8 Graphic Design Terms to Help Your Next Project

There are lots of times when you’re operating a business or completing a personal project that you need to work with people from industries you have no idea about. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be doing some in-depth Googling about that particular industry in the time leading up to your first meeting with those professionals.

You want to make sure you understand what’s going on and know how to communicate ideas in a way that produces the result you have envisioned.

Even more importantly is being able to communicate effectively via the emails and file sharing that follows that first meeting, to continue the smooth running of the project. This is often where industry jargon will start popping up, making it easy for lines to be crossed and messages missed.

We thought we’d do up a little cheat sheet full of terms we use all the time for one of the industries we work pretty heavily in at Bellette - graphic design.

.eps files

EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript, and you will often see it in the files we send through with your finished project. Eps is needed for resizing images while maintaining optimum quality. People often end up deleting files with this suffix because they can’t open them and don’t know what they are. These files come from Adobe Illustrator, .eps is the flattened, non-transparent version, .ai is the unflattened Illustrator file with all the layers still available to edit.

Vectors

A vector is a pretty common term in the graphic design world. It is an image made using mathematical algorithms, making it resizable without having to rely on pixels. Vectors are often used for logos, illustrations and typography design.

Bitmaps, jpg and rasterized graphics

In comparison to a vector, these types of files are based on pixels and are not resizeable once they have been set in their pixel specifications. Once a pixel based image has been set at a certain resolution it will remain the same amount of pixels regardless of how big or small you make the image. If an image with a low pixel resolution is enlarged past its capability, it will appear blurred and you will see the pixels themselves grow larger, hence the term pixelated. The ideal resolutions for your project will usually be 300ppi for a printed design and 72ppi for anything digital.

Negative space

Negative space is often confused with white space. Negative space is used to create a visual illusion within a shape. Designers often use the negative space of an image very deliberately, to give the design an extra element, to add a depth or further message to the image.

White space

White space is the space left out of a design, usually for visual effect. Adding white space to a design can emphasise certain areas or draw a viewer's eye to a specific feature. Think of white space as a pause and refocus point within a page or image.

DPI vs PPI

These both refer to the quality and resolution of an image however, they are used for different purposes. DPI refers to print resolution and stands for Dots Per Inch. It is actually a term that designers don’t need to use very often but is often used in place of PPI. Web or screen quality uses PPI as a measure. Pixels Per Inch, the higher the number, the closer the pixels are to each other and the sharper the image will appear.

CMYK vs RGB

These terms are all about colour and how it is viewed either in print or on a screen. CMYK is the colour format used for printing, it uses a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks to create the colours needed. RGB is what digital screens use to create colours. Digital monitors create colours through a combination of red, green and blue light. The difference between how colour is created for print and digital makes it really important that your designs are created using the right colour format. An image that was created with RGB colour format will look completely different when printed to what it did on your computer screen.

Typeface

People often use the word ‘font’ when they actually mean typeface. A typeface is the styling of the letters, the shapes and structure. Fonts fall within the typeface as the different weights. A typeface contains a family of fonts. When you are designing something, it is important to choose a typeface that contains a full font family (eg. bold, light, condensed, italics) so that you can create hierarchies and beautiful layouts.


There you have it! Now you’re all ready to go into your meeting with the design team for your latest project. With a vocabulary full of all the technical mumbo jumbo you need to communicate everything you want to see created and to understand the ins and outs of the design process.