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Robin Williams Design Workshop Paperback – 26 Oct 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Peachpit Press; 1 edition (26 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201700883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201700886
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 1.8 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 935,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

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 enrol 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, or maybe 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 are 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 co-author Tollett, break down the process they went through on a job of their own.

Self-taught graphic designers would probably make the best audience for this book, but designers who are of their own "school of thought" may find fault with some of the tenets put forth. Graphic design is by nature a subjective enterprise--at the mercy of "styles". What you get in this book is more of a "desktop publisher style". There is 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 intended for die-hard professionals, such as Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style. --Angelynn Grant

From the Back Cover

Learn design theory and practical know-how from the award-winning author/design team, Robin Williams and John Tollett

Robin Williams introduced design and typographic principles to legions of readers with her best-selling Non-Designer's book series. Now she and designer/co-author John Tollett take you to the next level of creative design with practical advice and lessons in composition, visual impact, and design challenges.

Presented in Robin and John's signature style―writing that is so crystal clear, it's accessible to absolutely anyone―and illustrated with hundreds of full-color design examples, the ideas in this book tackle design theory, visual puns, and layout and graphics strategies for real-world projects. Developing designers will appreciate the author's imaginative approach and well-chosen examples.

  • Discover practical and effective design principles and concept–and how to apply them to virtually any project.
  • Learn why some designs are attention-getting and others are not.
  • Learn how to choose just the right look―corporate or casual, classic or trendy―for specific types of projects, such as business cards, letterhead and envelopes, newsletters and brochures, logos, advertising, and more.
  • Test your design acumen by comparing before-and-after examples.
  • Find a wealth of inspiration for your own design projects.
  • Gain insight into the design process by studying the works of guest designers, who offer their personal commentary and insights.


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a sequel to the four "Non-designer's" (ND) books written by Robin Williams - and you'd better read them before reading this book because there's a test as the first chapter! It's a very different book to the ND books. It's far less prescriptive, discussing alternative ways of design, rather than advising on the best way. Consequently it's a book to read and then use to dip into for ideas, rather than a "read and learn" book. It was therefore a surprise to a non-designer like me who was hoping for a little more definite guidance but, let's face it, once you've learnt the basics, design is all about experimentation. In this respect, the book is good. It has many examples, printed in full colour on good paper, with comments on each. It is well structured and laid out and is therefore easy to read and use for ideas. So, if you have read the ND series and feel you're ready to take the next steps, this book is worth buying.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 April 2001
Format: Paperback
As a self-taught designer, this book increased my understanding of why I design things the way I do. It also revealed the gaps in my knowledge (which I am now attempting to fill), and offered some good inspiration for new projects. Very easy to read, and dip in and out of.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ninthmuse on 17 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
not an academic work in case any students were wanting to use it but it is a great book if you want to get your basics in and build from there. i can highly recommend it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 55 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Non-designers get another boost! 7 Nov. 2001
By R. Stephen Gracey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a self-taught, working graphic designer, I am indebted once again to Robin Williams' clear, principle-based teaching approach. Having become her fan through the "Non-Designer" book series, I found this one the best help yet.
Williams gives us more principles of sound design, which she then shows at work through a series of daily applications--letterhead, web sites, brochures, etc. She uses the principles in example after example, explaining why they are examples of good or blah design. I return to her examples again and again for simple ideas to juice up my non-profit communications and raise my customers' expectations of visual communication.
Snazzy pictures, lots of ideas, and comforting encouragement all make this one an essential part of my reference library.
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Great learning experience 1 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am not a graphics artist nor an art student. I needed some ideas for a project and this book came in very handy. I learned a lot from "The Non-Designer's Design Book" by the same author and when I saw this book, I just had to get it. It is one of my best investments yet. I love learning new things and this book opened my eyes to many aspects of design.
At first, I was almost going to give up and hand over the project to a professional but after reading the book, I found many helpful ideas and was inspired to give it a try on my own. I produced a flyer, a Flash presentation, a product logo and a report layout and cover based on the lessons from these two books. I will not claim that they are works of art but many friends and clients have complemented on the outcome. Some of my clients even thought that I had had them professionally done.
Although there are others who will say that some of us just has the flair for designing, I don't think I would have been able to do all that without the help of these two books. For those of you who wish to create artwork for print, I would recommend starting with "The Non-Designer's Design Book" and then advancing to this book. Also check out some other books by the same publisher mentioned in the introductory chapter of this book.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Good Reference 8 Mar. 2001
By Frank Sinkavich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Robin Williams Design Workshop is a well written text that contains a lot of valuable information for both beginners and those already familiar with desk top publishing. Design Workshop gives you some new ways to look at things, including many good examples that demonstrate concepts discussed in the text. Design Workshop is directed at those who have some existing knowledge on the areas of typography, graphics, and layout software. However, she presents short quizzes that allow you to test your knowledge and if you feel the need, she also provides references where the information can be found. I do a lot of advertising layouts in addition to a quarterly newsletter that will benefit from the information and ideas discussed in the book. Robin Williams Design Workshop is the kind of a book you will read more than once-a good reference.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Robin Williams Design Workshop 27 Nov. 2000
By R. Monger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was very insightful. I am a desktop publishing professional and was looking for ideas for website design. This book enlightened me to the many considerations in designing for paper distribution versus web publishing. It asked questions on a number of design topics and based upon your expertise level, the author directed you to other references. The illustrations were great. I am going to purchase The Non-Designers Design Book and The Non-Designers Web Book by Robin Williams and John Tollett.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Robin Williams Design Workshop 18 Mar. 2004
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found this book very informative and interesting. It had a lot of useful information, and the info was presented in a very "reader-friendly" format. There were a lot of examples in the book used to prove a point, instead of a `just take it for granted' procedure. The book was simple and straightforward but not boring. The book was written `to' the audience, with words like `you' and `your' instead of `one' or `some designers'. It really made the book have a personal impact.
On the other hand, the book wasn't `all encompassing', like it seemed to be. Many references to previous books by the author showed that this was a book for most people. I would have added more to the book instead of constantly referring to previous books, if I was the author. Also, in the book, questions are asked to the reader, but there aren't answers printed anywhere in the book, which can be confusing.
Personally, I would rate this book as an 8 on a scale of 1-10. It was a great book to read and it taught me a lot. It could have had more `guts', but it was very well written. I would definitely suggest this book to others, if they were interested in design. It was well worth my time and a good book to `keep on file!'
By M.L.Conklin
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