Graphic Design: Working with Photos
Graphic designers are trained to look for space, composition, tone and lighting in their own work. These are same things photographers keep in mind when composing a specific shot. When designers look for and select photographs to use, they’re not idiots. A photographer’s trouble is to capture all those things in one single moment, in one single frame. A designer’s trouble is to create a frame. Both frames serve the ultimate purpose of communication. The designer’s just happens to use more mediums. One of which is photography. They view photographs for inspiration and also use them for specific details, textures and patterns.
Designer’s Stock Pile
Graphic designers usually take photographs from stock image sites. However, if the designer knows a little bit about photography, which they do by being a designer, they can take their own personal pictures to be used in their work as digital or scanned copies. Graphic designers never take black and white photographs. With the option to add black and white or sepia tones during editing, designers always shoot in color.
Many experienced designers have their own personal stockpile of photographs that they have collected over the years. This is a valuable asset to them and their work. It means they don’t have to waste time searching through stock photographs and can get their job done faster. They are likely to have an image on hand that has been made from scratch or know exactly where to find what they’re looking for.
In stock photographs, designers are usually looking for something specific, an image with a specific angle, specific subject and specific color pattern. They’re also looking for an image that doesn’t need any additional touch-ups before they can utilize it. Every image is carefully checked for focus and perfect color.
Pixels or Math
How a designer can manipulate a photograph depends on the image’s format. There are two types of graphics, raster and vector. Raster images include scanned images and photographs from digital cameras. These images are usually bitmaps that are formed by a pixel grid.
Vector images abandon this pixel grid and are formed by geometrical formulas that connect specific points, lines and curves to create an image. These images are usually created by software and do not work well with real photographs or realistic imagery.
Vector images work best with Illustrator programs and are often created by them. Formed using an ever adjusting and adapting formula, these images are independent of resolution. They can be shaped, stretched and sized without becoming broken and pixelated.
Manipulate or Create
Adobe Illustrator is a great example of a program that can both create vector images and format them. Illustrator is great for creating customized designs, patterns and fonts. It also usually is used alongside Adobe Photoshop to create the best image possible. Photoshop and Illustrator are very different programs that offer very different tools and even handle different types of files.
Photoshop is mostly used for photo manipulation. The program lets designers make selections from specific images that have been scanned or uploaded and is most often used with raster graphics. For a long time bitmap images were the most commonly used format by designers until the invention of Illustrator programs that specialize in creating vector images.
Unlike vector images, which are created using math, raster images are formed with pixels. This means that when the image is resized or proportionally manipulated, the pixels can separate, creating some problems with the appearance. Luckily, Photoshop offers an airbrush tool, which is a common fix to these types of raster specific problems.
Photoshop is where color and contrast are created and fine-tuned to send a desired message. It also allows for layered images, tone and texture adjustments. However, after all the finishing touches have been made, the graphic is usually converted into vector format before being put online.
Both file types are easily converted into each other. There can even be a metafile, an image made from a combination of both file types. For example, the flower may be a raster image, but the checkered background behind it was created in Adobe Illustrator.
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