Graphic design has evolved into digital mediums with the arrival of desktop publishing and graphic art software. Computers are now more or less essential tools in the production of graphic design and the software most widely recognized.

As a recognized form of expression, "graphic design" is less than a century old. The term itself was coined in 1922 by American book designer William Addison Dwiggins in his essay "New Kinds of Printing Calls for New Design." As the title to Dwiggins' article suggests, graphic design has existed since man first began to express himself by drawing crude images of animals in caves. From the illuminated manuscripts of the Roman Empire through the advent of the printing press to today's digital mediums, graphic design communicates a visual representation of ideas and messages.

Today's commercial application of graphic design incorporates a variety of elements that coalesce seamlessly to promote a product or idea. The classic example of modern graphic design is the signage of the London Underground, created in 1916. As the rise of consumerism grew following World War II, mass-produced advertising and packaging became as ubiquitous as symbols on road signs. Using logos and branding, a unified text and often colors and geometric shapes, a design identifies a business, product or service.

Graphic design has evolved into digital mediums with the arrival of desktop publishing and graphic art software. Computers are now more or less essential tools in the production of graphic design and the software most widely recognized in this regard since the early 1990s are the products of Adobe Systems - Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver. QuarkXpress is another popular page layout tool.

However, there are newer software tools that should be considered by every graphic designer. Below are a number of recent arrivals.

Easel.ly is used to create intricate infographics through an online authoring tool. It allows the designer to quickly develop artwork by using an easily customizable template.

Five Second Test is a web tool that provides external feedback on a designer's logo or layout. Merely upload a screenshot of a design mockup with an array of questions and discover if your idea passes the "five second test."

The digital counterpart of a scrapbook, Evernote with its companion program Skitch is a handy way for the designer to grab screenshots and elucidate them with descriptions and features.

For typography, Typetester allows the designer to compare fonts side-by-side in columns of three. Options include font size, alignment, leading, tracking and color.

Many designers tout PicPick as the best screen-capture tool available. Options include pixel measurement, color picker and magnifier.

These software tools are just the tip of the iceberg; they exemplify the development of graphic design today and in the years to come.


Shuriken Design is a graphic design agency specializing in custom graphics and digital signage (http://www.shurikendesign.co.nz/services/signage/) in Auckland.