How to Produce a Layout in Graphic Design

How To 2 min
Review these steps to develop a successful layout.

Layout is a significant part of graphic design. A layout is the way design elements are arranged on a page. The design progresses through different stages during development - a designer uses thumbnail sketches, rough layouts and comprehensives during the design process -  from the development of an idea to producing a final product. The product idea evolves with the designer's creativity and the client's input. Effectively using these stages in layout production can help you produce the best, most effective designs to communicate the intended theme and message. This process should be used in any design, such as logos, social media products, web designs, signage, newsletters, brochures, infographics, etc.

Use this process to develop a successful design product.

Thumbnail sketches are rough sketches that get your ideas on paper in different arrangements.

  • Sketch your design ideas quickly.
  • Put down as many as possible.
  • Don't discard any ideas -  sometimes the best ideas are a combination of ideas.
  • Thumbnails are much smaller than the final product size, but should be in general proportion to the finished size.
  • The whole point of these sketches is to generate visually appealing ideas. Text is only a placeholder, so it does not need to be legible.

A rough sketch should carve out space for all the details you'll want to include in your final drawing, but is mostly made up of placeholders. Photo by DINFOS PAVILION
A rough layout sketch of a future campaign
A rough sketch should carve out space for all the details you'll want to include in your final drawing, but is mostly made up of placeholders.
Photo by: DINFOS PAVILION
VIRIN: 200624-D-ZW071-0003

Rough layouts, also called roughs, are black and white sketches that present a more accurate visual of the proposed design.

Get feedback and direction from the customer before going to the next step.

  • Roughs come from the best thumbnail ideas - sometimes they are a combination of the elements in several thumbnails.
  • Sketch roughs in full detail, but without the color. The idea should not depend on color to communicate the message.
  • Refine the elements of the composition. Decide details such as font, type size, style and other information.
  • Repeat the process until a design idea has been selected and approved. Then proceed to the next step.
  • Roughs are worked up in the same proportion and about half the size as the finished product.

The final rough sketch comes from the best ideas and may contain elements from several thumbnails. Photo by DINFOS PAVILION
An example of a rough sketch for a military health campaign
The final rough sketch comes from the best ideas and may contain elements from several thumbnails.
Photo by: DINFOS PAVILION
VIRIN: 200624-D-ZW071-0001

The comprehensive layout, also called a comp, is a prototype of the final layout.

  • Shows how the final product will look when it is finished.
  • Includes all details: specific colors, images/art, as well as display and body type.
  • Sketches of images and artwork are replaced by the actual files.
  • At this stage, any changes are usually very minor before the design is finally approved.

The final design is a comprehensive layout and incorporates the most-up-to-date feedback . Sketches and placeholders have been replaced with final images and copy. Photo by DINFOS PAVILION
A layout comp example of a military health campaign
The final design is a comprehensive layout and incorporates the most-up-to-date feedback . Sketches and placeholders have been replaced with final images and copy.
Photo by: DINFOS PAVILION
VIRIN: 200624-D-ZW071-0002