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Illlustrated Design Principles

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These design principles are found in Molly Bang’s book, Picture This. This book not only gives design principles and examples, but also presents them so you can visually understand what is communicated to the viewer through pictures. I recommend this book to all visual artists as a supplement to their design library. I re-drew these book illustrations using Illustrator.

Smooth, flat, horizontal shapes give us a sense of stability and calm.


Vertical shapes are more exciting and more attractive. Vertical shapes rebel against the earth’s gravity. They imply energy and a reaching toward heights of the heavens.


Diagonal shapes are dynamic because they imply motion or tension.


The upper half of a picture is a place of freedom, happiness and triumph. Objects placed in the upper half often feel more spiritual & important. An object placed there has greater pictorial weight.


The center of the page is the most effective. It is the point of greatest attraction.


White or light backgrounds feel safer to us than dark backgrounds because we see well during the day and only poorly during the night.


We feel more scared looking at pointed shapes. We feel more secure or comforted looking at rounded shapes or curves.


The larger the object is in the picture, the stronger it feels.


We associate the same or similar colors much more strongly than we associate the same or similar shapes.


We notice contrasts. Contrasts enable us to see … through our associations and perceptions.


Try one or more of these out in your next design assignment. Pick on that supports your purpose or intent and incorporate it into your design work.

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