Graphics Design

Graphic Design is art with a purpose. It involves a creative and systematic plan to solve a problem or achieve certain objectives, with the use of images, symbols or even words. It is visual communication and the aesthetic expression of concepts and ideas using various graphic elements and tools.

Desktop publishing software is a tool for graphic designers and non-designers to create visual communications such as brochures, business cards, greeting cards, web pages, posters, and more for professional or desktop printing as well as for online or on-screen electronic publishing.

Programs such as Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Publisher, QuarkXPress, Serif PagePlus, and Scribus are examples of desktop publishing software. Some of these are used by professional graphic designers and commercial printing technicians. Others are used by office workers, teachers, students, small business owners and non-designers.

The term desktop publishing software among professional designers refers primarily to high-end professional page layout software applications including Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress.


The main players in the field are Adobe, Corel, Microsoft, Quark and Serif with products that stick close to the original use of desktop publishing software for professional page layout. Additionally, Microsoft, Nova Development, Broderbund and others have produced consumer or print creativity and home desktop publishing software for many years.

Adobe makes many professional software packages used by designers. You've probably heard of Photoshop and Illustrator, for example. The company's other programs are not page layout software applications for print publishing; they are graphics software, web design software, programs for creating and working with the PDF format, all of which are important adjuncts to the publishing process. Adobe InDesign dominates the field of professional page layout software.

Corel is best known for its graphics suite that includes CorelDRAW and Corel Photo-Paint. In the past it produced creative printing or home publishing programs used for desktop publishing too, but the primary page layout software from Corel is CorelDraw.

Microsoft produces Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and various consumer graphics and creative printing programs used alone or in conjunction with other applications to do some form of desktop publishing. Microsoft's entry into page layout for print is Microsoft Publisher.

Quark has other software, but the one most closely associated with desktop publishing is QuarkXPress and its many XTensions that enhance and expand the basic capabilities of QuarkXPress.

Serif produces a suite of applications for graphics and web design. The core desktop publishing software application is Serif PagePlus.


Electronic Pages

Electronic pages include basic websites, online manuals, guides, books and documents, emails, multimedia presentations, and digital archives. Because these documents are not physically printed, desktop publishing applications allow users to easily create, edit, and modify these documents on a computer before submitting the media to be shared digitally.

Virtual Pages

Virtual pages are created and formatted on a computer but are eventually printed as physical pages. Many newspapers and magazines are first rendered by using desktop publishing programs. Desktop publishers can organize a virtual page and minimize potential errors by viewing documents before they are printed. Many desktop publishers use WYSIWYG applications, which stands for 'What You See Is What You Get.' This type of editing streamlines the publishing process by allowing an accurate preview of documents prior to printing.

Elements of Graphic Design

Graphic design can use image-based designs involving photos, illustrations, logos and symbols, type-based designs, or a combination of both techniques. These designs can include various combinations of the following elements.

Lines: Straight, curved, wavy, thick, thin - when it comes to lines, the possibilities are limitless. Lines allow designers to divide a space or separate content in a layout. They can also be used to guide the eyes of the viewer, or make other elements follow a strategic path for added findability, to get the viewer easily from point A to point B.

Shapes: Shapes offer a variety of ways to fill spaces creatively, to support text and other forms of content, and to balance a design. Shapes can be created out of nothing, using white space to give a design structure and clarity.

Colour: Colour, or the absence of colour, is an important element of any design. With a solid understanding of colour theory, designers can amazingly influence a design and a brand, seamlessly integrating colour boldly or with brilliant subtlety.

Type: Type can transform a message from mere text to a work of art. Different fonts, combined with customized alignments, spacing, size, and colour, can add power to the point you are communicating to the world.

Texture: Even a smooth and glossy advertisement can seem tangible with texture. It gives a sense of a tactile surface through its visual appearance and adds a sense of depth, enhanced by selection of appropriate paper and material.

Tools of Graphic Design

Professional designers possess a creative mind with an artistic inclination, and so much more. Keen observation skills and analytical thinking are essential tools for graphic design, before they dig into their physical tool kit and touch pen to paper or stylus to tablet. Designers employ a variety of methods to combine art and technology to communicate a particular message and create an impressive visual.

Sketchpads: A traditional tool used to sketch out ideas; it is the quickest way to jot down the rough designs, which designers can develop further using other tools and technologies.

Computers: Computers now occupy an essential place in every designer's tool kit. Hardware such as tablets allow designers to expand their creative freedom and maintain that sketchpad feel.

Software: Technology has opened new doors for realizing creative vision. Specialized software such as Illustrator and Photoshop can help to create illustrations, enhance photographs, stylize text, and synergize all of the pieces in incredible layouts.

Graphic Design communicates your brand and message visually with impressive business logos, enchanting brochures, newsletters with impact, and stunning posters.

Careers in Graphic Design

The design industry is exciting, fast-paced and constantly evolving. Every day is different! At Shillington, we use the all-inclusive term “Graphic Designer”, but our graduates also become Visual Designers, UX/UI Designers, Visual Communicators, Creative Directors, Finished Artists and the list goes on and on. Where could you work?

  • Logos and company branding
  • Websites
  • Advertising
  • Book covers and design
  • Promotional materials
  • Packaging
  • Posters
  • Layout of magazines and newspapers
  • Illustrations
  • Greeting cards