Courses Design Principles page 2


Most exercises will be done with two-inch black squares unless stated otherwise; squares cannot touch or overlap unless specified; and all work is to be done on bristol board inside a ten-inch square delineated with a rapidiograph pen. At completion of the course, there will be a progress book for the design principles. Exercises can be reduced 50% and placed two to a page.

There will be a sheet opposite illustrations which identifies the principle and a separate paragraph that explains the student's understanding of the principle. The language should be about the same as that which would be used to explain the principle to parents, or someone totally removed from design.

Students need to understand that meeting problem objectives in itself is not enough – the image is expected to be visually interesting. Work will be judged on the basis of visual interest as well as demonstration of understanding the principle.

It recently has become clear that students pay little attention to how work is pinned up and this becomes one more area for learning. What is bottom and what is top is often very critical to the visual presentation. Many times they pin up work that would be much stronger turned upside down or on its side. Students should be required to mark top with a small arrow on all the exercises.

Students benefit from doing the exercises is dependent on individuals utilizing the process for exploring options to the maximum. If students do only one interpretation to put up for class critique, learning will be minimal, and perhaps, even a waste of time for both student and teacher. Students need to either pin the work on the wall and stand back to study it as they plan their next option, or to lay work on the floor and stand to evaluate it before trying an alternative. Success of the program is tied to students working in good faith – that is that they are conscientious in exploring options.


1 Dynamic and Static Composition
Although this problem is done with squares, the same principles might apply to illustrations, photographs, type or any other visual elements. Some compositions might include both static and dynamic arrangements. What is important is to recognize which is which and to know when to use one or the other or when to mix them.

Simple demonstration problem to help students better understand what is meant by dynamic and static relationships. Also to help students better understand the role of picture plane edges as part of the composition.

A Using three squares, demonstrate a static composition.

B Using three squares, demonstrate an active composition.

It is not only how squares relate to edges, but it is also that the organization of squares themselves must be either dynamic or static.


2 Defining Space through Placement
The next few exercises deal with the illusion of space, depth or multiple spatial planes. The objective is to distinguish between distance as between elements on the surface plane or depth through different spatial planes. Another illusion of space is dimension as seen in three-dimensional objects that occupy and therefore define space. It is very important in design to understand all the nuances of depth, space and dimension.

To help students better understand how space can be defined by the placement of elements. To illustrate how positioning and interval relate to the illusion of space.

A Using three or four two-inch squares, demonstrate spatial definition through placement of the squares, relationship of corners, interval, and overlapping are all considerations.

B Using four or six four-inch lines, create an illusion of space.


3 Defining Space through Scale and Value>

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Exercise 1A

Exercise 1B


Exercise 2A

Exercise 2B



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