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Graphic Design Lessons - Composition Techniques 9


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


Graphic Design Composition Techniques 9

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 a man with raised arms serves as our component.

Building Structures


Building Structures 1

Building Structures 3


Certain shapes, particularly symmetrical ones, are naturally disposed to building structural patterns. Once our modular man meets his little friends they cannot help but demonstrate their acrobatic skills in this creative technique.



Welding Shapes


Welding Images

Welding is another technique used for building structures. 'Welding' in graphic design, as illustrated in our visual equation above, is when you take two or more images and combine them to create a single form. Due to their combined nature, 'welded' images often suggest conceptual ideas with layers of meaning.


Developing a Concept

Refrigeration Plant

When developing a logo you are trying to build up a strong concept that communicates information on various levels. In order to build up a concept around our image we have added the title 'Refrigeration Plant' to create a logo idea for a cold storage company.

The layers of meaning that arise from linking the image to this title take the form of a visual and verbal pun. The man/snowflake resembles a 'plant'. The word 'plant' not only describes a living organism but is also another name for a factory. The former is a symbol of nature while the latter is a symbol of technology. Like the stem supporting its flower, the figure holds the snowflake aloft - a reference to man's technology harnessing of the forces of nature and an appropriate symbol for the subject.


Frames are not always Rectangles

Frames are not always rectangles...

To develop our concept further we have added a backdrop. Remember that a frame or backdrop does not have to be rectangular. It can be any shape. Here we use a triangular backdrop to frame the image and link to the title. The triangular backdrop also suggests the shape of an icicle, adding some extra chill to the design.


Color sets the Mood

Use Counterchanges for Contrast

Next the design was colored ice blue to further amplify the coldness of the concept. Tonal counterchanges of graduated color were added to both the image and its backdrop in order to contrast and balance these elements of the design


Outlines are not always Black

Outlines are not always black...

Finally, all the outlines in the logo were changed from black to white. This adds a 'frostiness' to the concept, more in keeping with the subject. A subtle drop shadow was also applied to restore the legibility of the lettering and the overall contrast of the design.

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.