Archived copy for reference only


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

Graphic Design Exercises
Design Principles: Unity

(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's tools.


Unity is one of five design principles designers use every day. There are four major ways to create visual unity: proximity (grouping), repetition, continuation and color. Other methods include containment and intellectual unity (closure). Designers strive for unity because research done by the Gestalt psychologists suggest that human beings prefer to look at visuals that are organized. Lack of unity is chaos, which will cause viewers to look away. Obviously designers of mass communication media would prefer that their images not be ignored.


Part A (Preliminary Studies)

  1. download starter files, examine files, read directions
  2. using Adobe Illustrator, develop your concepts in the boxes provided
  3. in your assigned teams, critique each other's work on screen
  4. based on the critique above, make adjustments (if needed)
  5. add your name to the file, then print your studies for your Process Book

Part B (Best Solutions)

  1. using Adobe Illustrator, execute your best solutions in the boxes provided
  2. have your instructor critique your work on screen
  3. based on the critique above, make adjustments (if needed)
  4. submit b&w laser proofs with your name on it for grading
  5. file graded proof in your Process Book for midterm/final review
  6. also save a PDF of your exercise (smallest file size) and publish it as a link on your Process Page

Adobe tips:

  • shift: constrains (drawing, scaling, moving or copying)
  • shift+click: adds/subtracts object to current selection
  • opt+drag: duplicates objects
  • space = hand
  • space+cmd = zoom in
  • space+cmd+opt = zoom out
  • cmd+zero = fit in window
  • the view menu offers other hotkeys

Illustrator tips:

  • object > arrange > bring to front/back (cmd+shift+[ or ])
  • view > smart guides (cmd+U): helps align and snap
  • view > show/hide bounding box (cmd+shift+B)
    (or switch pointer tools)
  • object > group/ungroup (cmd+G or cmd+shift+G)
  • file > save for web: exports JPEGs for web publishing (preset=JPEG high)

Last updated: 5/7/21