Join Lynda.com for an in-depth discussion in this video Graphic design tools, part of Celebrating Photoshop: A 25th Anniversary Retrospective.
- You know, 30 years ago design was entirely different. It used to be all analogue and all physical. When I look out on the landscape today, and I see that everybody knows what Helvetica is. 12 year olds have a concept of what typefaces are and rules or any of the terms we just used. It's amazing to me, because it used to be such a small group that knew how to manage this physical labor to do any project. (light music) So, I'm going to take, for example, this print ad and try to show what the process would be to recreate something like this.
Now, imagine I don't have this to begin with. I've got to sketch this out and put it down to paper. So I've already done a bunch of hand-drawn sketches and kind of gotten the flavor of, well I want a big image, and I think I'll have a headline here, and this here. We're going to set this aside and walk through how to do this. Now, this first thing I need to know is how big this is. Now, I've already measured it and I've decided it is 10 by 12. So, using these rapidographs, which were these very fine pens. Now, on the end of all these rapidographs is a numeral.
This is .80. .80 is reflecting the term that is a .80 rule, just like you would have a .25 rule or a .5 rule or a 1.0 rule in Photoshop, or InDesign, or Illustrator. There is no such thing in these as a .175 rule. They are all rounded numbers which is why we base those on that today. Now, these pens were a mess, frankly. You fill them up yourself with ink and you can see I'm already getting ink all over my hands.
They came out of this like this. And in there, I'm not taking it out because it will fly all over the place, is ink that I have filled up with this little container. And the ink flows through here until it dries out, and then I have to wash it to make sure nothing's dried up in there, and do it again. So, I've used my rapidograph and I've already measured out the size of this ad and I've used my T-square and my triangle to draw these lines. And I've made sure that it's all squared up and nice and neat.
And I've used my triangle to draw the other sides as well. Not as simply as setting up a document and calling it 9 by 12, I had to know exactly what size it was. If I got that wrong, you'd go off and the art would be the wrong size, and it wouldn't work. So now that I've figured out the size of my piece and I have my rough sketch of what I want to do, I've probably talked to a photographer and I've said, you know, "Betty, I need a photograph of this young lady and I want her to hold the camera, and I'd love her to have a red background." And the photograph has been shot, I've gone through a bunch of choices with the photographer and landed on the one that I like, and she then has sent me over a copy of one.
And it's just a black and white xerox. Just a cheap thing that I can work with. And I can crop it any way I want. And of course, to crop it, I'm going to have to figure that out. I don't have the digital tool to do cropping, I'm just going to have to decide, Hmm yeah, she looks better cropped in, maybe I should get rid of a little bit more of the hair. Once I've figured that out, I'm ready to place her down. And we have the fun job of working with things like rubber cement. And we would put that on the back of these things to get a sense of, "Let's see, how will this work." Brush it down.
And I don't have to put too much on it, obviously, because it just has to last until I show it to the client. I put my rubber cement down, and I'm ready to lay her down. Now, I also need to mathematically know how wide this is, because there's no guides and I can't depend on a center tool to tell me exactly where it is. I have to really check it myself. Now, if I didn't like this and I'm like, "It's a little too low, or a little too high," I can always pick it up. That's the undo feature.
You get get to just pick her up and say, "Let's slide her down a little bit." After a day, it's not going to be that easy, once it's dried, but while I'm doing it, it's no problem. So I've got my image down. Yeah, that looks swell. I'm happy with it. Now, in order to get type, it wasn't a matter of type it in and you get to see, boy, that looks swell in Helvetica. I had to sort of have a sense of what I wanted. Well, gee, do I like Helvetica or do I want Garamond? I'm not sure. I would take manuscript copy, which was type written out, and I would write on it Helvetica 24 point, on 24 points of leading.
And I'd send that to a typographer, and the typographer, or the typesetter, would send it back to me typeset. So I'd get these pieces of paper, and I'd have to trim them out. And it took about 24 hours to get some type back. So, from the time I wrote it up, I had to order it, I got this. And because it takes so long, I want to get as many choices as I can so I don't have to wait another 24 hours if I don't like this. So I had it set by that typesetter in different sizes, and I had it set in different fonts. So that I can look at it and say, "Yeah, that Garamond looks pretty good." Or, "Well, you know what, it's not big enough.
