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Design Terms

Information sheets on design, illustration, digital imaging, photography and other related topics. Compiled and written for my clients, students, and my own work. Provided here for your convenience. If you take information form these sheets to use elsewhere, please provide the appropriate credits along with the information.

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Types of Graphic Design

Advertising design: the application of visual and/or textural elements in a composition that serves to promote an individual or organization's product, services, and/or philosophies. Divided into the following categories for convenience: displays and exhibits, advertorials (special sections added to magazines and newspapers), newspaper spots, magazines spots, collateral and direct mail (posters, brochures, catalogs, fliers, direct response, and handouts), point-of-purchase, outdoor (billboards and transit displays), packaging, books, broadcasting, digital (electronic files for computer or Internet), and environmental (signage).

Advertising: to make public announcement of, especially to proclaim the qualities or advantages of (a product or business) so as to increase sales. To make known; call attention to. To warn or notify. A paid, non personal communication by business firms, organizations and individuals identified in the message for the purpose of informing or persuading members of a particular audience.

Corporate Identity: a visual presentation of an organization's unique personality. Usually centered around a "Graphic Mark" or Logo, the overall package may contain stationary*, signage, and other relevant physical expressions used by the organization. Guidelines governing proper usage of the design elements, color scheme, typography, photos, etc. are established and may be provided in the form of a "standards manual."
*A corporate stationary package includes design of letterhead, envelope, and business card.

Graph or Chart: a graphic visualization of data, such as financial figures, scientific results, or the relationship of the members of a group. The form may be simple and "flat" in appearance or complicated and decorative. The execution can be in text or any of the media used for an illustration.

Illustration: a visualization of a concept, done for a specified purpose. Media varies widely from pencil sketches and ink washes, to paint, sculpture, and digital creations. The art may be incorporated directly or photographed for use.

Logo or Logotype: a distinctive design, symbol, or style of type associated with the company name. Specifically, a logo is a symbol or mark and a logotype is an alphabetical configuration. A trademark is a work, symbol, design, slogan or combination thereof that identifies and distinguishes goods and services of one party. A service mark is a related form that signifies the source of the services rather than the goods themselves.

Map or Cartography: a graphic representation of a physical space, usually including notation and a "legend" to facilitate interpretation. Cartography is the creation of a map from actual inspection and/or compiled data which may include previous maps for reference. It includes independent confirmation and data correction, as well as creation of the map. Map design is the art of editing, combining, and restyling existing maps. Some projects require both skills.

Photo Illustration: a photograph staged, manipulated or combined with other elements for the same purpose as a standard illustration.

Website: an electronic "page" or set of "pages" containing text, visual elements, and dynamic links that promote an individual or organization's product, services, and/or philosophies. The files are composed in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and put on electronic display from the proper computer service provider. As this is a "live" promotional media, future expansion and ongoing maintenance may be part of the contracted services.

The Design Process

Research - time spent by the design team locating resources, investigating competing images or laws governing the project, educating the team or client on critical factors. Finding an appropriate font or stock art image can often take hours or even days.

Proposal/Estimate: a detailed analysis of the cost and components for a design project used to come to an agreement or contract before commencing work.

Concept: a design or illustration idea

Design Brief: a document outlining a design project, focusing on the desired results. Will include an over view of the company and the designer, the issues to be solved, risks and possible solutions, possibly the budget and schedule.

Comp: a refined visualization of an idea; a “comprehensive” representation of finished piece used for purposes of discussion. A preliminary representation, often digital. The look of the actual piece may differ. The degree of rendering is referred to as "tight" or "loose." A "rough" comp is usually little more than a sketch used to visualize a design concept. The amount of time and quality of materials used affects both the appearance and cost of the comp. It is common for some comps to "look better' than the finished piece.

