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What is Graphic Design?

By , 6th February 2016 in Graphic Design

Graphic design is the art of visual communication that combines images, words and ideas to convey information to an audience in a way that is pleasing to the eye and gets attention.

Graphic design is all around us, wherever we look. The most common forms include Logos, Websites, Advertisements, and Magazine/Newspaper layouts, however the list is endless.

Graphic Design
Graphic Design

The aim of a graphic designer is to create something that is pleasing to the eye, gets attention and conveys a message. It is not however about making things look cool, it has to work! Poor graphic design includes being too cluttered, illegible fonts, unusable interfaces and worst of all the wrong message.

Design is thinking made visibleSaul Bass

Successful graphic designers have fun whilst using creativity and are at the cutting edge of technology. They are patient, pay attention to detail and like solving problems.

Contrary to popular thoughts, you don't need to be good at drawing or spend years in college or spend lots of money on expensive equipment. You do however need to build a good portfolio, learn visual thinking skills and speak the lingo.

There are many different types of graphic designer, from creative directors to brand developers, web designers to film developers, logo designers to visual journalists.

Tools of the Trade

Adobe creative suite is the industry standard software for design. The three main pieces of software are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is the benchmark in the world of professional digital image solutions. It is a powerful photo and image editing application. It is not however a drawing program. The power of Photoshop is in working with existing images. Typical tasks include image touchup and manipulation, compositing, converting to different formats and printing.

Photoshop is primarily a bitmap editing tool, that is it works with tiny blocks of colour which form images.

Bitmap images are made of individual pixels.
Bitmap images are made of individual pixels.

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a vector based drawing and graphic design tool.Illustrator works by generating curved paths (called Bezier curves) connected with anchor points. Shapes, anchor points and other information are stored as part of the file and can be modified at any time.

Vector images are quite different to bitmap images in that they can be resized without any loss of quality. These attributes are what make vector based programs different to bitmap based programs that only store individual pixels.

Vector images are constructed using bezier curves
Vector images are constructed using bezier curves

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is for page design and layouts for print and digital publishing. InDesign is ideal for newspapers and magazines, posters, brochures, cover art etc... InDesign is also used for digital publishing such as PDF's, eBooks or interactive documents. InDesign can also convert conventional media to digital.

In the next tutorial series we will look at each application in more detail.

Further Reading
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