Thinking of relation between surface to depth, surface to the underlying material. These are fundamental questions when thinking about visual design. The ink on paper designer has tremendous freedom to create whatever the imagination can conjure.
The fundamental materials are the printing process and the selection of paper type. Clearly a print designer can imagine things that can’t be produced in black ink on newsprint. Generally, an experienced print graphic designer takes print production methods into account when starting a visual design. It’s called designing into the production process. When you do this, things go smoothly when it comes to to fire up the presses and put ink to paper. When you don’t there’s panic at the press check.
Of course, the fantasy is that you can make the surface manifest just as it exists in your imagination— the physical world has no claim on the execution of design. This, to some extent, is the state of much of visual design on the Web. I blame photoshop. While it’s true that just about any visual design can be built for the screen— it’s not always a good idea to do so. The horror revealed on a ‘View Source’ tells you why.