Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Learning InDesign

Recently I was asked this question; What courses and certifications can I do to master InDesign?

Many training options exist. Adobe has published the InDesign Classroom in a Book series for InDesign, and other published titles to learn from along with Adobe’s online tutorials, TV, magazine and a online forum. Many other books and online video options are available also; Online Courses is one example. On the web you can find both paid and free tutorials that exist across spectrum of value and quality.

College classes with computer labs and instructors might be another option for consideration. Private versions exist also. You might look into Adobe certified trainers, Luminous Works Training and Consulting is great example.

Your local county library may have resources also, ask the librarian. Mine has the Adobe InDesign application on it’s computers, and through the library system you can access the courses. Your local library option is great if you are on a budget and do not want to spend the funds on a subscription, an at home high speed internet connection, the Adobe InDesign CC subscription fee, or purchasing a modern computer that can handle Adobe InDesign application.

The best teacher is using InDesign on real client projects. Creating project files that contain good typography so that all the content copy is both legible and readable when viewed and use a layout design that solved the client’s visual communication problem. Then getting those InDesign files commercially printed, or as part of a web site or email blast, newsletter, ePub, or a interactive PDF and being served to public via server (Yes, InDesign can be and plays a part of presentation and web work). It has to go beyond looking good on your screen. It has to work on printing press or as a part of the web so that it loads and display fast on multiple devices.

To get there you need the fundamentals of type and typography. Also learn and use the design principles of graphic design; Proximity, Alignment, Repetition, and Contrast. Along with mentorship, collaboration and years of practical experience, it requires hard work. 

Learning the InDesign application functions and keyboard strokes over moving mouse in a application is important. It is only small part of what you need to learn in order to survive in the creative services business. Earning a certificate, study a CIB course, or online tutorials are first steps of many needed to master InDesign as a tool for developing visual communication with solid typography and the clear communication of idea to a target audience.

Being able to sketch out an idea, and to discuss and interview a client to learn the problem and it’s visual communication needs has more to do with mastering the art, craft, science, and business of design. InDesign and computer are just modern tools used in refining and producing a visual communication piece, a means to a end. Know that tools wear out, change, you learn and adapt, the fundamentals remain.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Why do designers make typography every day?

Why do designers make typography every day?

Recently I was asked this question; Why do designers make typography every day?

Typography is just one of the many things that a graphic designer does. Part of a means to an end.

Many of us began training at the university level and now it is muscle memory, or habit. Typesetting, or composition means time to kern each word, examine each sentence break, and all the paragraph starts and ends. The typeface family selection, the font weight, line length and matching point size and leading all become part of the art, science and judgement in typography.

Typography is the style and appearance of type. All the things that need written language made legible and readable when viewed.

Typography is part of all the stuff around you in civilization; signs, billboards, packages, flyers, posters, ads, books, magazines, newspapers, instructions, products, presentations, web pages and more.

Really good typography is frequently the work of not only graphic designers, but art directors and creative directors. These are teams of people trained in typography and who use graphic design principles and best practices to make good visual communication work. Often these people design with editors and writers in partnership and collaboration to produce all the stuff around you in civilization.

Just 60 years ago many people worked in composition departments as typesetters creating the basis for effective communication. Initially as the computer systems called photo-typesetters, then digital-typesetters replaced previous hot and cold metal type, people traditionally were trained as compositors or typesetters and then advanced into layout artist, graphic artist, graphic design, art director, and creative director positions.

In the 1980’s the desktop publisher spewed forth upon the world and civilization.  The art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed, that’s typography and it has been impacted ever since.

Now, every day people without training or knowledge make publications, products and other visual communications and sometimes they create and foster a low form of typography.

Every day people use word processing programs ignorantly believing they are typesetting and making good typography.

With so much poorly prepared typography it seems every day fewer people exist that know, produce and can explain what quality typography is. With an acceptance of mediocre typography it seems at times decline of written language is inevitable. What is to emerge, with so many people self publishing books, web pages, e-magazines, tweets, e-pubs. New learning and exploring of typography seems one outcome. It is possible amazing typography can happen with better broader written language spread across new media, only time will show us.

So graphic designers make typography every day so that others will learn, understand, embrace, object, react, buy, rebuild, repair, apply, think, listen, laugh, cry, heal, grow. If the typography is done well it is both legible and readable and you do not notice it is there unless you are supposed to.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Where can I get free professional fonts?

Recently I was asked this question; Where can I get free professional fonts?

If you want to use any font professionally then you need to act professionally. Being a creative services professional means you purchase the font license to protect yourself and your client. This includes the situation when you are your own client.

In the creative services profession the cost to purchase the license for a font is part of the project cost that is involved in design of a visual communication piece. In the project beginning you discuss this topic among many others.

