Daily inspiration for graphic designers

From time to time any graphic designer or creative guru needs to take stock, relax and look for inspiration. Staring at a screen hour after hour takes its toll I have put together some refreshing inspiration to help us designers. All of the below images have been taken off deviantart so please check there for artist details, I have found these to aid inspiration.

family_1280h_by_thensir-d824tnz

scarey but different

great colour palette

Great painting, shading

advertising

The TOP 5 fundamentals of graphic design

fundamentals of graphic design

1.    Colour
 – Basic knowledge of the theory of colour is very useful in graphic design.
 To fully understand the colour theory I have compiled a basic run down below.
RGB – red, green & blue, 
CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow & Key (black)

If you can recall your human biology lessons in school if you weren’t half asleep like me at the back of the class chewing your biro. Your eyes contain two receptors rods and cones.
Cones allow the brain to see colour whereas Rods convey shades of grey.

Cones come in three flavours – One for oranges, second for green and third for blue/violets.
Enough of science lesson lets head to the colours.

PRIMARY – main colours cannot make others
SECONDARY – when mixing two primary
TERTIARY – mix primary and secondary together
COMPLEMENTARY – complete opposite ends of the colour wheel

ANALOGOUS – colours close together on the colour wheel.

What are PANTONE COLOURS?
I struggled to understand why and what is a Pantone until I landed my first job in a print graphic design studio. A Pantone is an industry recognised colour, given a specific number from the Pantone booklet swatches (don’t come cheap but required). A print house or design can add a pantone specific number to any given colour and the print house will know the exact mix to use to produce this colour. It is the most accurate colour chart available. Comes in two flavours coated for glossy and coated papers, un-coated for matt paper.

 2.    SCALE – an important aspect of any graphic design project, sizing content in proportion is important making any type, graphics or imagery are all scaled together in proportion.
If you are designing a billboard banner this will be viewed far away, graphics and headlines need to be much larger in order to achieve the right balance. A small flyer or business card would obviously need a much smaller scale, headlines need to be in proportion with the other design elements.

 3.    TYPOGRAPHY – typefaces play a huge role in any graphic design piece, think of the fonts as the characters in a film. The lead character being the main font and actors other typefaces. General rule is no more then three typefaces unless it has been made an absolute from a client for a specific reason. Type is important for a corporate style or ID, it helps make the design consistent across the board. Type is defined through each style and characteristics to convey a specific message for the brand.

 4.    PRINT OUTPUT FILES – this one frustrates me, the amount of times I have worked with designers who have no idea what a trim mark is or dpi. Working in digital it is important to ensure that your artwork is in the correct format. Imagery needs to be in the correct resolution and to scale. Images for print should be 300dpi (dots per inch) minimum, website images are 72dpi which is ok for screen viewing. If you were to try and print 72dpi images they would appear very blurry or pixelated.

 5.    THREE AND ONLY THREE – we discussed typography above and only using 3 fonts, this is termed the rule of three in graphic design. Keeping to this rule your design will look professional, clean and precise. If you were reading a book and the fonts kept changing it would be confusing for the reader let alone messy visually. The rule of three applies to colours as well, so remember three typefaces and three main colours will make your design less distracting and complicated.

Todays inspiration – responsive websites

Mobiles & tablet devices account for over 20% of website searches, this is growing month on month.
Without a responsive visitors could get frustrated trying to zoom in and out eventually leaving and never to return. Responsive website design is the next generation for website design, over the next 5 years devices could account for 50% of searches.

Have you missed out on the buzz of responsive design, read more
Responsive design has been around for the last few years, it has however started to become more mainstream over the past year with big companies getting on board designing websites that look great on desktop or mobiles. A responsive site will not only look great on all platforms, it is future proof. Google will be happier with your site if it is responsive, so get ahead of your competitors, go responsive…

Below I have gathered some great inspiration for responsive design, if you have some to share send them over or comment and I will add these to the list.

Picture 5

 

Picture 2

 

Scott sports responsive website design

Picture 3

Picture 4

Great website design tips to improve your website

website design tipsI have been working in website design and the graphic design industry since leaving school With the years of building sites and providing SEO service to clients I have some great knowledge about what could improve your own websites, partly due to making the mistakes myself and learning. The list below isn’t a magic wand but what it does provide is very simple tips to help your sites give customers a great website and find what they are looking for.

1. Content – This first tip is by far one of the most important aspects of being successful online today. Google just loves compelling and unique content. If you can’t write it yourself employ an article writer. When visitors find your site and get the correct information from it they return. To get higher in Google searches don’t copy other sites content write it yourself, duplicated copy will only get your site penalised by searches and prepare to see your ranking drop… Alot!
2. Navigation – Apart from the overall website design, navigation is extremely important. You have 3-4 seconds to get your customers to where they need to be. Provide navigation on every page in a prominent position. Try to avoid long navigation drop down menus to annoy customers. Keep your products within categories, I found that also adding a search bar above the main menu will give visitors a chance to quickly search for the page or product. This is vital if you are running a retail store.
3. Pop-ups – I made this mistake offering customers a discount if they sign up to my newsletter. Unfortunately it annoys visitors. If you have a retail store leave the pop-ups behind, if customers want to sign-up to your newsletter provide a form on your home pages an automatic pop-up annoys visitors to the point of not returning unfortunately.
4. Responsive design – Mobile and iPad are huge, when I analyse some of my sites statistics almost 40% are viewed via a mobile browser on iPhone and android. Having a responsive website design (scalable to mobile) will provide visitors with a perfect screen view whatever the browser. Although this is no. 4 on my tips, all of the above are level in importance. If you use WordPress CMS there are plenty of free responsive boiler plates, one good one I use is called bones, this provides me with a cleaned up CSS version totally responsive and ready to get creative with the CSS.
5. Page load – Compress your images and graphics, Photoshop will enable you to scrunch down your images. This isn’t as important as it once was due to the speed of broadband today. However if you run a retail site it would soon become a lot slower in page load the more product images you upload. A good GZIP compression is the best option for Magento built sites, WordPress has lots of plugins, pretty sure a developer has already coded one as I write this.
6. Fonts – Make your body text font size minimum 12px, don’t force your visitors to squint reading the text. The text is your information, make it legible and easy to read. Check your spelling to save any embarrassment, it will look more professional.
7. Be contactable – Provide telephone and email address details on every page, usually at the top right. Give your customers the same information on the footer and on a main contact page accessible via the navigation menu.
8. SEO Meta description – SEO meta description tags should be unique for every page. Give a brief synopsis  of the page with the company name. Same for page-titles, unique for ever page (example – contact us / company name).

