Visual Order: The paper

Rationalizing Visual Design

The paper discusses rationalizing visual design decisions with respect to the arrangement of 2D elements in a pre-defined finite space. The context lies within the domain of graphic/communication designers creating visual arrangements to communicate the intended message. 
Basic design, foundation courses, visual order, visual hierarchy


The advent of digital technology has created a radical shift in execution tools within the realm of graphic design. This has turned out to be a blessing and a problem in relation to the context and the user. Working with traditional tools, like the brush, ink, paper or pencils, which were simple to use, fortunately, allowed errors while executing a task and indirectly promoted learning and sensitivity. More was understood by doing, sharing and observing each other, in comparison to computers, which nowadays, only permit individual participation from the user. Today’s new tools and software offer error-free execution, making a task easier for an individual to create a layout, use a typeface, choose a colour or an image with ‘utmost insensitivity’, particularly among novice learners of the discipline. Apparently, it leads them to demand more rational approaches to understanding visual design sensitivity.
Image: Visual Order Research Paper Booklet inside pages
Image: Visual Order Paper Booklet
Considering the above issue as an impediment to explorations in foundation design courses, this paper focuses on enhancing dual processing modes, i.e., vertical and lateral, in the context of contemporary design education, with the introduction of a tailored course for teaching visual order in two-dimensional graphic design. The reference is to issue in graphic design (typography) dealing with sensitivity; which at times seem difficult to rationalize. The method the experiment adopts is to create a problem for students based on certain predefined criteria, which needs to be fulfilled, plus ensuring them the freedom to generate solutions laterally. Once students transform the given problems into solutions, the instructor unveils the underlying principles of graphic design with simple analogies, finding parallels with elements and principles of design. Instead of adopting a conclusive approach of being right or wrong, that hinders exploration, students engage with the contextual nature of the graphic design. The method also uses collaborative learning as a remedy to address the contemporary issue of individual submission to the dominance of the new media, in which beginners in the discipline struggle most of the time with the tool, rather than the task.
Image: Visual Order Research Paper Booklet inside pages
Visual Order Paper booklet inside pages

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Mandar Rane
Prof. Mandar Rane
Communication Design
Faculty IDC, School of Design,
IIT Bombay
Students of the Department of Design, IIT Guwahati, Assam, INDIA
Rane, M. Visible Language, 39.2, Rationalizing Design Sensitivity, Rhode Island School of Design, USA 2005, 147-167 (International Journal of Visual Communication - Paper)