Computer Arts – The Design Student Handbook

The other day I saw on the Computer Arts website, that they were advertising the first in a new series of “practical manuals” called ‘The Design Student Handbook’ which to sum up very quickly, is full of advice for design students from selecting the right university course to getting a job in the design industry. For a more detailed write-up I suggest you click here to see what Computer Arts themselves have to say about it.

Computer Arts

So I bought myself one, and have spent the last couple of days looking through it. I haven’t read it all yet but the advice in there appears to be remarkably balanced and useful, and of great common sense, which means that some of the points are very predictable. While this may not appeal to the people who supposedly ‘know-it-all’ (I’m sure we all know people like that 😛I think it is going to be remarkably useful to have all of these points in one manual as a reference. I am sure over the next few months, it will become an important resource for me, especially with the links provided throughout.

The main point of writing this post though was to talk about some of the main design points throughout.

Colour scheme: Each of the 8 chapters is colour coded, which runs through all aspects of the three colour design. This creates a strong contrast, adds colour to the black and white, making the design more interesting, aiding clarity and adding a sense of identity to each chapter. Not forgetting of course the front cover, which is in a very bright shade of fluorescent orange, which certainly catches your attention whatever the situation which helps to make it stand out in a shop.

Typography: The use of sans-serif bold typefaces with great clarity throughout such as Helvetica highlights the legibility and visual impact that has been carefully considered for this manual. What really interested me was one particular typeface used for display purposes. (A mixture of titles and quotes) Because of this it needs to be presented at a large size, mirroring the style of the other typefaces used but adds some unique characteristics of its own such as the three-dimensional effect and using a range of different ‘shading options’ for different parts of the characters. Overall, I think it works very well indeed.

Imagery: The visually strong and bold theme continues through to the imagery, with vector illustrations throughout with just the right level of detail and simplicity in the right areas. Being colour coded allows it to fit into the sub-sections throughout the manual and the patterns that can be seen especially in the laptop image above on the fits with the display typeface I mentioned in the above section on typography.

Checklists: Something I think works really well is the checklist to summarise every section. This is something I aim to achieve when I write up my blog posts for projects, as I find you go over the points you made in your post, decide what is important, and then make a note of it. With this form of concise note-taking, it allows for an efficient way of going through your points and seeing whether you have met them or not.

Conclusion: Overall I think the design works very well and I look forward to it being a useful resource for me. 🙂

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