What Are the Principles behind Repetition in Graphic Design?

What Are the Principles behind Repetition in Graphic Design?

Repetition is often used as a derisive term to highlight the lack of thought or effort invested in something. And that’s boring.

But in graphic design repetition can actually be an incredibly revitalising technique for your projects!

It unifies your designs by bringing a certain consistency to your work, but, believe me, it’s not as simple as hitting “copy + paste” over and over again.

There are certain principles that you need to understand in order to bring that beguiling cohesive feel to your designs, so let’s explore them!

Why Do We Need Repetition?

Even if you’re a complete newcomer to graphic design then I’m willing to bet money on the fact that you already use repetition in your work.

If you’re designing a brochure, for example, then you’re going to have repetition on every single page e.g. page number, spatial positioning and horizontal lines acting as section breaks. If this repetition wasn’t present then it would throw the reader’s attention and break that engaging tractor beam you’ve worked so hard to install.

So, yeah, creating a sense of consistency is key to keeping people on track, but what tricks does repetition have hidden up its sleeve?

Repeating with Fonts

The simplest way to repeat text is by using just one font. However, that’s a pretty terrible idea as it’s going to come across rather flat and fail to draw the viewer’s eye to key points.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of too many fonts which completely fails to satisfy the basic tenets of repetition.

I always stick to a couple of fonts to ensure that although there’s consistency, there’s also some variety to help guide the viewer’s eye where you want to.

And you can also guide your viewer’s eye by using the same typeface for important points e.g. price and availability of a product in an online catalogue is exactly where you want a customer’s eyes to be darting to and from, so ensure both of these are in bold whilst the rest of the text is of a normal weight.

Use Grid Systems for Clean Repetition

As ever, grid systems really are a graphic designer’s best friend and this fact is no different when it comes to repetition. I mean, think about it, for something to be repetitive then you need to get your spatial positioning absolutely pixel perfect.

And you can’t achieve this by taking a quick look at the page/screen and roughly guessing equal distances between the elements. You want the same distance every single time to ensure that repetitive feel seeps into the viewer’s subconscious and won’t let go of their attention.

Keep Images Consistent

Images need to be consistent as they’re such a huge focal point of graphic design work, so try the following tips:

– Stick to one photographer per project as each photographer will have their own unique style. A clash of styles – delivered by using different photographers – will damage the consistency of your design

– Don’t pick and mix your filters! Try and find a filter which suits all your pictures rather than settling for a dozen different ones like a 15 year old girl on Instagram

– Be careful with tiled backgrounds for web pages which repeat the same image about a million times to create a consistent backdrop. This is fine for creating a textured background where the images seamlessly link together, but the early days of the internet saw terribly garish web backgrounds where a logo would repeat forever with each one jarring awkwardly against the other.

Do Not Overwhelm Viewers

Having read this far you’re probably thinking that repetition is the best thing since sliced bread and it should be used ruthlessly and relentlessly to hook viewers’ attentions.

As with all graphic design techniques, however, it’s essential that you don’t repeat something so much that it saturates a viewer’s capacity for information. If you go in all guns blazing then you’re going to leave your viewers annoyed and potentially with a migraine.

Repetition remains an important tool for graphic designers to employ to ensure their projects have a cohesive feel. By following the basic principles discussed above you’ll find that your work begins to engage people more than ever before.



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