Introduction: Realizing Simplicity

In today’s world, all you see are neat, clean graphics for advertisements and in the media. The new IOS, cartoons, you name it, its going to look good. But what makes it look that way? I’ll tell you. Simplicity.

The purpose of this tutorial is to help you to realize simplicity. To break free of the rigid bonds of realism and complex drawing, and thinking about what you see.

Step 1: Looking at Simplicity As an Art Form

Leonardo Da Vinci said it himself, with simplicity, comes sophistication. When you can take a complex object, and represent it using simple ideas, it is obvious that you have an understanding of the world.

When you look at any great artist's work or any visionary's creations, you can start to notice the genius behind it. Picasso is a fantastic example because of his influential work with cubism, which portrays a sense of simplicity in shape.

Step 2: Part 1: Simplicity in Composition

The first step in creating the feel of simplicity in a project, is to compose it well. The main focus is to subtract from a complex inspiration/reference while still keeping it recognizable.

Also, when simplifying an idea, changing the original style can add to the effect of the composition.

Step 3: Understanding Principles of Shape

Looking at the mechanical arm depicted above, you can see it has a balance about it because of symmetry and the balance between sharp turns and gradual curves in its different parts.

When simplifying this, I changed the style of it. It gave off a rigid feel, and I wanted to change that.

Step 4: Understanding Principles of Shape (pt. 2)

In order to change the feel of an object when simplifying, you have to have a good understanding of balance with objects. Knowing the way curves and edges counteract each other is extremely important.

Step 5: Understanding Principles of Shape (pt. 3)

One curve to one corner in ratio creates a sense of equilibrium. Depending on what aesthetic you want, the ratio changes. If you're looking for something edgy, the more corners than curves. If you are going for a free-flowing feel, then vise versa.

Always know what feel you want before you start in with a project, because otherwise you'll end up in a place you didn't expect. Trust me.

Step 6: Understanding Principles of Shape (pt. 4)

The last thing to keep in mind when recomposing shape, is that you are allowed to combine the two aspects of corners and curves. A square doesn't have to turn into a circle. You can give it rounded corners.

In all reality, this is just a short tutorial, there are so many more things that play into shape. Corners and curves are just a big part and are worth mentioning.

Step 7: Part 2: Simplicity in Color

The second major step in simplifying anything, is to look at the color. When you simplify color, you aren't necessarily subtracting detail like you do with shape. Instead, I like to think about it more like creatively combining.

Step 8: Simplicity in Color (pt. 2)

Looking at the image of the tiger above, you can see that it is obviously very complex. The color patterns are mesmerizing. but when simplifying, that aspect of awe doesn't have to go away.

Step 9: Simplicity in Color (pt. 3)

This is a polygonal portrait of the previous image. As you can see, it is still visually interesting. It is just different.

When looking the photographed tiger, you see individual colors, where as with the polygonal one, you see colors as whole shapes. By taking away the complexity, order has been brought about.

Step 10: Simplicity in Color (pt. 4)

As seen in the tiger, much of the color depth is lost. But the question is how you decide the color you want to use for each segmented section. Shown in the image above is a technique I like to call tri-color choosing. I take swabs of three colors in a general area. Many times it is helpful to choose light and dark colors, as well as neutral ones as well.

When your three colors are chosen, find a mid tone between them. By doing this, you are getting a general color that applies to all the areas you took swatches from.

Using Tri-color choosing doesn't only apply to poly portraits, it can be applied to many other circumstances.

Step 11: Combining All the Elements

All in all, make sure to have fun simplifying things. Whatever its for, it should be satisfying to see a reimagined piece of work be completed. When you have your shape finally understood, and your color scheme laid out, put it together, and see what you get!

Step 12: Looking at Examples

In the media, you can find increasing examples of companies switching to a simpler layout and theme. Here are just a few.

Step 13: Apple IOS

As you can see here, when apple updated their IOS software, they changed all of the app icons. Looking from left to right, you can see the simplicity. The directional markers were taken away, the compass needle is now just a two tone diamond, and there is a white border.

The white color in the directional makers has migrated to the outside of the icon, while the blue inside the circle reflects the original gradient of the complex icon. The color is still relative, just reimagined.

By taking away the world map in the background as well as the directional cross, Apple cleaned up the icon immensely. Also the isolated circle in the middle of the icon helps give definition to the compass feel.

The new graphic has a better, crisper feel to it.

Step 14: Instagram

Multiple things have been changed here. Mostly just the theme going from sort of a blue feel to a lighter theme. The buttons have been made simpler by flattening out graphics and also the profile picture has been changed from a square to a circle.

Step 15: Youtube

Youtube's logo has definitely seen some changes. The most recent of which, has been to remove any words from the iconic play button. They have also minimized the color scheme to just white and red. Black has been discarded.

Step 16: Google Art

Google art in general has been getting simpler. Just this week, the google art depicted a planetary theme that was very simple and modern. Have a look.

Step 17: Post What You Make

Thank you so much for taking the time with this instructable. Your guys' support means the world to me! Make sure to post how this helped and what you make.