Graphic Design books to get you started

Graphic Design books to get you started

A collection of well written graphic design books that present the world of visual communication and her beauty. They will get you started, no matter if you are studying by yourself or at school, on how to: understand, research, create and implement your design.

As a self taught designer, I always wanted to know more. I would have had more questions then answers and this is a dangerous thing, at list in the beginning, as it tends to limit your perception on what “good design” is. After some time you notice these patterns that keep repeating : titles are always bolder and bigger then the rest of the content, color becomes important when talking with different audiences, space is used to guide the eye.

Long story short, these books are some of the best sources that will get your eyes opened on what design is (branding, research, strategy. design is only the common denominator) and how to implement it. You will not see beauty as a shiny presence, but as an objective, well structured, goal orientated point of view.

If you want to learn how to communicate with a visual point of view, then I recommend you start with these books (believe me, I read 14 of them and became a better designer). Enjoy and happy reading!

Design Thinking

by Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris

Graphic Design books to get you started - Design thinking

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Design is an interactive process and design thinking is present in each stage of the journey from client brief to finished work. Different solutions can be produced for any given brief and these can differ widely in levels of creativity, practicality and budget.

This book aims to present an overview of the design thinking involved at each stage of the design process: the methods used by designers to generate and refine creative ideas, the key considerations that help shape them and the feedback and review elements that allow design teams to learn from each job and contribute to future commissions.

Through detailed studies of contemporary work and analysis of the basic theories, we examine how a designer can generate and resolve ideas to produce creative solutions that best meet the stated aims of the brief.

A Designer’s Research Manual
Succeed in Design by Knowing Your Clients and What They Really Need (Design Field Guide)

by Jennifer Visocky O’Grady, Ken O’Grady

Graphic Design books to get you started - Designer research Manual

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Doing research can make all the difference between a great design and a good design. By engaging in competitive intelligence, customer profiling, color and trend forecasting, etc., designers are able to bring something to the table that reflects a commercial value for the client beyond a well-crafted logo or brochure. Although scientific and analytical in nature, research is the basis of all good design work.

This book provides a comprehensive manual for designers on what design research is, why it is necessary, how to do research, and how to apply it to design work.

Writing and Research for Graphic Designers
A Designer’s Manual to Strategic Communication and Presentation

by Steven Heller

Graphic Design books to get you started - Writing and Research for Graphic Designers A Designer’s Manual to Strategic Communication and Presentation

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For designers, writing and research skills are more necessary than ever before, from the basic business compositions to critical writing. In this competitive climate, designers are routinely called upon to make words about the images and designs they create for clients. Writing about design is not just “trade” writing, but should be accessible to everyone with an interest in design. This book is a complete, introductory guide to various forms of research and writing in design—and how they explain visuals and can be visualized.

These pages address communication on various levels and to all audiences:
– Designers to Designers
– Designers to Clients
– Designers to the Design-literate
– Designers to the Design-agnostic

Being able to express the issues and concerns of the design practice demands facts, data, and research. With Writing and Research for Graphic Designers, you’ll learn how to turn information into a valuable asset— one of the key talents of the design researcher.

Brand Identity Essentials
100 Principles for Designing Logos and Building Brands

by Kevin Budelmann, Yang Kim, Curt Wozniak

Graphic Design books to get you started - Brand Identity Essentials 100 Principles for Designing Logos and Building Brands

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Design terms are often used inconsistently – or just as bad, interchangeably. This leads to confusion for designers as well as clients. New in paperback, Essential Elements for Brand Identity lays a foundation for brand building, defining the tools and building blocks, and illustrating the construction of strong brands through examples of world-class design. It is a one-stop reference for connecting visual design elements for logos to branding concepts, and demonstrates core identity design principles through clear organization and a variety of sources and examples.

Through a cohesive structure that explores broader concepts in relation to graphic identities, identity programs, and brand identities, Essential Elements for Brand Identity links formal design concerns with business issues. Design students and seasoned brand managers alike will appreciate the pragmatic relevance of its content and be inspired by the representative body of work collected and presented throughout the book.

Universal Principles of Design
100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design

by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler

Graphic Design books to get you started - Universal Principles of Design

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Whether a marketing campaign or a museum exhibit, a video game or a complex control system, the design we see is the culmination of many concepts and practices brought together from a variety of disciplines. Because no one can be an expert on everything, designers have always had to scramble to find the information and know-how required to make a design work-until now.
Universal Principles of Design is the first cross-disciplinary reference of design. Richly illustrated and easy to navigate, this book pairs clear explanations of the design concepts featured with visual examples of those concepts applied in practice. From the 80/20 rule to chunking, from baby-face bias to Ockham’s razor, and from self-similarity to storytelling, 100 design concepts are defined and illustrated for readers to expand their knowledge.

