Design Basics

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David Lauer and Stephen Pentak's Design Basics, Sixth Edition is a fascinating, inspirational journey toward understanding two-dimensional design. Filled with examples from nature, art, and popular culture, this clear and easy-to-grasp book demystifies the design process as it illustrates what good design is through visual examples from different time periods and various cultures. Each concept is presented in a full-color, two-page spread, making it easy for you to refer to while you work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780495501404
  • Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 12/28/2007

Meet the Author

David A. Lauer is Emeritus Professor of Art at the College of Alameda.

Stephen Pentak received his BA from Union College in New York, and his MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University. He is Professor Emeritus of Art, and a past Associate Dean of the College of the Arts at Ohio State University. He has been the recipient of four Ohio Arts Council Fellowships and he has been a visiting resident artist at Delfina Studios in London, and Glasgow School of Art. Pentak's recent solo exhibitions include shows at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York and Susan Street in San Diego. He is co-author of COLOR BASICS as well as DESIGN BASICS.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Design Principles 1
1 Design Process 3
Introduction 4
Design Defined 4
Procedures 6
Steps in the Process 6
Thinking 8
Getting Started 8
Form and Content 10
Form and Function 12
Looking 14
Sources: Nature 14
Sources: History and Culture 16
Doing 18
Thinking with Materials 18
Critique 20
Constructive Criticism 20
2 Unity 23
Introduction 24
Harmony 24
Visual Unity 26
Gestalt 28
Visual Perception 28
Ways to Achieve Unity 30
Proximity 30
Repetition 32
Continuation 34
Continuity 36
Unity with Variety 38
The Grid 38
Varied Repetition 40
Emphasis on Unity 42
Emphasis on Variety 44
Chaos and Control 46
3 Emphasis and Focal Point 49
Introduction 50
Attracting Attention 50
Ways to Achieve Emphasis 52
Emphasis by Contrast 52
Emphasis by Isolation 54
Emphasis by Placement 56
Degree of Emphasis 58
One Element 58
Absence of Focal Point 60
Emphasizing the Whole over the Parts 60
4 Scale/Proportion 63
Introduction 64
Scale and Proportion 64
Scale of Art 66
Human Scale Reference 66
Context 68
Scale within Art 70
Internal Proportions 70
Contrast of Scale 72
Scale Confusion 74
Surrealism and Fantasy 74
Proportion 76
Notions of the Ideal 76
Root Rectangles 78
5 Balance 81
Introduction 82
Imbalance 84
Horizontal and Vertical Placement 84
Symmetrical Balance 86
Architectural Examples 86
Examples from Various Art Forms 88
Asymmetrical Balance 90
Introduction 90
Balance by Value and Color 92
Balance by Texture and Pattern 94
Balance by Position and Eye Direction 96
Analysis Summary 98
Radial Balance 100
Examples in Nature and Art 100
Crystallographic Balance 102
Allover Pattern 102
6 Rhythm 105
Introduction 106
Visual Rhythm 106
Rhythm and Motion 108
Shapes and Repetition 108
Alternating Rhythm 110
Patterns and Sequence 110
Progressive Rhythm 112
Converging Patterns 112
Rhythmic Sensations 114
Engaging the Senses 114
Part 2 Design Elements 117
7 Line 119
Introduction 120
Defining Form 120
Line and Shape 122
Defining Shape 122
Types of Line 124
Actual, Implied, and Psychic Lines 124
Line Direction 126
Horizontal, Vertical, and Diagonal Lines 126
Contour and Gesture 128
Precision or Spontaneity 128
Line Quality 130
Creating Variety and Emphasis 130
Line as Value 132
Using Lines to Create Dark and Light 132
Line in Painting 134
Outline of Forms 134
Explicit Line 136
Lost-and-Found Contour 138
Suggestions of Form 138
8 Shape/Volume 141
Introduction 142
Volume/Mass 144
Working in Two and Three Dimensions 144
Naturalism and Distortion 146
Exaggerated Shapes 146
Naturalism and Idealism 148
Nature Improved 148
Abstraction 150
Essence of Shape 150
Nonobjective Shapes 152
Pure Forms 152
Rectilinear and Curvilinear Shapes 154
Positive/Negative Shapes 156
Introduction 156
Integration 158
Confusion 160
9 Texture 163
Introduction 164
Adding Visual Interest 164
Tactile Texture 166
Actual and Implied 166
Collage 168
Visual Texture 170
Visual Impression 170
Trompe L'oeil 172
Texture and Pattern 174
Variation versus Regularity 174
10 Illusion of Space 177
Introduction 178
Occupying Space in Two Dimensions 178
Devices to Show Depth 180
Size 180
Exaggerated Size 182
Overlapping 184
Vertical Location 186
Aerial Perspective 188
Linear Perspective 190
One-Point Perspective 192
Two-Point Perspective 194
Multipoint Perspective 196
Amplified Perspective 198
A Different Point of View 198
Multiple Perspective 200
A Pictorial Device 200
Isometric Projection 202
A Spatial Illusion 202
Open Form/Closed Form 204
The Concept of Enclosure 204
Transparency 206
Equivocal Space 206
Spatial Puzzles 208
Ignoring Conventions 208
11 Illusion of Motion 211
Introduction 212
Reflecting the World around Us 212
Anticipated Motion 214
"Seeing" the Action 214
Ways to Suggest Motion 216
Figure Repeated, Figure Cropped 216
Blurred Outlines 218
Multiple Image 220
12 Value 223
Introduction 224
Light and Dark 224
Value Pattern 226
Variations in Light and Dark 226
Value as Emphasis 228
Creating a Focal Point 228
Value and Space 230
Using Value to Suggest Space 230
Techniques 232
An Overview 232
13 Color 235
Introduction 236
Color Theory 236
Color Characteristics 238
Light and Color Perception 238
Influence of Context 240
Properties of Color 242
Hue 242
Value 244
Intensity/Complementary Colors 246
Visual Color Mixing 248
Techniques That Suggest Light 248
Cool/Warm Colors 250
Identifying Color with the Senses 250
Color as Emphasis 252
Color Dominance 252
Color and Balance 254
Achieving Balance within Asymmetrical Composition 254
Color and Space 256
Color's Spatial Properties 256
Color Schemes 258
Monochromatic/Analogous 258
Complementary/Triadic 260
Color Discord and Vibrating Colors 262
Unexpected Combinations 262
Color Uses 264
Local, Optical, Arbitrary 264
Emotional Color 266
Color Evokes a Response 266
Color Symbolism 268
Conceptual Qualities of Color 268
Color versus Value 270
A Continuing Debate 270
Glossary 272
Bibliography 275
Photographic Sources 277
Index 279
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The dictionary goes on to give sixteen more definitions and usages for the word "design." Obviously this common word has many applications. But in all of these definitions there is one common element: the word "plan" appears over and over. To design indeed means to plan, to organize (A). Design is essentially the opposite of chance. In ordinary conversation, when we say "it happened by design" we mean something was planned and did not occur just by accident. People in all occupations plan, but the artist or designer is someone who plans the arrangement of elements to form a visual pattern. Depending on the field, these "elements" will vary-all the way from painted symbols to written words to scenic flats to bowls to furniture to windows and doors. But the result is always a visual organization. Art, like other careers and occupations, is concerned with seeking answers to problems. Art, however, seeks visual solutions in what is often called the design process.

