Drawing for Graphic Design

When talking about drawing for graphic design projects, we’re very often talking about a digital process. We’re so used to sitting in front of our computers, plugging away at pixels in Photoshop and Illustrator, that we sometimes forget to step away, grab a pen or pencil, and just draw. Here, we provide six simple drawing practice exercises that revolve around drawing for graphic design. These were pulled from Timothy Samara’s book on that subject. Timothy teaches Graphic Design Fundamentals at CreativeLive and his exercises will help you get started, and hopefully, breathe new life into your work.

1. Positive/Negative

This study trains the eye to tell form from space and pick out different levels of value.

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1. Choose a simple object to draw. This can be just about anything you’ve got lying around: a cup of coffee, a pair of scissors, or a desk chair should do nicely.

2. Instead of trying to draw the object itself, draw the negative space that surrounds the object. Define the shape with contoured fields of color rather than lines.

3. Now the actual shape of the object should be defined, so go in and add details using pencil or a lighter charcoal to create different values. Add each level independently, beginning with shadows. In each iteration, increase the number of levels between black and white. See five more exercises, here.

The Fundamentals of Graphic Design

Timothy Samara is a New York-based graphic designer and educator. He has taught design at the college level for nearly 15 years.

As the author of eight graphic design books for Rockport Publishers, his academic reach spans the globe.

All of his books have a common thread—they address the fundamentals of graphic design. “The fundamentals always surface for consideration, no matter how advanced the student or complex the project,” he says. Here he discusses the importance of understanding the core elements of graphic design.

What are the basic fundamentals of graphic design?

The fundamentals of graphic design are about seeing (and understanding) how the qualities of visual material—shapes, images, color, typography, and layout—work, and work together… and then being able to decide which qualities of each are relevant and engaging and useful for visualizing a particular idea or solving a certain problem. Read the rest of the interview here.

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The site functions as an online brochure for a family-owned construction firm, showcasing projects and providing basic company information. The choices of bold iconography and photographic image elements, together with a strong layout grid, geometric visual elements and an industrial, slab-serif typeface all allude to the precision of the company’s work, nations of architectural detail and tools, and the family’s heritage—in a nod to Italian International Style modernism.