Take a look at any company and the first thing you notice is what? The graphics, right? Whether it’s an ad, a social media picture, brochure, flyer etc. A picture is generally worth a thousand words but in this case it’s worth at least 50 graphic design terms.
These 50 graphic design terms will help you navigate through the world of graphic design with ease. Knowing which terms have what meaning and how they will apply to your digital marketing campaign are vital to any company. With so many graphic design terms out there it can all get a bit chaotic, which is why I’ve decided to separate them by four categories to make it a little easier to sift through: color, design, type and branding.
Graphic Design Terms Related to: Color
Let us get started with the first thing that draws our attention, color. As discussed in one of our recent blogs 10 creative graphic design tips for social media we mentioned how important color was in a social media campaign. Now let us get into which terms have what meanings and why it’s important to your digital marketing campaign!
- This is the perfect color format for your print products. CMYK is a 4-color printing process made up of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. These colors work best on print object. Ever wonder why you pick a beautiful color on the screen only to have it print in a shade other than what the screen showed? Chances are you’ve picked the wrong color format, luckily now you know the difference!
- When dealing with anything digital RGB is the color format you need to aim for. RGB stands for red, green and blue, these three colors are perfect for any type of digital screen.
Hues, Tones, Shades, oh my!
- Hues are the purest form of original colors. They are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
- Shade is the addition of black into a pure color.
- Tint is the addition of white into a pure color.
- Tone is known as the addition of gray into a pure color.
- Take a second to think of all the bright and colorful pictures that you see on websites or social media platforms. Chances are the designer behind that image saturated the picture to make it look more appealing to the eye. Saturation is the intensity and vividness of a color.
- Gradient is a gradual change from one color to another. This type of graphic design approach is exactly what Instagram did when they changed their logo.
- Hex code
- A hex is a six-digit number that follows a hashtag. It is used to represent colors and often what graphic designers use in computer design programs.
- A color palette is more than just the range of colors used in a design. These are colors that work well together and will bring your brand together. Think like how Joanna Gaines has a distinct color palette she uses for her farmhouse remodels.
These next few terms can seem a little daunting and hard to understand. Don’t worry, I’ve included a nice little graph to explain visually what them mean. I mean this is a Graphic Design terms article after all.
- A monochromatic color palette uses various tones with only one color.
- Analogous colors are known as colors that are adjacent to one another on the color wheel (Example: red violet, red and red orange).
- Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel. This is almost like a contrast and will give some of your graphics that extra “POP!”
- Triadic colors are three colors that are spaced evenly on the color wheel. One color will be the dominate color, the second will support, and the third will be the accent color.
- The “Pantone Matching System” is a standardized color system, created especially for identifying each tone with exact precision. Thus, every color included in this classification is numbered with the goal of simplifying the process of using an exact color tone in designs and prints.
- Warm Colors
- Warm colors can be found on one half of the color wheel (reds, oranges, yellows and pinks).
- Cool Colors
- Cool colors occupy the other half (blues, greens and purples).
- Color Theory
- The study of how colors make people feel and their effects on a design is known as color theory. Color theory is used to explore the best types of colors to work in different design instances. For example, choosing a pastel scheme for a website that needs to feel soft. Or picking red and yellow for a magazine ad that needs to evoke energy.
Graphic Design Terms Related to: Design
Now that we have your colors fully color-ed. (see what I did there?) Let us move on to the design aspect of your digital marketing campaign. These next few graphic design terms will help bring your campaign a little closer to being the best.
- Contrast is when one element is completely different from another. Your designer may use color, shape, texture, size or typeface to create contrast.
- This graphic design term is very important when keeping your audience engaged as the aesthetics of your page will either attract or repel potential consumers. Balance is the placement of elements on the page so that the text and graphics are equally distributed.
- Mock Up
- When graphic designers are creating a mock up, they are creating a realistic representation of how the design will look when full size.
- Negative Space
- Any space that surrounds the elements of your main design is called negative space. It is important to have this in order to give the eyes some “breathing room”. You’ll often notice that the most well known logos and brand designs involve a great deal of negative space. Remember, negative space doesn’t always mean white space.
- Opacity is when an object lacks transparency. Think of a black circle. That circle with a high percent of transparency lets you see what lies behind it. Whereas when you apply a higher opacity it is becomes more solid.
- Rule of Thirds
- The rule of thirds is a neat little technique that many designers are taught to use to determine a graphics focal point. Using a grid of three rows and columns, focal points are indicated where the lines overlap. Designers use this as a guide to determine where to place important elements in their design. This is especially important to your digital marketing advertisements because with the amount of ads out there today, you want to make sure your ads are the ones that stand out to potential customers over competitors.
- Scale is the size of an object in relation to another element.
- When it comes to design, texture can refer to the actual visual tactility of your design. Want your design to have a mirror or cut out effect? Texture on your graphics can do this. A texture is defined as the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or a substance. And in design a texture can mirror that.
