Tuesday, 31 August 2010

design jargon explained

Just like many other industries, graphic design comes with it's own unique jargon. You will often find it used in quotes and everyday conversations with your designer. To help you become familiar with the terminology we have put together a list that defines and explains the most commonly used 'design jargon'. 

The positioning of a body of text. Text can be positioned to the left, right, or “center” of a page. Different ‘schools’ refer to alignment differently - for example ‘Range Left’ can also be known as ‘Ragged Right’.

When graphics continue to the edge of your design bleed is required. This is because a commercial printing press cannot print to the edge of a sheet of paper. Instead products are printed on much larger sheets of paper and then cut down to size. Beacuse it is impossible to cut exactly to the edge of your design a little over print on each side is required. This overprint is called “bleed”

Clipping Path:
Clipping paths are most frequently used in Adobe Photoshop to outline or silhouette an image, cutting the part that is inside the path out of the whole image.

The term for describing the four-colour printing process that has been the standard for printing and presses for decades. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K) are used in differing ratios to make every printable colour.

The application of two colors to provide richer tones than a monotone (single-color image, usually grayscale) can provide. A good duotone image can simulate a wider range of the color spectrum than two colors used separately. Duotones also use a hue (color) to set the mood for a photo in a more stunning way than a full color image can. These are most often used as black and another colour, with the black adding the shadows and depth to the image. Think sepia tones photos or similar.

A typeface contains a series of fonts. For example, the typeface Arial contains the fonts Arial, Arial Bold, Arial Italic and Arial Bold Italic. 

A font is a complete set of characters in a particular size and style of type. This includes the letter set, the number set, and all of the special character and diacritical marks you get by pressing the shift, option, or command/control keys.

A gradient is a gradual transition of colors. Many metallic images are gradients. Also known as ‘blends’.

Type Area:
The area on a page within which copy is positioned; determined by the margins. For example, we have a ‘type area’ specified for our publication that allows a specified margin along all sides where no ink is supposed to fall.

The horizontal spacing between the letters in a word. The horizontal spacing of a word or words as a whole is known as ‘Tracking’. Kerning of a font is set by that typeface, and different fonts have differing views on what is appropriate kerning. Different programs also deal with this information differently, so the same word in the same typeface can kern differently in different programs.

Leading: (pronounced “led-ding”)
The space between lines of type, traditionally measured baseline to baseline, in points. Text type is generally set with one or two points of leading; for example, 10-point type with 2 points of leading. This is described as 10/12, (read ten on twelve). If the lines are too close together, this is considered to be ‘tight’. If they are too far apart, then this is ‘loose’ leading.

A term used to describe the occurrence of pixels within an image that contain random colors. Also refers to a filter in Photoshop that can sometimes be used to give a smoother, more natural appearance to graduated screens. This filter is also used for special effects, for example adding ‘noise’ to an image to give it a more degraded or aged look.

By adjusting opacity to a percentage of less than 100%, the user can paint a color onto an image and allow some of the image beneath to show through. .

A term for a line or curve created in any program. You will hear it used in the following situations:
  • PDF, Illustrator file or Photoshop. In essence what we are asking them to do is turn the type into a series of graphic boxes. This means that we no longer need to have the font installed on our sytem in order to print the file correctly.
  • Type on a path. When we are trying to make type follow any shape other than a straight line. For example, type in a circle or wavey type. This kind of type is still editable, it just follows a line.
  • Photoshop paths. We can create ‘bezier’ paths in Photoshop to define areas of an image. Bezier just means that it is created with a series of points, each pointing the line in the direction of choice. We use these Photoshop paths to turn into selections of pixels to alter a part of an image, or we can use them as clipping paths.

PMS (Pantone Matching System): 
A standard color-matching system used by printing professionals and graphic designers for inks, papers, and other materials. Each PMS colour has a unique number and formula for ink mixing. All printers should be able to accurately reproduce a given PMS colour. 

