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The term graphic design can refer to a number of artistic and professional disciplines which focus on visual communication and presentation. Various methods are used to create and combine symbols, images and/or words to create a visual representation of ideas and messages. A graphic designer may use typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce the final result. Graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created and the products (designs) which are generated.

Common uses of graphic design include magazines, advertisements, product packaging and web design. For example, a product package might include a logo or other artwork, organized text and pure design elements such as shapes and color which unify the piece. Composition is one of the most important features of graphic design especially when using pre-existing materials or diverse elements.

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Applications: From road signs to technical schematics, from interoffice memorandums to reference manuals, graphic design enhances transfer of knowledge. Readability is enhanced by improving the visual presentation of text.

Design can also aid in selling a product or idea through effective visual communication. It is applied to products and elements of company identity like logos, colors, and text. Together these are defined as branding. Branding has increasingly become important in the range of services offered by many graphic designers, alongside corporate identity, and the terms are often used interchangeably.

Textbooks are designed to present subjects such as geography, science, and math. These publications have layouts which illustrate theories and diagrams. A common example of graphics in use to educate is diagrams of human anatomy. Graphic design is also applied to layout and formatting of educational material to make the information more accessible and more readily understandable.

Graphic design is applied in the entertainment industry in decoration, scenery, and visual story telling. Other examples of design for entertainment purposes include novels, comic books, opening credits and closing credits in film, and programs and props on stage.

From scientific journals to news reporting, the presentation of opinion and facts is often improved with graphics and thoughtful compositions of visual information - known as information design. Newspapers, magazines, blogs, television and film documentaries may use graphic design to inform and entertain. With the advent of the web, information designers with experience in interactive tools such as Adobe Flash are increasingly being used to illustrate the background to news stories.

Skills:
A graphic design project may involve the stylization and presentation of existing text and either preexisting imagery or images developed by the graphic designer. For example, a newspaper story begins with the journalists and photojournalists and then becomes the graphic designer's job to organize the page into a reasonable layout and determine if any other graphic elements should be required. In a magazine article or advertisement, often the graphic designer or art director will commission photographers or illustrators to create original pieces just to be incorporated into the design layout. Contemporary design practice has been extended to the modern computer, for example in the use of WYSIWYG user interfaces, often referred to as interactive design, or multimedia design.

Creative Process: Computers enhance the creative process of graphic design. Rapid production from the computer allows designers to explore multiple ideas quickly with more detail than what could be achieved by traditional hand-rendering or paste-up on paper, moving the designer through the creative process more quickly. However, being faced with limitless choices does not help isolate the best design solution and can lead to designers endlessly searching and redigning without a clear finished outcome.

A graphic designer may use sketches to explore multiple or complex ideas quickly without the potential distractions of technical difficulties from software malfunctions or learning the software. Hand rendered comps are often used to get approval of an idea execution before investing time to produce finished visuals on a computer or in paste-up. The same thumbnail sketches or rough drafts on paper may be used to rapidly refine and produce the idea on the computer in a hybrid process. This hybrid process is especially useful in logo design where a software learning curve may detract from a creative thought process. The traditional-design/computer-production hybrid process may be used for freeing one's creativity in page layout or image development as well. Traditional graphic designers may employ computer-savvy production artists to produce their ideas from sketches, without needing to learn the computer skills themselves. However, this practice is less utilized since the advent of desktop publishing and its integration with most graphic design courses.


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