Design Elements

A student points to elements on her style guide as part of a design class


In this section you will find the graphic elements that, along with our logos and colors, build our visual identity:

Design Elements Download

Design Elements are contained in a Box folder and available for download (see download button below). This folder contains:

  • InDesign file (IDML and INDD) with mood boards, illustrations, watercolor brush strokes and typographic settings, as well as recommendations for implementation/application
  • Full set of illustrations by Steven Noble
  • Watercolor brush strokes

Revision history

September 15, 2020 revision:

  • Revised and expanded watercolor brush strokes
  • Updates to use of brush strokes in the InDesign file
  • Set of Outgrow watercolor brushes for use in PhotoShop

July 18 2020 revision

  • Corrected color palettes
  • Significantly expanded set of Steven Noble illustrations. 

Consistent use of these elements, along with our marks, color palette and fonts, will ensure a consistent look and feel across our enterprise. There is sufficient flexibility in this system to address the needs of every audience.

Download the Design Elements (rev. September 2020)

Mood Boards

Mood boards are audience-based collections of elements and colors that will help you make initial decisions when creating a layout. These are not compositions per se, but they are examples of our visual elements in action. Refer to these when learning how to use the settings, lines, illustrations and brush strokes.

Mood board 1: most formal, sophisticated and subduedMood board 2: sophisticated and vibrant

Mood board 3: vibrant and casualMood board 4: casual and subdued

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Settings are collections of type treatments in InDesign. They work together to represent the brand, and can be used as building blocks for on-brand posters, fliers, books, etc. When you download the file, you can open these files with InDesign and copy-paste into your own InDesign files. To resize, make sure you have checked InDesign>Preferences>General>Object Editing>When Scaling: “Include Stroke Weight,” and “Include Effects” to ensure all elements scale properly.


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Dynamic line work

Lines are a great way to establish visual hierarchy, to guide navigation within a layout, to emphasize a word or phrase, or to set page borders and organize content. They can also convey process and place, helping reinforce the concept of growing and moving forward.

Creating lines

All these lines are live elements and can be scaled in size as needed. Linework should always be a secondary element that supports the copy or image we want to highlight; it should never take over the layout. The lines can be used horizontally, vertically, diagonally and for stair-stepping. They can be used to underline, add visual interest, divide content, provide movement across a layout, connect type and elements, and frame images.

Examples of line work
Lines can be used vertically, horizontally or in a stair-step configuration.

Lines as a framing device
When using lines to frame an image or separate an inset image (as shown), only the left and right edges of the image are framed. The line marking the left edge of an image is flush with the top of the image and extends below; on the right, the frame line should be the same length, but terminated at the bottom of the image and extending beyond the top. This creates a left-right ascending motion that suggests growth.

Lines connecting ideas
Words or blocks of text can also be connected with lines. This device allows a narrative flow that can be more dynamic than the traditional, vertical, top-to-bottom hierarchy arrangement.

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Our illustrator, Steven Noble, is a world-renowned artist whose distinctive work can be found on food products, books, credit cards and more. A UC Davis alum, Noble has lent his considerable talent to the task of illustrating some of our most unique and iconic properties. A sample of the work he has done for UC Davis follows. The Design Elements download contains the full library of his work for UC Davis.

Illustration of Unitrans BusIllustration of valley oak and bicycleIllustration of UC Davis water towerIllustration of Arneson Egghead scuplture, BookfaceIllustration of Arneson Egghead scuplture, Fatal LaughIllustration of Aggies mascot, GunrockIllustration of cow riding a bicycleIllustration of Hart Hall

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Watercolor brush strokes

Our collection of brush strokes are designed for the more advanced designer. They work best when used with blending options like Overlay, Hard Light and Multiply. We have only provided a few here to get you started, with more options and guidelines to come.

Turquoise watercolor brush stroke  Navy watercolor brush stroke Navy watercolor brush stroke Dark lavender watercolor brush stroke Lavender watercolor brush stroke Red watercolor brush stroke Orange watercolor brush stroke


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