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In the beginning, man had the simplest of drawing tools. Just enough to scribble basic shapes on cave walls. Nowadays, man has advanced so much, so that a computer can basically draw for us…or some would like to think. With a vast appreciation for improvements in technology and graphics related programs, I would like to talk a little bit about the software that designers use to create, and about creating interesting layouts.

Some years ago, I came across Adobe Illustrator in an introduction to computer graphics class in high school. I think it was at this point in my life when I decided that I wanted to be in the graphic arts field in one way or another. At first, it was very difficult to get used to vector drawing (mainly the pen tool). I’m sure if you have used the pen tool in any drawing application, you were probably drifting around in the same boat in the beginning. It is certain, that many visually stimulating images can be created quickly and efficiently in graphics programs. Also, there is a certain accuracy that can be achieved through the use of programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Final Cut, you name it, that just can’t be done outside the digital world. With access to rulers, guidelines, snapping, etc. you get to play god in your own little artsy world and create whatever you want. The possibilities are almost limitless, if you can imagine it, you can draw it.

Of course with all of these advancements in technology, there are so many different effects and filters that basically make artwork for you right? Well…not exactly. Everyone tends to think that they are a designer, but there is a big difference between knowing how to let the programs aid you in your designing goals, and trying to get an application to make your artwork for you. It is the same as the difference between a photographer, and a person taking snap shots of their friends. Coming up with an interesting layout is essential to all designs so they can function well for their audience and their creator. It can be a tiresome process, but there are certain things that are taken into consideration when laying out a composition that help to add to its aesthetic value. We are people who love to look at interesting and pretty things and appreciate them. One really needs an eye for good designs versus bad layouts. So always ask yourself why you are using a certain effect, or what your goal is with your design, and make sure you are sticking to your goals. Also, there are many rules that teachers will tell you that you have to follow. Keep in mind that you DO NOT have to follow these rules at all times. For example, the “rule of thirds” is a very interesting theory of dividing your composition into thirds horizontally and vertically and to have something interesting happening at the intersecting points. This is considered a rule because it practically always yields an interesting composition. Formulas are nice because they get the job done, but sometimes there are much more interesting ways to go about creating something. The rules sometimes tend to take the spontaneity and fun out of designing.

I find myself more and more eager to attempt to dissect designers’ work in order to better understand what’s going on behind the scenes, and how I can utilize what other people have done before to help with my own designs in the future. I urge all of you out there to question how images are made. This is the best way to learn the applications and the techniques that designers use to make things that are fun to look at. I love coming across an image that I think is just completely awesome looking, and then thinking “how the heck did they do that?” It is very inspiring, and with an inquisitive nature, you will never stop learning and getting better at what you do.


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