The term graphic design can refer to a number of artistic and professional disciplines which focus on visual communication and presentation. Various methods are used to create and combine symbols, images and/or words to create a visual representation of ideas and messages. A graphic designer may use typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce the final result. Graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created and the products (designs) which are generated.
Common uses of graphic design include magazines, advertisements and product packaging. For example, a product package might include a logo or other artwork, organized text and pure design elements such as shapes and color which unify the piece. Composition is one of the most important features of graphic design especially when using pre-existing materials or diverse elements.
A graphic design project may involve the stylization and presentation of existing text and either preexisting imagery or images developed by the graphic designer. For example, a newspaper story begins with the journalists and photojournalists and then becomes the graphic designer's job to organize the page into a reasonable layout and determine if any other graphic elements should be required. In a magazine article or advertisement, often the graphic designer or art director will commission photographers or illustrators to create original pieces just to be incorporated into the design layout. Contemporary design practice has been extended to the modern computer, for example in the use of WYSIWYG user interfaces, often referred to as interactive design, or multimedia design.
Before any graphic elements may be applied to a design, the graphic elements must be originated by means of visual art skills. These graphics are often (but not always) developed by a graphic designer. Visual arts include works which are primarily visual in nature using anything from traditional media, to photography or computer generated art. Graphic design principles may be applied to each graphic art element individually as well as to the final composition.
Typography is the art, craft and techniques of type design, modifying type glyphs, and arranging type. Type glyphs (characters) are created and modified using a variety of illustration techniques. The arrangement of type is the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading (line spacing) and letter spacing.
Typography is performed by typesetters, compositors, typographers, graphic artists, art directors, and clerical workers. Until the Digital Age, typography was a specialized occupation. Digitization opened up typography to new generations of visual designers and lay users.
Page layout is the part of graphic design that deals in the arrangement and style treatment of elements (content) on a page. Beginning from early illuminated pages in hand-copied books of the Middle Ages and proceeding down to intricate modern magazine and catalog layouts, proper page design has long been a consideration in printed material. With print media, elements usually consist of type (text), images (pictures), and occasionally place-holder graphics for elements that are not printed with ink such as die/laser cutting, foil stamping or blind embossing.
Graphic designers are often involved in interface design, such as web design and software design when end user interactivity is a design consideration of the layout or interface. Combining visual communication skills with the interactive communication skills of user interaction and online branding, graphic designers often work with software developers and web developers to create both the look and feel of a web site or software application and enhance the interactive experience of the user or web site visitor. An important aspect of interface design is icon design.
Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing on paper and other materials or surfaces. Except in the case of monotyping, the process is capable of producing multiples of the same piece, which is called a print. Each piece is not a copy but an original since it is not a reproduction of another work of art and is technically known as an impression. Painting or drawing, on the other hand, create a unique original piece of artwork. Prints are created from a single original surface, known technically as a matrix. Common types of matrices include: plates of metal, usually copper or zinc for engraving or etching; stone, used for lithography; blocks of wood for woodcuts, linoleum for linocuts and fabric plates for screen-printing. But there are many other kinds, discussed below. Works printed from a single plate create an edition, in modern times usually each signed and numbered to form a limited edition. Prints may also be published in book form, as artist's books. A single print could be the product of one or multiple techniques.
Chromatics is the field of how eyes perceive color and how to explain and organize those colors in the printer and on the monitor. The Retina in the eye is covered by two light-sensitive receptors that are named rods and cones. Rods are sensitive to light, but not sensitive to color. Cones are the opposite of rods. They are less sensitive to light, but color can be perceived.