The Design Process
Before getting started in the process of design, it is important that you define the objective to pursue. Graphic designers need to do research and find out as much information as possible about the person, institution or company who asked them to do a certain design. By asking the client a few questions, it is possible to get an idea of what the design will represent and therefore visualize possible alternatives.
The main and maybe most important piece of information you need to learn is the aim of the design: What is it meant to represent? Which is the objective to meet? Next, you need to be informed about the target: Is it aimed at a large audience? What age is the target? Is the design meant to reach people overseas, or is it nationwide? Once the audience has been defined the next step is to determine the message.
Depending on the audience, the content of the message will be specific or general, technical or simple. Suppose you are asked to design a website about a certain brand of cars. The content of the site will vary according to the audience it is meant to reach. If the site is meant for the general public, its content will most probably be related to the esthetics of the car, the advantages of buying it, and the vehicle´s main characteristics. On the other hand, if the site is aimed at car mechanics, for example, it will probably deal with the vehicle´s internal operation and components, together with a description of the car´s engine and structure.
After defining the objective, the target and the content, the last decision you have to make before getting started in the design process is the means of graphic design you will be using: How are you planning to get the message across? Will the design appear in newspapers, on television, or in public spaces? This decision will determine whether to design a poster, an advertisement, a postcard, etc. While an advertising campaign may need the designing of posters and banners, a new just brought out product may need the designing of a label and packaging.
Once you’ve done an evaluative research on the objective, the target and the message to convey, it is time to start with the design itself. The first step is to draft a proposal of the project in order to visualize the possible results. The outline of different solutions will help you to organize ideas and take decisions beforehand. During this process, called visualization, it is not necessary to write complete paragraphs or to draw pictures. Paragraphs can be represented by lines of different thickness, and pictures can be replaced by geometric figures such as squares or rectangles.
Making several sketches allows you to re-arrange the elements that make up the design until you reach the final satisfactory solution. You can change the layout of the elements in the surface, as well as its shape, size and color. However, you must be aware that changes in the position and arrangement of words and pictures may change the emphasis or focal point, consequently leading to a change in meaning. Therefore, it is necessary to do a comparative and evaluative research on the different options in order to choose the most convenient one, which will depend on the objective of the design.
Images and drawings can be used either to inform the public or to catch people’s attention. When used to illustrate a method or procedure, the most commonly used images are diagrams. If the objective is to catch the attention of the audience, it is preferable to use a photograph or a drawing, since diagrams are generally less catchy than pictures. When explaining concepts, photographs may be too realistic, and therefore it is recommended to use diagrams, which are a better way of clarifying ideas.
It is important that you pay attention to both figures and ground when using photographs. Suppose you have to design the postcard for a vacation resort. The owner of the resort will most probably choose to include a picture of his resort in which the sky is blue and the surroundings are clean from rubbish. Although the figure –the resort- is of prior importance, the ground –the sky and the surroundings- also adds to the feeling created by the picture.
Once the designer has devised the final draft, the next step is to make a life-size sketch in order to see if it is necessary to make more changes. After making the last modifications, the graphic designer will set to work on the design itself. For this purpose he will use specialized computer software that facilitate his work and save time. Depending on the type of design, there are different computer design software that the designer can use, such as the Corel logo, the Corel painter, Bryce, etc.
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