle when an idea comes to mind, especially when you’re out and about and bringing your laptop or tablet along is too much of a hassle. And when you’re in front of the computer all day, it would be nice to take a break, even use sketching and doodling as a kind of therapy.
- Drawing Tablet – Drawing tablets are used to digitize your sketches, and it is more convenient than using your mouse. Creating images on computers has become a lot faster because you have better control over your work. Plus, the transition from paper to pen tool is much easier. Of course, you have to have the best. And when it comes to drawing tablets, nothing beats Wacom. For those who prefer something handy, I recommend the Wacom Intuos5 Touch Medium. And for those who are quite particular with color, go for the Wacom Cintiq 24HD Pen Display.
- Post-its – When you’re running a graphic design business, it can be difficult to keep up with all the work, especially if you have a lot of clients. And trust me, keeping Post-it pads make all the difference in the world. Rather than using the notepad apps on your phones and tablets, using Post-its gets you more organized as they are easily seen, enabling you to easily remember important notes and tasks.
- Cloud Accounting – One other thing that can help you with your graphic design business is a cloud accounting app. More importantly, you need one that’s responsive and user-friendly. This allows you to track the amount of time you spend on various projects, monitor your expenses and even send invoices to your clients, enabling smoother transactions.
- Smartphone – Smartphones are the perfect travel buddies, and they allow you to monitor your business when you’re away from the computer, which is especially useful when you work by your lonesome. Or even if you do have an assistant, you would want him or her to welcome you with piles of messages when you come back home. This also allows you to accommodate your clients when you’re out of town for meetings and other business-related events.
- Social Media – You also need social media accounts for several purposes. One, it allows you to showcase your work to possible clients and promote your business. Two, it makes it easier for you to entertain your clients. Three, there are also social media tools that allow you to connect your accounts together, compare posts from one account to the other, organize posts for the entire week and see how people engage with all your content. This way, you can see which areas of your work or business can be changed or improved.