How It Works Wednesday: Design Basics Part 2 of 3 - Principles

The Principles of Design describe the use of the elements previously covered (Line, Shape, Form, Value, Texture). These Principles use the elements and aid in the overall composition. Principles include the following theories:

  • Balance - Asymmetry vs. Symmetry
  • Unity
  • Harmony vs. Chaos
  • Odd vs. Even
  • Tension
  • Repetition & Rhythm
  • Movement & Flow - Diagonals & Triangles
  • Pattern
  • Emphasis - Scale & Proportion
  • Alignment

Notice many of these terms are also used in other forms of art such as Literature and Music. Many Principles also complement other principles in achieving a compositional end goal. Let's briefly define these Principles and how they are used in Design.

  1. Balance: That which renders visible qualities equally.  There are visual representations, such as weight, that can be used to achieve balance. The equal distribution of visible attributes in design are often not symmetrical, yet still give the overall sense of evenness. Unity, Harmony and Chaos are all results of attributing balance or an imbalance to a design.
  2. UnityThe state of being one; oneness. Unity can be accomplished through balance and symmetry. However, it can also happen visually through other means such as the unity of movement, repetition or patterns and textures.
  3. Harmony vs. Chaos(HARMONY)The just adaptation of parts to each other, in any system or composition of things intended to form a connected whole.  (CHAOS) Confusion; disorder; a state in which the parts are undistinguished. These yin and yang principles are heavily impacted by the force content plays in overall design. The end result in either Harmony or Chaos is visually represented by the use of elements complimenting each other or a dissonant application.
  4. Odd vs. Even:  We don't need a definition of Odd and Even. When elements are represented an odd number of ways, it is, generally, more visually interesting than being represented an even number of ways. There is some science behind this concept that we cannot get to at this point (I am writing this before our live video deadline just a few minutes away).
  5. TensionThe act of stretching or straining. Visually, tension strains the mind and eye. A certain degree of tension represented in design can have an appealing effect as it keeps the viewer interested, subconsciously trying to understand what is "different" about the visual stimulation they are observing. Tension is commonly accomplished when objects are just about to touch or are pulling away from each other, when an object is just entering the picture plane or just leaving the picture plane, as well as when two diagonals cross. 
  6. Rhythm & Repetition(RHYTHM) Duly regulated by cadences, accents and quantities. (REPETITION) Iteration of the same act for the purpose of making a deeper impression on the audience. Repeating elements throughout a design establishes a rhythm and can accomplish a sense of unity. It can also be used to create movement and direct the eye.
  7. Movement & FlowA passing, progression, shaking, turning or flowing (MOVEMENT). To glide along smoothly, without harshness or asperity (FLOW). Diagonals, triangles, repeating or rhythmic elements create a sense of movement in design. The more unified and harmonious this principle is applied the more lasting visual impression of "flow" it leaves on the viewer.
  8. PatternAn original or model proposed for imitation; the archetype. Patterns can be visually literal, like unifying textures, or more subdued, maybe through matching rhythmic undertones.
  9. Emphasis: A particular stress suited to convey its meaning in the best manner. Emphasis in design is organized based on the hierarchy of information. This means that the more important information proportionately occupies more visual space. Scale promotes the emphatic essence.
  10. Alignment: Arrangement in a straight line, or in correct or appropriate relative positions.  There are many different alignment choices and preferences, but this principle will affect movement and flow and create hidden lines and shapes. 

You can find a great outline of some of most of these principles covered here.

Definitions come from here

More abstract concepts will be covered in the following weeks when we address composition.

February 2017 Newsletter


"The first envelopes were made of cloth, animal skins, or vegetable parts. The Babylonians wrapped their message in thin sheets of clay that were then baked."

Read more on the history of mail here.

1. Which came first? UPS or FedEx

2.How many years are between the founding of UPS and FedEx?

3. What hidden symbol is found in the FedEx logo?

Custom Corner is your local Fedex and UPS Authorized Ship Center. 

with 24 hour drop box access

3:00PM - Ground
4:00PM - Express

Don't have a pre-paid label?
We can help!
If you need to pay for shipping UPS or FEDEX or you are using an account, we can provide you with an account slip or generate a label for you!
*We cannot scan QR codes to print pre-paid labels at this time

Building Brand Awareness

1 Tee At A Time

Whether it is your custom design or ours, making a statement and building your brand recognition is as easy as putting on a tee.
Download our price guide here.

Trivia Answer:
1. UPS was founded first, in 1907 in fact
2. 90 years
3. An arrow (found in the negative space between the "E" and the "x"

How It Works Wednesday: Design Basics Part 1 of 3 - Elements

Design affects just about every aspect of our lives. From the chair you are sitting in to your favorite tee, design has had a profound impact. We live in a world of both poorly designed things (I'm sure you can image a thing you have seen that is clearly poorly design) and well-designed goods.

Many people don't realize that they are a contributor to design. Countless Americans are expected to produce something, whether content or product, with very little understanding of their part in the design of a thing. Be it a typed document, marketing campaign, newsletter, web, social media post, retail layout, menu, dish or receipt you may be overlooking your impact in improving things.