This landmark reference will become the standard for designers, engineers, architects, and students who seek to broaden and improve their design expertise.

Universal Methods of Design
100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions

by Bruce Hanington and Bella Martin

Graphic Design books to get you started - Universal Methods of Design

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This comprehensive reference provides a thorough and critical presentation of 100 research methods, synthesis/analysis techniques, and research deliverables for human centered design, delivered in a concise and accessible format perfect for designers, educators, and students. Whether research is already an integral part of a practice or curriculum, or whether it has been unfortunately avoided due to perceived limitations of time, knowledge, or resources, Universal Methods of Design serves as an invaluable compendium of methods that can be easily referenced and utilized by cross-disciplinary teams in nearly any design project.

This essential guide:

– Dismantles the myth that user research methods are complicated, expensive, and time-consuming
– Creates a shared meaning for cross-disciplinary design teams
– Illustrates methods with compelling visualizations and case studies
– Characterizes each method at a glance
– Indicates when methods are best employed to help prioritize appropriate design research strategies

Universal Methods of Design distills each method down to its most powerful essence, in a format that will help design teams select and implement the most credible research methods best suited to their design culture within the constraints of their projects.

Visual Research
An Introduction to Research Methodologies in Graphic Design (second edition)

by Ian Noble and Russell Bestley

Graphic Design books to get you started
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Visual Research (second edition), is a guide to the practice of researching for graphic design projects.

Taking an accessible and visual approach, and featuring a wide variety of student work, it is the perfect companion for any major project within a visual arts degree.
This book forms a detailed introduction to researching for design, explaining the key terms and theories that underlie design research. It examines topics such as audience, communication theory, semiotics and semantics. Aimed at visual thinkers, the book is packed with images and international case studies.

This edition also includes 12 new international case studies, end of chapter exercises, a new chapter on Visual Grammar and a foreword by Ellen Lupton, an internationally renowned graphic designer, writer, curator and educator.
Key features
An ideal core text for research modules within visual arts degrees.

Showcases twelve international case studies and new chapter exercises demonstrating the importance of effective design research.

Second edition includes a foreword by Ellen Lupton, the internationally renowned graphic designer, and a new chapter on visual grammar.

Color Design Workbook
A Real World Guide to Using Color in Graphic Design

by Adams Morioka and Terry Stone

Color Design Workbook
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Since color is such a important part of graphic design, designers need the most up to date as well as the most fundamental, information on the subject to have the tools needed to use color effectively. From the meanings behind colors to working with color in presentations, this book provides readers with the vital information needed to apply color creatively and effectively to their design work. Readers also receive guidance on talking with clients about color and selling color ideas. The science behind color theory is also explained in easily understood language, and case studies are included to show the effects some color choices had on both their clients and consumers.

Layout Essentials
100 Design Principles for Using Grids

by Beth Tondreau

Graphic Design books to get you started - Layout Essentials 100 Design Principles for Using Grids
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Adhering to certain layout and grids standards and principles is important for any job from brochures, to annual reports, to posters, to websites, to publications. However, knowing how to bend the rules and make certain grids work for the job at hand takes skill.

This book outlines and demonstrates basic layout/grid guidelines and rules through 100 entries including choosing a typeface, striving for rhythm and balance with type, combining typefaces, using special characters and kerning and legibility. These essentials of grid design are critical to the success of any job.

Design Research
Investigation for successful creative solutions

by Gavin Ambrose and Neil Leonard

Graphic Design books to get you started - Design Research  Investigation for successful creative solutions
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Design Research: Investigation for successful creative solutions is a stimulating introduction to essential research concepts and terminology with practical briefs and 200+ images of successful design projects. It shows readers how to choose the best method of research in order to save time and get the right results.

Being a professional designer is not all about light bulb moments. To stimulate them, and ensure you reach the best final concept, this essential guide shows how research can open fresh avenues of creativity and help readers to make informed, intelligent and targeted design decisions.

The book makes readers aware of all the different research methods available to them, as well as how to carry out the most appropriate research for their graphic design projects.

All stages of the research process are considered in a dynamic and entertaining style, covering audience, context, trends, sources, documentation, dissemination and more.

Students and designers can benefit from this text by learning fresh ways to analyze information obtained by data gathering, and how best to test and prove decisions. The resulting, well-rounded solutions will be informed, innovative, and aesthetically fitting for the brief.

Key features:

Illustrated throughout with research-led design examples, spanning poster design, packaging, typography and signage.
Studio interviews with Emily Hale, Andrew Hussey, Brian Rea, Jane Trustram, Underware and Tanner Christensen.
Gives readers the opportunity to further explore different research methods and techniques through briefs and recommended reading lists.

