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Category: graphic design (Page 4 of 4)

Thinking with Type

Continuing our week of laziness link love while I’m on the road, I Love Typography has a review of Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton. I think you could say it’s a positive review. For example, “Thinking With Type is to typography what Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is to physics.”

thinking with type

Text decoration

Since posting is light while I’m traveling, I think it’s time to devote another link to Bibliodyssey, that great ongoing compendium of book arts through the ages. This link is to an anonymous early 16th century Spanish parchment manual featuring examples of text decoration.

early spanish parchment design manuscript

Color names

Chirag Mehta has made a little application that will return a color name if you enter a hex code. Take the html web palette for this site, for example (the blog palette is slightly different). web palette You’d probably get a blank look if you said to someone, “Tom’s site is, you know, DDAA77, 996633, 880000, 819D90.” According to Mehta’s program, what you should say instead is that it’s in “tumbleweed, potters’ clay, red berry, and oxley.” Doesn’t that sound wholesome?

Just for fun, let’s try this with a few other sites, chosen more or less at random (the sites may use additional colors besides the ones I list).

  • Michelle Richmond’s Sans Serif is in “espresso,” “coffee,” and “Lisbon brown”
  • Buried Mirror also uses uses “Lisbon brown,” along with “Saratoga” and “yellow metal”
  • Classical Bookworm is “lonestar,” “brown pod,” and “rosewood”
  • ChezNamasteNancy uses “dusty gray,” “dove gray,” and “wedgewood”
  • India, Ink is “emperor,” “Bali Hai,” and “shuttle gray”
  • Edward Champion’s Return of the Reluctant is “emerald,” “Portafino,” and “blue zodiac”

Which brings us to the part of this post where we admit that this exercise has proven largely pointless. I don’t think you can visualize the color schemes of the sites very well through the color names offered. That’s partly because the names are inconsistent in nature. “Emerald” might reference an object with a certain color, but “Portofino” is completely subjective and arbitrary. Quick, what color is “lonestar”? (It’s a kind of vermilion red.)

I think that colors largely take their meaning from their juxtapositions with other colors. You can probably give a better sense of a color scheme by describing the response it evokes than by using arbitrary and inconsistent color names.

The end

A Flickr set.

the end

via Swiss Miss

On the Road

graphic design: covers of jack kerouac's on the road

Click the image above for an extensive collection of covers of Kerouac’s On the Road. How interesting to see all the different takes on the book! The Italians generally do a pretty good job.

RELATED: Why Kerouac Matters

Above all, On the Road matters for its music: its plaintive, restless hum. In it, Kerouac perfected a melancholy optimism and a yearning for solace a thousand times richer and subtler than the mournful sap that drips down from so many contemporary American films and novels….

Redesigning the Penguin UK website

penguin uk website redesign

At theBookseller.com, Ann Rafferty talks about her redesign of the Penguin UK site. In essence the site is moving a little in the direction of web 2.0 — of adding more interactive features and offering more content. Rafferty explains:

As to why we’ve redesigned (and this is by no means the end – there’s a list of more changes just waiting to take effect), the answer is simple. Our readers told us to. We conducted extensive quantative and qualitative usability research with a specialist consultancy involving a lot of sitting behind two-way mirrors and biting back squeals of frustration when real-life readers couldn’t use our site – and we listened to all of the recommendations that they made. Months of workshops, designing, testing and re-designing later and we’re happy that we’ve shifted our site from being a company on broadcast to being genuinely reader-centric.

Flag Colors

flag colors

The pies represent the colors of various flags, the sizes of the slices determined by percentage of flag area devoted to each color.

At the original site you can click on the pies to reveal which countries’s flags they represent.

Via Swiss Miss

New Graphic Design

new graphic design

Alki1 has created a nice Flickr set of examples of the so-called new graphic design. If you’re interested in that modular Swiss look, it’s a good resource.


More posts on graphic design:

[catlist ID=32 numberposts=10]


InDesign and XML

InDesign CS3 is being touted for its XML capabilities. It’s an interesting concept, especially, I suppose, for publishing repetitive documents like newsletters and journals, since the container and the content could be kept separate. And I guess you could have print and electronic (web) documents that looked nearly the same, without the limitations of pdf.

Does anyone (hello, India, Ink.) have any experience with this?

The Aesthetics of Reading

the readersKevin Larson (Microsoft) and Rosalind Picard (MIT) have published a paper called “The Aesthetics of Reading” (pdf link) that attempts to determine whether typographic refinements result in improved reading. In the authors’ words:

In this paper we demonstrate a new methodology that can be used to measure aesthetic differences by examining the cognitive effects produced by elevated mood. Specifically in this paper we examine the benefits of good typography and find that good typography induces a good mood. When participants were asked to read text with either good or poor typography in two studies, the participants who received the good typography performed better on relative subjective duration and on certain cognitive tasks.

Preliminary results with standard measurements included the following:

  • Readers preferred good layout (duh), but this resulted in no measurable performance improvements. (The authors’ example of “good layout” would have looked better with a left-aligned head.)
  • OpenType refinements such as kerning, small caps, old style numerals, and sub/superscript features produced no reading speed, comprehension, or preference differences. (Clearly the sample did not include graphic designers.)
  • Even rather gross tracking and kerning improvements went unnoticed by readers. (When the differences were pointed out, however, the better set text was preferred.)

Theorizing that designers and typographers must know something, the authors attempted to find new ways of measuring the effects of typography and design. They came up with two measurements: time perception or “relative subjective duration” (RSD — this assumes that a more pleasurable experience will have less of a tendency to seem to drag on) and positive mood (based on studies that have shown that positive mood improves cognitive performance).

Using these measurements, good typography was found to produce statistically significant benefits. Hurray! The authors again:

We have … demonstrated that high quality typography appears to induce a positive mood, similar to earlier mood inducers such as a small gift or watching a humorous video. This is an exciting finding because there are important differences between good and poor typography that appear to have little effect on common performance measures such as reading speed and comprehension. To help move the field of typography forward we need methods that can successfully measure aesthetic differences.

Update: Kevlar at typophile.com reports “We describe further progress on this line of research in issue 22 of Typo magazine.”


Logos from Letters

tc logoBefore&After has a pretty good summary of how to make a logo by interlocking, overlaying, or otherwise connecting letters. Though basic, it can be useful as a reminder of some of the possible approaches.

I’ve used the cross and orb logo composed of my initials, shown at left, for many years. The cross and orb was a traditional mark of printers in Europe during the early Renaissance. You can see another example, from the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, here. You can also get a glimpse of a larger version of my mark here.

Related:  New sidebar approach for rightreading html pages.

From Manuscript to Finished Art Book in Four Weeks

MASTER OF BAMBOO coverI’m writing this from yet another press check. Yes, I put this 144-page full-color, complicated art book together in a single month. I received materials in January and I’ll have finished books next week.

While the speed of this job is remarkable (museum art books often take a year or more to put together), what I wanted to talk about was the design of the book. In the spaces between checking forms here at the plant, I’ve put together an overview of the book’s elements and their design. (This is a fairly extensive piece.) Check it out!

(BTW, I’m too tired of this to give it another round of proofing. Please let me know if you find broken links, missing images, typos, etc.)

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