So, a lot of things are designed. I haven't ever had to think about it before, why should I be thinking about it know?  - Skeptic

The success of a thing is largely dependent on how well you engage with the consumer. And guess how you engage consumers successfully? Whether subconsciously or consciously, the customer is affected by visual and non-visual aspects of a thing... which are designed.

There are 3 major areas (or spheres) of design components, that, with even a basic knowledge of their existence, can launch you lightyears ahead in providing excellent, attractive and competitive things.

These 3 spheres are:


Each sphere is dependent upon and builds off the previous. It is important to first understand the function of each sphere and the pieces that belong in each sphere. In the first sphere of Design we have the ELEMENTS, which are the most basic and fundamental parts of design. There are only 5 elements and they are the building blocks for any design.

These 5 elements are:

  • LINE
  • FORM

Just as with the spheres mentioned above, each element builds off the previous element in that succession to create a more realistic and dimensional thing (design, work of art, etc.). There are some who throw in a 6th element COLOR or they replace VALUE with COLOR. However, VALUE pertains to how light affects the thing. Since COLOR is 100% dependent on light, VALUE is more foundational than COLOR. VALUE can impact color, but COLOR does not exclusively impact VALUE. Color has a great impact on design and we plan on covering this separate subject with a "How It Works Wednesday: Color Theory", but for now, just know that it is there.

Let's start with LINE. A LINE is about as basic and simple as you can get.

What about a dot? Wouldn't a dot be the most basic you can get? - Skeptic

A dot is just a very short LINE.

As simple as a LINE is, however, you will see in parts 2 and 3 of Design Basics just how influential a LINE can be. A LINE can be physically or digitally represented. A LINE can also be invisible. Invisible LINES are formed when other elements share a common edge. This creates the illusion of a LINE. 

When there are enough lines and those lines intersect we get SHAPE. A SHAPE can also be a simple concept with major influence in design. Consider how we associate a circle with tranquility and a triangle with strength and power. SHAPES inherently are visually impactful. But there is something else missing. A 2-dimensional shape lacks the depth, volume and space that exists in the real world. 

How do we represent 3 dimensional and real space? Through the element of FORM. Add a few more lines and you can begin to develop enough information to manipulate perspective and space.

However, with FORM, we are simply left with a very flat and cartoonish image that we clearly know is not actually a box in space. That's where VALUE comes in. VALUE is the broad spectrum of light from the darkest darks to the brightest white. Light, and more importantly VALUE, will strongly dictate whether something can pass off as possibly being a thing that exists in real space.

Lastly, we have TEXTURE which allows the designer to inform you as to what the box is made out of. Is it a feather box? Is it a box made out of bubble gum? Nope, just a plain old plywood box.

Next week on How It Works Wednesday: Design Basics Part 2 of 3 - Principles

Learn more about the concepts and practice design locally with a graphic design course, starting March 15th at Sans MOCO Gallery & Atelier. Register HERE.

January 2017 Newsletter

The Logo

Logos have been around in one form or another for several thousand years. The Ancient Egyptians are known to have branded domestic animals with hieroglyphs to mark their ownership. The Ancient Romans and Greeks marked their pottery to identify the manufacturer. The great faiths of the world have all adopted symbols for ease of recognition...

Source: Read More

Another Source with Infographics: Read More

A logo combining both design elements and imagery with the brands name or abbreviation in letters is called what?
Find the answer near the bottom of this newsletter.

Is it time for a fresh look for your business? How about streamlining and building consistency with your brand identity? Start the new year with a branding experience that will launch you into a successful 2017.

FREE logo and branding consultations with our experienced designers during the month of January.  

Call (724) 588-1667 x 107
or email:
to set up a consultation today.


January 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thiel College Rissell-Schreyer Dome

January 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thiel College Rissell-Schreyer Dome

Fundraising & Building Awareness
1 Tee At A Time

online stores.png

Create an online store for a unique fundraising solution and build awareness at the same time!
Your supporters will be all too happy to display your cause/identity on their tees.

Find out how to get started here.

Trivia Answer:
A Logotype

December 2016 Newsletter

The Christmas Card

A prominent educator and patron of the arts, Henry Cole travelled in the elite, social circles of early Victorian England, and had the misfortune of having too many friends.

During the holiday season of 1843, those friends were causing Cole much anxiety.

The problem were their letters: An old custom in England, the Christmas and New Year’s letter had received a new impetus with the recent expansion of the British postal system 

Now, everybody was sending letters. Sir Cole was an enthusiastic supporter of the new postal system, and he enjoyed being the 1840s equivalent of an A-Lister, but he was a busy man....

Source: Read More

December Special
Free envelopes with the purchase of 25+ Christmas Cards

Not sure about a design? Let our team of designers help you create the perfect Christmas card!

An old story dating back to third century of what country suggests that St. Nicholas would throw coins down the chimneys of poor women who couldn't afford dowries? The legend continues that the money would land in stockings that were hung over the fire to dry.




