Friday, October 15, 2010

Design in Black and White

Often when I am teaching students, I have them work on a design in only black and white. This is mostly based on my belief that this technique helps you focus on your typography, layout and concept without relying on color tricks to help you distract the eye. It is also because it is amazing what beautiful results you can create with this simple combination.

Black and white emphasizes the negative space and the sharp edges of shape and form. I think it is a technique that designers often overlook as a potential solution to some design problems. It really can create more opportunities than may be obvious at first. I have attached some samples of designs I have found in black and white. They are inspiring and just as amazing as color examples. In some cases, they are more powerful, especially in packaging, where black and white is rare.

Typography is especially strong in black and white. It helps emphasize all the details and negative space in between.

Because black and white is so rarely seen in design, it can be hard to approach your own designs that way. If time permits and the brand will allow it, at least for initial concepts, I try and start some of my designs in black and white. I have always felt that if the layout is strong without color, than color can be used for branding purposes and details. I have attached some of my designs that I began in black and white before adding color.

Coca-Cola Company concept anniversary card

Coca-Cola Enterprises concept poster

Coca-Cola Enterprises concept awards album spread

Coca-Cola Enterprises concept banner

Qwest concept poster

I almost always start logos this way as well from practical purposes (possible faxing, copying, etc.) Some stay black and white because of their strength without color.

iRoam logo concept

MillerCoors Beer Garden logo concept

Black and white in graphic design can be an amazing exercise and can offer potential opportunities for unique marketing and visuals.

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