Typography and Photography: Seeing the Invisible



Cover of “Badger Insider Magazine,” Spring 2017. 

Designer: Amanda Breitenbach



Typeface #1: This magazine title falls into the sans serif category (as circled in the letter in green.) It’s easy to see that there are no serifs anywhere, but there are other things that catogorize it as sans serif. Even though the first word is only an outline, it’s easy to see that the title is “mono-weight,” meaning that there are virtually no visible thick/thin transition in the strokes. This gives the letterforms the same thickness all the way around.


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Typeface #2: Although hard to see, this font seems very similar (if not the same) to Times New Roman. It’s a serif font, but specifically, it falls into the Oldstyle category. There is a diagonal stress, and moderate thick/thin transition in the strokes. The serifs are also slanted on lowercase letters, and there appears to be a curve on that slant (bracketing.) This typeface is very common for large paragraphs because it is easy to read.

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How they contrast: As mentioned earlier, typeface #1 has no serifs (sans serif) and typeface #2 has serifs. This is a contrast of structure. These typefaces also contrast in size, not only is “ROOMMATE REFLECTIONS” but it is also a different color. The weight of the typefaces also contrast because the sans serif text is bold, and the magazine paragraph is not. The magazine title, and subtitle are also both farther away, and one can clearly distinguish it from the paragraph text. All these small differences create a big impact when examined closely.

Rule of Thirds: Although this magazine picture is mostly a square you can still see that the rule of thirds rule was applied. The main focus of the image is the woman on the phone and her eyes fall in an intersection of the lines. This makes it easier for us to focus on her and and balances all the other objects in the photo.

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The overall design uses different types of typefaces to contrast the magazine title from the subtitle. The title and subtitle have the same typeface and color, showing repetition to tie them together, but the contrast of the “ROOMMATE” let’s us know that that is the main title. The paragraph has a different typeface, that is easy to read and is very different from the titles.Besides the typeface, we can see that the other 4 design principles also play a huge role on what is to be communicated in this magazine spread. The rule of thirds is applied in the picture to guide the reader and balance the spread, instead of overwhelming the reader.



Deconstructing a Magazine Ad

HSBC – “Turtle”

Advertising Agency: JWT, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Creative Directors: Mario D’Andrea, Fabio Miraglia, Roberto Fernandez

Art Director: Silvio Medeiros

Copywriter: Leandro Pinheiro

Illustrator: Open The Door



Contrast:  This ad uses contrasts mostly in colors, with a very bold black and white image mostly. Half of the page is white with the images in black, and the other half is black with the images and text in white. The artist uses this to it’s advantage, by changing the image slightly and using the negative space in the second half to reveal the turtle changing into a plastic bag.

Repetition: The artist repeats the turtle image over and the white space (empty space) that turns into the plastic bag with minor alterations. Because the image of the turtle also repeats horizontally, and fills a diamond shape, it is clear to see the turtle (or the plastic bag) even with the minor alterations.

Alignment: Firstly, the images of the turtles and the plastic bags are all right-centered. Due to the image “transforming” I think this is a good choice for us to see it the turtle at the very top directly above the final plastic bag, making the visual connection more evident than if the images where flushed left or flushed right. The text on the right doesn’t have a strong alignment but the words are in italics, and the sentence one the bottom is spaced to the right of the one above it, so it flows in the natural left-to-right way most of us read.

Proximity: The images are all evenly spaced, helping with the illusion that is revealed at the end. All the turtles that have the same features are related to each other, with minor changes only when you go to the next line. Although there are many images in the larger images,  they still become one visual unit.  Another trick the artist used is once you get to the final bag, our eyes fall in the bottom center, and the text is on the right, because we tend to read left to right. If the text were on the right, our eyes wouldn’t naturally go back to the right after looking at the image in the center.

Color: Although the image is mostly black and white, the artist makes certain deliberate choices to make the image stand out. It uses the same hue of red used in the HSBC Insurance logo as a borer to the ad, not only to connect the ad with the company, but also to make the ad come forward and make an impact, even if the inside is purely black and white.


The artist used the elements of contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity and color to take a general ad into an extraordinary one with you powerful message that sticks. The whole image is a contrast of black and white, with images of the opposite color from top to bottom. Familiar patterns emerge until the Background’s repeating pattern is revealed to be something we recognize-the plastic bag, with the help of the contrast. Usually, centered alignment can have a boring look, but because the pattern forms a diamond shape and the tip at the top aligns horizontally with the tip at the bottle, the impact of the turtle transforming into a plastic bag is felt more strongly. The equal proximity of the images between each other, and the text guiding moving with the eye to the right make sure the small text is not missed. The eye-catching red on the border helps us pay attention to what seems to be a simple black and white image. The red also helps us looks at the only other red in the picture, HSBC logo and matching tag line. All these elements help the sign not only evoke an emotion, but ensures we will not forget the image.