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Graphic Design 101
Fundamental Design Concepts, Marketing Tips & Photoshop Techniques
Want to Become a Professional Graphic Designer in the Commercial Printing Industry?
You have come to the right place for an overview of some of the most important concepts you need to know! This site provides an abundance of important fundamental concepts that are vital for a beginning graphic designer to understand. There are also design tutorials and some advanced Photoshop techniques as well.
— A treasure house of pages, our Resources section discusses important core foundational concepts vital for a graphic designer to succeed in the commercial printing industry. Not understanding them could cause a new designer embarrassment with a client (at the least), or can cost them time and/or money. Print buyers should also have a basic understanding of these concepts to aid them in communication between their designer as well as their printing company.
— Our Design Tips section contains a collection of some basic do's and dont's of creating attractive and effective marketing design pieces. Particularly geared toward laypersons and amateur designers, our design tips section contains fundamental marketing concepts for those who want to design a logo, booklet, brochure, business card or other marketing material. These tips should help you get you off to a good start.
Photoshop Tutorials — our Tutorials section provides professional Photoshop Training for many situations requiring image repairs or manipulation. Tutorials include damaged photo repair, skin tone correction, color cast removal (white balance correction), simulated camera aperture (depth of field), image reflection and “Hollywood Eyes,” with a focus on Adjustment Layers so the original image remains intact in case you want to revisit your work and fine tune it without having to start from scratch.
Major Designs Concepts Covered
- Monitor Calibration - Your computer monitor may be lying to you… at least as fast as it's color accuracy! Ever shopped for a television and observed various models a store and noticed how much their colors vary? Computer monitors often have significant variations in color as well, even when brand new. Unless you monitor has been color calibrated, it may be best NOT to adjust a photo's color. If your monitor is not color-accurate, changing a photo's color could be damaging an image (it may have already been a well color adjusted as it was). Depending on the level of accuracy needed, monitor calibration can be absolutely free or somewhat expensive.
- Color Accuracy - Understanding of the basics of color accuracy in printing include color gamma and how it relates to ink colors used in commercial printing is important for making color choices. The RGB color space that your monitor uses is quite different than the CMYK and PMS color spaces available in commercial printing, so designs made in RGB are likely to have
- Software - the most professional, dependable and universally used design programs in commercial printing are Adobe products: Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat Professional. There are less expensive design software programs available, such as Microsoft Publisher and Corel Draw, but they are not as well supported nor as trouble-free.
The latest version of Microsoft Published no longer supports CMYK color, a great disappointment and major drawback.
For professional software training, Lynda.com is highly recommended for their outstanding training videos. Their tutorials are a great way to learn the basics of a software program in a short amount of time.
- Vector Graphics - countless logos are made by “professional” designers, many of which are quite talented, in the WRONG program! A logo should always be created in a vector art drawing program — not in Photoshop. An understanding of and ability to create both raster graphics & vector art, and when to use each file format, is crucial to a designer's overall success.
- Typography - for professional presentations, there are traditional typography rules (do's & dont's) and what is considered in “good taste” that should be followed under most circumstances. Following traditional typography methods and avoiding common errors will help your documents to have a much more polished and professional appearance.
- Print-Ready Artwork (camera ready art) - your artwork should be properly prepared before submitting to a commercial printing facility. Receiving artwork that is correct "as is" has always been a difficulty for printing companies. Now that nearly everyone has a computer has only exasperated the problem.
Common errors that cause an art file to NOT be print ready art include:
wrong document size, no bleed, insufficient margin, low image resolution and incorrect color usage.
- Spell Check - use it. This one seems obvious, but is often neglected . . .
A note of warning for those who use Microsoft Publisher: the “default” spell check preference is to ignore spell-checking all cap lettering. You might want to “Uncheck” this default preference.
- PDF Files (the right way) - once your art files are prepared, the best way to submit them to a Commercial Printing Company. PDF Advantages explains WHY they are the best file format to submit for printing, and Making PDF Files explains how to properly make them. Even if you art file has bleed, you must ensure your PDF has also has bleed, and is the highest resolution.
Commercial Printing 101 Pages
In addition to Graphic Design Basics, this site also contains many pages with useful information related to the printing process itself, from printing papers, coatings and inks to ways to fold a piece of paper.
- Envelope Specs - Shows the names and measurements of the most common types of commercial envelopes, and includes a downloadable PDF Commercial Envelopes Reference Guide.
- Foil Stamping & Embossing - provides an overview of foil stamping, blind embossing and foil embossing. What they are, how they are made, and their practical use.
- Folding Methods - there are many ways to fold a brochure. Knowing the proper name of these folds is important when providing specs describe to your printer. All of the folds covered can be machine-folded, so they can be made affordably. Being familiar with the various folding methods is an added advantage when trying to think out of the box and come up with something unique.
- Glossary - printing and graphic design have a large number of “trade terms” that are defined in this glossary.
- Ink Colors - there are two main types of printing inks used in commercial printing: Spot Colors and Process Colors. It is important for a graphic designer, or any print buyer, to know and understand the limitations and differences between the two ink color types.
- Paper Coatings - an understanding of the various paper coatings is important. Paper coatings can both protect your marketing pieces, providing protection against finger printing and scratches, and can also change the sheen of your printing to be more (or less) glossy than they would without a coating.
- Postcard Specs - covers US Postal regulations regarding standard postcards sizes and postage rates.
Need Graphic Design Help?
If your company needs help with graphic design, Summit Printing has professional graphic designers on staff that can help you!
If you have any questions about our services, need a price quote, or want to speak with an expert for some questions about printing or graphic design, please don't hesitate to contact us.
We will be happy to assist you!
Our printing company is available by phone at 800-594-7733, Live Chat or email.