Archived copy for reference only


Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Design Principles: Rhythm

(Archived from 2019)


To learn design principles through exploration and experimentation. To learn visual grammar by making abstract compositions. To practice thumbnail sketching. To be introduced to Adobe Illustrator and InDesign's layout tools.


Rhythm is an optional design principle, to be applied only when it is appropriate. In general, there are four types of rhythm: legato, staccato, alternating and progressive. Rhythm is most often associated with music and dance. In fact legato (connecting and slowing) and staccato (contrasting and abrupt) are musical terms. Each type of rhythm carries with it a certain "mood." One can identify rhythm easily because rhythm requires repetition, often in a predictable pattern (such as alternating or progressive). Rhythm can be very powerful in creating a sensation of motion, temperature, even sound.


Part A (Preliminary Studies)

  1. download starter files, examine files, read directions
  2. using Adobe Illustrator, create a document (8.5x11 inches) with 6 artboards
  3. rough out your best ideas (tip: try brush, pencil, smooth, eraser, warp and other distortion tools; use the paste board for variations)
  4. apply brush styles as needed (window > brush library)
  5. in your assigned teams, critique each other's work on screen
  6. based on the critique above, make adjustments (if needed)

Part B (Best Solutions)

  1. place your Illustrator file into InDesign
  2. scale, crop, rotate as needed to create interesting compositions
  3. have your instructor critique your best solutions on screen
  4. based on the critique above, make adjustments (if needed)
  5. submit b&w laser proof with your name on it for grading
  6. file graded proof in your Process Book for midterm/final review
  7. also save a PDF of your best solutions (smallest file size) and publish it as a link on your Process Page

InDesign Tips:

  1. to import art into an existing InDesign frame: select frame first, then execute FILE > PLACE (cmd+D)
  2. to duplicate frames: opt+drag
  3. window > object layout > align: align and distribute frames
    (or use the icons in the option bar)
  4. to scale/crop art without altering the frame: double-click the image (or click the "doughnut" or "content grabber" in the center); as you alter the cropping, InDesign ghosts uncropped area (see article)
  5. window > links: update link if you see a yellow triangle

Note: When importing images into InDesign, it is preferable to link to the image (as opposed to embedding the image). This will keep the InDesign file size reasonable and allow easy updating should the linked file change. Therefore, please keep all linked images in the same folder as the original InDesign file to avoid broken links. When moving files, move the entire folder (never move just the InDesign file).

Last updated: 5/7/21