Shift Happens: Visual style guide

Content

Use real photos over illustrations, diagrams, and patent drawings. Keyboards have to feel real.

For truly important keyboards or parts of keyboards, create 3D models in a realistic style.

Add context. Photos of keyboards in use are better than photos of naked keyboards. Add context (advertising, accessories) if possible.

Prefer powered-on computers to powered-off computers. Synthesize screens if necessary.

Prefer clean over dirty, unless dirty has a meaning.

Storytelling

Prefer actual size keyboards if they are close. Imagine people putting fingers over the page to test drive.

Add small easter eggs. Reward people looking carefully at photos.

Tell stories via juxtaposing two or more photos.

Inclusion

Prefer non-American context to American context if it makes sense.

Include photos of women typing and people of colour typing.

Style

Every photo needs to be high quality.

Repeat layouts instead of inventing new ones. Each layout has to be used at least twice so they feel intentional.

Colour grade and adjust visuals on the same page and in the same chapter so that they appear unified.

Prefer full bleed. Use full two-page spreads for truly important keyboards.

For one-page flat photos, make the keyboard face right.

Use consistent colors for backgrounds:

  • white, light gray, orange for keyboards
  • dark violet for screenshots

Prefer photos with orange.

Labels

Denote if a keyboard is actual size.

Denote if a photo is a rendering.

Denote if a screen is synthesized.

Unlisted

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Designer/typographer · Writing a book on the history of keyboards: https://aresluna.org/shift-happens

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Marcin Wichary

Marcin Wichary

Designer/typographer · Writing a book on the history of keyboards: https://aresluna.org/shift-happens