Worship Media Arts

Better Design Through Visual Consistency

VISUAL_CONSISTENCYVisual Consistency
There are many different aspects of design that one must master to become a great designer, but one of the most important of all is the idea of visual consistency. Visual consistency is particularly true when designing media that will have multiple components or in other words a “package”. Examples might include a worship graphics set, a media package (TV, radio, print), a slide show, or even a website.
In graphic design, it’s important to understand that design is about communication, not dazzling the viewer. The effectiveness of any given design package can be greatly decreased when various aspects of design are inconsistent. The ultimate goal is to bring order through elements such as color, shape, typography, treatment, texture and composition.
How do we apply this to worship graphic design? An easy place is to start is with fonts. The general rule we follow is to pick no more than two for any given set. A fancier “headline” or “display” font, and an easier to read body or copy font. Occasionally you’ll find a font that serves both purposes.
Be consistent with the way type is treated. Pick a point size and stick with it. If you’ve designed a certain treatment or placement for a theme/title, consider putting your points in the same place as pictured here.
Color can also help tie a series of images together. This can be very helpful when using photos from different sources. Making them all sepia tone, duo tone, black and white and so on can help make visuals more coherent as a whole.
Shapes and frames can help tie image sets together. Consider creating borders, frames and other shapes that will bring image sets together. Keep in mind though that frames alone cannot take inconsistent visuals and make them feel consistent. Take for instance the example below. The story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet is represented through images so varied in style that there is a visual disconnect. The frame around the image isn’t enough to make them all feel feel coherent as a whole. Bouncing around from statues, to ancient paintings, to modern movie stills creates a visual inconsistency that is visual jarring and disconnected. A better approach would be to use all stills from a movie, or all ancient art, or all pictures of a statue.
Lastly, one of the things that’s become a growing frustration among many artists is the visual inconsistency that we call the “Hodgepodge approach”. One “mini-movie” will finish and the following visual will come up looking completely different in tone and lacking any connection visually at all. Following that, another clip might play with an entirely different feel, with additional unrelated graphics following.
A better approach would be to create a video and from that video create matching graphics and then possibly variations on that video. Take for instance the graphics used in this Christmas set:
During our seminars, we ask participants how they best learn. Time and time again we consistently see that the overwhelming majority feel they learn best by visual means (as opposed to text or auditory means). Visuals are extremely important, and if we want to maximize the the effectiveness of our presentations, consistency is key.

VISUAL_CONSISTENCY

There are many different aspects of design that one must master to become a great designer, but one of the most important of all is the idea of visual consistency. Visual consistency is particularly important when designing media that will have multiple components. Examples include worship graphics sets, media packages (TV, radio, print), slide shows, and websites.

In commercial art, (which is essentially what we as worship artists do) it’s important to understand that design is about communication, not dazzling the viewer. The effectiveness of any given design package can be greatly decreased when various aspects of design are inconsistent. The ultimate goal is to bring order to what would otherwise be randomness through elements such as color, shape, typography, treatment, texture and composition.

TYPOGRAPHY

How do we apply this to worship graphic design? An easy place is to start is with fonts. The general rule we follow is to pick no more than two for any given set. A fancier “headline” or “display” font, and an easier to read “body” or “copy” font. Occasionally you’ll find a font that serves both purposes, and every now and then you’ll use more than two, but as a general rule, two is best.

Be consistent with the way type is treated. Pick a point size and stick with it. This is very important when designing (yes designing) song lyrics. For a whole article on that topic check out this article.

If you’ve designed a certain treatment or placement for a theme/title, consider putting your points in the same place or at lease make sure the treatment of the type is similar and consistent throughout. Here’s an example from a service we designed using a stoplight as our primary visual metaphor:

green_means_go_set-1

COLOR AND TREATMENT

Color can also help tie a series of images together. This can be very helpful when using photos from different sources. Making them all sepia tone, duo tone, black and white and so on can help make visuals more coherent as a whole.

In this example, various source photos were brought together through the use of a color and texture. Without treatment, the photos were disjointed and (beyond subject matter) lacked connection visually:

Note: Click on the image above to advance to the next one.

SHAPES AND FRAMES

Shapes and frames can help tie image sets together. Consider creating borders, frames and other shapes that will bring image sets together. Keep in mind though that frames alone cannot take inconsistent visuals and make them feel consistent. Take for instance this example:

Note: Click on the image above to advance to the next one.

The story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet is represented here through images so varied in style that there is a visual disconnect that occurs for many viewers. The frame around the image isn’t enough to make them all feel feel coherent as a whole. Bouncing around from statues, to ancient paintings, to modern movie stills creates a visual inconsistency that is jarring and disconnected. A better approach would be to use all stills from a movie, or all ancient art, or all pictures of a statue.

CONSISTENT PACKAGE

Lastly, one of the things that’s become a growing frustration among many artists is the visual inconsistency that we call the “hodgepodge approach”. One “mini-movie” will finish and the following visual will come up looking completely different in tone and lacking any connection visually at all. Following that, another clip might play with an entirely different feel, with additional unrelated graphics following.

A better approach would be to create a video and from that video create matching graphics and then possibly variations on that video. Take for instance the graphics used in this Christmas set:


During our seminars, we ask participants how they best learn. Time and time again we consistently see that the overwhelming majority feel they learn best by visual means (as opposed to text or auditory means). Visuals are extremely important, and if we want to maximize the the effectiveness of our presentations, consistency is key.

To learn more about becoming a better designer, check our our book Design Matters here. Also check out our seminars on design here. (619)

7 Comments so far »

  1. Osborn4 said,

    Wrote on September 8, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

    Good stuff. That’s one think I lose when I do the sermon slides and another volunteer does the rest of the visuals. I usually send them my stuff, but they rarely take that extra step of trying to establish a visual flow.

    BTW, in the stoplight graphic, did you mean Applying the BREAKS or Applying the BRAKES ? ;)

  2. The MO Guys said,

    Wrote on September 8, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

    Huh? What are you talking about Joel? ;)

  3. Osborn4 said,

    Wrote on September 8, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

    Ah, the advanates of electronic media and editing. :p

  4. Osborn4 said,

    Wrote on September 8, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

    See, I can’t even fix my own misspelling!

  5. Phil said,

    Wrote on September 8, 2009 @ 10:09 pm

    Thanks for this guys. It is an important idea and it’s good to be reminded to the “why” again.

  6. osborn4 said,

    Wrote on September 17, 2009 @ 10:09 am

    Don’t let this happen to you
    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2009-09-17/

  7. Lora Lucas said,

    Wrote on September 30, 2010 @ 11:54 pm

    Thanks for all your help on graphic arts and design it was inspiring.

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