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Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual
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I'm a design manager, but I also code too. I buy books all the time for my staff.
If you want a single book that covers all major topics with theories and plenty of examples, give this one a go.
This is NOT a book on web design. This is book on graphic design and, a good one at that. It covers types, images, graphics, layouts, form.
Simply copying designs in this book will put you ahead of many 'professional' web designers. It's because many web designers do not fully understand what makes a design good (or bad).
Even though my work is all digital, personally I find most of the talented designers are still found in traditional print design world.
You can pick up a used copy for less than $15 shipped.
This is a general design book, but one that is packed full of information and examples that you might find helpful. It's not a how-to book, but if you feel like you can recognize "good/great" design, but can't really produce it yourself: this is your book. You won't look at anything visually creative the same way again.
Otherwise, consider: "when all you have is hammer, you treat everything like a nail". People, myself included, tend to stick with what they know and are comfortable with. It's no surprise that all your designs end up looking similar: you're probably using the same tools in Photoshop and the same techniques. No tutorial is going to directly help you create "elegant graphics" in any meaningful way, but there are certainly great tutorials out there that will expose you to new techniques and skills which will broaden your personal toolbox.
Having a broader toolbox or skill-set makes new things possible that previously you might have not considered.
⬐ BanekinI just got this and it's phenomenal. This is exactly what I needed, thank you so much.
I was searching yesterday, the results only really offered good stuff for typography learning (which I'm working on now), but overall graphic / web design are left out a bit.
Here are the resources I drilled out of the threads I came across:
Type: http://www.amazon.com/Logo-Lettering-Bible-Leslie-Cabarga/dp... http://www.amazon.com/Graphic-Design-Manual-Principles-Pract... http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Typographic-Style-Robert-Brin... http://www.amazon.com/Non-Designers-Design-Book-Typographic-...
Design: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1592532616?ie=UTF8&tag=... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1592533485?ie=UTF8&tag=... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159253192X?ie=UTF8&tag=... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1592532349?ie=UTF8&tag=...
Web Design: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0975841963?ie=UTF8&tag=... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/032145345X?ie=UTF8&tag=... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1847192505?ie=UTF8&tag=... http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0735712069?ie=UTF8&tag=...
I'm a designer and the two books I always recommend to non-designers and newbies are:
Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual (http://www.amazon.com/Design-Elements-Graphic-Style-Manual/d...)
The other is the complementary case studies book "Design Evolution" (http://www.amazon.com/Design-Evolution-Handbook-Principles-C...)
Also Graphically Speaking is useful if you want to know how a particular style is constructed (artistic, corporate, vintage etc.)and you need to be able to effectively communicate with other designers or clients. (http://www.amazon.com/Graphically-Speaking-Achieving-Designe...)
⬐ hasemanExcellent set of links! Thanks!