The Language of Graphic Design: An Illustrated Handbook for Understanding Fundamental Design Principles

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For anyone trying to communicate in a new language, one has to first gain a complete understanding of its fundamentals; the ABC’s of that language—definitions, functions, and usage. The Language of Graphic Design provides graphic design students and practitioners with an in-depth understanding of the fundamental elements and principles of their language—graphic design—what they are, why they are important, and how to use them effectively. Organized by the building blocks of the graphic design language, this reference includes work by some of the most successful and renowned practitioners from around the world and how they have applied these fundamental principles to their work. By examining both student and professional work, this comprehensive handbook is a more meaningful, memorable, and inspiring reference tool for novice design students, as well as young designers starting their careers.

To understand visual communications one has to first understand by seeing. To develop this discipline or visual sense is similar to learning a new language with its own unique alphabet, lexicon (vocabulary), and syntax (sentence structure). This book provides clear, concise information that will enhance visual literacy, while using dynamic, memorable visual references to inspire and reinforce the skill of seeing.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Poulin, head of his own design consulting firm, is also an experienced teacher of graphic design at a number of institutions. This volume, written for students and practitioners, contains examples of work from both groups and is intended as a succinct reference elucidating common concepts used in design work. Twenty-six chapters cover such concepts as "point," "symmetry," and "proportion" and are illustrated with representative examples. Each chapter also contains a brief entry on a key figure—for example, Max Bill or Jan Tschichold—and that person's contribution to the development of graphic design. VERDICT The examples are well chosen and the art nicely reproduced in this moderately priced book, but its usefulness as a standard reference, as the introduction suggests it might become, seems questionable. The explanations of some simple terms are overworked, and the layout, while pleasing and illustrative of design principles, doesn't lend itself to easy referral. This is a worthwhile though not essential addition for practitioners in the field.—Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592536764
  • Publisher: Rockport Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/1/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 957,169
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Poulin is cofounder, design director, and a principal of Poulin + Morris Inc. (, an internationally recognized, multidisciplinary design consultancy located in New York City. His work has been recognized by major design organizations, competitions, and publications including the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), Communication Arts, Graphis, Library of Congress, Type Director Club, and the New York Art Directors Club. Richard is a Fellow of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design, the organization's highest honor, and is a past President and board member of the New York Chapter of AIGA.

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Read an Excerpt

Paris Diderot Université’s logotype is literally based on an “X marks the spot” graphic representation or, in this case, the intersection of two visual elements or lines creating a singular point. Additionally, the dots of the lowercase i’s in the words Paris and Diderot are shared to create a visual focal point and integration between the two words, providing a much stronger and cohesive unity to the overall message.
- Catherine Zask, Paris, France
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Table of Contents


1 Point

2  Line

3  Shape

4  Form 

5  Light 

6  Color

7  Texture

8  Scale 

9  Movement

10  Space

11   Balance

12  Symmetry

13  Asymmetry

14  Tension

15   Closure

16  Expression

17   Abstraction

18  Tone

19  Contrast

20  Figure–Ground

21  Frame

22  Proportion

23 Image

24 Pattern

25 Typography

26 Grid





About the Author



Image Resources 


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