Teaching the Static Image: Colour, Images, Font, Layout

Number one tip: BAN CLIP ART.

Unless it’s used ironically, in which case, okay.


Colour Theory: Quick reference sheet for designers

Colour symbolism: What colours mean

The Colors of Good vs. Evil: Comic Book Color Palettes (an infographic from Color Lovers)

How Colours Affect Our Purchases, an infographic

For students who have no sense of colour, get them to choose a palette using the ‘mathematical’ foolproof way, with Adobe Kuler, or many other similar products. Colour choice is basically a scientific thing, regardless of individual preference. (To counter that statement: Why The Science Of Design Is A Bad Idea.) Students can make their own swatches with Adobe’s colour wheel. They can download and import these swatches into Photoshop. If they don’t have Photoshop, they can still get the hexadecimal numbers for use in other programs.

See: Developing A Colour Scheme And Colour Management Tips for some great online tools for generating palettes.

Students who have Photoshop on their home computers are at an advantage when doing coursework including graphics. For this reason, I’ve taught at a school where Photoshop wasn’t allowed for internal assessments. I didn’t really agree with it then and I sure don’t agree with it now.

There are plenty of freely available Photoshop resources online. For example:

40 Fresh and Free PSD Files.

Photoshop Tutorials For Stunning Photo Effects from PS Deluxe

100 Sets of Free Photoshop Brushes from Design Modo

50 Free Photoshop Brushes Every Designer Should Have from 2ExpertDesign

8 Photoshop Tricks I Wish I Knew When I Was A Student from Onextrapixel

For students who would like Photoshop but don’t have it, direct them to the open source, free and legal version which is easier to use and does almost as much: GIMP. Give them some time in the computer lab during class and tell them the help files can all be found online. The help files aren’t all that good, but here are some online tutorials to get started. If they still moan because they haven’t got *Photoshop*, they may download a trial version onto their home computers. It lasts for one month and they can’t do it twice. This might be good for students who have problems meeting deadlines.

For students with access to a Mac: 30 Free Mac Apps for Web Designers.

My Secret To Color Schemes, by Erica Schoonmaker

The colour red makes you stronger, faster and more distractable.


Weird and wacky fonts should only be used as an image in their own right (e.g. as part of the picture). When combining different fonts, here are some guidelines.

For the perfect font, they can download many for free online. Don’t install too many on your computers because you’ll slow the system right down. (I speak from experience, and recently had a font cull.)

Designers will tell you there exist ‘well designed’ and ‘poorly designed’ fonts. If you get your fonts from the free font sites, many of them are poorly designed, so better to look at hand chosen lists for the best looking ones:

30 Free Hand Drawn Fonts

50 Beautiful Fresh and Free Fonts from Specky Boy

Some Brand New Fonts (designed 2011) from Design Beep

The Best Free and Brand New Fonts (of 2011) from Gonzoblog

Free Retro Fonts from Tripwire Magazine

See also:

The 5 Fonts Flavorwire never want to read ever again (a primer in font snobbery). And for an indication of how much people can hate Comic Sans, see this short imagined monologue at the McSweeneys site.

A Guide To Typography Infographic from Zubeta

How To Choose The Right Typography Font For Your Designs from Naldz Graphics, which could serve as a checklist for peer assessment.


When searching for images online, try Flickr Creative Commons Search. This tag browser is pretty. Here are some more. FlickrStorm lets you search for photos under the creative commons licence. There is also Compfight, which does the same thing. Using these engines it is easy to search for Creative Commons images.

Another7 Image Search Tools from Brain Pickings.

Also interesting: Here’s Looking At Hue.


Why Is White Space Good For Graphic Design from Design Modo

Focal Points In Design Layout from Instant Shift

For magazine quality layouts, Adobe InDesign is an industry standard. The free (GNU) version is called Scribus.


For making a movie poster, direct them to the Movie Poster Database.

For vintage posters, the Chisholm Larsson online gallery.

33 Photoshop Tutorials For Designing Posters from Design Modo

The Six Rules Of Modern Poster Design, an infographic on Flickr

The 100 Best Movie Posters Of The Past 100 Years from Paste Magazine

Thirteen Movie Poster Cliches from Uproxx

BOOK and magazine COVERS

Book covers here. It’s a blog and includes discussion. Here’s another one. Examples of bookcovers making use of letters only.

The Most Iconic Book Covers Ever, from Flavorwire

A Guide On How To Design A Magazine Cover That Stands Out from Nadlz Graphics


100 Clever and Creative Advertisements.

40 Retro Advertisements for Inspiration, from Design Modo

300 Remarkable Vintage TV Print Advertisements from The Mad Men Era.


Examples of Brochures


Logo Trends 2011

If students are making logos, Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard. The free (GNU) equivalent to Illustrator is Inkscape. This can  be downloaded for free. In Illustrator and Inkscape, students can make logos that scale to any size without loss of quality. (i.e. vector images.)

45 Beautiful High Quality Brushes for Illustrator


AWWWARDS: The awards for design, creativity and innovation on the Internet, which recognize and promote the best web designers in the world.

BEHANCE: Hundreds of thousands of creative professionals broadcast their work widely and efficiently.

DEVIANT ART: Artists upload their work for sharing and feedback.


Some graphic design portfolios.

Free abstract backgrounds from Creative Fan

65+ Awesome Free Textures from Design Modo

51 High Quality Free Textures from You The Designer

18 Creative Free Textures from Vision Widget

See Also: Kids Can Learn Graphic Design Too from Naldz Graphics