If you obtain any font from a “FREE” site and you get a virus of some ilk, the time it takes to repair the damage and remove the virus is going to cost you more than buying the font would have.

A “FREE” font may not include the common fonts weight styles, the full set of fonts glyphs, ligatures and the drawing hints, rendering tables and attention to each character’s rendered detail that come with the licensed version of the font. The “FREE” version has likely changed a character, or a punctuation so that it does not match the legal licensed version that all the legitimate printers, other creative service providers, or clients may use and have licensed. Then in an exchange of files for reproduction, or derivative work made with your “FREE” font, it becomes a problem you created and bad art you are ultimately responsible for.

If you were to create a visual communication piece for a client using a “FREE” font and then were caught doing this, the harm to your professional standing in the clients eyes would be difficult to ever rebuild. You may have also put the client at serious risk.

Today several basic fonts and licenses to use them come with your computer OS. With many graphic design applications that software license provides selected legal fonts licenses also. The fonts and font licenses provided need to be read and understood, but generally they are quite broad use font licenses.

In place today for your convenient use are services and technologies that exist to manage and to locate, test and purchase, organize and safely store fonts.
It is easier to do the right thing.

Since you are asking this question I am going to guess you have a limited knowledge of typography, history of type, type classification and identification, and that typesetting, type use and selection is likely not your area of professional expertise. I would also guess that the acronym EULA is also unfamiliar. It is possible the fonts resources that came with and currently exist on your computer are adequate to your visual communication needs. A lack of typographic experience and knowledge of how to use what you have is part of the problem. Downloading “FREE” fonts is not the solution, as you will just have more fonts you do not understand how to use.

The professional move is understand the copyright license associated with any font you utilize, whether it is a download for 100% “FREE” or even a font that you have purchased. That fonts end user license agreement, or EULA is what you must read to understand your rights to to use the fonts you acquire.
Try reading this article titled Understanding Font Licensing & Usage Rights (Understanding Font Licensing & Usage Rights).

Too lazy to read or spend a decade to learn graphic design, layout and typographic principles for visual communication? 

The smart alternative, hire a Graphic Designer. Like your Accountant, Lawyer, Architect, a Graphic Designer is a professional specialist. Independent Graphic Design professionals such as myself are set up to create visual communication art. We save you time and money creating the many visual communications of business. I eliminate the low end quality and lack of result that is an outcome of doing a visual communication piece yourself.

Monday, May 7, 2018

What font to use…

Recently I was asked this question; What are the fonts to use in a poster of a drama named Downfall?

It is difficult to gain understanding without study and practice. The graphic design and layout of a large format project such as a poster is no exception.

If you’re stuck and have problems in finding “the right” font remember the KISS rule; make your life easier and use a tried and true font. Pick one of these:
Avant Garde
Bell Gothic
Courier Std
Franklin Gothic
Gill Sans
Sabon LT Std
Trade Gothic

You could use these 22 fonts for the next 20 or 30 years and do just fine in solving visual communication issues and creating relevant graphic design art.


If new to poster design start out with using one typeface throughout the poster design.
Pick a typeface that has many font weights, that has good readability and legibility across both display and text sizes (see list above).

What Font to use…

The question itself indicates a project workflow problem; inexperience with design thinking and strategy. The answer to the question you’re asking needs to emerge from client collaboration and the poster project design process itself.

Like any graphic design project asking questions to gain a project understanding during discovery is important to your success. 

A common poster size in the United states for “The One-Sheet” movie poster is 27 inches wide by 40 inches tall. Poster size commonly used in movies and marketing generally starts at 11" x 17", then 18" x 24" as medium size. Large size poster can be 24" x 36" or 27" x 39" These are some of the size choices.

During the discovery part of the graphic design process one aspect is finding out the poster size. If the client is unsure you can make recommendation. Discovery is also asking the client the who, what, where, when, and how about the poster project.
Before a font can be selected and tested you need to ask all the project discovery questions. Knowing poster size is important, it matters, but so does the material you put in to the poster and grasping the poster project context. The font choice is going to happen later in the poster project after discovery, research and planning. It is going to start during strategy development and emerge fully in design development.

You are now ready for design development. You have discussed poster concept with the client and clearly know what the important idea is to communicate. You have obtained and organized all the poster content.You have gone over strategy, know target audience information, the medium the poster represents, event-time, date and so on. Once you know and have the approved copy, a photo or illustration (if image is used), any logo or other art for the poster, you have the poster copy hierarchy organized. Next start sketching different poster layout ideas and typeface choices. Through making rough, then tighter sketches the solutions will come.

Have fun designing your poster.