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Using Ancient Symbology in DTP Projects

written by: Michael Guerrero•edited by: Amber Neely•updated: 10/17/2010

Ancient symbols are all around us in modern day design. Be it the pagan heart or the yin and yang symbol, these designs provide a familiar and distinct look to projects that would otherwise be stale without. This article details how to combine ancient symbology with modern design.

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    Using Ancient Symbology in DTP Projects

    Ancient symbols of Baltic Finns. Most ancient symbols are incredibly beautiful and unique to anything else seen. These works of art have been used for centuries by many different peoples. Using ancient symbology in modern graphic design is an incredibly common practice. In fact, some common graphics you might be familiar with may draw influences from ancient symbology in some way. Symbology is a great way to sort of build a foundation for the rest of the elements going on to your design because it allows you to look for symbols that reflect your project in some way.

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    Selecting Ancient Symbology for your DTP Projects

    Ancient Roman symbol for Venus. 

    First off, you will want to establish what you will be applying the symbology towards. Are you creating a marketable logo for a business or just using symbols as a tie-in for a scrapbook book or blog project? If you are working on a graphics for a company or business you might research into the copyrights surrounding symbols. You will also want to choose a symbol that isn't already associated with a popular brand and that can be re-worked and modernized easily. If it's just for a personal project you have more room to work with since it's not for profit.

    After you've established what the symbol is going to be applied to, you will want to look in to how it can reflect your project's overall goal or message. Let's say for example you are writing a relationship advice blog and want to come up with a logo that reflects that. Using a symbol for love such as the Pagan heart (commonly known as the Valentine heart) or the symbol for Aphrodite/Venus can help new readers instantly understand what you and your blog is all about and add a unique connection to your material.

    If you can do so, try using ancient symbology that is well-known in your region or by your audience.

    Try looking outside of the standard cultures for ancient symbols. Celtics, African tribes, and other cultures all had a wide array of symbols that are beautiful but not well represented in publishing projects.

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    Applying Ancient Symbols In A Design

    Terra symbol frame. 

    So you have a symbol or group of symbols that you would like to use in your project but it looks dated, it is ancient after all. Some symbols may need a little tweaking to get a look that isn't reminiscent of a cave painting. Whatever editing software you have available, Photoshop, GIMP, paper and pencil. Sketch down some designs you like. While you should try not to lose the symbol in your edits, if you should happen to transform it into something completely different, that's okay! Ancient symbols can serve as an inspiration to get a result that you are happy with that's all that really matters.

    Some symbols (particularly Roman and Greek symbols) are very simple and may seem difficult to alter. Don't worry though because these symbols can still serve as subtle design elements. Lets take the Roman symbol for "Terra" or "Earth" for example. It's an incredibly simple design in itself, but works as a great frame for something like a green living project or a landscaping business. Be creative and make these symbols work for you!

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    Here is a list of all the images used within the article as they appear:

    These images are combined in the 'Applying Ancient Symbols In A Design' section of the article$5_tree.JPG