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Getting organised in Graphic Design

Getting organised in Graphic Design

If I were to write a list of top tips when designing for printed items, it would look something like this:
Organise
Plan
Think
Assess

Organise

In a studio where a couple of us can be working on the same job, organisation is essential, but I have always organised my files as a time saving exercise.

Firstly, I set up folders for images, text and proofs, then I go through all the images and convert all the ones I am going to use to 300dpi, cmyk, tiffs (habit using tiffs as in older versions of Quark the reports wouldn’t give the dpi or colour breakdown of jpegs or eps). When your job is approved and ready to print having everything organised can make the final process quick and easy.

For larger brochures and catalogues I draw up a flat plan, that way everyone knows what is going where and it’s easier for marking up sections.

QUICK TIP
When setting up folders for images etc, add a reference to the job when naming the folder eg. Images shower brochure. That way when you are using recurring lists it’s easier to pick the right folder.

Checklist of items
Plan

When it comes to websites planning is an integral part of the design stage. Working out the navigation, the number of pages, the content, the overall look and feel. Designers very often go back to using pen and paper to scamp things out before building a design sample.

But what about producing a brochure or catalogue? Well, as a seasoned designer, one thing I’ve discovered is that by spending time planning I can save time on producing the artwork and make life simpler when it comes to amends. The types of items I plan are: automated page numbering, item styles, character styles, paragraph styles and image style.

When I am planning master pages I sometimes find it necessary to set up several, to allow for variations in amount of text, design or even colour coded sections.

QUICK TIP
In Quark and Indesign, you can duplicate master pages by right clicking on the master page icon you want to copy and select duplicate. This way you can keep common elements and change colours or design.

Thinking diagram
Think

Always allow time to think things through before you start. For example, you are working on a portrait A4 brochure, but half way through you need to incorporate a large landscape table. It is worth tackling this element first, to make sure you can make it work, you may need to plan to run it across the centre spread or rearrange the information in a way that will make it work in a portrait format. Don’t wait until you get to it, this comes hand in hand with planning.

QUICK TIP
Don’t be afraid to rearrange text or items so that they make more sense, but never move things round just so they fit better. A document needs to flow and if you break that flow the design will never work.

Eye test chart
Assess

Take a step back and assess your work at regular intervals. Remember you have come up with the design and understand what you are trying to portray, but does anyone else? Get outside opinions, these only need to be brief but they will help you focus.

On large format work, I find it handy to literally get up and view your work from a distance. Posters, banners etc need to be read from a distance, so set your work at full size on screen and step back 4-5ft.

QUICK TIP
When designing menus, print them out and see how you get on reading them under different light conditions. Many restaurants have low level lighting and some colours and font sizes may not be suitable.

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