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Graphic Designer Services The Graphic Design Process

So you want to hire a graphic designer? For any clients out there i just want to let you know that every graphic design project is unique. It might sound confusing at first but it is difficult to perfectly predict how the process will unravel. While many projects out there will go through a similar process to reach the final result, the truth is that every project will develop uniquely, and may take varying amounts of time and work to complete. This is a walkthrough of the graphic design process that i used when creating a design for one of my clients. I have outlined the basic steps that i went through and you can take this as an example of the general stages a designer goes through when designing, to end up at a final visual. This can help clients who are wondering about how a graphic designer makes their design and this will also give you an understanding of why clients must pay what they do for graphic design, and also give them an idea of how much work is involved, especially the parts they dont get to see for themselves!

Stage 1: The brief
The first stage of any graphic design project is the brief. The brief outlines in words the purpose of the design, the application type and the ideas that it is supposed to represent. At the beginning of the project the client and the graphic designer must communicate ideas back and forth about the design, so that the designer is well informed about it, and can then start the project and take it in the right direction. You can communicate ideas over the phone, via email, or in person, or you might use all of these methods. All in all, the better that the idea is communicated, and the more information a designer can get about the design and the better the designer can cater for his clients needs. Just remember that information, and lots of it, is the key to a successful design!

Stage 2: Referencing
Its often really helpful for the client to provide some examples of what kind of designs and styles they like at the beginning of the project. Its not a necessity but often this can cut a lot of time from the design process and save them money. Its not really cheating if you are not stealing the design. Good referencing is a way of getting ideas for the project from other successful designs without stealing. A reference should be clear, exhibiting either the colour scheme, style or feel of the desired outcome. It is often a great idea to borrow from other successful designs, because there is nothing better than growing and learning with the help of your competitors. Every design process is unique. You might use a reference, none at all, or maybe even introduce one in the middle of the project. Every design journey is different, and every destination unique. The positive side of using a reference is that you will not have to spend hours creating new ideas, doing layouts and changing the design numerous times before you come across an outcome you are happy with.

Stage 3: Concept visuals
Concept Visuals, or rough concepts are just a very simple representaion of the components of the design. You can do a simple drawing or generate some quick ideas with adobe photoshop or illustrator. I generally like to use what i will be using for the final design, so i have used adobe illustrator and photoshop to create my concepts.
A note for unsatisfied clients: Sometimes when a client is given the concept roughs, they will tend to have second thoughts and become afraid thinking they might have gotten themselves into a dodgey deal. DONT WORRY! Please dont judge the book by its cover and assume that your designer is an amateur and that you are paying for someone who is going to mess up your job! This is just the beginning. The concepts and the roughs are meant to be of a really rought quality! The idea is to get many concepts out on paper in as quick as possible. If you are truly not sure about the person you have hired, at least judge them by looking at the other jobs they have completed for others. If you are seeing that most of their work is of a high quality you just relax and take the process as it comes. Just because the concept roughs dont look amazing, doesnt mean that the end result will not be! I promise that if you are patient untill the end your design your graphic designer will create an amazing piece of art and design into fruition for your company! Its up to you but just be aware that if you decide to go with another designer its an infringement of copyright to take the designs and have them reproduced by someone else. Your new designer will have to start again from scratch.
For clients without a reference: Some clients may not have a reference or a fair idea of what they want the outcome to look like. That is understandable, after all they have hired you, the designer, for a reason, because you are talented at representing ideas visually and know what your doing, right? In this case the designer will probably get to work and produce a variety of concept visual responses to the brief, one of which will be chosen to develop further. Concept visuals can be really simple, such as a few 5 minute line drawings, or some computer generated ones
Often the designer will get straght to work churning out idea after idea for the design. This is usually how it works, as a designer tries to get all of their ideas out and 'on paper.' Afteryou are happy with the amount of satisfactory options you have come up with, send them to be viewed by your client. Its good for the client to have some options when choosing a design especially if they are still at the ideas stage of the process themselves.

Stage X: Revison
I call this stage X because it can happen at any time! While it is more desirable for a revision to happen at the early stages of the project you never really know when it is going to come up. A revision is essentially a change that needs to be made to the project which moves it in another direction or replaces one of the main elements. A designer will ususally offer a certain amount of free revisions before the client will need to start paying to make any more changes.

Stage 4: Rough Visuals
Rough's or rough visuals, are an important part of any project as they help to map out the various elements of the design, and are use to experiment with layout, colour and the rest. In most projects there would normally be a couple of roughs done to show the client. At the end of this stage the client will discuss and choose the most suitable option for them. The designer can then begin to work on the final design. By this stage most of the thinking and conceptual work should be close to resolved and the project should be heading in the right direction.
Creation of a rough image: use a reference, save numerous times, and try to get it to the highest professional standard that you can at this stage. You can use your hand drawings in combination with or simply just use photoshop and illustrator (or whatever other program you are using). Make sure to create a couple of options if possible so that the client can have a browse and choose the one that they like best.
working with text: Use whatever program that suits you. I usually use adobe illustrator and import the text into photoshop for the final blending and style options. Text from illustrator turns out much clearer and professional that when done straight from photoshop. Play around with many fonts and settle down to at least three that you think work best. Make sure that they match the style of the company or design that you are making. And be careful if you are doing some jobs, like a poster, not to use more than 3, sometimes two, different fonts. Work with the fonts and blending options and styles and create a couple of examples for your client to have a look through.
Together: Work with text in conjunction with the image to create a logo that looks 'right,' ie: the colours and styles match, and has an overall unique impact that is aesthetically pleasing to look at and advertises they type of business it is designed for very well.

Stage 5: Final Design
or the final stage of the design, the graphic designer is required have a look and reasses the project as it is so far. Are there any typos? Do the images look as professional as they can? Do the styles match? Do the fonts work? Are the layouts mathematically perfect and everything aligned? Are figures in the right pose or have the right facial expression? Does this truly represent the company as they want to be represented? Will it suit their demographic? And can i do it any better than i have? They must put together all the pieces so far and really take a look to see if anything should be changed or improved. Trust your designers eye for details and intuitions to help you along with this. Then when it is all looking right, you can call it complete! When you present it to the client make sure that you send a low quality/small yet visible file if doing it electronically, if you are unsure about whether you are going to be paid. Not everyone tries to get something for nothing, but you never know. It is wise to protect yourself and get down to settling the contract first. Fill in the final parts of the contract such as final figures and copyright allowances that you were not able to before. Make sure that it is signed and agreed to by both clients, and then you can finish off the deal by giving the client what they hired you for!
At the end of the project the designer will be required to send, via post, or electronically the final version of the project in whatever formats are needed. Usually jpeg and pdf is sufficient, of 300dpi or more quality, of the right size for print or other media, and in cmyk and rgb color versions. Depending on the job the client may want you to seek printing services and send the final product directly to them. In this case you should arrange alternative costs for this process. Make sure that you inform your client of the copyright information that you have asked them to agree to. Most designers will ask for extra payment for licensing copyright ontop of the project, or for giving the client extra rights to the artwork or image. There are usually certain restrictions such as the the type of media it can be used for, amount of prints or time in which it will expire.
I hope that all designers and clients out there will get the best out of their client/designer relationships and that many new projects can blossom from this unique process. It is also important to be prepared in case something goes wrong, and a contract will usually solve many problems. Happy designing!

About Author Elly Klamo :

Written by Elly Klamo - Graphic Designer and IllustratorOwner of My Graphic Design My Illustration

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Article Added on Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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