Well, I have my 24 point Garamond. That looks better." But you want to have those choices, and it wasn't simply a matter of change font. It was a 24 hour process. It was manual. If I didn't like the kerning on this, if I was like, "Oh, the letter-spacing on this looks funny," guess what? I'd get to take my exact-o knife, cut it out by hand, and slowly shift things over. Which is not fun, but I have done that for many hours. I've got my headline. I've got my image down. Client has also asked for some additional images, so he's provided me with these images of these slide carousels and projectors.
Now, the original image came with a background. I didn't like the background, I wanted it silhouetted. So the only way to silhouette something was to take the image, and then this stuff that we called Rubylith. And Rubylith is this red film. So, we make a mask with this. Which is why in Photoshop, when you make a mask, it appears as red, because it's emulating the Rubylith concept. And I would take the Rubylith and I would lay it down on top of my image, with the full thing, and then I would have to manually trim out that silhouette.
So, I've done a really snappy job trimming this out, let's pretend that. And I've gotten back my image, which looks beautiful silhouetted on white. And I can decide then where I want these to go. So, once again, I've got these little xeroxes that let me know where they go. They're not in color, so I have to imagine what it looks like in color because it would be too expensive to try to make color prints at this point, if I were going to cut them up, and move them around, and try different things. And so I'm happy with my layout.
I take this to my art director, or the client, and I show it to them. And they say, "Well, we like that a lot. It's looking really good, but we think that model has a funny blemish. Is there anything we can do about that?" So, I'll call the photographer and say, "She's got a blemish." Now, it's a digital file. It's an actual transparency or a print photograph. So the photographer will them take an airbrush, which is a physical object, and them will go in and airbrush all of these pieces on her.
It was very expensive, but it was worth it if it was a really important ad or something that had to be fixed. The other thing that might have happened is that I've shown this to the client or art director, the client says, "You know what, I think that type needs to be underlined, because it's really important." I don't have time to send out for more type. I don't have 24 hours. It has to go to the printer today. So, there was this stuff called letraset and it was rubbed out. Now, I could either use my rapidograph and try to draw the rule, but it had to be perfect, no changes at all in thickness, and that's tricky.
Or I could use the letraset, and the letraset worked great. I could say, "OK. Again, where do I want it?" I would measure down. I would use my triangle and T-square to make sure it's exactly square. And then, that would get rubbed down. And I would have my burnisher. And I would rub this down until I got what I wanted. Now, this is down there permanently, so I can't change it. You had to hope it stuck.
And you picked it up, and it did. Good. Now you can see, it has cracks in it, it's not pretty. It never was, actually, ever flawless. He might also say, "You know, I don't like that headline font." Again, I don't have time so what can I do. I have letraset and I know, well, I've got this Helvetica in 42 point in my drawer. Maybe that'll work, he'll like that. And I can do the same thing. Now, the end product is going to be not terribly pretty, and there's always the chance he may want something else that's a little fancier, like, "Gee, wouldn't it be swell if we had a beautiful French curve in here?" Well, there's no bezier tools.
So I have this whole box of French rules, which make these kinds of curves. And I can lay this down on the image, and I can trim it out. And I'll mark, well, let's see, this is exactly where I want that French curve to be this shape here. Mark it beautifully. And then I get to take my Rubylith again, and try to perfectly trim it out to that exact rule. So again, it's a physical and manual labor tool.
But you had to be pretty good at it. In my very first job, my art director didn't even trust exact-o knives. She said that they're too clumsy and too fat. So, we either had to use surgical scalpels or raw razor blades. Those are not fun to play with, so, you know, you had to be very good about it. Now I have all my pieces done. My whole layout is finished. This is the final document, this is a mechanical. Now, the mechanical has to get overlaid with instructions to the printer.
Make this red, make this white, make these color images. It tells them what exactly I want to have happen here. And then I give it to a messenger, and they messenger it over to the printer. Now, if something happens to it along the way, if it falls off a truck in the rain and gets ruined, I have to start all over again from scratch. There's no back-up of this. So the printer gets it. He has all my instructions. He can put them together, and if he's a good printer I get something really nice just like this. So you can see, it was a process that took a lot of manual labor.
It was physical skills and everyone had their own particular way of doing it. But it wasn't just this everyday, all over the place thing that everyone's mother could do. This was an actual graphic arts skill, hence the insularness of the profession at the time. Which was great, but maybe it's better now that it's much more open and everybody knows what a font is.
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