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Don't Get Too Close to the Edge.
So you want to know how to design?

Well here's one simple thing to consider.

I'm tweaking my logo today and trying to get everything in just the right place, visually for the eye and technically for the composition. There is often a conflict between the two. Consider my current profile image. I am trying to get it just right because it is going to drive my whole campaign at this point. I dig it and want to have it around for a bit. So I need to make sure it is correct.

Well as I was working on it I ended up in a tug-of-war at the pixel level; and I mean the space of 10 pixels. And this is what made me hop over to this computer and write this entry. Important stuff to share.

In design speak the battle I'm waging right now is referred to as a "Near Tangency" which is where two lines, or tangents, sit right on top of each other.

This causes a vibration between art elements, confines them and kills any dimensionality that you might be trying to achieve.

You must watch out for these at all costs. It's the illustration equivalent to "widows" and/or "orphans" in typography. The three of them can bring any good piece of design or artwork down.

And the general public never notices.

It's an interesting phenomena what goes on in "good" design. We noodle and nitpick and tweak and nudge (sounds sexy, eh?).

But it's because we know, we've been trained and our eyes are tuned to these things. Not because the general public sees it or would even know what was happening.

So we slave and sweat and stress over these pixel level issues. Why? Because we love pain and we love our job and most importantly we're professionals. Did you ever wonder why a piece of art, a logo or an advertisement just resonates at a high level with you? Well it's because this discipline is imposed every time, by those that care. It's proven that leaving open white space, not having lines step on one another exactly, violating borders, using silence and having people look into the composition of a head shot matter. It's been mastered for years and passed on orally and through archived works to every one of us.

I just received some of my old comic strips I drew for school papers when I was a kid. Conceptually they were pretty cool and my drawing style was rudimentary at best. But all of us that ever drew growing up were in the same place. What makes us good now is training, experience and paying attention. Those comic strips were brutish renderings that left nothing to the imagination and had no compositional qualities at all. My mom loved them, the school published them and I presented them to the chair of the art department who bashed them. First lesson.

Being creative is cool, but you must BE creative at every level of the piece you're working on and be sure that every element and the placement of those elements make perfect sense. Sometimes mathematically when you're dealing with perspective. Wow.

Continued -->

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