Design + Illustration Studio

Design Updates + Inspirations


Category Archive: Design Terms

Design Terms: Primary Colors

This may be a term that is pretty well understood. Think back to elementary school art classes, when you would make a color wheel? Remember? You have, red, red-orange, orange, orange-yellow, yellow, yellow- green, green, green-blue, blue, blue-purple, and purple on a wheel. Red-Yellow-Blue are the primary colors. These colors mix together to create the rest of the color wheel. Pretty simple right? Red + Yellow, make orange. Yellow + Blue, make green. Blue + Red, makes purple.

Chelsea Fullerton did an awesome explanation of this on Emmadime. Her color wheel is a great example of this!


Design Terms : Kerning

Let’s head back to last week’s Design Term, widows + orphans. I mentioned one way to fix the problem of widows and orphans would be to adjust the space between the letters or words. Which leads us to today’s term: ‘Kerning’. Kerning is adjusting the spacing between letters or characters. Let’s face it, no font is perfect (maybe some…). So sometimes, it’s necessary to do a little tweaking to individual space between each letter. Or other times it might be visually appealing to adjust the letter spacing as a whole. To kern your word or an individual space in Creative Suite, highlight your text or place your cursor between a specific letter, and using your Apple keyboard, press option and the left/right arrow key, depending on which way you would like to move the letters.


Design Terms : Widows + Orphans

In design, widows and orphans are short lines of text or single words left at the start and end of paragraphs. A widow is a word or line of text that is forced to stand alone at the start of a page or column. An orphan is a single word that sits alone at the end of a paragraph. Both of these are problematic when typesetting because it causes a rough break in the flow for the reader, interrupting a thought. It can also look bad due to the accidental white space that brings unnecessary attention to the word(s). To fix widows and orphans, simply adjust the space between words or letters.


Design Terms : Lettering

I’m going to get a bit ‘design snobby’ with you for this design term. Lettering refers to hand drawn or hand made type, not a font. Lettering ranges from scribbled raw type to perfect points and curves, which sometimes makes it hard to tell if its a font or not. It stands out apart from a font because it’s one of a kind and has it’s own unique details.

Jessica Hische goes into more detail explaining the difference between lettering and fonts. And she’s also a great letterer.



Design Terms : Resolution

In design (and any other digital displays), resolution has to do with the number of pixels in an image. The higher number of pixels in your image the higher the quality.

Let’s say you have an image that’s 200 x 300, this means the image is only 200 pixels across your screen and 300 pixels deep.  That’s why, when you resize any image larger than it’s original file size (maybe 200 x 300 to 400 x 600), the image gets pixelated. The image was forced to ‘make up’ filler pixels, causing an ugly, grainy image.

An image can also have a measurement of PPI / pixels per inch (pixels for web) and DPI / dots per inch  (dots for printing ink), again, the higher the number of PPI/DPI the higher quality the image. Typically, 300 dpi is best for printing and 72 ppi is best for web.


Design Terms : Bleed

I’m not talking about that red stuff  in our bodies… but this design term is pretty easy to understand. Bleed, is a printing term, which refers to the artwork  ‘bleeding’ or going beyond the edge of the document before cropping. That way, when you crop, you don’t get that annoying tiny white edge, instead a beautiful, colorful edge!