Does Graphic Design Require Math?

If you ask a designer if he or she considers himself or herself to be particularly talented at math, most likely the answer will be, no. This is because many people who pursue artistic fields believe that the skills required for art and design simply have no relationship to the skills required for mathematical pursuits.

What many of these individuals fail to realize is that math is an integral part of design. In fact, concepts such as patterns, symmetry, positive and negative space, arrangement, and sequence that are so important to design all have a basis in mathematics.

The field of graphic design combines artistic talent with technological savvy to create communicative images and messages that influence all aspects of daily life. Pursuing a degree in graphic design requires significant artistic training, but understanding key math components is also necessary. Being aware of the math course requirements at both the undergraduate and graduate levels can help you assess if a degree in graphic design is right for you.

Math Classes Are Associated With Graphic Design

  • Undergraduate General Math Classes

Many graphic design undergraduate programs require three to four credits of math as part of degree completion. These courses can include traditional math subjects, such as algebra or calculus. They can also encompass more specialized topics like business statistics, visualizations or perspective geometry, which are geared to the needs of the graphic design major.

  • Undergraduate Specialized Math Classes

Some undergraduate graphic design programs offer a specialized math course designed for graphic design majors in place of more traditional math courses. Drexel University’s program, for example, mandates a Mathematical Foundations for Design course, while DePaul University’s program requires a Quantitative Reasoning and Technological Literacy course. Both courses cover mathematical and analytical concepts central to the study of graphic design, such as graphs, geometry, topology and proportional analysis in a one-semester class. While Drexel University’s course comes with no prerequisites, you can enroll in DePaul University’s version only if you have completed math coursework through algebra at the college level or you can pass a qualifying entrance exam.

  • Undergraduate Math-Related Classes

Added to these math requirements for graphic design majors are closely related courses in fields that rely heavily on mathematical functions and formulas. An example of such coursework would be that focused on computer design. These courses examine topic such as web design, digital imaging or digital type design. While technically not math classes, these courses require reliance on mathematical concepts to navigate issues of digital design, from understanding software systems to modeling and developing websites and other digital projects.

  • Graduate Math Classes

Study of graphic design at the graduate level typically does not require additional math courses. Master of Fine Arts programs in graphic design center on the art and art history of graphic design. Programs such as those offered by Iowa State University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County, for example, require a teaching practicum during your graduate education and UMBC also requires a curatorial seminar to increase your awareness of issues related to museum or gallery management. Emphasis at the graduate level is also placed on completing a capstone thesis project, which may or may not rely on mathematical preparation, depending on your individual area of graphic design interest.

If you ask a designer whether they consider themselves to be particularly talented at maths, the likely answer will be ‘no’. However, the field of graphic design combines artistic talent with technological savvy to create images and messages that influence all aspects of our daily lives. Pursuing a degree in graphic design requires significant artistic training, yet understanding key math components is also necessary.

Maths is everywhere, even where you would not expect it. I remember, while at school learning algebra and calculus, that many students thought we would never have to ever use this cp in real life. But here’s a ‘News Flash’; maths continually reigns in graphic design. I forever have to work out the size of pages and layouts etc.

A few days ago, a very important question popped up in the middle of a session regarding the correlation of mathematics and graphic design. It went something like this: ‘How is maths important to graphic design and, if it is, how much of it is used in design form?’ It has been a while since anyone has referred this homework question to me, but I took a shot.

Graphic design is not something new. For years, people have been designing labels and packaging for products. But what happened before program such as Photoshop came along to make things easier? And why did you even have to use algebra or maths in graphic design to begin with?

Let’s look at it this way: Each logo and custom typeface had to be rough-drafted by hand, and the process of spacing, aligning and centering text or images needed to be done by using a series of algebraic equations.

For example, if you knew your label for a bottle was five inches long, and you had a logo that was two inches long, a set of text that needed to be four inches long, and you needed to include information on the side that was roughly two inches long, you would have to start with the measurements you knew. These can easily be figured out through algebraic equations.

If you intend to prepare any type of structural displays or signs, you will not only need mathematics skills, but those for layout and drawing. The larger structures will also often have architectural or mechanical drawings to obtain the necessary regulatory permits and approvals.

Square footage, resolution, dimensions, product labelling, decals wraps, geometry for sign curves, abstract shapes, box design, layout positioning (especially with logos that require certain spacing specs), and assembly building (catalogues, signs, displays, quantities) are a daily commission, and nothing new.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top