February 7


5 Tips for Great Graphic Design

By Mark Rowan

February 7, 2012

Adobe, CMYK, fonts, Graphic Design, Illustrator, InDesign, Quark Express, raster, Rocky Mountains, White Space

Oooooh, so pretty!

Everyone wants their logos, brochures, flyers, etc. to not only have the right information but also to be eye-catching. Let’s face it the Rocky Mountain National Park gets a lot more visitors than the local cesspool. People are drawn to things that are designed well. So the challenge is to take that blank computer screen and create a design that speaks to people just as much as the words on the page. Without further ado, here are 5 tips for great graphic design directly from Hackworth’s Color Department.

    1. Don’t use a screwdriver to hammer a nail. Use the correct tools for the job. If you are designing a brochure, do not lay it out in Microsoft PowerPoint. PowerPoint has it’s place as a presentation software, but if you want your printed material to present well you are better served using Quark Express or Adobe’s InDesign or Illustrator. Also, if you design much you will want to make sure you have a computer that can handle multitasking abilities. Waiting 10 minutes while your file saves is no way to insure a quick turn-around time.


    1. Those acronyms do matter. When saving a file that you are designing you often will see an option to save as CMYK or RGB file. If you are designing for print you will need CMYK. As our Graphic Designer Krissy Kotvas said, “It is the ink language that printers understand.” Make sure you are speaking the same language so that you get the end product that you pictured in your mind. Printers cannot read your mind … yet. When designing for the web, use RGB as that is what the web is optimized for.


    1. No more than 3 fonts, please. Visually, a reader can easily be distracted when they encounter a design that is using too many fonts. The last thing you want is for your reader to be assailed by a cornucopia of fonts that leads them to discard your collateral. You want them to focus on the overall message of your design and eventually take action. Make your design fontastic not funktastic.


    1. White space is your friend. White space is the helpful space that you leave between design elements. A good design is not too crowded and allows for visual clarity. When the design elements are too close together it can make the information hard to process. Leave room for the images, graphics and text to breathe so that your message is easy and painless to understand.


  1. Check your settings. If you are using effects in your document, make sure they are set properly so that the output is the one you desire. For instance, when using raster effects for printing make sure that resolution is set at medium to high. A low setting will cause pixelation in the printed file and generally makes for a cruddy looking graphic. Nobody wants that.

These tips are a great place to start when you are designing materials for your business, organization or for your missing cat. Thanks to Christie, Blythe and Krissy in the Color Department for their input. If you have any more questions about design or color printing give them at call at 757.545.7675.

Mark Rowan

About the author

In 1991, Hackworth opened its doors as a blue printer in Chesapeake, VA. Under the direction of Dorothy and Charlie Hackworth and their son Charles, the business is now a full-fledged graphics, printing and technology company serving the Mid-Atlantic.

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