Dummy or Mock-up: similar to a comp in that it will show location of proposed elements. A dummy is generally a physical representation to illustrate the look and feel of a printed piece. A mock-up up may be animated to show how the final will behave. Includes for-placement-only Latin text used to mock-up the font, size, color and placement of information in a design project because it is easily discernible as temporary.

Layout: an instruction set or "blueprint" for the actual work to be done. In pre-press work this may be an electronic file with an assemblage of related parts (scanned photos, postscript art, fonts, and other related pieces). In the past an intermediary step referred to as the "Mechanical" or "Camera Ready Paste up" was necessary. This physical expression of the layout process has been eliminated by the digital layout.

Layout Proof: a physical representation of the final piece created for the purpose of checking the elements for errors and omissions. Usually an inexpensive digital print that may or may not be the size of the actual final printed piece. Higher quality digital proofs are available, at considerable cost, that more closely represent the final in size and color. None of these processes is capable of duplicating every aspect of the final unless it is to be done on the same piece of equipment.

Pre-press Proof: a test print run from the actual printing materials. May be done photographically at a reduced charge from the printing film (a "blue line" is one such proof). Once the presses are set up for a run extra charges will be incurred for changes or delays.

Production: the literal work of transforming a concept into a reality. Taking the required photos, creating illustrations and charts, retouching images, and other aspects of the finished piece. Usually requires the creation of a layout, into which all the other elements are combined.

Camera Ready: finished layout, ready for final production

Design and Contract terms

BW = Black & White, light to dark, no gray tones

CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, (Key) Black - reproduction of color by physical printing devices using inks or other pigments. Colors do not mix or generate their own light. Light reflects off the ground behind, through the pigment or off the surface to make it visible. The color you see is because the pigment absorbs all but that color. Paper color and texture affects the color brightness and intensity. A subtractive color space where combining all colors makes black. Pigments may also have unintended chemical reactions that can alter the colors over time.

Collateral - items related to a single identity project; stationary, signage, hand-outs, websites, or any item to which the design is applied.

Color Space - an abstract mathematical model describing the way colors are represented and their relationship to each other. RGB, CMYK, Gray-scale, etc.

Copy - any written text used for design project, from titles to entire stories. For-placement-copy is a block of ancient Latin text used to represent the font, size, color and placement of information in a design project because it is easily discernible as temporary.

Deadline - end time. Time when the project needs to be delivered.

Gray-scale - a range of tones from Black to White

Hue and Value: hue is the correct word to refer to a color in the spectrum. The Primaries (Red, Yellow and Blue) and the Secondaries (Orange, Green and Purple) are Hues. Purple is an equal mixture of Red and Blue. Brown is a mixture of Red, Blue and Yellow.
Value is the relative lightness and darkness (Saturation) of a Hue. Pink is a Light Value (Tint) of Red. Burgundy is a Dark Value (Shade) of Red. Changing the Value can be altered by changing contrast - adding White (light) or Black (reducing the light) or by mixing colors with their opposites on the color wheel. Adding Purple to Yellow will dull the Value (De-saturate) until it reaches Gray. Generally artists will advocate using the opposite color over adding black because the colors it creates are more pleasing.

Moral Rights - derived from the French doctrine of droit moral, creators have the right to recognition as the creator, to profit from and control the use or even the display of their work.

Output - form in which a digital work is distributed.

Range or Scale - the number of individual colors or tones from start to finish. As in 10 step gray-scale meaning white plus 8 graduated shades and black.

Resolution - the number of dots, from a print head, a digital program or an electronic display used to define an image. Usually given as dots per inch (DPI), pixels per inch (PPI) or the pixel dimensions of the image area (1024 pixels x 768 pixels).

RGB = Red, Green, Blue - representation in a digital space based on electronic display technology. An additive color space in which an absence of light is black, the colors are produced by light and combining all colors makes white.

Rights - a bundle of National and International laws/policies governing the use of visual materials, including copyright.

Rough - an unrefined visual idea

Usage - the control, display and distribution of a visual work.

* hardware and software

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Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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