Tips on graphic design

Tips on graphic design

How to make good graphic designs? South China Morning Post Art Director Terry Pontikos gives you 10 tips to get a head-start.


Graphic designers help to communicate ideas through the arrangement of words, pictures, or both. They may use typoghaphy, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce the final result. Here is Terry's advice.

1. Set aside enough time
Plan how long you will need for each stage of the design

2. Get a solid job brief and all the required specifications
Find out as much as possible from the person you are doing the design for (Young Post). The most important detail by far is the deadline for the work. Make sure you have enough time to do a good job. Find out every practical specification required to get the job done. Size, layout, colour system, image quality (the dpi – dots per inch – resolution required in printing reproduction of the artwork) and colour profile of the printer etc. You need to keep all this information handy for reference as any mistake along these lines can cause problems at the end of the job.

3. Research the subject
Good graphic design should contain relevant and valuable information. This goes for visual and text elements. Spend as long as possible on finding interesting material from reliable sources and cross-check facts, spellings, etc with the view of maintaining 100 per cent accuracy. Any piece of artwork will be let down, no matter how good it is visually if, the information is not factual. Whilst researching for visual reference, keep all the images you collect in one location until after the work is printed. You might want to archive any handy or re-usable visual reference in a clippings folder or on your desktop.

4. Search other sources for some ideas
Magazines, art, illustration & design books, movies, newspapers, internet

5. Decide on style(s)
Figure out what kind of formats and techniques you will use to make the image. For example, you might be inspired to use a certain style of drawing. Make sure the style fits that of the publication.

6. Start with composition
Make a few rough sketches of the concept, getting more structured as details and information are added or dropped.

7. Select colour style(s)
Try different colour schemes and combinations until you find the one which suit your project.

8. Provide a first draft
Show the client the work to convey the visual direction you're taking. Make any changes required and seek more opinions.

9. Work at a good pace
Work fast when the artwork is in rough stages and progressively take more time to work on the finer details.

10. Checking
Have your graphic proof-read and checked by a reliable person, then have it checked again. It's always better to have more than one person fact-checking and proof-reading. Sometimes the smallest error can elude several people but be noticed first time by another party. Before you send the graphic away, do a final check that all the information is correct and there are no mistakes in the artwork.


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