Personalized Embroidered Stockings
Bring in your stocking for custom personalization with embroidery (starting at $11)

Trivia Answer:

November 2016 Newsletter

The Letterman Jacket

The letterman jacket has a long and illustrious past – and originated on the same campus as Facebook - Harvard College (around 1865).

It’s the dream of many athletes to don the status symbol – the iconic letterman jacket - as a testament to athletic prowess in one’s later high-school years. For a junior or senior who becomes eligible for the jacket and patches, it’s a clothing item worn with great pride, pomp, and circumstance.

Source: Read More


Traditionally, Letterman Jackets (or Varsity Jackets) are wool with leather sleeves. The wool however is different than that of a wool sweater. How is the wool different?

November Special
10% off Holiday Cards
work with our design team to create a custom card unique to you and your family!

Click the linked image above to read more about how buying local is better. We love how supportive our community has been during the life of our business. It is because of a community who chooses Custom Corner Printing, that we are able to employ local talent, provide helpful services and ultimately give back where we can! Show your support for the local business this Small Business Saturday (November 26th).

Are you a local business looking to educate your customers on the importance of shopping small? We would love to share the Top 5 Reasons poster with you. Give us a call at (724) 588-1667 x 107

Trivia Answer:
The wool is boiled.

Trust me, I'm a Designer

Not being a medical professional probably means I shouldn't tell a doctor how to do his/her job. Why is it any different for designers? Strangely, it is most often the non-visual people of the earth who are giving pointers and bending design to their aesthetic will. An experienced, professional and educated designer should be trusted. Their intuition on the elements and principles, on composition and the viewers experience with design results in impactful (albeit subconscious), visually cohesive (form and content), quality design (not your mother's clip-art).

Don't understand the designer's choices? Take a moment to ask why. If you don't get a meaningful explanation that helps reveal the top choice end results listed above, and instead you get a blank stare or, "I thought it just looked nice" maybe it is time to shop around for another designer.

Designers can and should be trusted. Best way to foster a trusting relationship with you designer? Ask questions. Be critical, certainly, but if you are a non-visual contributor to society, admit that you probably should be more trusting of the professional, take a moment to try and understand, and encourage your designer in their endeavors.


October 2016 Newsletter

The Poster

"The poster was one of the earliest forms of advertisement and began to develop as a medium for visual communication in the early 19th century. They influenced the development of typography because they were meant to be read from a distance and required larger type to be produced, usually from wood rather than metal. The poster quickly spread around the world and became a staple of the graphic design trade." Source: Read More


We Print That

There is no doubt you have seen at least on example of this artist's iconic poster work. He is known to have started the poster craze all the way back in the late 1800's in France. His most well known posters are advertisements for Moulin Rouge. What is the name of this artist? Find the answer at the bottom of the newsletter.

October Special
FREE set-up and custom design work from our professional graphic artists on any posters or flyers!

Our designers welcome your design dilemmas.

Check It Off Your List Now!
Order your seasonal cards today and enter the Holidays prepared

Looking for a simple Halloween Costume? Start with the Tee. Here are some great ideas.


If you are going to use a poster or flyer as a marketing tool... spend some time thinking about how to make it stand out from the rest! Don't forget to implement Form & Content.

Check out more creative posters HERE!

10,000 placemat at 7 locations, only $60/month, click to learn more or call            724-588-1667 to save your spot today! ONLY 24 spots available per month!

10,000 placemat at 7 locations, only $60/month, click to learn more or call            724-588-1667 to save your spot today! ONLY 24 spots available per month!


September 2016 Newsletter

Business Cards 

Business cards are thought to have their origins in China, dating back all the way to the 15th century. Today, in most Asian cultures, it is offensive and inconsiderate to accept a business card with one hand. Although business cards are now commonplace, in previous centuries it was a symbol of elite status. Our talented designers at Custom Corner Printing can help bring you and your business card to elite status again. Check out some unforgettable designs below.

Did you know?
Custom Corner can design and produce custom metal business card cases!

September Special
10% off Business Cards or Envelopes with Letterhead order!
Just mention this MailChimp September Special!

Check It Off Your List Now!
Order your seasonal cards today and enter the Holidays prepared


Each of these cards represent solid design principles which you can utilize in your next business card order!

Minimalist Design with beautiful color makes for an impressive stunning card. Don't be afraid to mix it up and use patterns (just be sure to maintain consistency in style).

Have fun with your card and stand out from the crowd. This is a card you will revisit when you need an illustrator, Photoshop guru or pie eater.

Multi functional and playful business cards will leave recipients spending much more time with your information which can lead to better connections. Use positive and negative space and make sure your design matches your content.

Check out more funny and creative business cards HERE!

Building Your Brand Identity

At Custom Corner Printing we seek to help you reach your audience and strengthen your business/organizations brand by building upon three major principles: Consistency, Quality and Clarity. You can expect every service rendered to effectively move your message. Want to learn other ways you can strategically build your brand? We want to share an article we came across that might help - for more information, click me.