Creating grids for graphic design

Hey everyone.

I haven’t been taught grids, but I’m finding out that it’s essential.
I’ve just now started using the “show grid” feature in Illustrator, and it’s helping some.
But I have a couple questions if anyone has time to answer:
1)Is there another way to design your own grids, an easier way that doing all the math on paper and in your head, and painstakingly pulling down the individual guides?

  1. How did people here learn it, and how did you get good at it?
    I’m getting a lot of books that deal with grids, and it’s fascinating, like how how much room there is to get creative for each page, while still using, say, a 9 panel grid. For example, you can switch it up, by having a picture take up two panels, whereas the previous page, it might have only been one, while the rest of the boxes or columns were text.

Dividing a page dimension by 3 or 9 is not a lot of math. There is no pain in pulling guides either. You pull it, click on it, then put the x-y coordinates in as needed, using the numbers you get from your math.

Don’t get too wedded to grids. They do not hide bad design. And as you’ve discovered, grid rules are there to be broken when necessary.

Definitely read up on them. Be aware of alignments in your design. But don’t rely on grids to save you from yourself.

I’d agree that grids are a useful tool, but getting too obsessed with them can be a hindrance to finding the best layout solutions. These days, I make a lot of columnar layouts on broad sheets, and I find a 12-column basis extremely useful for its flexibility. With 12 sets of column guides, you have subdivisions of 2, 3, 4, and 6. I rarely need any other grid.


You might be overthinking it, Agent008. It’s not complicated. Any math involved is minimal. It’s mostly a matter of dividing up spaces in a logical, methodical way, then lining up page elements to correspond with the edges of those divisions in a way that gives the layout an orderly, cohesive look.

Books. Learning about grid systems opened up a whole new world :smile:

The basic grids you see in software are not it at all.

Lots of great resources here:

This guy sells software and plugins to create grids:

My favorite book about grids (1st edition 1980, latest 2017):

And these are great as well:

Also good:

(Not affiliated with anything.)

P.S.: There are at least two free grid calculators:

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Thanks for all the comments and advice.

Since, I made the original post, I was looking on YouTube and found a pretty good tutorial on them.
Apparently, there’s like 4 or 5 different ways to make grids in Illustrator. There’s literally a “Rectangular Grid Tool.” I’ve been trying to get familiar with each of the different methods.
How to create a grid in Adobe Illustrator

I’ll make sure not to use grids as a crutch though. One of my biggest mistakes is starting the idea process in PS or AI, and relying on geometric shapes and simply left-aligning to design everything. I don’t go near the computer anymore until after I get loose, and sketch and color a bunch of different ideas and concepts. I can imagine that I might fall into the same trap with grids.

That said, finding out how to use grids is awesome! That combined with discovering Adobe TypeKit…already my works looks less amateurish!

And thank you for the those links! I have some nice homework ahead of me.:slightly_smiling_face:

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