Mason Weis

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CRAP - Part 1 Contrast

What is good design? What differentiates great designers from someone whose work seems somewhat "mediocre" by others standards? (Let's disregard my work for a minute here, as I don't want to make any comments on the things I've done). When most people start designing, more experienced designers will often tell them to start by learning design principles before they make anything. While there are many many different ways of thinking about design principles, the mnemonic device I learned seems especially memorable. That mnemonic? The CRAP principles. For the next few weeks, I'll go over each of the principles in its own blog post. Without further ado, let's begin.

Principle 1 -- Contrast

The first design principle we'll cover is contrast. This is probably one of the most immediately evident principles for people to spot when they're looking at something that follows the CRAP principles. As you can see in the iPod ad above, the dancing silhouette clearly sticks out on the green background and the white iPod is easily seen against said silhouette. 

Proper contrast makes the important elements in a design more important by forcing them front and center. Imagine if the background of this image was a much lighter green. Almost white. The iPod would be virtually impossible to see, especially from a distance, and you as a viewer wouldn't know what was being sold. On the other hand, imagine if the background was a much darker green. Almost black. Sure you'd see the iPod, but the act of enjoying the music and the "iPod experience," so to speak would be lost. Contrast can make or break a design, so ensuring it's applied correctly is incredibly important.

Here are some more examples of contrast in use:

Contrast doesn't need to be limited to color. Look at the differences in font size here. The difference makes it simple, yet elegant. By Fabian Glatzeder.

Contrast doesn't need to be limited to color. Look at the differences in font size here. The difference makes it simple, yet elegant. By Fabian Glatzeder.

The contrast in color here is effective and eye-catching, making this poster stand out. (by Kirby Croland)

The contrast in color here is effective and eye-catching, making this poster stand out. (by Kirby Croland)

Another example of contrasting type. Here it has a cool effect on it so that from afar, it looks like droplets of water.

Another example of contrasting type. Here it has a cool effect on it so that from afar, it looks like droplets of water.

About as barebones as things can get. But why does it work? Contrast, that's why! By Kristina Nikaj.

About as barebones as things can get. But why does it work? Contrast, that's why! By Kristina Nikaj.

As you can see, contrast is essential to good design. Things need to stand out, otherwise they won't be seen and the point of your design will fall apart.

Next week, I'll be covering the second principle, the "R" in CRAP -- Repetition.

Until next time!

Mason Weis