Lesson Task – Layout

  1. Figure/Ground

Although we’ve worked on this before in our CA00 we are revisiting this term now more closely related to composition rather than the principles in themselves. The task was to play around with black shapes on a white square paper and observe at which point the distinction between figure and ground becomes blurred.

The psychology behind it is that our mind simplifies what we see into the main object and its background. But, we are also able to switch this perception, especially if the lines are more blurred between foreground and background.

Seeing as we were to do this without creating scamps first or planning too much ahead, the results are accordingly: As you might see, when there is only a few objects, and they are close together, it is easier to distinguish between what is the main subject and what is the background. However, if you add more items and/or spread them out so that you utilize the entire space available, the difference becomes noticably more blurred.

2. Symmetry

Now, for this task we were to include sketching in the process.

The first task: On an A4 landscape page, draw four equal squares. Create 4 more pages in this way. So, you’ll have 5 pages with four squares on each.

  • Draw one or two squares or rectangles in each empty square to achieve the visual effects that you see on the first page of module 3 in Graphic Design School textbook. You can work with the interaction of rectangles and squares to make the balance or imbalance more evident.
  • Entering left
  • Movement to the right
  • Movement to the left
  • Movement downwards
  • Movement upwards
  • Balance
  • Tension
  • Symmetry/asymmetry

Produce at least two different versions of each effect, recording your results each time. Explain in one or two sentences what you wanted to achieve (as shown in your manual).


Entering left: positioning the boxes to the left to the edge or almost to the edge in both cases created the illusion that the boxes were entering from the left

Symmetry: the boxes are positioned with equal distance to each other and/or their surroundings which creates symmetry and a «clean» feeling.

Balance: the boxes are placed in the center, and are of equal size. The space is equal and contributes to the balance.

Tension: The first one creates tension through the «off placement of one of the boxes compared to the others, and the other creates tension as the boxes are tilted towards each other and with differing angles.

Movement to the left: positioning the boxes towards the left side of the square, gives you the feeling of movement, in thos case towards the left.

Movement to the right: the same goes for this one, only in the opposite direction.

Movement downwards: this placement of the boxes and/or the interplay of the sizes indicate movement downwards.

Movement upwards: same goes for this one, only movement is upwards.

Asymmetry: the boxes not being aligned creates the asymmetry of the composition.

3. Principles of layout – grids:

Take a magazine, newspaper or book that includes images and text. Lay tracing paper over the top of three spreads (both left-hand and right-hand pages). Using a pencil and ruler, carefully trace the grid underlying the page layouts. Remember to remove specific text elements or images, and to only draw the grid lines. Note column widths and margin sizes at the top, bottom, and to the left and right of the main body of text. Is your document based on a two-column, three-column, or another type of grid? Which elements stay the same on each page, and which change

Comment: Note: i forgot to measure the column widths before taking the final picture but these consistanty measure around 4 cm. And 8 cm at the most. There is usually at least 5 mm clearing to other bodies og text, pictures and other elements. There is also between 5 mm to 1,5 cm clearing to the outer edges and 1,5 to the upper edge and a few mm more to the lower edge. The pages have four columns with pictures breaking these lines. There are usually also captions to the pictures which are situated 2 to 3 mm below the pictures.

4. Pace and contrast

Compare the design (in terms of pace and contrast) of an online magazine, blog or website to that of a printed magazine, book or journal.


The article in the magazine «Vi Menn» («us men») is spread over three double pages, indicating that it is a rather big or interesting case. The first double page is dedicated to one picture spread across the two pages and the headline and description on the right page. On the other double page there are four columns on each and a big picture that spreads across one and a half page. Clearly they have kept in mind that these pages will be seen together. On the last double page, however, one page is dominated by one big picture and has two columns of text interrupted by a smaller picture in the middle. On the second page there are still four columns but three are inside a box separating them from the rest as it is a slightly different content within the same case.

In the mobile/desktop site version there is only one column where text is interrupted by pictures. There are also more pictures included in the desktop version, yet the amount of information is a little less but not noticeably.

As for the Indesign layout task, this will be a separate post.


The article: https://www.klikk.no/side3/historie/utrolig-pilotfeil-avslorte-juks-6943672


Aslaug Birkeland

Publisert av Alice Birkeland

Hi! I'm a Graphic Design student at Noroff, in addition to studying Japanese language and culture at UiO. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about my projects or if you share some of these fields of interest ~

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