By: John Eriomala
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks – and that has to be an extremely large one at that – you must have seen quite a few new fliers and banners within the University premises; “So and so is coming”, “Miss A welcomes you back to school” etc. And although the school authorities and individual halls/faculties might not have exactly lifted the ban on politics, aspiring politicians have chosen to employ cliche ‘creative’ avenues to spread their message. However, this is not about these politicians but the brains behind those fliers. More specifically, about the tools utilized by these minds in the creation of their graphic designs.
To begin with, in terms of hardware, a laptop is highly essential. Although the advent of the smartphone has meant that everything from coding/programming (CodePen, Grasshopper, Dcoder, etc) to video-editing is now possible even on a 5-inch smartphone, it’s still preferable to use a laptop for design purposes. This is due to the larger displays, faster processing power, better screen resolution, and greater number of tools available to be used compared to regular smartphones and even high-end versions.
As regards the tools used, a plethora of options seem to be available for our design bros and sisters to choose from. This is because some tools are best suited for certain kinds of designs or functions best when used on particular Operating Systems (OS)/laptops. A quick search on Google would show that aside from Graphic; the design and illustration application created specifically for the Mac OS X (desktop OS used by Apple’s flagship Macbook desktops/laptops), apps like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Sketch are also highly recommended for the Mac OS. On the other hand, devices that run on Windows seem to have a wider range of graphic design applications that are fit to be used.
It is at this point that factors unrelated to device specifications seem to interfere. Some tools are preferred because of the ease of use and quality offered compared to the rest. On this, designer, Adebayo Wisdom, a second-year student of Linguistics, says, ” I’m a lot more comfortable using Photoshop, it’s a lot easier and advanced. Makes work efficient. You have control over the quality of the final work produced”. This sentiment is echoed by another designer, Ademola Obakayode, a 200-Level Medical student. According to him ” I use Adobe Photoshop because it is a very versatile software. And because I make e-fliers most of the time, Photoshop is my go-to software for designs like that, because it is specifically built for that, there are many features, tools, and effect that can only be found on Photoshop that is always useful in making fliers designs that even people that uses it counterpart Corel draw will still need Photoshop to achieve which makes it all-sufficient.
Also, just as is obtainable in various tech fields or tech-related fields, employers are known to prefer designers who are proficient in the use of particular software. As Obakayode put it, ” When I wanted to start my graphics designing journey, I started with Corel Draw, but after making research about the best software I could use and still stay relevant and job-worthy, the result I got was Photoshop, if you’re going to be hired as a designer anywhere, no matter what software you choose to use most, there will always be knowing how to use Adobe photoshop in the requirements. So that’s why I stuck to Adobe Photoshop, and I’ve never seen any new design trend since then that hasn’t been from Photoshop”. For UI/UX Design i.e User Experience/User Interface Design – which deals with the designs of software, applications, and similar products – proficiency in the use of Figma and AdobeXD, in particular, accompanies most job listings.
One more thing that is considered is the nature of the design to be created. Apart from e-fliers, graphic designers also have to work on logos, mockups (i.e an artistic rendering of a design or product that showcases said product in action), print media, and other forms of branding. For Wisdom and Obakayode, Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator, respectively, are the go-to applications for logo designs.
For many who are trying design out for the first time or so as to meet a need, spending time to master these tools is out of the question. Even this writer finds the prospect of watching YouTube video after YouTube video discouraging. Fortunately, tools like Canva exist which are easy to use while still maintaining a high level of quality. Canva has even incorporated Artificial Intelligence products such as Text to Image, Magic Write™, Magic Edit, Magic Design, and Translate; all of which can do everything from generating brand-new images to brand designs via text and other prompts. Ideas that ordinarily would be beyond your execution can now be brought to reality in a matter of hours.
Finally, there’s the creativity factor that comes into these designs. The field of graphics design is one of many intersections between Art and Technology; utilising elements like spatial orientation, colour theory, etc. to make products visually appeal o the target audience. The purpose of the design has to be considered, as do the nature of the audience, and the medium on which the design is to be imprinted. It’s beyond just making sure that the ‘G and S’ for General Secretary candidate stand. When the flier is printed out on a banner, would the colours reflect positively? How do you re-size the image of the candidate such that they can appear ‘larger than life’ or ‘confident’ even in digital form? And so many other factors are to be considered from a creative point of view.
In summary, graphics design is a tool-intensive endeavour; software, hardware, and the ultimate tool, the brain. So, the next time you are sent a flier, perhaps you could try figuring out how it’s made. Even better, you could try creating your very own design, just for the fun of it.