Something from Nothing: 8 Design Secrets


This an article I read a while back that really helped me out when it came to design layouts. Layout is a very important part of design and many overlook it. These simple but effective tips show you how to create good layouts with very little content. Bare in Mind that this was written in 2007 and may seem outdated but there are some really good points here .Below you will find the article by Leslie Tane or you can check out the original here.

All designers dream of the client who says “Money is no object. Hire as many photographers and illustrators as you need to get the perfect images for my piece. And while you’re at it, get a professional writer in there. And printing? Die cuts, 7 or 8 colors, special papers and folds… go for it!”

Sadly, this client does not exist. At least I’ve never met her.

Here’s the more typical client conversation:
Client: “I need a full-page ad designed.”
Designer: “Great!”
Client: “I’ve written the copy already. It’s about 400 words — can you edit it for me? And I have a couple of photos that I’d like to use that I got from a stock disc I bought in 1998. Oh and I need it by the end of the day today.”
Designer: Checks balance in retirement account.

Whenever this happens, I turn to my arsenal of design tricks — things I do time and time again to transform less than ideal elements into a good design.Assume that these are the elements provided by the fictional client:



And the title: “Going Places”

Here’s a run of the mill layout:

Layout 1

I can do better than that*! Here are eight of my secret weapons.

1) Crop the image

Layout 1

2) Turn the image into black and white

Layout 1

3) Add white space

Layout 1

4) Break borders

Layout 1

5) Play with scale

Layout 1

6) Change the size of the final piece

Layout 1

7) Lose the art — use a type treatment

Layout 1

8) Silhouette

Layout 1

There are infinite variations. To keep it relatively simple, I kept the same color palette (blues and greens) and typefaces (Agenda and Adobe Caslon) and used the same amount of dummy type throughout.

I was tagged for this post a few weeks back, asking for “8 Secrets”, (thanks, AM!). What are your secrets?

*Note from a paranoid designer: These aren’t final designs, just illustrations of the ideas in this post. I would make real color breaks. And kern. And try different type combinations. And silhouette better… You get my point


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