The Principles of Design in the Real World

The Principles of Design (N.)-

The principles of design describe the ways that artists use the elements of art in a work of art. Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, texture, and space. 

AS Sustainability’s Earth Month Promotional Poster

It’s April! You know what that means?! No?… Oh well. April it’s considered EARTH MONTH! And since sustainability is one of Chico State’s priorities, the Associate Students of Sustainability organized a plethora of activities, workshops, and conferences for the entire month of April. This poster was made by the center’s Senior Graphic Designer. So, principles of design where applied with competence.

“Earth Day is an annual event

celebrated on April 22.

Worldwide, various events are held

to demonstrate support for environmental

protection.” -(source)

Below, I will assess and analyse 3 principles applied in the poster above and how effectively they were utilized. Principles such as Area Alignment, Figure-Ground Alignment, and Good Continuation will be discussed.

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  • Area Alignment- Alignment based on the area of elements versus the edges of elements.

    Alignment in drawn in red.

The poster above exemplifies The Principle of Design, Area Alignment. As previously stated, area alignment is how the elements of a poster are aligned to fulfill a purpose. A horizontal alignment is clear exemplified by a silhouette of a human holding a sign above his head with the words “Save Our Planet”. The silhouette of the human ends in its midsection and merges into a rectangle (with other components inside) of the same color.

The purpose of this alignment is to make the contrasting silhouette holding the sign more prominent. The letters of the poster are after all the memo of any earth activist. This principle also allows for the audience to focus on the subject (since we tend to look from left to right, up and down) we are immediately drawn to follow the rest of the subject’s body. The rest of the subject merges into smaller silhouettes of four symbols. He has a slanted alignment with a different color. Thus, making the larger human silhouette pop more.

Area Alignment is successfully utilized in this poster to create dimension and interest to the Earth Day poster. Not only did the graphic designer used the principle with competence, he also utilized as its main focus, distribution of information, and gave interest to the poster.

  • Figure-Ground Relationship- Elements are perceived as either figures (objects of focus) or ground (the rest of the perceptual field).

    The silhouettes are examples of Figure-Ground Relationship.

The poster above exemplifies The Principle of Design, Figure-Ground Relationship. As previously stated, the poster is complied with several different human and symbol silhouettes. Unlike Area Alignment, this principle focuses on the usage of figures as a form to trick the perpetual field. This principle is used to help the human larger silhouette stand above all others.

The purpose of figure ground relationship is to add interest to the poster while utilizing the figures to carry a message. For instance, on 2nd half of the poster where the green figures are, smaller silhouettes are holding the poster up. This well executed principle of design, creates immense interest to an informative poster. The simple, yet complex, design draws the attention from any passing bystander.

As mentioned before, this principle is also utilized to help the larger human silhouette stand above others. This was done because each poster the silhouettes contain a message.  The graphic designer successfully did so, as evidenced by taking a look at the poster and having the larger human silhouette draw you in. Megumi Iguano, international student, said “the first thing I saw was that person, on the poster.” (April 2018).

The Figure Ground Relationship principle was successfully utilized by the graphic designer previously explained. It was used to create interest and draw attention to the the messages that the human silhouettes carry.

  • Good Continuation– Elements arranged in a straight line or a smooth curve are perceived as a group, and are interpreted as being more related than elements not on the line or curve.

    Example of Good Continuation

The poster above exemplifies The Principle of Design, Good Continuation. As previously stated, Good Continuation is when elements are arranged in a straight line or a smooth curve are perceived in as a group. In this case this poster exemplifies Good Continuation in the form of elements arranged in a straight line. The poster has four columns (circled in red) and each column contains the activities for each day of the month. Good Continuation is used to allow the audience to assess the events in an orderly fashion. This helps any bystander to “absorb” the posters information at a glance.

The purpose of the Good Continuation is to create a uniform way to present the information,  create interest, and to further improve the audiences experience with the poster. Although it may be self explanatory I will further explain: As humans it is in our nature to assess information from left to right, because it is the way we read. So, to create interest the graphic designer has placed the information in columns to draw the eye up and down as oppose to our natural instinct. Thus, allowing the reader to assess the information slower and carefully. This not only creates interest in the Earth Month poster, but it uniforms the information presented.  Thus, creating a memorable experience as opposed to other less complex posters.

The Principle of Design of Good Continuation is exemplified by the poster above. The Earth Month Poster utilizes the principle correctly as evidence by the interesting column assembly of information. The graphic designer not only utilized the principle with competence, but he also created a uniform yet complex design.

*  Final Thoughts  *

The Earth Month poster was created by Senior Graphic Designer Giovanni Lopez-Quezada, a student at Chico State. Lopez used The Principles of Design: Area Alignment, Figure-Ground Relationship, and Good Continuation. He utilized these elements to create interest and complexity in his work, and not to mention a beautiful green aesthetic. Lopez designed this poster with competence and great vision. I am certain he will succeed in future projects 😉


Go check out my insight on the Stanford’s Crash Course in Design!!



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