When you hear the word graphic design, the first thing that comes to mind is the beautiful digital art we see all around us. But in essence, graphic design is much more. The various types of graphic design are modes of communication.
It might seem odd to call the art of graphic design a mode of communication, but it is true nevertheless. As a visual mode of communication, the different kinds of graphic design help by embodying and portraying your message to your consumers in a pleasing and attention-grabbing manner.
Moreover, it is very versatile. Using a mix of images, abstract symbols, and even typography displays your brand’s message through a physical or digital medium and enhances your brand’s visibility.
Although graphic design comes in various flavors, there are a few essential elements common to them, which help them portray their intent and message. Each type of graphic design has its purpose, but to fulfill its meaning correctly. No matter how well a design looks visually, it is considered a failure if viewers cannot understand its intended purpose.
According to Social Media Examiner, 4 out of 5 marketers use some sort of graphic design to enhance the visual impact of their social media marketing strategies. That is why you need to ensure that the graphic design agency you hire understands the needs and the direction of your marketing strategy.
The element of balance refers to the distribution and arrangement of the various components of a graphic design. In both digital and physical printing, the design’s placement and overall cohesive nature are crucial.
Moreover, balance doesn’t only mean to have symmetry between the arrangement of elements onto the canvas. Asymmetrical designs have proven far more capable of grabbing attention by emphasizing specific visual aspects of your design.
However, asymmetry is only attractive when done correctly, which is a struggle in itself. Therefore, choose the kind of visual balance that is easy to produce consistently.
Hierarchy in graphic design refers to the arrangement of elements on canvas to make the order of priority apparent. This design element is necessary to give your graphics a sense of direction and order. That is especially necessary when you want to make sure the viewer follows the pre-ordained order of visual elements present on your design canvas.
That helps your viewers understand the message you wanted to be portrayed and how you expect to show it. It allows the user’s eyes to flow from one visual element to the other in the intended order, helping the viewer understand the message clearly.
The alignment of the visual elements in different types of graphic design affects how people perceive the desired message and interpret it correctly. Optimizing the alignment aims to allow for better readability and scanning, ensuring better visual retention.
A way to do that is to understand how people view the page and find out what it is about a design element’s placement that makes it easy to retain details at a quick glance. That is why many designers often use grids to align the various visual components to produce a cohesive design on canvas.
Certain design elements have a better impact when used repeatedly. Moreover, they can connect the disparate visual elements of a design to unify and enhance the intended message.
It is a well-known fact that repetition is a great way to ensure better memorability. Additionally, by repeating certain elements, we can boost the impact of the message. That is made possible by embodying a sense of consistency within your brand identity as people start to associate that element with your business brand.
Contrast is a great design technique to bring some aspects into focus organically. By creating a play between visually distinct design elements, such as light pastels over bright colors or a combination of thick and thin lines, a designer can subtly draw a viewer’s attention to specific sections or elements of the overall design.
The line between tasteful contrast and overt design clashes is excellent. Therefore, designers have to be careful to limit their use of differentiation to prevent going overboard and ruining the impact of the finished graphic design.
Creating various designs and graphics meant to convey a message – or graphic design, in essence, has been around for centuries. From the cave painting of prehistoric times depicting the stories of meaningful events to the intricate Egyptian hieroglyphs and tomb art, graphic design has been with us since man learned to communicate.
According to the Interaction Design Foundation, the earliest example of proper graphic design comes from cave drawings dated nearly 36,000 years ago. Over the years, this art was improved by the addition of new techniques and trends, and it was in 1920 that the print industry coined the term “graphic design”.
As the years passed, designers have gotten access to modern and more sophisticated tools which have helped them create truly breathtaking graphics. The popular Adobe suite of graphic design tools has been in use since the late 20th century.
Since that time, the designers who keep themselves up to date on new trends, techniques, and technologies have seen their business grow exponentially. And that is true regardless of the types of graphic design they pursue.
All types of graphic design niches use the visual medium to produce content that communicates the intended ideas. A graphic designer can portray any message they desire through a mix of typography, images, colors, and the arrangement of the elements onto a single canvas.
Some aspects of the various graphic design types are common to all styles. Others are specific to each specific graphic design subtype. And that is why you see many designers who specialize in creating multiple if similar design types.
