Graphic design is a creative and technical mix, requiring solid knowledge of both areas to create and produce quality projects. The emergence of ‘desktop publishing’ during the 1980’s has forever altered the way design is constructed and as with many electronic advancements, has also brought with it a new assortment of uniquely digital problem areas.
A lot of technical proficiency is now required to effectively produce finished art from the various software programs needed to create electronic files. This is now additional to the knowledge of a design professional, who provides skills ranging from complete project planning and direction, to specific layout and creative solutions. Add to this the specialist knowledge required for successful printing (via either digital or offset processes) and print finishing (folding, cutting, binding) and the range of skills and expertise required becomes very broad.
Creating polished design and print that works effectively for individual projects is not an easy task and can require a substantial time investment. Correct planning and an understanding of general design and print rules may help you to create and provide projects that accurately hit your intended target.
Most designs do not operate in isolation and many of the elements developed for one, can or will be required for further projects. It is essential to create electronic assets that are reusable for future use – both known projects and unknown possibilities.
Logos, illustrations and photographs are common elements that require initial planning to create assets that are able to be used in a variety of ways. The resolution of any pixel based file will determine the largest possible size that this type of file can be successfully enlarged to. Large format material such as posters, signage or display installations will require files of a suitable dimension and resolution, otherwise the results will be less than expected and desired. For web development it is key to consider print use when project planning as many parts of an online identity style may be required for later high resolution print usage.
A general rule for pixel content is to initially create at the largest size possible. This size and resolution will be determined by software capability, available computer memory (and operating speed) and also creative constraints.
For logos, illustrations and charts the best choice will often be to use a ‘vector’ drawing program. Vector based software will produce scalable files that can be used at any size and also offer the ability for easy colour and format editing for content variation and other uses. Vector files can quickly specify ‘spot’ colours to support corporate colour schemes and produce very small file sizes for electronic distribution.
Planning projects to allow for correct output and flexibility of use, will help to maximise the initial expense for the creation of key elements and provide files that are able to meet the needs of different future requirements. Plan wisely and think ahead!