Graphic design is the combination of text, images and layout which is used to evoke senses and transmit messages. Graphics are to be properly designed with the use of the proper design elements so as to capture audience's attention and communicate the right message to them. It is used to enhance communication and promote better understanding for the message to be brought across.
Introduction on Graphic and Communication Design
In this topic, we can break the topic down into several sections so that we can further understand what this topic is exactly about. We can cover the definition of graphic and communication individually, follow by visual communication which is the combination of both, as well as graphic design and communication design on its own context.
Graphics are basically visual presentations on surfaces such as a wall, paper or computer screen. It is used to brand, inform, exemplify or entertain people. It often includes conscious selection, creation or arrangement of text, illustration and colour. They can be artistic or functional. Some examples would be posters, logos, photographs, charts etc.
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Communication is defined as a process where information is disseminated by a sender to a receiver via a medium. It is also about assigning and conveying meaning in an attempt to create common understanding. All parties involved should have a communicative commonality to enable good flow of communication. It can be verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication includes speaking, singing and even tone of voices, while non-verbal includes body and sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact and writings.
Graphic + Communication = Visual communication
Visual communication is communication using visual aids to delivering ideas and information in visual forms. It is used to put across data, concepts and emotions. It explores the power to inform, educate or persuade a person through visual message with text and is mainly associated with two dimensional images which include: Signs, typography, drawing, graphic design, illustration, colour and electronic resources.
As graphic design is an extremely subjective topic, a good visual design is evaluated according to the level of comprehension by the audience and not on aesthetic or artistic preferences.
Graphic design is the art or process of visual communication that combines text and graphics to convey an effective message to a particular group of target audience. It is also a collaborative process between a client and a designer. In modern context, most graphic designers will use software and techniques for their design illustrations. It is also called as graphic arts or desktop publishing. Since it is linked in conveying messages, it is part of communication design too.
Logos, magazines, advertisements, product packaging and web design are some of the common items which use graphic design. Composition is one of the most important features in graphic design, especially when blending the colours together and using pre-existing materials or different elements. The message behind it should be simple, clear and precised for people to comprehend.
Communication design is a mixed discipline between design and information-development. It involves how the media communicate with people. It is not just about developing messages in the media's aesthetics, but also on inventing new media means to guarantee the message reaches the target audience. Communication design seeks to draw attention, create desires and encourage the people to respond to messages, with a vision to make a favourable impact to the targeted body, which can be either be brand-building, moving sales, or for humanitarian purposes. The process includes strategic business thinking, utilizing market research, creativity, and problem-solving.
Elements, Skills and Tools for Graphic Design
The elements of graphic design are often used and combined to create new graphics. They should not be confused with principles of design like balance and space, but more of considerations such as color, type and images. Presented here is a list of the most commonly used elements in graphic design, with examples by the side.
Shapes are at the root of design, which are commonly used to create layouts, create patterns, and build countless complex shapes. Experimentation and altering of shapes within a design can eventually lead to the desired effect.
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Lines are used to divide space, direct vision and create forms. Straight lines are usually used in layouts to separate content like those seen in magazines, newspapers and website designs. Following the grid system helps in achieving a consistent look and feel as well as creating successful print and web layouts. Lines are often implied, which means other elements of design follow the line path, for example, a type on a curve.
Color applied to any elements can change the graphic dramatically. It can be used to make an image or text stand out or to evoke emotion. For printing purposes, it is best to do graphics in CMYK mode so that the printings on paper will look much closer than what it is like on screen. Hue, Saturation and Value can add more contrast in the graphics. The use of pantone swatches (Pantone Matching System) is to insure desired color results in printing and for better referencing when talking to clients.
Typography is everywhere. In graphic design, the goal is to understand text and use it well for communication. Choice of fonts, size, alignment, color, and spacing all play a role. Type can be taken to a higher level by creating images with it. It can help create a consistent design and there are many type families to choose from under one typeface. Fonts, which mean how the typefaces are displayed, can be changed as well.
Art, Illustration & Photography
A powerful image can make or break a design. Photographs, illustrations and artwork are great stimulation for graphics and are normally used to tell stories, support ideas and grab the audience's attention, hence the image selection is crucial. Graphic designers can create their own images, charge an artist or photographer, or even purchase from various websites.
Texture can mean the actual surface of a design or the visual appearance of a design. For the former, one can feel the texture, making it exclusive compare to other design elements. Paper and materials selection in package design can make a difference in the actual texture. As for the latter, texture is shown through the style of design. Rich, layered graphics are used to create visual texture that reflects actual texture.
