We've come to the end of my design principles series, and we're going out on one of my favorite concepts. I have a slight obsession with kerning and a passion for white space. What better way to a girl's heart?
The general concept of this design principle is that there is positive and negative space. Any shape that you create takes up positive space. Any blank areas around what you've made is negative space. (You'll often hear designers refer to negative space as "white space." Even if there's nothing white in a design, the terms mean the same thing.)
The use of negative space is just as critical as the elements that you're arranging in your design. You need to make sure that those elements have some room to breathe. You don't want the viewer to have so much to look at that they don't know where to start or where to focus. It can get way too jumbled if you try to cram too much in or make everything so large that the design takes up your entire canvas. It's very important to use negative space strategically to allow the viewer's eyes to rest.
One of the crucial lettering aspects that I want to explain regarding space is kerning and letter spacing. Kerning is the space between two individual characters. Letter spacing is defined as the space between characters across the whole word. (So you may have a word with loose letter spacing where all of the characters are spread out or tight letter spacing where all of the characters are very close to each other.)
The main goal is to have an even amount of visual space between all of the letters in a word. This allows for easy comprehension of the word and a more pleasing design aesthetic. Take a look at the feature image I made for this post.
I measured out six identically sized boxes and drew "DESIGN" by putting a letter in each box. Even though I know the boxes are mathematically the exact same width, the word does not look evenly spaced. This is because letters are constructed differently, with each one taking up a slightly different amount of space. The capital "I" takes up much less space than the capital "G." Sometimes you need to throw the measurements out the window and go with your gut on what looks right.
To wrap up my series on design principles, I want to point out that you can actually use some principles to accomplish other principles. For example, negative space can be used to establish balance and contrast. A large amount of white space can balance out a smaller word. Lots of white space can also create contrast if that word is very dense and dark. By utilizing the fundamental design principles in your lettering, you'll end up with a final product that not only looks great but has interest and is easy for your audience to understand.