Resample an Image:
A function available in image editing (Photoshop) that allows the user to change the resolution of the image. Resampling an image is possible to any degree but there is a high quality penalty to pay if the image is resampled above 150%. The quality loss will come in terms of decreased image sharpness.

Stands for the colors Red-Green-Blue. In web design and design for computer monitors, colors are defined in terms of a combination of these three colors. RGB typically shows colours as brighter than can be printed in CMYK, so people can be disappointed when something from a website prints far blander. We change RGB images to CMYK or Grayscale in order to use them for print. If an RGB image slips through to press, it will print grayscale.

The color intensity of an image. An image high in saturation will appear to be very bright. An image low in saturation will appear to be duller and more neutral. An image without any saturation is also referred to as a grayscale image.

A style of typeface that has “little feet.” Common serif typefaces include Times Roman, Garamond, and Palatino. Common sans serif typefaces include Arial, Helvetica and AvantGarde.  Note: Although both fonts are set in the same point size, they may actually differ in size. This is common.

Text Wrap:
A term used in page layout software (like Indesign) that refers to the way lines of text can be shaped to follow the edge of a graphic.

A quick explanation of Graphic File Formats:
There are three different categories of file formats: bitmap, vector, and metafiles. When an image is stored as a bitmap file, its information is stored as a pattern of pixels, or tiny, coloured or black and white dots. When an image is stored as a vector file, its information is stored as mathematical data. The metafile format can store an image’s information as pixels (i.e., bitmap), mathematical data (i.e., vector), or both.

The generic term for an image made up of pixels, as outlined above. Also known as ‘raster’ graphics. The file format of the same name (.bmp) is pretty-much a Windows format.
Use BMP for any type of bitmap (pixel-based) images. BMPs are huge files, but there is no loss in quality. BMP has no real benefits over TIFF, except you can use it for Windows wallpaper.

“Encapsulated PostScript File” can be used for vector images or bitmap images. The EPS file format can be used on a variety of platforms, including Mac and Windows. The PostScript language, which was developed by Adobe, is the industry standard for desktop publishing software and hardware. EPS files can be graphics or images of whole pages that include text, font, graphic, and page layout information.

Stands for Graphical Interchange Format.
Use GIF for simple Web graphics having limited colors. GIF files are always reduced to 256 unique colors or less and they make very small, fast-loading graphics for the Web. GIF is great for Web buttons, charts or diagrams, cartoon-like drawing, banners, and text headings. GIF is also used for small, compact Web animations. GIF should rarely be used for photos.

Pronounced “J-Peg.”
JPEG is best for photos when you need to keep the file size small and don't mind giving up some quality for a significant reduction in size. JPEG is not suitable for images with text, large blocks of color, or simple shapes, because crisp lines will blur and colors can shift.

Stands for Portable Document Format. Created by Adobe Systems in its software program Adobe Acrobat as a universal browser. Files can be created to just about any specification, and condensed to quite small, as well, depending on the settings used.
Viewable by just about anybody these days, and not really difficult to create. Fonts should be embedded, and text retains its form, so a properly created PDF file is a beautiful thing.

“ping” Stands for Portable Network Graphics format, and is used for lossless compression and displaying images on the web. Use PNG when you need smaller file sizes with no loss in quality. PNG files are usually smaller than TIFFs, in my experience. PNG also supports alpha transparency (soft edges) and were developed to be a Web graphics replacement for GIF.

Stands for Tagged Image File Format. A graphic format that is a good, safe option as it will maintain the integrity of the file each time it is opened and saved.
TIFF is good for any type of bitmap (pixel-based) images. TIFF produces large files, but there is no loss in quality. TIFF also preserves layers, alpha transparency, and other special features when saved from Photoshop.

PSD and PDD are Photoshop's native format. Use PSD when you need to preserve layers, transparency, adjustment layers, masks, clipping paths, layer styles, blending modes, vector text and shapes, etc. The PDD extension was used in Adobe PhotoDeluxe (now discontinued), but it is identical to PSD format and the two can be used interchangeably


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