What are some essential graphic design books?

edited May 2011 in Game Design Help
Graphic design, layout etc. gets talked a lot around here and we've had a bunch of threads just about that, but I'd like to hear some suggestions as to what are some of the best graphic design books or manuals, essential stuff, bibles if you want, especially for a beginner.

I know The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams and The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst have been recommended a lot. What's awesome about those and what else is out there?

Comments

  • I would buy Robin Williams The Non-Designer's Design and Type Books, Deluxe Edition. It's better than just the often recommended Non-Designer's Design Book since it also covers typography.

    Why?

    - It covers most of what you need to know in 1 book.
    - It is written in a way that anyone can understand.
    - It just doesn't tell you, it shows you.
    - I've worked as a creative director managing dozens of art directors and designers and have read a lot of how to design books from basic to expert and this is my favorite.
    - I went to a reputable art school and some of the classes weren't as good as this book.

    I would also recommend:

    slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations

    Why?

    It teaches you how to:

    - Turn ideas into informative graphics.
    - Create graphics that enable audiences to process information easily.
    - Use sketching and diagramming techniques effectively.
    - Connect with specific audiences.
    - Bottom line, it teaches you how to communicate effectively with graphics in a short amount of time.
  • To me Grid Systems in Graphic Design is the essential book for layout. It contains the how and why of page layout, explained more directly and simply than any other book I've seen. It also explains hierarchy of information on a page and gives some good examples. It's pricey but worth it.

    The sister book to Grid Systems is Making and Breaking the Grid which defines the different types of page layout styles and then shows a lot of examples of each style.

    I find Bringhursts Elements of Typographic Style a bit too conceptual for me, I find The Complete Manual of Typography more practical. It basically explains type from every perspective, some of the chapters are unnecessary if you aren't interested in the history of type or the differences between font formats, but those are incidental. The meat of the book is good instruction and explanation of type usage.

    Besides that, I'd recommend looking at design that you like. I used to buy a lot of instructional books and I find that once I've read them they just sit on my shelf. The books that I get the most use out of are the ones that contain examples of design work that I like. Find some designers who's work you like and find out what makes their work interesting to you. There are some fantastic collections of work out there from really famous influential designers to small contemporary designers who may or may not end up being influential in the long-run. I can give some recommendations if you are interested.
  • I am not a designer but I am a Tufte buff. It is not nuts and bolts but it can give you a lot to think about.

    Envisioning Information
    http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_ei

    Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative
    http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_visex
  • Thanks for the suggestions and comments, off to the library.... :-)
  • Graphic Design for Non-Designers by Seddon and Waterhouse is arguably better than Williams' Non Designer's Design Book. Williams does more to get you out of making bad decisions, Seddon is much more inspiring, shows off designs that you'll actually want to make.

    I recently read Williams, then Seddon, then Bringhurst, it's a 'series' I'd recommend to anyone
  • Posted By: jenskotI would buy Robin Williams

    slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations
    i just heard about this book on six pixels of separation, have you read her other books? Are they good or relevant to what were doing?
  • Can somebody explain why all these books on graphic design have terribly ugly covers (except for slide:ology, maybe)? As Daniel Solis says, "a cover is a promise," right? I have a hard time believing these designers actually know their shit when their own books look so ooglay.
  • Jonathan, I agree. It's actually stopped me from getting them when people were talking about them like a month ago.

  • edited May 2011
    Writers working through publishers don't typically get to pick their own covers.
  • Yeah, I have Robin Williams' The Non-Designer's Type Book and The Non-Designer's Design Book. They are both pretty horrid looking. I figure they're meant to be easily found amongst a bunch of other reference type books. "Safety Yellow" tends to stand out.
  • Posted By: TylerTPosted By: jenskotI would buy Robin Williams

    slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations


    i just heard about this book on six pixels of separation, have you read her other books? Are they good or relevant to what were doing?

    I've also read Resonate which I think is great for storytelling and giving speeches.
  • slide:ology and Resonate definitely practice what they preach. But as Jason mentioned, in mainstream publishing, often even designers have zero control over their covers or interior layout.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarWriters working through publishers don't typically get to pick their own covers.

    I know, but hopefully a place publishing on design has good designers. Or so goes the unconscious thought-process.

  • Well when you think about it, the book hadn't come out yet when they were designing the cover -- so they had nowhere to turn for quality design advice!
  • Thus, Daniel wins.

  • Posted By: jenskotI've also read Resonate which I think is great for storytelling and giving speeches.
    thanks, those books will be my next reads.
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