If you just stumbled into design, maybe via a hobby that grew into a career, and you want to improve your work without having to enroll in a degree program, this book can bridge some of the gaps in your acumen. Not really a primer on basic facts, Design Workshop is more like a guide to style.
The first chapter quizzes readers on mostly technical, basic details of design (like dpi), all of which can be found in Williams's previous publications (for example, The Non-Designer's Design Book). Readers will be dismayed, possibly annoyed, that the quiz answers are not provided. Even if not knowing the answers means that you need remedial help, it feels like a bit of a tease.
The next chapters show how to use stock images, or your own images, to increase the visual impact of your piece (basically through an increase in contrast). The best part of this section, and the book as a whole, is the "before-and-after" approach in the examples; they're like a series of makeovers. The captions effectively describe what was changed in the image, and how it improved the design.
The book applies a similar set of makeovers to various types of design projects: logos, forms, newsletters, tables of contents, etc. In the final section, seven designers, including coauthor Tollett, break down the process that they went through on a job of their own.
Self-taught graphic designers probably would make the best audience for this book, but designers who are of their own "school of thought" might find fault with some of the tenets that are put forth. Graphic design by nature is a subjective enterprise--at the mercy of "styles." What you get in this book is more of a "desktop-publisher style" (many of the drawings are clip art, for example). There's a lack of sophistication in the design of the book, as well as in the illustrations of posters, letterheads, advertisements, and other applications that are used as examples. On the other hand, this same open, naive look gives the book an inviting appeal, and makes it perhaps a bit less daunting than style guides, such as Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style, that are intended for die-hard professionals. --Angelynn Grant
Style advice for design projects, including:
- Business cards and letterhead
- Invoices and forms
- Web sites
- Tables of contents and indices
- Newsletters and brochures
Robin Williams introduced design and typographic principles to legions of readers with her Non-Designer's book series. Now, writing in her clear and accessible style, she takes readers to the next level of design with practical lessons in composition, visual impact, and problem-solving. This book is divided into three parts. The first section of the book tackles basic design theory, including visual metaphors, different approaches to a concept, and how to avoid overdesign. The next two sections cover design basics and examples of specific projects, such as business cards, ads, presentations and brochures, all with "before" and "after" examples. Hundreds of examples of real-life designers' works are included to serve as inspiration for readers, as well as specific reasons why certain design features work and others don't. Robin Williams Design Workshop is the ideal book for the hundreds of thousands of readers who learned design basics from Robin Williams and are now ready to advance to the next level.