The first article in my design theory series which aims to give anyone a decent intro to graphic design. This week I’ll discuss composition and how it relates to design.
What is composition?
Composition can be thought of as the foundation of a house. The theory of design composition is the second most important part of visual communication, the first begging the message that you’re attempting to convey.
Every kind of designer starts a new piece of work with a blank page, blank canvas, blank sheet. They then begin to build elements onto each other. The methods of how they place these elements is the composition. It is the entire process from where they start right the way through to what you end up with. Composition is the mother ship, the wrapper that envelopes the entire work from beginning to end.
How to apply this design theory
Start by establishing your design hierarchy What is the most important? In western culture we perceive importance the same way we read our literature—top to bottom. In a website the header contains the most essential information such as a logo and navigation so that element will sit at the top of the food chain.
This recipe book was a college project I did. Take a look at the grid below for a better idea of the composition I used.
Design in it’s essence is really about order and functionality, not just aesthetics. A grid will give your layout a structure which may not be apparent to the naked eye but will be aesthetically pleasing.
In the section markers of my recipe book design I have three columns split into uneven but proportional values.
Take a step back
When you’ve completed your composition, ask yourself questions like are all my elements equally spaced? Does the color palette bind the content? Does the typeface I’m using convey the correct message?