11 June 2015

Critique: Shape perception

Today’s contribution comes from Arvid Herwig, and is shown with his permission. Click to enlarge!

My first reaction to this poster was incredibly positive. It’s an interesting mix of the bold and the restrained. The dark red bands surrounding each section are very large and visually dominant. Yet there are so few of them, and they are placed so precisely, that they don’t feel overwhelming. The muted background also helps calm the overall design.

To give an idea of how important those colour choices are, here’s a quick and dirty replacement of the brick red of the lines with a straight red, and the light gray grid with straight white:

Suddenly, the warmth is gone and you have a look that has all the appeal of a traffic sign.

The logos are corralled down in the corners, making them unobtrusive.

I’m impressed by how well the images and text fit within the section borders. Circles and triangles are not easy shapes to fit text or graphs into, but there is little wasted space here. The text and images follow the contours of the shapes very nicely.

The one problem I had was when I started to read it. I immediately read it the wrong way. I went from 1 across to 3, instead of from 1 down to 2. It seems that a major challenge for this poster is how to signal that it should be read in columns, not rows.

The first cue,spacing of the sections, tries to guide me. Section 1 and 2 are closer to each other than 1 and 3.

Part of the problem may be the labelling. The callout for “01 Introduction” is about the same distance, or maybe even a little closer, to “03 Methods” as it is to “02 Objective”.

Second, the labels for 01 and 03 point in the same direction. This provides a subtle cue that the two sections may be related to each other. I tried this alternate, making the headings for the first two sections match, attempting to strengthen the link between those two.

While I’m not sure this makeover works yet, I think the theory is sound. If you can get the reader to go down in the first instance, the rest falls into place.

Overall, some quite lovely work here.

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