The Basics of Graphic Design

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Good graphic design can appear almost effortless, whereas bad graphic design... well... bad graphic design is never forgotten. Avoid mistakes and brush up on graphic design fundamentals, color, layout and composition, in raster- and vector- based design.

We are surrounded by design; it exists everywhere we look–we just don't notice most of it. Design can be found on product packaging, book covers, vehicle wraps, smartphones and even those new-fangled argyle sweaters all the youth are wearing.

Whether through print, motion or the web, graphic design is the art of visually communicating ideas or messages. In order to convey a message, a designer must first understand the intent and target audience (PBSoffbook, 2012).

Importance of Visual Communication

Visual storytelling (providing a full narrative of visual content) and information visualization (presenting information in a visual format) are the two main products of visual communication and are critical to the public affairs mission. Visual storytelling differs from information visualization in that it follows a narrative format with a beginning, a middle and an end. In contrast, information visualization presents data to the viewer in a way that helps them understand the information. Charts, diagrams, maps, graphs and infographics are examples of ways to demonstrate information visually. These types of content help people better understand complicated data.

Designers use typography, color, shape, photographs, illustrations and other graphic elements to create messages that grab viewers' attention, causing them to think about the meaning and ensure the message remains in their memories over time. Messages conveyed visually help save time, increase retention, provide clarity, increase understanding and promote consistency (Digicast Productions, 2014).

Foundations of Graphic Design

In order to understand graphic design, you must start with an understanding of the fundamentals. These include the most basic elements and principles of design and how these elements work together to form a composition that effectively communicates your message visually.

Learn more about the fundamentals and elements of graphic design by exploring the resources below.


Digicast Productions. (2014, March 22). The Importance of Visual Communication. Retrieved March 10, 2021, from YouTube.

PBSoffbook. (2012, November 12). The Universal Arts of Graphic Design | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios. Retrieved March 10, 2021, from YouTube.

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