124 IMMUTABLE LAWS OF LETTERING
PUN THE PLACEMENT OF ALL
ELEMENTS WITHIN A DESIGN
• Poorly juxtaposed letters and shapes in a logo,
lettering design—or any kind of illustration, for that
matter—can hurt legibility, contribute to a cluttered
feeling and sometimes produce unintentionally
ludicrous results. Right, the red rule heading into the
nose in the МЕР logo is an example of poor placement.
The other circled areas are those in which elements
have been carelessly placed, resulting in what I call eye
dirt: tiny slivers of shapes sticking out where they
shouldn't, being neither here nor there. Below right,
the logo has been rearranged to eliminate poor
juxtapositions and eye dirt.
Opposite page, an elaboration of an Emily Bronte quote in
highly unruly calligraphy by Rick Cusick. I have featured it
here to point out that in 95 percent of instances, Cusick's
flourishing strokes that cross over other parts of letters do so
at the most astonishingly optimal junctures making it a
textbook example of the purposeful arrangement and
composition of these abstract forms we call letters. The ideal
point, it seems, at which one shape should intersect another
is right through the center, or at least far enough from the
edges that the two strokes don't visually run together.
In this restaurant logo design, above at a, stars
are thoughtlessly placed. Some of the stars badly
intersect with the type, causing eye dirt. There are
clumped areas of stars and neglected, open areas.
The resulting odd silhouette is an important clue
that something here is rotten. Any true designer
** *r *
seeing this logo on a menu would lose his appetite.
In example b, spacing is random yet even. Several
groupings have been created, but they're not
clumped. No star lines up with any other. Here
we're not reminded of measles, we just think, "Oh,
stars," and go right on eating our burgers.
COMMIT RANDOM ACTS
In real life, stars clump in the sky and telephone poles
may appear to stick out of a person's head as she walks
down a street, but our eyes accept all this without
question. In pictures, however, we must carefully create
the effect of randomness so it does not appear
cacaphonous. We do this by placing elements evenly
apart yet not obviously so. We create patterns of light
and dark areas that seem random, yet none are more
light or dark than any others (unless we wish to call
attention to a certain area of the picture). In other
words, we should create even patterns of groupings.
KEEP PARTS OF A DESIGN
AT SIMILAR FOCAL RANGE
It's so easy to reduce and enlarge our work to any
degree. But bear in mind that all the elements in
a logo or design should be comprehensible at one
glance without forcing us to move in closer to see
a part of it. This is important from a legibility
standpoint, but also because combining elements
that vary too greatly in line density wrecks the
consistent color of a piece. Right, I've drawn this
logo to show how badly mismatched are the bold
lettering with the fine-line stock illustration.