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Graphic Design Lessons - Composition Techniques 1


The 3 Cs of Graphic Design: (Components + Composition = Concept)


Graphic Design Composition Techniques 1

In these lessons we use the 3 Cs of Graphic Design to generate some graphic ideas. Each of our lessons starts with a font symbol (component) which is explored through an assortment of techniques (composition) to form a graphic idea (concept). In this lesson a font symbol of a snowflake serves as our component.

Discover Designs within Designs


Snowflake Pattern Formula


  • Symmetrical forms like our snowflake are ideal for creating repeat patterns. They fit together like tiles.
  • Designs within designs are often waiting to be discovered. Note how a 'hidden' cube or box is formed at the centre of the design on the right.
  • The 'hidden' cube at the centre of this design becomes the inspiration for our company name: 'The Ice Box'
  • A good designer should always be awake to the possibilities that lie within a shape.


Arrange Image and Type

The Ice Box

  • The relationship between image and type in any design is very important and there are many ways of linking them.
  • 'Arial Black' was chosen as the font for this design because the breadth and outline of the letters match the thickness of the lines in the image.
  • The triangular arrangement and placement of the type mirrors the composition of the snowflakes.


Link Elements with Color

The Ice Box - Color

  • Three icy blue tones were added to the image to emphasise the three planes of the 'box'.
  • The same three colors were also used for the type to strengthen the link between the image and type.


Develop the Design


The Ice Box - Color 2


  • A process of trial and error is essential in developing any graphic idea. In order to try to increase the chill factor in our design, its black outline was removed and replaced by a cold green backdrop.
  • This, however, did not work well as the image lost some of its visibility and weakened the impact of the 'hidden' box.
  • Error, and your positive reaction to it, is a natural part of the design process. Don't be despondent if things go wrong; its your opportunity to improve them.


Improve the Design


The Ice Box - Color Drop Shadow


  • In an attempt to improve the design, a drop shadow was added to increase the visibility of the image.
  • This worked well and restored the impact of the design.


Refine the Design

The Ice Box - Final

  • As adding the drop shadow had dramatically increased the visibility of the design, the background was deemed unnecessary and removed.
  • Finally, the type was changed to a single colour to improve its legibility.
  • The solution to 'The Ice Box', like most graphic designs, is the product of a process of trial and error, where error plays a necessary part in the success of the work.

Graphic Design Components

The font symbols below were chosen for their simplicity as components. Click on each symbol to explore a range of composition techniques that you can adapt to create your own ideas.

Graphic Design Lesson Resources


Graphic Design Lesson Resources

Download our free Resource Sheets

Once you have studied our composition techniques you can find more symbols in our free Resource Sheets that you may download, print and use to develop your own ideas.