- Golden Ratio
- The Golden Ratio is a common ratio that is found in life that is usually used in design to create pleasing and natural looking elements in your work. Many people use it when creating logos, graphics and even website designs.
- Knolling is when you arrange different elements at 90-degree angles from each other and then photograph them from above. This amazing technique creates a very symmetrical look that will give your customers a pleasing feeling.
- Try saying that three times fast! Skeuomorphism is when a digital element is designed to look like a replica of the physical work. Think of the calculator app on your phone. It looks a lot like the real thing, right? Well, that’s Skeuomorphism. The more you use this technique, the better you can resonate with potential customers through a computer screen, phone, or tablet.
- Image resolution
- With all the graphic design terms this might just be one of the most important digital ones. The detail of an image is based on the number of pixels in the picture – which is known as resolution. When an image looks clearer then it has a higher resolution. When the resolution is lower it can become pixelated. The higher the resolution the better the image. The better the image the more likely a potential client is to stay on your page a bit longer because you look more professional and they trust you. Poor quality images immediately make your business lose credibility with anyone that sees them.
- JPG and PNG images
- These might look like the same to you but both are image formats for different purposes. A JPG format contains a plethora of colors and is great if you plan to share images on social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. However, PNG is the perfect candidate for supporting better quality photos, such as logos, and great for keeping the quality of an image.
- Vector images
- Vector images are made up of points, lines, and curves using a mathematical equation which means the image can scale in size without losing any quality. Meaning they won’t get blurry when scaled.
- Raster Images
- Raster graphics are composed of pixels on a grid. They are great for special effects, color correction and manipulating photos. However, raster images are resolution-dependent, which means that images cannot be enlarged without degrading their quality.
Graphic Design Terms Related to: Typography
Ever look at a those articles that poke fun at the bad typography in logos and signs? That is why it is critical to know these graphic design terms and how to apply them to your logo – so you won’t become one of those spoofs! Below are some key terms that will help you to avoid being caught on those roast articles and score you a spot on the “Best Typography” list.. if there was one of course!
- Typography is the visual component of a written word.
- Kerning is the adjustment of space between pairs of letters in the same word.
- Tracking is the alteration of space for entire words and blocks of text.
- This is the space between two lines of text, also known as the “line-height”
- A font is a group of characters in a certain size and style. Think Arial Bold, Arial Italic, Arial Regular.
- A typeface is a family of fonts. Think Times New Roman, Arial, or Cambria.
- Serifs are the small flourishes at the end of the strokes in some letters. (Example: Times New Roman)
- Sans Serif
- Sans means “without.” A sans serif font has no serifs, meaning no small flourishes. (Example: Arial)
- Slab Serif
- Slab serif have thick, block serifs. (Example: Courier New)
- A typeface that uses a flowing, cursive stroke.
Graphic Design Terms Related to: Branding
On to the last section of our graphic design terms, branding. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Learn how these graphic design terms actually pull together to help make your digital marketing campaign stand out from the rest! Keep reading for the final graphic design terms to finish fueling your brain with all the design savvy words there are to know!
- Brand Identity
- Your brand identity is a visual representation that describe the values, mission and background of your company. This will include logos, business cards, memos, packaging design, etc. This will outline your brand in its entirety. Making sure your brand has the proper, fonts, colors, emotions, logos and aesthetic will ensure that you’re building brand awareness in the best way possible.
- A logotype is the name of a company that is designed in a visually unique way for use by that company. Most of the time when people refer to a logo, they’re referring to the brand’s logotype not the actually mark. Examples include: Google, Disney, Coca-Cola.
- A logo mark usually doesn’t contain the name of the company it is more of an abstract representation that your company uses, usually in a symbol or mark. (An example would be Nike, Target, Apple)
- Your brands collateral pieces are the physical, visible objects that have been created to represent your specific brand. Collateral can include things like brochures, flyers, social media ads and even digital and print signs at an event.
- A grid is evenly divided columns and rows that will arrange elements for a company in a consistent way. Whether it be for social media layouts, website layouts or just day to day activities. Grids are used to align design elements in a more efficient and accurate way.
- A trademark is a symbol, word, phrase, or design that you can use to distinguish your products or goods from those of competitors. Most companies will need to apply for this.
- Mood board
- Mood boards aren’t just for New Year’s Resolutions and self proclaimed goals! These boards are great when putting together images, text and other visual elements that can and will define your brand. When words simply aren’t enough to describe your brand, mood boards are perfect.
Phew, that seems like a lot doesn’t it? Don’t worry you can always come back to reference if need be. But these graphic design terms will not only help with your social media campaigns but your entire marketing campaign as well.
Now that you are design savvy in the graphics department put these graphic design terms to use and make your company’s marketing campaign outshine the rest! Don’t want to do it yourself? Consider working with one of our design professionals. Now you’ll be able to speak his/her lingo when it comes to creating designs for your digital marketing campaign. Contact us today!
Know some graphic design terms we missed? Comment below and share, let’s keep this thing going!