The graphic design process . . . an overview.

Graphic Design - Process Overview

Choosing a Size or FormatGather the PartsSubmitting ComponentsDesign BeginsInitial Proofs and Making ChangesFinal ProofsProductionProject Arrival

1. Choosing a Size or Format

More times than not, there is a common size for most projects. These standard formats can vary based on customer requirements, customer desires, budget, production and design costs, and production time constraints. The final product format and production process to be used ought to be discussed thoroughly with the designer. The possibilities are endless…
For instance, you may want to add additional panels to a CD project to include song lyrics or add a design feature like a clear jewel case with a back printed tray insert. Also see CD and Audio Design Packages.

CD Insert Sizes
(2 Pages)
(4 Pages)
(6 Pages)
(8 Pages)
(4 Panels)

2. Gather the Parts (Also See - Components)

The very thought of tackling this obstacle may seem overwhelming, especially if you have not worked with a graphic designer before. This daunting task can be accomplished by breaking this process down into its simplest components: text and information collecting, gathering photography and images, and conveying design ideas. Just accumulate each piece of the puzzle, one after the other and let the designer take care of assembling the final picture. Discuss the art direction with your designer before beginning this job and save your self the head ache of redoing things because they can not be used. For greater detail and ideas on rounding up the fragments for any graphic design project: see Components. See the Getting Started Check List.
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3. Submitting Components

Once you have all of your images, ideas and information together it is time to send your fledgling project off to the designer. We recommend alerting the designer as you ship anything to them by phone or E-mail. This allows them to keep and eye out for it to arrive, as well as confirm that it got there safely. Upon arrival the materials should be inventoried to make sure everything needed to produce your job is there or if you have more homework to do. The designer should be made aware of any time schedules or expectations you have and should give you an estimated date for a look at your first proofs. When shipping photos and discs be sure to package them so they will not be damaged. For more info see Components-Ship It!
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4. Design Begins

This is where all of your efforts pay off. The information, components and direction you have provided guide the graphic artist as the design develops. The text is formatted and sized, and type faces (fonts) are chosen. Images are adjusted for color space and balance, then formatted and sized according to final production specifications. Colors are chosen that fit the character and feel of the project. All these elements are joined together and a first proof is readied. To learn all about the proofing process see Proofs.
The designer may offer suggestions that deviate from the initial art direction, if they see an alternative course that may work better for your project. Be open to their professional opinion, after-all that's what you pay them for…
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5. Design Proofs and Making Changes

Once the graphic artist has developed the design according to your instructions (about one to two weeks or so) you will be sent an initial design proof. This normally takes the form of an electronic file or occasionally in the form of a hardcopy printout. From the beginning you should make whatever concerns you have known to the designer and clearly communicate any and ALL changes. See - E-Proof Reply E-Form. Take time to check everything carefully, see Proof Inspection List. For each set of changes there should be a new set of proofs generated. Additional costs may be incurred if your project requires excessive proof generation (3 or more), so make the designer aware of ALL changes whenever possible. This may be done via E-mail, phone, or by marking up printouts and then forwarding them to the designer by fax or mail. Remember the sooner you reply the sooner your project will move forward. Repeat this process until everything is exactly the way you want it, then approve a final proof to move your venture the production phase. Suggestions: have several people look your proofs over; take time to check everything carefully! See Proofs, or Customer Proofs, or Proof Inspection List.
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6. Production Proofs

Now that a final design has been approved, production files will be generated and forwarded to the production facility. Manufacturing specifications vary from place to place, so it is necessary for the designer to gather these details from the production facility in advance of creating your final production files. After receiving these files the plant will require the approval on one last "production proof" before manufacturing begins (usually a PDF file). This assures both accuracy and customer satisfaction. But if errors are found, it is better to have them fixed now than after production is complete. Additional costs of more proofs and new production file creation are far cheaper than having to remanufacture you entire job. The burden of proof is on you the customer!
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7. Production

Production time depends on the schedule of the production facility and the time of year (late fall is the slowest for CD production for instance). An estimated completion date can usually be given no matter what the production process. This is usually counted in "working days", which does not count weekends (1 week = 5 days). Sometimes a deposit or advance payment is required to begin production.
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8. Project Arrival

There is nothing like opening that box, fresh off the back of the UPS truck, and seeing the culmination of all your efforts. There is a clear presence to a project that has been professionally designed and produced, with the insight and direction you gave to make it uniquely yours!
Save your self a lot of head aches and expense by not getting too far ahead in your planning. If you are planning a grand opening or release event for your new project do so ONLY when you either have your product in hand on are 100% sure it will arrive BEFORE the event date! This will save you the expense of overnight shipping and costly rush charges.
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Choosing a Size or FormatGather the PartsSubmitting ComponentsDesign BeginsInitial Proofs and Making ChangesFinal ProofsProductionProject ArrivalReturn To Top

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