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Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual [Kindle Edition]

Timothy Samara
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $30.00 What's this?
Print List Price: $30.00
Kindle Price: $16.99
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Kindle Edition $16.99  
Paperback $18.65  

Book Description

The graphic design equivalent to Strunk & White's The Elements of Style

This book is simply the most compact and lucid handbook available outlining the basic principles of layout, typography, color usage, and space.

Being a creative designer is often about coming up with unique design solutions. Unfortunately, when the basic rules of design are ignored in an effort to be distinctive, design becomes useless. In language, a departure from the rules is only appreciated as great literature if recognition of the rules underlies the text. Graphic design is a "visual language," and brilliance is recognized in designers whose work seems to break all the rules, yet communicates its messages clearly.

This book is a fun and accessible handbook that presents the fundamentals of design in lists, tips, brief text, and examples. Chapters include Graphic Design: What It Is; What Are They and What Do They Do?; 20 Basic Rules of Good Design; Form and Space-The Basics; Color Fundamentals; Choosing and Using Type; The World of Imagery; Putting it All Together?Essential Layout Concepts; The Right Design Choices: 20 Reminders for Working Designers; and Breaking the Rules: When and Why to Challenge all the Rules of this Book.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Timothy Samara is a New York City-based graphic designer and educator. His fifteen-year career, focused primarily on visual identity development, includes a diverse project history-from branding systems and user interfaces to books, animation, and architectural work. He is currently a member of the design faculty of the School of Visual Arts, Fashion Institute of Technology, Purchase College School of Art + Design, and New York University. He is the author of Making and Breaking the Grid, Typography Workbook, Publication Workbook, and Type Style Finder, all from Rockport Publishers. Tim lives in New York, NY.

Product Details

  • File Size: 19786 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Rockport Publishers (April 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003TU1NZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,430 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
137 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Next best thing to going to design school June 27, 2007
By ZanBee
As a graphic designer with little academic preparation in the field (my college major was in psychology, supplemented by a handful of college-level art classes and several continuing education classes in Adobe software & printing technologies), I rely heavily on books for my continued growth and education. Over the past few years, I've amassed a rather large library of graphic design books. The vast majority of my collection falls into one of two categories - either "technical" (dealing with software & printing techniques) or "eye candy" (fun to look at and good for inspiring a new idea now and then, but not suited to actually improving my design skills). Timothy Samara's books are one of the few exceptions. I actually *read* his books and learn a great deal about design from them.

Design Elements is the best primer on graphic design I've encountered. It starts out with 20 rules for good design, while readily admitting that rules are meant to be broken, once you fully understand them and can break them *deliberately*. It goes on to cover the topics of form & space, color, typography, images, and layout. Finished examples are combined with simple thumbnail "studies" that illustrate the concepts quite well and provide you a springboard for playing around on your own. The textual portions are concise and well-written.

I heartily recommend this book for anyone seeking a serious, concise overview of all the major elements of graphic design - whether you're a student or a seasoned professional looking for a good reference book/refresher. Yes, there are books out there that cover each of these topics in much greater depth. But for what this book attempts to do, it does amazingly well.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Visual Treat October 10, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
From the design elements of a unique placement of page numbers in the margin to very colorful representations of design elements, this book is well-worth the price. Far to often, other books attempt to explain color rendering and shape meanings without investing in professional demonstrations of the concepts. The mechanics of type, the texture of form and space, and composition strategies are well presented. A veteran graphics designer will find this book a refreshing creativity stimulant, and the new designer will find this book a genesis of ideas. I reach for this book whenever I need some brain/eye design candy.

Ok, the book was not perfect. My technical communication background is the source of my quibble with the author's choice to use a light gray type in the body text against a white page. When the reader struggles with the difficulty of the read, there is a reduction in the transfer of information. It is as if to say, look only at the color because all the information is in the graphics - yet there was good information presented in the body text.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good but not great June 6, 2009
this book provides information in a simple manner but its visual details are distracting. one of my biggest criticisms of this books is the use of a grey body text color against white or light grey backgrounds which makes the legibility and patience to get through the body text painful.

However, samara provides some quick and easily accessible information where he uses the correct body text contrast and bigger visuals; including his 20 rules and basics of typography. I would moreso recommend ellen lupton's the new basics of graphic design and thinking with type as introductions but you can't really beat the value of this book at under $20
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Style Book with Poor Style July 19, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sorry, I should have read the other reviews warning how this book is impossible to read.

This book might contain useful information except that I can't read the damn thing. The typeface is extremely small, and it's light-gray on white. Some of the visual examples have captions with type that is less than 2mm high. Even with perfect vision you need a magnifying glass!

I've learned a little from this book from squinting, but I have to admit that this book is just too frustrating. I've been on Amazon probably since it opened, and this is going to be the first book I return.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is unreadable. Most of it appears to be in about a 6 pt font. While open space can be a powerful part of graphic design, one should not create it by reducing type to that size typically reserved for legal disclaimers.

Additionally, it did not seem very well organized overall or on each individual page. Obviously done by a graphic artist who hates text. Next time hire a copywriter.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK!!! November 17, 2008
I have purchased a lot of books from Amazon; this is the first time I have actually taken the time to write a review. I have decided to take a minute to write this review simply because I am so impressed with this book.

I have been creating various media that involve graphic design; including web design, print material, graphics for video, etc., for about three years now. Like many other people, I am 100% self taught. I have never been to graphic design school or taken classes in the field. So I don't know the basic fundamentals of Graphic Design & color treatment, and often find myself struggling with creativity and coming up with ideas.

This book lays out the fundamentals really well. One of the nice things about this book is this; all of the examples are modern illustrations that you see in the real world today that reflect really good design. Not some hokie, boring examples that you see in a lot of other books. I have a lot more that I want to say but I will keep it short. I will say this; if you are like me a self taught web designer, print developer, or work with graphic design in any other capacity and struggle with ideas and creativity, YOU GOTTA GET THIS BOOK!!! This book is definitely opening new doors of creativity for me.

Joseph K.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
i think it's a very handy book to keep around and look for ideas
Published 16 days ago by Chips
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to beat for...
Ive been in graphic design since 2004 and I can honestly say this is a must have. I consulted with my 4 design profs and each agreed it was one of the best all in one design books... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Nathan Cowles
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very informative textbook.
Published 5 months ago by Millissa Barrio
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It's very easy to understand. I like specially its layout.
Published 7 months ago by lisa
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. Yvonne Rodriguez
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but...
Great textbook, but riddled with so many typographical errors it's unbelievable. One single run of spell check would have fixed most, if not all, of them. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jon Brandit
4.0 out of 5 stars love it.
Explained the elements of design very well and can help a designer with a good insight. This book will be better if it's put in a different format.
Published 11 months ago by Ikaika
5.0 out of 5 stars Great addition to library
This is another great book by Timothy Samara and my second purchase by this author. If you love design, and want to improve and be more creative in your approach to compositions,... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ms. Jo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great textbook
I love the format. The information is great. I am more into design because of this book actually. [insert required word minimum]
Published 14 months ago by Aunnakalia Boyce
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 Rules of Good Design
I used this book to teach a graphic design class. Concepts and ideas are explained graphically, isn't that what it's all about?
Published 15 months ago by Stacey Replinger
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More About the Author

Timothy Samara is a graphic designer and educator based in New York City, where he teaches at the School of Visual Arts and Fashion Institute of Technology. He's also the author of Typography Workbook (Rockport 2004). He lives in New York's Chelsea district.


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