The arts are called "creative" fields because there are no predetermined correct answers to the problems. Infinite variations in individual interpretations and applications are possible. Problems in art vary in specifics and complexity and take various forms. Independent painters or sculptors usually create their own problems or avenues they wish to explore. These may be as wide or as narrow as the artist chooses. The architect or graphic and industrial designer is usually given the problem, often with very specific options and clearly defined limitations. Students in art classes also usually are in this category-they execute a series of assignments devised by theinstructor and requiring rather specific solutions. However, all art or visual problems are similar in that a creative solution is desired.

We use the word "creative" to mean a solution that is original, imaginative, fresh, or unusual. The poster in B is a wonderful expression of the creative approach. It is a simple design that graphically shows an important idea. Knowing how to do something is not necessarily the essential factor: it is knowing what to do. The ability to know what to reject (or erase) is as important as simply having the talent to create something. The circular pencil shows that both its ends are vital to this design process.

The creative aspect of art also includes the often-heard phrase that "there are no rules in art." This is true. In solving problems visually, there is no list of strict or absolute dos and don'ts to follow. Given all the varied objectives of visual art through the ages, definite laws are impossible. However, the "no rules" phrase may seem to imply that all designs are equally valid and visually successful. This is not true. Artistic practices and criteria have been developed from successful works, of which an artist or designer should be aware. Thus, guidelines (not rules) exist that usually will assist in the crea- tion of successful designs. These guidelines certainly do not mean that the artist is limited to any specific solution.

Discussions of art often distinguish between two aspects, content and form. Content implies the subject matter, story, or information that the artwork seeks to communicate to the viewer. Form is the purely visual aspect, the manipulation of the various elements and principles of design. Content is what artists want to say; form is how they say it. Problems in art can concern one or both categories.

Sometimes the aim of a work of art is purely aesthetic. Subject matter can be absent and the problem related only to creating visual pleasure. Purely abstract adornment or decoration is a very legitimate role in art. Very often, however, problems in art have a purpose beyond mere visual satisfaction. Art is, and always has been, a means of visual communication.

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