Yearbook Design Ideas – Let’s get graphical

Thought it only happened in the 80’s? Well I’m please to tell you bold, bright and in your face is back and looks fantastic in a yearbook!

I grew up in the 80’s, listened to Culture Club and loved jelly shoes, but that’s beside the point. Choosing a design that’s going to be to everyone’s liking is tough, even close to impossible, but you won’t go far wrong with a timeless pattern-based yearbook design. Geometric shapes and patterns have been back in fashion for a while now, and we’re going to look at how this trend can be used in your yearbook design.

Where should you look for inspiration?

Step 1: Colour Scheme

Let’s start with colour, rather than try to tame a rainbow of colours pick just three. These could be colours within your school logo or your house/tutor group colours. Prefer to do your own thing? Pick three colours your yearbook committee likes, or take a vote.

If a clean and classic yearbook design is what you’re after, try three shades of just one of your school colours to look uber professional and banish blandness!

Step 2: Shapes & Patterns

Now the fun bit, planning what geometric shapes are going to be the basis of your design! A couple of ideas before you go tearing off samples of wallpaper down the local hardware shop:

1. Nostalgic and retro doesn’t have to mean brown and orange, or patterns to give you a headache! If you want to use large patterns in your yearbook opt for softer colours, so your text and images aren’t fighting a constant losing battle with the background of the page.

2. For a futuristic feel white space is your best friend, utilise sharp edges and bold colours sparingly. Outlines of geometric patterns are great fillers and retain the essential white space.

I’m going to bet that triangles are the first geometric shape you thought of when you saw this post, and quite rightly so. Triangles are ideal, they interconnect perfectly and tesselate beautifully. Hexagons and pentagons (think of a football) work really well too. You could be really brave and try a combination of shapes, but I’d recommend the magic number of three tops.

Step 3: Putting colours and shapes together

Experimentation is key here, getting the right balance may take a couple of tries, but with guidance from the ideas above you’ll soon see what works an what is overkill!

So, let’s go back to basics with a pair of scissors and coloured card.

  • Cut out a few of your chosen shape(s) and start piecing them together on a white piece of paper.
  • Try just adding a few shapes to one side of the page, now add a couple more – does it look too much?
  • Now draw around the shape with a thin colour pen, does this help keep the sense of space on the page?
  • Show your experiments to a few others and get feedback.

Once you’re happy with the design either stick the shapes in place and scan it, or if you’re familiar with design packages such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop replicate the design in a document that’s 216mm x 303mm and 300 dpi (get in touch if you need guidance on this).

Step 4: How to use your design throughout your yearbook

Once you have decided on your colours, shape(s) and pattern it’s time to plan how to use these across the rest of your yearbook pages and cover.

If you’re going bold and retro-style, pick up to 5 of these to use throughout your yearbook. If using the striking pattern – try to make each page follow on from the last (a bit like a flipbook, where static images come to life when you flip the pages quickly).

Always keep in mind that your photos and text will sit on top of these backgrounds, you may need to consider a white background for text entries and a frame for photos to pull them forward from your amazing background design.

Achieving a graphical yearbook design may sound more complex than other ideas we’ve shown you, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with. It’ll open doors to other great design discoveries and is so versitle you can’t really go wrong. Plus your leavers’ year will be so impressed that you’ve designed this yourselves and is so different to everyone else’s!