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Graphic Design Lessons - Composition Techniques 5


The 3 Cs of Graphic Design: (Components + Composition = Concept)


Graphic Design Composition Techniques 5

In these lessons we use the 3 Cs of Graphic Design to generate some graphic ideas. Each of our lessons starts with a font symbol (component) which is explored through an assortment of techniques (composition) to form a graphic idea (concept). In this lesson a font symbol of an ampersand serves as our component.

Punching a Shape


Punching Shapes


'Punching' is the process illustrated in our visual equation above. It is a method of merging two shapes to create a single shape that has characteristics of both the originals. Designers use this technique to combine and simplify shapes into a single form as one image has more impact and is easier to remember than two.


Repeat Designs


Repeat Pattern


We have used the 'punching' technique here to adapt the '&' symbol to the shape of a square tile. Squares make the most natural tiles and a designer's most predictable impulse is to repeat them. However, you can spice up a simple repeat pattern by changing the colors of each tile which stimulates the viewer's instinct to search for larger pattern within the overall design.


Mirror Designs


Mirrored Repeats


Here, a symmetrical arrangement is created by mirrored forms. This is a composition technique that goes back hundreds of years and unsurprisingly creates an old fashioned crest design.


Asymmetrical Designs

An Asymmetrical Arrangement

At first glance, this asymmetrical arrangement looks accidental. On closer inspection you can see that it is carefully arranged so that each shape overlaps the next at a key points in the design. There is nothing accidental about good design.



Less is often More

Less is often More

During the design process we often pursue the development of an idea into a dead end and it becomes necessary to take a step back and start again. Always be prepared to do this and don't force an idea to work.

Repeating an image may enhance its visual interest but may also weaken its impact as it gets lost in the complexity of a pattern. An image can have a stronger identity on its own and may not need much development.


The Relationship of Image and Type

Combining Image and Type

The '&' sign in our square tile is a printing symbol which seemed a suitable image for a publisher's logo: 'Writers' & 'Critics'. The simple addition of some appropriate typography is all it needs to complete the design.

  • 'Edwardian Script', an elegant calligraphic font, was chosen for the word 'Writers' as this stylish black typeface perfectly illustrates the crafts of writing and printing.
  • 'Jokerman', an awkward novelty font, was chosen for 'Critics'. Its angry red form bristles with rage as it impertinently stamps on the design.
  • The square green '&' symbol creates a neutral zone between these two adversaries.

The style, shape, colors and arrangement of this logo all combine to evoke the nature of the publishing industry.

Graphic Design Components

The font symbols below were chosen for their simplicity as components. Click on each symbol to explore a range of composition techniques that you can adapt to create your own ideas.

Graphic Design Lesson Resources


Graphic Design Lesson Resources

Download our free Resource Sheets

Once you have studied our composition techniques you can find more symbols in our free Resource Sheets that you may download, print and use to develop your own ideas.