Graphic Design Thinking (Design Briefs)

by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips

Graphic Design books to get you started - Graphic Design Thinking
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Creativity is more than an inborn talent; it is a hard-earned skill, and like any other skill, it improves with practice. Graphic Design Thinking: How to Define Problems, Get Ideas, and Create Form explores a variety of informal techniques ranging from quick, seat-of-the-pants approaches to more formal research methods for stimulating fresh thinking, and ultimately arriving at compelling and viable solutions. In the style with which author Ellen has come to been known hands-on, up-close approach to instructional design writing brainstorming techniques are grouped around the three basic phases of the design process: defining the problem, inventing ideas, and creating form. Creative research methods include focus groups, interviewing, brand mapping, and co-design. Each method is explained with a brief narrative text followed by a variety of visual demonstrations and case studies. Also included are discussions with leading professionals, including Art Chantry, Ivan Chermayeff, Jessica Helfand, Steven Heller, Abott Miller, Christoph Niemann, Paula Scher, and Martin Venezky, about how they get ideas and what they do when the well runs dry. The book is directed at working designers, design students, and anyone who wants to apply inventive thought patterns to everyday creative challenges.

Best Practices for Graphic Designers, Grids and Page Layouts. An Essential Guide for Understanding and Applying Page Design Principles

by Amy Graver and Ben Jura

Graphic Design books to get you started - Best Practices for Graphic Designers, Grids and Page Layouts

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This unique, go-to guide for designers fully details the essential layout and design skills needed to succeed in this competitive industry. With fun and practical application, it offers valuable insight into strategy and business when working in the real world with real clients, starting with basic information on layout principles before delving more deeply into theory and application on a project-by-project basis. Illustrated with real-world assignments and case studies, this guide offers a behind-the-scenes take on the entire process and steps necessary to go from concept to final outcome, including how to overcome challenges presented along the way.

Designing Brand Identity
An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team

by Alina Wheeler

Designing Brand Identity
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A revised new edition of the bestselling toolkit for creating, building, and maintaining a strong brand
From research and analysis through brand strategy, design development through application design, and identity standards through launch and governance, Designing Brand Identity, Fourth Edition offers brand managers, marketers, and designers a proven, universal five-phase process for creating and implementing effective brand identity. Enriched by new case studies showcasing successful world-class brands, this Fourth Edition brings readers up to date with a detailed look at the latest trends in branding, including social networks, mobile devices, global markets, apps, video, and virtual brands.

Features more than 30 all-new case studies showing best practices and world-class
Updated to include more than 35 percent new material
Offers a proven, universal five-phase process and methodology for creating and implementing effective brand identity

Designing Brand Experience
Creating Powerful Integrated Brand Solutions

by Robin Landa

Graphic Design books to get you started - Designing Brand Experience Creating Powerful Integrated Brand Solutions

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In today’s competitive marketplace, establishing a creative and comprehensive branding program is crucial to achieving business success. This dynamic new book from best-selling author Robin Landa is an all-inclusive guide to generating ideas and creating brand applications that resonate with an audience. A highly visual examination of each phase of the branding process includes comprehensive coverage of the key brand applications of graphic design and advertising. Readers gain valuable insight into the art of designing individual brand applications-brand identity, promotional design, identification graphics, web sites, advertising, and unconventional/guerilla formats, among others-while benefiting from the thoughtful commentary and full-color branding work of award-winning designers and creative directors worldwide.

Thinking with Type (second edition)
A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students

by Ellen Lupton

Thinking with Type (second edition) A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students
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Thinking with Type is the definitive guide to using typography in visual communication, from the printed page to the computer screen. This revised edition includes forty-eight pages of new content, including the latest information on style sheets for print and the web, the use of ornaments and captions, lining and non-lining numerals, the use of small caps and enlarged capitals, as well as information on captions, font licensing, mixing typefaces, and hand lettering. Throughout the book, visual examples show how to be inventive within systems of typographic form—what the rules are and how to break them. Thinking with Type is a type book for everyone: designers, writers, editors, students, and anyone else who works with words. The popular online companion to Thinking with Type ( has been revised to reflect the new material in the second edition.

Typography Essentials
100 Design Principles for Working with Type

by Ina Saltz

Graphic Design books to get you started - Typography Essentials 100 Design Principles for Working with Type

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Typography Essentials is a practical, hands-on resource to distill, organize, and compartmentalize-but not to oversimplify-the many complex issues surrounding the effective use of typography. It is for designers of every medium in which type plays a major role. A deep understanding of letterforms and knowledge of the effective use of letterforms can only be obtained with constant observation and experimentation; it evolves over a lifetime of design practice and study. This book is intended to advance the progress of designers seeking to deepen their typographic expertise; it is organized and designed to make the process enjoyable and entertaining, as well as instructional.This book is divided into four easy-to-use sections: The Letter, The Word, The Paragraph, and The Page. Each of the 100 principles has an explanation and examples representing the principle in action.

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