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Before & After: How to Design Cool Stuff 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321580122
ISBN-10: 0321580125
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Before and After" magazine's focus on clarity, simplicity, and elegance has won it legions of fans--fans who will welcome this second volume of the definitive "Before and After Page Design" by John McWade. Truly an icon of the graphic design community, his insistence on approaching design not as mere decoration but as an essential form of communication is vividly apparent in this cohesive primer on page design and layout. And you could not hope for a better, more qualified teacher. McWade shows readers how to arrange and present information using today's powerful graphics tools. Readers will learn how to design single-page and multi-page documents, brochures, and ads; why one typeface works better than another; and much more. Best of all, they'll discover how to think visually transforming the images in their heads into something that communicates effectively on the page.

About the Author

Designer, teacher, and author John McWade has been at the forefront of the graphic design and desktop publishing worlds for several decades. The very first beta user of the desktop publishing program Aldus PageMaker, he went on to found the first desktop publishing company, PageLab, to take advantage of the new tools. With his partner Gaye McWade, he founded the acclaimed Before and After magazine.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Peachpit Press; 1 edition (November 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321580125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321580122
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Albert Mitchell on March 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Almost didn't buy this book because the title and cover are honestly a little lame. However, I'm really glad I did buy it. The book should be called something like "Practical Design Principles" or "Design by Example", Ok those are lame too. Anyway, my point is this is more than just how to design cool stuff. This book gives you a nice overview of really important design principles in an easy to read, entertaining and approachable manner. It's chock full of real world examples that perfectly illustrate each concept.
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Format: Paperback
"Before and After How to Design Cool Stuff" explains good design with many illustrations and just enough words. At first you are impressed by the many illustrations and pictures. Then you appreciate the short paragraphs of insightful text.

I like this book because it involves you in the decisions. The first part of the book explains the knowledge you need to be able to really see and use graphic elements. It begins with designing without rulers and the empty page. It explains how to use color. It makes sense out of understanding typographic characters and fitting type styles to your design. An example of how the book involves you is "How to find the perfect color." It begins with finding the colors in a photograph. It ends with a discussion of five different color choice designs with good reasons why the customer might chose any one of them

I like this book because it shows creative methods you can use. The second part of "Before & After How to Design Cool Stuff" is about techniques such as getting several images out of one photo, putting the reader's eye where you want it, and combining photos and captions to tell your story. It includes techniques you can use to create unique covers and pages, business cards and a post card, or even a web site or a welcome page.

I also like the projects that make up the third part. These projects show the evolution from the idea or product that existed before to the designs that result after. These projects can help you to design a theme, a story-style brochure, a pocket size brochure, a panoramic booklet, a web site, or a presentation.

Read "Before & After How to Design Cool Stuff" for an overview of, and an appreciation for, the ideas and techniques that are in it. Then, when you are about to begin your next project, refer to this book.
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Format: Paperback
I've been reading and studying (and being inspired by) John McWade's "Before & After" magazine for over 20 years now (dating back to 1990), and no one else comes close to his ultra-clean sense of style and design, along with his uncanny ability to teach his techniques, and to teach his ways of thinking about design.

John McWade is in a class by himself. No one else even comes close.

Whether you are an experienced designer, or someone just trying to figure out how to start on your first design project, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this book, or with any of McWade's other books.

Does it matter that most of the topics in this book have already been covered in his magazine? Not at all. Even though I still have all the back issues, and refer to them on a regular basis, the fact is that this series of books makes it easier to find the topics I want to review, and so these books are way more than worth the price when I'm looking for a quick burst of inspiration.

Even if I'm not actively searching for "inspiration," just opening his books and paging through them, the clean design produces an almost zen-like state in my mind, and I immediately feel a wave of confidence flowing through me, reminding me that design *can* be fun, and that I *can* design something that's at least as good as the well-known designers I've worked with and admired for years.

Buy these books. Study what John McWade wants to show you.

If you want to become a good designer (or an even better designer), nothing will be of more help to you than studying the design techniques and ideas of John McWade.
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Format: Paperback
Before & After's materials are genius. I'm an extremely experienced designer, and I still find things in here that either (a) help clarify something in my mind, (b) inspire me, or (c) teach me an easier way to do something. But at the same time, I recommend this book to all beginners, as it helps you learn how to think about design: that it's a visual communication problem, and there are relatively straightforward solutions. John McWade has brought a clarity and brilliance to really helping people understand HOW to design, not just things for people to copy. I highly recommend this book, and any of the Before & After products.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an awesome book with lots of good information, however if you subscribe to Before & After, you may see some things in this book you have already read in their articles. None-the-less a very good book for any graphic designer's library.
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Format: Paperback
This is a good primer for those who are designers, dabbling in design or just want to understand design.

Definitely worth picking up and reading. I read it cover to cover in one afternoon and it is next to the computer whenever I design.

It does not go heavy into the technical reasons why things were, it just explains how to make things look good and very clearly and easily.

Will you become the greatest designer ever? Probably not, but is it useful as a design resource, absolutely.
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