Join Kristin Ellison for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing the right tools, part of Getting Started in Graphic Design.
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Before desktop publishing, designers relied on handcrafted techniques like drawing, illustration and paste up. While computers have dramatically changed the way we work, some things have remained the same. Drawing and illustration skills are just as important today as they were in the past. Once you get your idea down on paper, you need to create a digital version of it in order for it to become a reality. In today's graphic design world, most designers are using three main applications, InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.
InDesign is a layout tool for producing documents for print and onscreen delivery. This includes print publications, interactive documents, digital magazines and e-books. Text and images import easily and InDesign has a rich collection of tools that will enable you to customize every element of your design. When designing more complex documents that require consistent styles, such as a book or a magazine, you can create master pages that will apply a consistent layout to the pages in your document.
This is great for things like page numbers, headers, or logos that need to appear in the same place on every page. InDesign is also a great tool for creating interactive PDF's or exporting EPUBs, which is now a standard e-book file format. Photoshop enables you to edit and create images, designs and videos and even 3D models. It's a great tool for taking care of common editing tasks, like cropping and straightening, color and tonal adjustments, shadow and highlight detail, sharpening, compositing and re-touching.
One of the many benefits of editing in Photoshop is the ability to edit non-destructively, working in layers, using masks, and more. Nondestructive editing is where the original content is not modified in the course of editing, which makes it easy to revert back to the original version if desired. Illustrator is a powerful drawing tool for creating scalable vector art. Meaning, these works can be scaled up indefinitely and never degrade their quality. This is especially important for logos that might be used at wildly different sizes.
It's also a great program for creating freehand drawings ,as well as tracing and recoloring scanned in art. And many use Illustrator for creating logos, icons, illustrations, and even setting type. It's an essential tool for any designer. In addition to these three powerful tools, if you want to design a website but you're new to web design, or coding isn't your thing, the application called Muse is an excellent option. It's a WYSIWYG program, What You See Is What You Get, which can create a fully functioning site without ever having to write a single line of code.
However, since it doesn't let you work with code, a required skill set for modern web designers, it does have some limitations. But if those limitations aren't an issue for you, this program is worth looking into. Learning software takes time. But these types of programs are vitally important and will enable you to create work you couldn't otherwise.
To help you get started, Kristin curated a playlist of courses covering just the foundational elements of design. View and subscribe to the playlist here.