To better understand graphic design, it’s best to begin by defining what designers mean when they talk about “graphics.” A “graphic” refers to just about any single visual element in a composition, including illustrations, photographs, logos, symbols, and other visual elements like lines, borders, etc. A “graphic,” in other words, is everything in a composition that isn’t text.
Graphic designers work with both graphics and text to create comprehensive designs. When a graphic designer works on a company logo, for example, they may combine illustrations (like the Starbucks mermaid) with text, circles, stars, and other graphic elements to create a single logo. Graphic designers work with fonts, colours, composition, and layout. A graphic designer places visual elements in relationship to each other, creating a single cohesive design from all the components.
Graphic Design Tools
In the olden days, visual compositions were often done manually by physically cutting and pasting different things together to be copied and printed in an old-fashioned print shop. Today, most graphic design is digital, using tools like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and a host of other image creation, manipulation, and layout tools for digital images.
Areas of Possible Application
To create clarity. Today, the Nike logo is iconic and doesn’t require text, but it wasn’t always that way. Incorporating copy into a graphic can help to make the message very clear.
To create cohesion. Graphic designers choose colours, fonts, size, and scale, and make sure that all the design elements work together.
Ideal for creating brand logos. If you can’t tell by now, graphic design is perfect for creating logos and brand imagery. Whether the logo includes an illustration or not, the graphic designer considers all the visual arts and messaging and pulls it together.
What About Graphic Illustration?
Graphic illustration is an expression of the characteristics of graphic design and illustration in one piece of work. It combines visual elements such as colours, lines, shapes, forms, and layout texts with fine art. When you have both worlds of graphic and illustration combined together in one piece of work, then you can have an illustrated graphic, design illustration, or illustrated graphic design.
A graphic illustrator understands how to use the principles of fine art to paint a stylistic picture while also incorporating other elements that will help to create a connection between users and products or brands.
Graphic Design vs. Illustration: What’s The Difference?
Everyone knows that the best brands are the best visual communicators. Visual communication is how a brand stands out from the pack, builds a unique presence, and remains memorable. Visual branding is all around us, from the Nike swoosh to Mr. Clean, and each one has the power to trigger a memory or evoke an emotion. But did you know that the Nike swoosh and Mr. Clean are actually two very different things? In the art world, one would be considered a “design,” and the other would be an “illustration.”
Graphic design and illustration are both important visual communication methods, and they often involve similar tools and skillsets, so it’s easy to misunderstand the terms. And when we’re talking about new, unique visuals, it can be challenging to describe your idea — let alone know how to categorise it. But a better understanding of the two, and the differences between them, helps you communicate with designers and art directors, so you get the artwork you love faster.