In this article we will look at the design process, different types of editors and some basic tips.
Like most graphic design development cycles 2D print and web media follows the DDEE process; Design, Develop Evaluate Edit. You may think the design process is simple process. A client gives you requirements to work with and some target audience research, then it is just design one idea, put to paper and then developed on a computer. However just about any media course I've taken requires you to go through a much more complex process.
The first step the majority of designers will go through is they will put down 10 to 20 or more designs on paper in black and white or very basic colour. From the 20 or so concepts the designer or client will select 3-5 most favorable designs and then these selected ones will be refined by adding in more details, colour, text; style, size, shape and the hierarchy of objects or items on the page.
Some designers may even do extra alternative versions of refined concepts with alternative colour and some small alterations. From this point on the designer will trade the pen and pencil for a computer with image creation or editing software. Once the 3-5 designs are produced on the computer the designer or client will test the media produced on a test audience that is part of the target audience to get feedback on the media produced.
From the feedback, the designer will go back to the software and modify any issues the test audience or client had with the media produced. Then the client will decide on which one or more pieces of media produced they want to use.
I mentioned software in the previous paragraph but I skipped over the types of software that a graphic designer may use because it is necessary to discuss them separately.
There are three types of 2D image software bitmap, vector and mathematic but designers are normally only concerned with bitmap and vector. Bitmap is probably the simplest of the 3 to work with and can produce very detailed images. Bitmap files work by storing RGBA (Red Green Blue Alpha) values or HSVA (Hue Saturation values Alpha) of each pixel. Unfortunately this way of storing colour data is prone to having large file sizes and images can look pixelated after the size of the image is reduced, increased or compressed.
Common bitmap editors include Paint, Paint.net, Photoshop and Gimp. Vector editors work by storing points and geometry of shapes being drawn and generally produce less detailed images than bitmap but can however produce good looking images without large file types as only shapes are stored in the image file instead of each individual pixel value.
Generally vector image programs are better for creating images from scratch whereas bitmap are much better at image manipulation but they tend to be difficult and time consuming to create images from scratch.
Common vector editors available are Illustrator, Corel Draw, Inkscape. No matter which type or brand of editor you use it is always going to take you time to learn how to create images and there is a wealth of books and online tutorials available to help get you started. Popular programs like Illustrator or Photoshop you will find that there are instructional books in the IT or multimedia part of your local library.
Tips or tricks for designing advertising or appealing 2D media:
Rule of thirds:
The rule of thirds is a balance ratio that designers sometime use because it a good way of balancing images so they are not at a half ratio. It a good way to split up large groups of informative text and images.
This trick it used to move the readers eyes from one point to another. Generally for this to work there needs to be text or an image that grabs the readers eyes and then the next piece of text will lead the user on to the next piece of important information.
This one is probably the simplest thing you can do; the basic principle is that size of the text on the page is dictated by the importance of the information they hold, for example a title would be the largest text on the page, sub headings medium size text and general information has the smallest text size.
There are a lot more little things that you could do but these are the things that I find myself using the most when I create 2D media. There are of course a lot of other techniques that graphic designers use however to fit them all in to this article would take an eternity to write and read and this is just meant to be a general overview.
My hope is that this article has given you an idea into what goes on behind the scenes to produce 2D still media. Remember that everyone is different. This way of image creation and the tricks shared may not necessarily work for every situation so experiment and find what best suits you and your style and remember to have fun unless image creation is your job; in that case get back to work.
Zach Radloff lives on the Gold Coast and is studying IT technology at university.
Zach Radloff's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/zach-radloff.html