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Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual [Paperback]

Tim Samara
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 37.50
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There is a newer edition of this item:
Design Elements, 2nd Edition: Understanding the rules and knowing when to break them - Updated and Expanded Design Elements, 2nd Edition: Understanding the rules and knowing when to break them - Updated and Expanded
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Book Description

April 1 2007 Design Elements
The graphic design equivalent to Strunk & White's The Elements of Style

This book is simply the most compact and lucid handbook available outlining the basic principles of layout, typography, color usage, and space.

Being a creative designer is often about coming up with unique design solutions. Unfortunately, when the basic rules of design are ignored in an effort to be distinctive, design becomes useless. In language, a departure from the rules is only appreciated as great literature if recognition of the rules underlies the text. Graphic design is a "visual language," and brilliance is recognized in designers whose work seems to break all the rules, yet communicates its messages clearly.

This book is a fun and accessible handbook that presents the fundamentals of design in lists, tips, brief text, and examples. Chapters include Graphic Design: What It Is; What Are They and What Do They Do?; 20 Basic Rules of Good Design; Form and Space-The Basics; Color Fundamentals; Choosing and Using Type; The World of Imagery; Putting it All Together?Essential Layout Concepts; The Right Design Choices: 20 Reminders for Working Designers; and Breaking the Rules: When and Why to Challenge all the Rules of this Book.

Frequently Bought Together

Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual + Graphic Design: The New Basics + Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students
Price For All Three: CDN$ 69.24

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Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

Timothy Samara is a New York City-based graphic designer and educator. His fifteen-year career, focused primarily on visual identity development, includes a diverse project history-from branding systems and user interfaces to books, animation, and architectural work. He is currently a member of the design faculty of the School of Visual Arts, Fashion Institute of Technology, Purchase College School of Art + Design, and New York University. He is the author of Making and Breaking the Grid, Typography Workbook, Publication Workbook, and Type Style Finder, all from Rockport Publishers. Tim lives in New York, NY.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some strage typographic choices for a design manual Sept. 26 2012
So when I first cracked this open I was so happy. Just what I wanted after 15 years in graphic design. Just the refresher course/inspirational book I was looking for. The content alone I would have given five stars for but here's the kicker - many sections are set in a very pale 6 or 7 point and the size of type and lack of contrast make this difficult to read. Ah the irony! The main body text is fine but the book is full of sidebars which, while I can read them, I have to make sure the light is good and I have to really concentrate.

Yes I don't have perfect vision anymore but to date I have never needed and don't own reading glasses. This may be the book that sends me to an optometrist but it shouldn't have been!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best graphic design book! March 10 2011
By aciloo
Very well written, very insightful. Every page of the book is designed to visually translate its contents, therefore it becomes very easy to absorb the informations that are carried out in the book. Real graphic design at work! Loved it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Readability Aug. 4 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I find the information is comprehensive and well organized. While others complained about the text being unreadable, I took a chance on the book and I find it quite readable. True the text is not as well defined as it could be, but it is readable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ecellent livre de référence Nov. 11 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent livre qui présente différentes techniques graphiques et leur effet sur la personne qui regarde. Pas de pelletage de nuage. Si vous lisez l'anglais, c'est un très bon livre.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  68 reviews
137 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Next best thing to going to design school June 27 2007
By ZanBee - Published on Amazon.com
As a graphic designer with little academic preparation in the field (my college major was in psychology, supplemented by a handful of college-level art classes and several continuing education classes in Adobe software & printing technologies), I rely heavily on books for my continued growth and education. Over the past few years, I've amassed a rather large library of graphic design books. The vast majority of my collection falls into one of two categories - either "technical" (dealing with software & printing techniques) or "eye candy" (fun to look at and good for inspiring a new idea now and then, but not suited to actually improving my design skills). Timothy Samara's books are one of the few exceptions. I actually *read* his books and learn a great deal about design from them.

Design Elements is the best primer on graphic design I've encountered. It starts out with 20 rules for good design, while readily admitting that rules are meant to be broken, once you fully understand them and can break them *deliberately*. It goes on to cover the topics of form & space, color, typography, images, and layout. Finished examples are combined with simple thumbnail "studies" that illustrate the concepts quite well and provide you a springboard for playing around on your own. The textual portions are concise and well-written.

I heartily recommend this book for anyone seeking a serious, concise overview of all the major elements of graphic design - whether you're a student or a seasoned professional looking for a good reference book/refresher. Yes, there are books out there that cover each of these topics in much greater depth. But for what this book attempts to do, it does amazingly well.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Visual Treat Oct. 10 2007
By Nathan Packer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
From the design elements of a unique placement of page numbers in the margin to very colorful representations of design elements, this book is well-worth the price. Far to often, other books attempt to explain color rendering and shape meanings without investing in professional demonstrations of the concepts. The mechanics of type, the texture of form and space, and composition strategies are well presented. A veteran graphics designer will find this book a refreshing creativity stimulant, and the new designer will find this book a genesis of ideas. I reach for this book whenever I need some brain/eye design candy.

Ok, the book was not perfect. My technical communication background is the source of my quibble with the author's choice to use a light gray type in the body text against a white page. When the reader struggles with the difficulty of the read, there is a reduction in the transfer of information. It is as if to say, look only at the color because all the information is in the graphics - yet there was good information presented in the body text.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good but not great June 6 2009
By Joel Rosado - Published on Amazon.com
this book provides information in a simple manner but its visual details are distracting. one of my biggest criticisms of this books is the use of a grey body text color against white or light grey backgrounds which makes the legibility and patience to get through the body text painful.

However, samara provides some quick and easily accessible information where he uses the correct body text contrast and bigger visuals; including his 20 rules and basics of typography. I would moreso recommend ellen lupton's the new basics of graphic design and thinking with type as introductions but you can't really beat the value of this book at under $20
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Style Book with Poor Style July 19 2010
By Honest Opinion - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sorry, I should have read the other reviews warning how this book is impossible to read.

This book might contain useful information except that I can't read the damn thing. The typeface is extremely small, and it's light-gray on white. Some of the visual examples have captions with type that is less than 2mm high. Even with perfect vision you need a magnifying glass!

I've learned a little from this book from squinting, but I have to admit that this book is just too frustrating. I've been on Amazon probably since it opened, and this is going to be the first book I return.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK!!! Nov. 17 2008
By Joseph D. Kumzak - Published on Amazon.com
I have purchased a lot of books from Amazon; this is the first time I have actually taken the time to write a review. I have decided to take a minute to write this review simply because I am so impressed with this book.

I have been creating various media that involve graphic design; including web design, print material, graphics for video, etc., for about three years now. Like many other people, I am 100% self taught. I have never been to graphic design school or taken classes in the field. So I don't know the basic fundamentals of Graphic Design & color treatment, and often find myself struggling with creativity and coming up with ideas.

This book lays out the fundamentals really well. One of the nice things about this book is this; all of the examples are modern illustrations that you see in the real world today that reflect really good design. Not some hokie, boring examples that you see in a lot of other books. I have a lot more that I want to say but I will keep it short. I will say this; if you are like me a self taught web designer, print developer, or work with graphic design in any other capacity and struggle with ideas and creativity, YOU GOTTA GET THIS BOOK!!! This book is definitely opening new doors of creativity for me.

Joseph K.
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