I hope these tips help you on your projects, if you need some further help I am always available via my blog or email. I currently work as a website and graphic designer based in Loughborough, Leicestershire.

What is graphic design?

Creative graphic design - LoughboroughComing from a graphic design background, I can appreciate what is involved in graphic design. It is certainly not just about putting text and pretty pictures together on a blank canvas and it all falls into place.
Graphic design is an art with a goal at the end, the main goal is to effectively communicate your message using words and pictures. There are various career paths a graphic designer can follow, most opting for graphic design roles, website design or even Illustrators.

To be a good graphic designer takes time, experience and a good head for being creative.

So what are the fundamental elements of graphic design

1. SPACE – a very important aspect of design, the space between elements can make positive space or negative, these need to be considered n nay design piece.

2. PROXIMITY – Connecting elements on a piece together creates focal point in any design.

3. REPETITION – Bringing elements together in repetition creates a strong brand feel, it creates a rhythm to your piece.

4. CONTRAST – Use opposite colours on the colour chart to create a contrast in your design. We all understand the saying, opposites attract.

5. ALIGNMENT – Not ever piece needs to be centered, creating an order by aligning elements creates a connection.

6. BALANCE – Creating balance allows the design to be more structured. It refers to the distribution of weight in the design.

What are the tools required to do graphic design?

SOFTWARE – Adobe Creative suite is far the best professional software a designer needs, It has Illustrator, Indesign, Photoshop, enough to keep any designer happy.
SKETCH PAD - Some may say a tool of the old era, I find a sketch pad is a quick method to get ideas down before diving into to computer software straightaway.
COMPUTERS – Apple macs are the top piece of equipment any creative designer requires, macs have always been the favourite because of the OSX operating system. PC windows will provide just the tool if you prefer a windows environment.

IN CONCLUSION
A graphic designer can turn any brief into a digital masterpiece, brochures, stationary and visually stunning business logos will turn a businesses marketing dreams in a reality.

Why does your business need a Corporate Identity?

graphic design-corporate identityThis is a question I get asked on a weekly basis, I say weekly because Corporate ID are usually the requirement of a large business. Sorry this is false and any business that thinks they don’t require a basic corporate identity is misinformed.

The main concept for a corporate identity is to establish your businesses personality, similar to how our personalities differ a business is no different from us.

No business is the same, an identity gives you this personality, it tells businesses and customers what your company is about, your USP’s and your brand. If you currently don’t have a corporate identity, look at how you communications are visually. Step outside your box, look at the business from the outside. Is the marketing literature following a certain style or inconsistent. An identity will build this consistency, any one person or employee understands the identity, fonts, imagery and the visual layout concepts your brand wants to portray as it’s own personality.

How do you create a corporate ID?
A professional graphic designer can help you achieve a strong professional brand, a good designer would make your logo consistence in its use across communications, letterheads, stationery and brochures. You don’t need a 50 page brochure like big businesses, a small corporate ID can work just as well giving the information about the logo, fonts and overall business personality. Without a corporate identity your business could loose out to it’s competitors.

The important sections of a corporate ID?
To establish a good strong identity for you business follow these guides below.

Build the personality – First impressions count, whether it is a product or service your logo needs to be strong, professional and have it’s own style that customers or businesses can remember. A good logo/brand gives the business a professional look. Communications need to look pleasing and visually unique.

Customer loyalty – Being consistent is key building customer loyalty, customers develop a loyalty for businesses they can trust. Depending on the businesses it’s objectives, visions, principles and goals are all developed to produce a company to do business with.

Business rewards – A corporate identity improves repeat business, a  strong positive identity provides the consumers with a positive attitude towards the business encouraging repeated business and referrals.

Developing a good identity will stand it’s test in time, creating connections with your customer base, it really is the best investment a business can have big or small.

Hide your magento dev site

Magento eCommerceI have been building a rather large Magento site and once it had gone live’ to save any major problems with new plugin installs and modifications or working on a live site,  I set up a clone copy of the site. If your Magento is large then you don’t have to include all the products, for example mine has around 600 products to clone this into a dev area would take up quite a large chunk of drive space so shrink the products down in your dev area or import and delete a large chunk of products.

To hide your site you need to login to the admin backend and click on Configuration -> Design -> HTML Head and set the Default Robots option to ‘NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW’. This will block your dev site url from being indexed by Google bots and also avoids the dredded seo duplicate content problems. Hope this helps…

Great inspiration mags for graphic designers

I am always on the hunt for good solid graphic design magazines for inspiration, personally i prefer to hold a printed copy but there is no short of good reading material that is available online.

graphic design magazine layersNew graphic design magazine

Digital painting magazine    Graphic design - ICON HANDBOOK