As motion graphic designers, we’re often expected to be genius animators; software gurus and instinctive, meticulous craftspeople. If – like me -you’ve never had any formal design training, then the last part might well elude you. Fortunately help is at hand, and has been for a long time.
The grid system has been in place for as long as people have been laying out and setting type. It was used to help the designer communicate with the typesetter and printer in order to prevent costly, time consuming errors. A parallel outcome of this was that the grid system helped to introduce a rhythmic, elegant approach to graphic design that spilled over into other areas.
So the grid is a useful system for organising typographic material. Classically, it’s dependant on the amount of text, font size and family used; these all affect legibility in print and to some extent the screen.
Grids in motion
Why should you use a grid to help your design? As forum member Novus4D points out:
“Little things like objects lining up cleanly on a hang-line are the subtle details that take a project from being good to great.”
Like all design standards, your usage of the grid should come somewhere on a sliding scale between utter chaos and complete rigidity, depending on the end use and the effect you want to create.
There are a number of resources that are specific to designing to a grid: Raster Systeme goes into extreme detail and also takes it’s own advice. thegridsystem.org is a brilliant site that touches on all aspects of grid-based design and includes loads of templates which you can modify.
I tend to make use of a grid most when I’m making a DVD menu; laying out a UI; designing lower thirds or title sequences. It’s a real help when you’ve got any amount of information to order. You can take it further – it’s great for laying out your first/final frame. I tend to keep a library of comps in an example project in After Effects for different resolutions, these are great as a starting point.
What are your thoughts? Do you use any standard grid systems, or is everything done from scratch?