Graphic design is also known as communication design. Graphic designers are visual communicators, who create visual concepts by hand or by using computer software. They communicate ideas to inspire, inform, or captivate consumers through both physical and virtual art forms that include images, words, or graphics.
Graphic design is art with a purpose. It involves a creative and systematic plan to solve a problem or achieve certain objectives, with the use of images, symbols or even words. It is visual communication and the aesthetic expression of concepts and ideas using various graphic elements and tools.
The end goal of graphic designers is to make the organizations that hire them recognizable and prominent. By using a variety of media they communicate a particular idea or identity to be used in advertising and promotions. These media include fonts, shapes, colors, images, print design, photography, animation, logos, and billboards. Graphic designers often collaborate on projects with artists, multimedia animators, and other creative professionals.
Elements of Graphic Design
Graphic design can use image-based designs involving photos, illustrations, logos and symbols, type-based designs, or a combination of both techniques. These designs can include various combinations of the following elements.
Lines: Straight, curved, wavy, thick, thin – when it comes to lines, the possibilities are limitless. Lines allow designers to divide a space or separate content in a layout. They can also be used to guide the eyes of the viewer, or make other elements follow a strategic path for added findability, to get the viewer easily from point A to point B.
Shapes: Shapes offer a variety of ways to fill spaces creatively, to support text and other forms of content, and to balance a design. Shapes can be created out of nothing, using white space to give a design structure and clarity.
Colour: Colour, or the absence of colour, is an important element of any design. With a solid understanding of colour theory, designers can amazingly influence a design and a brand, seamlessly integrating colour boldly or with brilliant subtlety.
Type: Type can transform a message from mere text to a work of art. Different fonts, combined with customized alignments, spacing, size, and colour, can add power to the point you are communicating to the world.
Texture: Even a smooth and glossy advertisement can seem tangible with texture. It gives a sense of a tactile surface through its visual appearance and adds a sense of depth, enhanced by selection of appropriate paper and material.
Important Qualities for Graphic Designers
Analytical skills Graphic designers must be able to look at their work from the point of view of their consumers and examine how the designs they develop will be perceived by consumers to ensure they convey the client’s desired message.
Artistic ability Graphic designers must be able to create designs that are artistically interesting and appealing to clients and consumers. They produce rough illustrations of design ideas, either by hand sketching or by using computer programs.
Communication skills Graphic designers must communicate with clients, customers, and other designers to ensure that their designs accurately reflect the desired message and effectively express information.
Computer skills Most graphic designers use specialized graphic design software to prepare their designs.
Creativity Graphic designers must be able to think of new approaches to communicating ideas to consumers. They develop unique designs that convey a certain message on behalf of their clients.
Time-management skills Graphic designers often work on multiple projects at the same time, each with a different deadline.
Tools of Graphic Design
Professional designers possess a creative mind with an artistic inclination, and so much more. Keen observation skills and analytical thinking are essential tools for graphic design, before they dig into their physical tool kit and touch pen to paper or stylus to tablet. Designers employ a variety of methods to combine art and technology to communicate a particular message and create an impressive visual.
Sketchpads: A traditional tool used to sketch out ideas; it is the quickest way to jot down the rough designs, which designers can develop further using other tools and technologies.
Computers: Computers now occupy an essential place in every designer’s tool kit. Hardware such as tablets allow designers to expand their creative freedom and maintain that sketchpad feel.
Software: Technology has opened new doors for realizing creative vision. Specialized software such as Illustrator and Photoshop can help to create illustrations, enhance photographs, stylize text, and synergize all of the pieces in incredible layouts.
Graphic Design communicates your brand and message visually with impressive business logos, enchanting brochures, newsletters with impact, and stunning posters.
Careers Related to Graphic Designers
Craft and Fine Artists Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one.
Desktop Publishers Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items that are printed or published online.
Drafters Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.
Industrial Designers Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts.
Multimedia Artists and Animators Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.
Creative Director You manage a creative team that creates visuals for product branding, advertising campaigns, etc.
Art Director You manage and coordinate between production artists and illustrators to make sure projects are completed on time and to the client’s satisfaction.
Art Production Manager You manage the production aspect of art generation and creation, with a focus on improving efficiency and lowering costs.
Package Designer You create and design packaging for marketing and/or products in terms of both design and physical construction.
Brand Identity Developer You develop brand identities for various organizations.
Visual Image Developer You create images and designs through 3D modeling, photography, and image editing.
Visual Journalist Among other things, you create informational graphics known as infographics. This can be for print or digital application.
Broadcast Designer You create visual designs and electronic media to be used in television productions.
Logo Designer You create the visual expression of the organization’s key message or value. This is also a key aspect of brand identity – though in identity design, you carry the logo and design identity forward for all branding materials.
Interface Designer You develop graphical user interfaces and usually work for web development companies.
Web Designer You create graphics, layouts, and pages for websites.
Multimedia Developer You apply graphic design skills to sound and/or motion.
Content Developer You create written, graphical, video, sound, or other multimedia content depending on your brief.
What is the difference between a graphic designer and an illustrator?
Both graphic designers and illustrators do design-type work.
Graphic designers will work on design elements and structures, providing a visual message/brand for a company in order to sell a product or service.
Illustrators, on the other hand, will typically do commercial work for companies like comic book houses, publishing houses and advertising agencies. They do a lot more drawing, designing of product packaging, working on book illustrations, creating company logos, and graphic novels.
Graphic design degrees require a concentration in product design, website design, and publication design. Illustration students have some graphic design training, but most of their coursework includes art history, drawing, and painting. The illustrator doesn’t have the advanced knowledge of a graphic designer.
If you like to draw and illustrate concepts, illustration would be a good fit. If you prefer to code, make websites, and do detail-type work, then graphic design might suit you better.
What are the biggest differences in designing for print versus the web?
Designing for the web introduces a whole host of new variables, limitations, and opportunities that aren’t present in print design.
While print design usually means designing for fixed layouts where the designer knows exactly how the content will be displayed to users, web design requires taking into account the fact that users can be viewing their content on a variety of devices, each with different pixel densities, color profiles, and screen ratios. Often times, this also means designing for fluid experiences, where designs must be able to react to changes in screen size and page events, presenting new design challenges.
Futhermore, the technical constraints are higher in designing for the web, where the designer is expected to know what is and isn’t possible with current technologies. For example, web typography is still in its infancy: many standard typographical tools aren’t available or easily accessible, and some foundries still do not license their typefaces for use online. In addition, bandwidth constraints require designers to also take things like filesize into account, sometimes restricting design opportunities in the name of a better user experience.
Designing for the web, however, also brings with it interactive elements that aren’t present in print design, which offers up many new possibilities, but creates more work for the designer. For example, it opens the door to adding animations and transformations to page elements, but that also introduces user-experience as a new goal for designers to worry about. Whereas with print design there is usually little user interaction, on the web it becomes a primary concern to the designer, creating a new lens through which they must look at their work.