While many other types of graphic design skills are found nowadays, the thirteen listed below are the most popular ones that have spawned the other specialized graphic design skills.
Whether a small individual proprietor or a large company, each brand has its own voice – a unique message they want its customers to know. Once they see the story they want to tell their consumers; it comes time to bring those stories to life.
A graphic designer gives those stories a voice of their own and helps them convert customers to boost their business. These graphics wizards work with the brand owners to develop a brand identity from scratch. They portray the brand story to relate to their consumers.
Using a mixture of shapes, colors, typography, and imagery to create a visual identity for the brands, a designer can develop various brand identity assets. Suppose an athletics company hires a graphic designer to help them develop their visual identity. A designer might use some suitable sports fonts and design aesthetics to create various branding items.
Those articles include logos, business cards, letterheads, color palettes, and in some cases, even custom typography. This type of graphic design requires a working knowledge of most other styles to create a cohesive brand identity across various media channels.
Marketing and advertising have been a part of our lives for generations. We see marketing in action worldwide, from billboards and magazine ads to ads on radio, television, and even the internet.
But advertisement is just one part of a brand’s marketing strategy. As one of the more popular types of graphic design, the process behind how to target customers and get as many of them to patronize your business is the work of marketing.
Marketing designers work hard to create graphics that entice and attract people into buying a product or service. By mapping out and incorporating the design elements that relate to the product and the consumers, they create a visually persuasive advertisement to boost its visibility.
Generally, companies hire external marketing designers whenever they need a new advertisement. But as companies move towards a more dynamic marketing approach, the trend is changing in favor of in-house marketing design teams.
User Interface design is a high-demand design niche nowadays. The UI is what allows users or consumers to interact with and use a device or an app. The purpose of hiring a UI designer is to create intuitive user interfaces, making the product easy to use for the users.
While UI is a mix of multiple elements, it refers to creating an excellent visual experience for the user in terms of design. Arranging the buttons, menus, interactions, and more in a way that is both aesthetically appealing and simple to use is the UI design job.
Or put simply, UI design is the art of balancing visual aesthetics and functionality to provide a cohesive and exciting user experience. These designers are experts in creating interfaces for desktop apps, mobile and web apps, even video games.
This job requires working together with UX developers who focus on the functionality aspect of the app and the UI developers who write the code bringing their designs to life.
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Also known as editorial design, this is one of the oldest types of graphic design that deals with the images used for books and magazines. These designers create layouts for the content and design the covers and the graphics for these publications, ensuring that the illustrations complement the author’s message.
With the rise of internet publishing, the job of these designers has become more challenging. Today, these designers need to create multiple layouts for the same publication, one for the physical print and the other for the digital version.
Publishing designers usually work together with editors, writers, and publishers, elevating the content with beautiful graphics. Working knowledge of the printing and publishing business is required and color theory to succeed in this business.
Besides advertisements, product packaging is one of the most visible articles of a brand. A well-designed package will set you apart even in the most competitive market and increase your product’s viability.
A part of a company’s branding strategy, product packaging can attract new customers to the brand. Often, companies find that changing the packaging works far better to increase your sales than initiating an entire rebranding of the business.
In 2017, the American frozen TV-dinner producer Lean Cuisine proved that packaging plays a huge role in a brand’s popularity. They achieved a $58 million increase in sales the first year after changing the packaging of their products. This feat earned them the 2017 grand prize at the Nielsen Design Impact Awards.
Packaging designers are generally of two types. They might be a jack-of-all-trades who designs various products like bottles and cans or packing boxes. Or they might be specific to an industry, such as sporting goods or cosmetics. One of the most conceptual design jobs requires a working knowledge of print, industrial design, and branding.
Generally, graphics are static. But a relatively recent new design job has started rising in popularity, called motion graphics. As the name suggests, it brings the designed graphics to life. It is also the cause of one of the biggest debates in the design world, namely motion graphics vs. animation.
Converting static graphics into dynamic motion graphics requires that the designer add a mix of animations, audio tracks, fonts, and various other effects more commonly used in television and film media.
