Graphic Design and Technology

Learn about the technology you’ll use when you begin your graphic design career.

closeup of digitizer with pen on white backgroundUsing Industry-Standard Technology

If you’re planning to enter a graphic design career, you need to know how to use technological tools.

Whether you design for the printed page or the computer screen, knowledge of industry-standard design software is a must.

In addition, as graphic design expands into the realm of web design, it’s also wise to acquire a working knowledge of web development languages like JavaScript.

Fundamental Graphic Design Software

Graphic designers rely on powerful software to get their jobs done. Complex visual manipulations that used to be laboriously done by hand are now performed easily and quickly on a computer. Mac hardware is more widely used in the graphic design world than PCs, but the landscape is changing as more and more designers opt to use pen tablets to interact with their computers.

How Do Graphic Design Tablets Work?

A graphic design tablet—also called a digitizing tablet or graphics pad—is a substitute for a mouse, trackball or other device. The tablet consists of a flat surface where the designer can draw, and a pen that has been programmed to work with the pad.

There are all types, sizes and styles of tablets available but you’ll need to use caution when purchasing them. Wacom is considered the leader in the industry and they provide tablets that integrate with small home office setups as well as larger professional offices. No matter what tablet you select—whether Wacom or another tablet such as NTrig’s line, Cintiq or VisTablet—you’ll need to make sure it is compatible with your computer’s API.

Other things to consider once you’ve decided to purchase a tablet are the size of the pad, how the interface integrates with the computer, and the pressure sensitivity of the surface.

Software for Web Design

If web design is your area of specialty, more and more websites are designed and maintained using content management systems like WordPress and Drupal, which can be “plugged in” to a site and then used to create a consistent layout and structure without extensive knowledge of programming languages.

WordPress was basically designed as an easy-to-use blog interface, but has grown massively into a content management system (CMS) that is easily customizable and offers thousands of plugins, widgets and template themes for your website.

Additional Tools for Web Graphic Design

Graphic designers who work on websites will find it valuable to know at least the basics of the coding language that is the building block of every web page: HTML. In addition, CSS (cascading style sheets) are used to create a consistent look and feel throughout the various pages of a site, so they’re another important tool for graphic designers to know about.

Many sites also make use of scripting languages like JavaScript in order to pre-load images or create dynamic galleries and menus. You don’t necessarily need to become an expert programmer if you’re doing graphic design for the web, but it helps to know a little about how scripts function within a website.

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