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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-04-2008, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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Graphic design basics?

I'm trying to help my career out by improving my graphic design skills. I use CS3 on a daily basis at work, but primarily for pre-flight work. I'd rate my knowledge of Photoshop at a 5/10, Illustrator a 6/10, InDesign a 4/10, Acrobat a 9/10. So I have a fair foundation of software knowledge. However, I have never had to make layouts on my own. I know that there are fundamental rules to layouts just like photography, but I'm mostly clueless. So I think that's the area I really want to focus. I'm mostly interested in design for print media (posters, brochures, etc).

Does anyone have good resources that will help me out? I've been pretty much trying to look at other works out there and use them as reference points. I'm starting to buy "How" magazine and looking at other graphic design publications... but I want MORE! Books, magazines, websites, whatever.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-04-2008, 02:22 AM
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Re: Graphic design basics?

grids, columns, rules and shortcuts will be your bestfriend
typography is essential for layout...
just like photography, composition and negative/white space is your friend.
got a small collection of Communication Arts magazines dating @20 years old mainly for creative references... currently have subscription for the interactive pieces.
AIGA is also a great resource for students and professionals in the industry...
it also helps out if you know how to sketch/doodle.


Last edited by reguv760; 12-04-2008 at 02:28 AM.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-04-2008, 08:23 AM
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Re: Graphic design basics?

Originally Posted by jay ratkowski View Post
I know that there are fundamental rules to layouts just like photography, but I'm mostly clueless. So I think that's the area I really want to focus. I'm mostly interested in design for print media (posters, brochures, etc).
You should learn Quark, too. I would imagine Indesign is similar, but I've never actually used it. It does depend if you want to work for yourself (then you generally use whichever you like), since if you work for someone else you have to use what they want.

Most of a good layout is from experience than anything else. When I started writing for the university magazine, they had a very by the book kind of layout, which really is surprisingly boring to look at when you just go by the general rules of thumb. When the layout was mostly being done by more art focused people who didn't know the layout rules, it actually ended up looking better because they were more focused on whether or not it looked good then following the rules of thumb the communications people learn in layout courses.

Knowing the rules and conventions is quite helpful, but being able to look at a layout and decide if it looks good or not is also quite important. Sometime violating a couple conventions does look much better, while meticulously following them comes off as rather awful.

It also depends, again, if you work for someone else, they might have certain conventions or style sheets you need to follow. If you work freelance, you need to give the customer what they want. So it does depend what you want to with it.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-09-2008, 03:08 PM
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Re: Graphic design basics?

Originally Posted by Matheau View Post
You should learn Quark, too. I would imagine Indesign is similar, but I've never actually used it.
No point if he's already using InDesign, which is a much more efficient program. Also Quark lost the race as the industry standard a few years ago, ID really has proven itself to be the much more efficient tool while at times Quark can be quite cumbersome.

I would say pick up a short subscription to Design Weekly and EYE. There are rarely "How to" articles but give all the design analysis articles a read to pick up an idea of the dos and don'ts. Take a visit to the following websites and read through the articles there, they'll be a great help to you,

Start with smash and work your way up, smash has some very useful how to articles, even dealing with the basics. If you still feel lost, head to your nearest Borders or Waterstones and look in the arts section for any introductory books to Graphic Design.

Some final points;

ALWAYS plan everything out. Even if you don't have competent drawing skills you should plan everything out with rough sketches. Its much better to get a design planned out and with a final idea before you start work on it and find you need to change half of it once finished.

The rules do not always have to be followed. David Carson made his career by just going off what looked right to him. The man didn't even have an education in Graphic Design and became one of the most respected designers in the 80's and early 90's, not because he ignored the "rules" but because he didn't even know of any rules to follow. So don't get too caught up in them, just think of them as some helpful guid lines. Keep mind there are a few that should be followed to the letter, but you'll pick those out easily, since following them is mostly common sense.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-09-2008, 03:27 PM
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Re: Graphic design basics?

I remember one of the first classes I had in Graphic Design College was all about the fundamentals of color and their relationship to one another (i.e. color wheels etc)

I remember using quark back in the day, I think all we used it for was to standardize printing sizes and such.
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