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Layout Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Creating Powerful Pieces [Hardcover]

Kristin Cullen
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 1 2005
Layout Workbook is the third book in RockportÆs series of practical and inspirational workbooks that cover the fundamental areas of the graphic design business. In this edition, author Kristin Cullen tackles the often perplexing job of nailing down a layout that works.

Cullen approaches layout with this comprehensive guide that begins with a series of step-by-step fundamental chapters (a ôhow-toö of layout) addressing topics such as Inspiration, The Process of Design, Choosing Type, Structure and Spatial Organization, Establishing Hierarchy, and Communicating Messages. Following this thorough and instructive section is a diverse collection of visual case studies showcasing some of the best of layout design; inspirational quotations; and a unique, progressive book design that is truly reflective of the content.

The book is more than a collection of great examples of layout. It is an invaluable resource for students, designers, and creative professionals who seek design understanding and inspiration. The book illuminates the broad category of layout, communicating specifically what it takes to design with excellence. It also addresses the heart of design -- the how and why of the creative process.


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About the Author

Kristin Cullen teaches graphic design at the University of Cincinnati and has also taught at the University of Illinois and the Rhode Island School of Design. For years, she worked as a designer at award-winning Chicago design firms, where she created a wide range of communication materials. She lives in Cincinnati, OH. http://www.kristincullen.com

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good start Dec 25 2009
Format:Paperback
For anyone looking for an overview of the process of designing, this book is a good guidebook to get you started. There's also lots of examples of previous and colorful work to provide inspiration. A must-have for beginner designers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  51 reviews
148 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a design book Nov. 14 2005
By Jared - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
An excellent book on the basics of graphic design. One of the hardest books to find (despite the seeming abundance of them being published) is a well rounded book of design that is useful to both the beginning and advanced student of graphic design. This book provides a strong overview of topics ranging from the pragmatic (project briefs, client interaction) and the technical (grids, hierarchies, typography) to the elusive (intuition, conceptualization). It also provides specific information (anatomy of grids, use of em and en dashes, classification of typefaces) that I've had to go to separate books for in the past. As the title implies though, it does not cover issues that don't directly relate to graphic layouts (e.g. logos, signage, websites) though many of the principles can be applied to them. It also does not delve deeply into color systems, just looking at the role of color in hierarchies and compositions.

I find the title slightly misleading in that it is not what I would normally consider a workbook. It covers the entire design process step by step, so in that sense its very instructional but when I think of workbooks I imagine sample projects, worksheets, etc. It has more in common with an instructional / reference / design specimen book (a third of the book is a catalog of design projects done by professional designers). As mentioned above its focus is print layouts so there is little direct reference to web or interface design.

Overall, it is a well conceived, well designed book that gives a design student the basics of print design and can replace a variety of other books on your shelf.
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great balance March 16 2006
By M. Sorenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Layout Workbook if not only thorough in covering the fundamentals of designing a layout, but in addition the second half of the book contains a gallery of examples of successful layout.

Another of my favorite features is that the author not only addresses the topics like "grid" and "space" but they also cover the mental process behind design; there is a section just about intuition and creativity.

Above all the book was enjoyable to read - not just informative.
89 of 107 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointed! Sept. 4 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ok, so what does the word "workbook" mean to you? To me it means there will be exercises in the book for the reader to complete which aid in learning. Not in "The Layout Workbook" there aren't. I realize that a topic as subjective as graphic design isn't the easiest to do that for without an instructor actually looking at what you do, but I'm disappointed that there isn't something more hands-on than sidebars with factors to consider in a design. Designers who've been to art school probably already know everything in this book and have no need for it but those of us flying by the seat of our pants could use all the help they can get. And holy smokes, NO INDEX!! That said, the information in the book is extremely useful, but it is a mostly narrative-based presentation of information with example pieces telling "what works" (not even any examples of "what doesn't work"), but it isn't a "workbook".
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much layout - more of a basic graphic design book Nov. 12 2009
By BN - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Deceptive title. Expected more in-depth material on layouts, grids and publication design. Turned out to be more of a graphic design basics book that gives surface level info on various design concepts. Not really a workbook either - no interactive exercises or anything. Last 1/3 of the book basically profiles various design firms and certain print publications they've created. Again - very surface level analysis.

Not recommended for intermediate/advanced designers.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Workbook, and Not Much Layout Feb. 2 2009
By Conrad J. Obregon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's too bad that this book is not a workbook and that it does not provide very much information about layout. Primarily, it's a look at what the authors consider good design in print media.

The book discusses the function of design, the design process, the role of inspiration and intuition in design, the function of grids, the factors that effect composition, typography and the importance of design analysis. The book concludes with a look at several examples of design with some comments on each. There are no exercises or tutorials.

Most designers would agree that the layout of printed materials should enhance the ability of the printed media to communicate its message without calling attention to the layout. I presume that there are some principles to laying out a piece of media to achieve that goal. The authors recognize that there are such principles and even offer some of those in general terms. Thus the authors suggest that using more then one typeface or font in a piece may enhance communication, but also point out that some fonts are unattractive when combined. The logical development of this point would have provided readers with some examples of combinations both compatible and in conflict, and perhaps even a discussion of why fonts fit together or conflict.

The authors offer profuse illustrations that they believe show good design. Unfortunately most of illustrations are so small that they provide little help in understanding the teaching points. The examples in the final chapter are larger. For the latter, the accompanying text often illustrates the design considerations but just as often the text is merely descriptive. I found that most of the examples throughout the book called attention to their design, without showing how the design contributed to the communication.

For me, the chapter on compositional factors seemed like it would be the real meat of layout. The authors listed fifteen factors ranging from space to tension. Several of the factors are then discussed in a few paragraphs. For the space factor, the authors point out that grouping several items together, with space around them, leads the eye to them, and that centering a visual element renders it ineffective. I accepted these principles, but wanted the illustrations to show how and why these principles worked, which they did not. Moreover, only 12 of the fifteen factors were explained.

I was driven by an interest in the layout of images in photographic books. The compositional factors were useful in a general way but I wanted just a little bit of spoon-feeding. I went away hungry.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe layout is such an intuitive and inspirational process that it is impossible to deal in specifics, but I don't believe it. In almost every art and craft field there are principles of general application that good practitioners then press against to create unusual products. Unfortunately this book only shows us the outliers. This book may provide inspiration to experienced designers, but won't be of much help to those with less experience.
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