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.