A graphic design project may involve styling and presentation of existing text and images. A set of skills a good graphic designer should have would be having a good knowledge on visual arts, typography, page layout, interface design, printmaking and chromatics. Having good understanding of these skills will give the designer and upper hand in designing.
Graphic design requires judgment and creativity. The mind may be one of the most important graphic design tools, used for critical, observational, quantitative and analytic thinking for design layouts and rendering process.
Conventional tools such as pencils or markers are still useful in today's context as a designer may hand sketch a few rough concepts as part of the design process and getting approvals from clients before further developing it using software tools. Introduction of desktop publishing and graphic art software applications in the mid 1980s helped graphic designers a lot, allowing fast simulation of concepts, manipulation of images and coming up with a variety of possible graphic designs. It enables designers to see the effects of changing layout and typography instantly.
Presentation methods are an important tool in design. The layout is produced with the use of conventional or digital image editing tools. The appropriate development and use of presentation tools can change how an audience views a project significantly.
The Need for Graphic and Communication Design
Comic on "A picture speaks a thousand words"
There is a Chinese saying which goes like this: "A picture is worth a thousand words". Communication is made so much easier to comprehend when graphics are used, be it a chart to show the level of improvement or drop in standard or a photograph to demonstrate certain instructions for people. Its purpose is to allow people to understand the message immediately at one look at the picture, without having to read one whole chunk of message. It is less time-consuming and more effective in relaying the message. However, wrong use of images will lead to wrong messages being brought across. At the same time, there is a need to avoid using too many images as it will complicate the graphic and blurred the message to be brought across.
LV Bag with branding
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At the same time, graphics beautifies the environment and evokes feelings in an individual. It can also evoke the desire to purchase a certain product. It beautifies a product, a website and even publications. It definitely brings up the standards as well as its cost. One good example will be the logo of famous brands on branded goods - it heightens the cost for the brand. Making our work look more appealing can give us an upper-hand in clinching clients' deal by satisfying their visual senses. Having a good business card design can build better impression in other people's mind too.
Also, graphics can serve as a form of identity. Logo is part of graphic design and it serves as a form of identity for companies and websites. This helps people to better remember them, especially if they provide excellent services. One look at the logo, people can recognise it as the companies' logo. A logo can always come with a tagline, to constantly remind people what they are good and specializing at.
From here we can see why graphic design is everywhere and why it is so important in our society, in our lives.
Graphic Design in Early Days
Drawing of a horse in Lascaux cave in France
In the past, most graphic designs were drawn on rocks and stones, normally inside the caves. Hundreds of graphic designs of animals by primitive people are found in the caves in France. Together with writings from China and Egypt which emerge in 3000-4000 B.C., it is the beginning of the Graphic Art.
As time goes by, graphics were illustrated for books and were also used for the Qur'an, muslin scribes. Calligraphy emerged thereafter which were related to typography and had artistic elements with it. Slowly, maps and playing cards came into the picture, such as tarot cards in France and Germany, which had got many different graphics as well.
Coat of arms of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
An example of calligraphy
Slowly, Byzantine art, which is more spiritual in content, surfaced up, follow by miniature paintings, Asian paintings and arts on pottery. Native American graphic art, Mayan and Aztec art as well as African Art eventually sprung up. Signage came in, using pictograms and phonogram. Heraldry followed up, which is to design and display coat of arms and heraldic badge. Gradually, logos and trademarks came up as well, which can be related to corporate identity, rebranding as well as symbol of culture and peace.
Astronomical, statistical and scientific charts are brought up to allow people to understand variables' relationships better. As technology improves, dynamic designs and computer animations were made possible. Placards and posters soon exist, follow by the emergence of print and design industry, engraving and etching.
Chromolithography is then invented and modern posters were made colourful and attractive to people. It is a method for making multi-colour prints. Art nouveau changed the design direction of graphics on paintings. Posters in the 20th century are used for advertising as well as culture and politics, where political campaigns are promoted. When computer aided design tools are implemented, the scale of advertising increases. Comics and graphic novels are generated as well, promoting pop art in design field. Soon, software emerged and graphic design was greatly emphasized thereafter.
Graphic and communication can be found everywhere. It is part of our daily life. Graphic is closely related to communication as it enhances communication and understanding. Elements of graphic design are used to create graphics that can evoke senses and also made communication easier to understand, be it by looking at an image or reading news articles that are properly organised. It is important because without it, communication would not have been as easy as what it is now.