The improvement in network and device technology has raised the popularity of this medium, crowning videos the king of content. A motion graphics designer has skills popular in the film and television media. Still, the advancement of technology has helped make it cheap and available widely.
Today, we can see various examples of motion graphics in our daily lives found on most digital platforms. Many companies prefer using this type of graphic design over static pictures for their marketing-related posts.
Environmental design works to make the places people visit more memorable through art. It is also used to make the space exciting and easier to navigate, thus improving its experience.
One of the most versatile types of graphic design, it ranges from informative to completely informal and artistically free. Murals, museum exhibits, store interiors, and many similar design elements are covered under this type of graphic design.
A specific environmental design style is called wayfinding, which combines strategic imagery, landmarks, and visual prompts to guide people in or around a venue easily.
This type of design requires a good knowledge of architecture and interior design and graphic design skills. It also requires someone who can conceptualize and understand architectural plans to design the necessary graphics.
Many people believe that graphic design and illustration are the same. However, they are vastly different. The task of a visual art creator is to conceptualize graphics that communicate a message to its viewers. On the other hand, illustrators are the one who creates original art.
This original art can take any form, from fine art to interior decoration pieces, even visual stories. While purists may believe that illustrations are not a type of graphic design, the amount of original artwork and illustrations prove them wrong.
They are popular with marketing and branding teams, from original graphic art for video game promotions or digital or print publishing illustrations. Nowadays, they are used to help a company’s products stand out.
Vehicle wraps are a popular source of advertising using vehicles. Besides digital marketing, it is one of the most economical methods of advertising a business’s product or services.
These wraps are sheets of heat-sensitive vinyl stuck on top of a vehicle’s original paintwork. They allow the advertisement to be changed quickly and easily without having to repaint the car repeatedly.
Created as a way to bring your offerings to a broader audience, these bright and eye-catching wraps are designed to be attention-grabbing and memorable. Using the right mix of imagery, typography, and colors is very important when creating a vehicle wrap or a decal.
One of the modern types of graphic design, an essential skill in this field is the art of knowing where to place each element to maximize its impact on the viewer. And without overshadowing the overall design too.
Customized t-shirts are pretty popular nowadays. The demand for these printed apparel has gone skyrocketing since the popularity of memes. Many people desire to own an item of clothes with their favorite meme or quote printed on it.
Even without the popularity of memes, the printed apparel business has been going strong for decades. People like to order commemorative or promotional items of clothing for their families or places of business or even as gifts to someone.
Many local sports leagues and teams also desire custom-designed and printed articles of clothing to build a sense of camaraderie and create a brand identity. That is why apparel designers are usually freelancers hired on a project-by-project basis. The rest of them work for big design or apparel production houses.
These types of graphic design projects require a thorough understanding of various fabrics and working knowledge of color theory.
Typeface designers or font designers create fonts for public or private use. Each style of lettering can have several variations through weight, height, etc. For example, a font can have multiple types, including bold, italic, condensed, light, and even more.
To the layperson, typographic characters may seem simple or a low-priority graphic element. But a good font is essential to a great design. Well-designed typography can help bring the characteristics of a project together into a cohesive whole.
The art of designing and using the proper typography and font for each specific use can be technical. The help of an experienced typography designer comes in handy here.
Just like product packaging, labels are also crucial in helping a product stand out. A well-designed product label requires a high level of expertise to fit the necessary knowledge within a small canvas easily.
A good label is punchy and eye-catching, with just the necessary information present. Any additional information or designs will clutter and dilute the essence of the brand, making it useless.
Essentially, a label has the same task as your product’s packaging material. The only difference is the canvas size, making it very important to create a simple yet attractive design that promotes your offering correctly.
We have talked about static and dynamic graphic design. But a complimentary design type is that of 3-dimensional design or 3D design. With better hardware now available to everyday people, 3D graphic design is becoming more and more popular in various situations.
This type of design is highly technical and requires a lot of conceptual expertise. 3D graphics are a magnitude of complexity higher than 2D design, from modeling to lighting textures and effects.
3D graphic design requires you to know about fundamental physics in addition to design skills. Techniques like ray tracing to model a 3D character requires long hours of painstaking work, and the higher your skill in the method, the easier it will be to create.