Beginning Graphic Design: Images

Images. No matter what the subject, we’re naturally
drawn to them. From beautiful, high-definition photos…
to carefully crafted illustrations—even simple examples, like logos and icons. Images are more than just decoration. In design, they’re the hook that draws the
viewer in. Compelling visuals can help you connect with
the audience—and make a strong impression—before they’ve even read a single word. You don’t have to be an artist to use images
in your work. All it takes is a little creativity and a
willingness to think outside the box. With the right resources, you can learn to
set your designs apart. First: Finding high-quality images for any
type of project. Maybe you’re handy with a camera or have some
graphic design experience—that’s great! If not… don’t panic. There are countless sources online that offer
images for exactly this purpose. The truth is, most people (including professionals)
rely on free or low-cost images called stock. Stock is perfect when you need something specific—for
example, a photo of a tiny dog in a teacup—and you don’t have the time or resources to make
it yourself. Most stock image sites let you browse or search
their offerings. Look for results that are relevant to your
project, but also unique in some way. As viewers, people are naturally drawn to
images that feel authentic; for example, distinct but believable photos… and graphics that
tell a story. The best images are somewhat open-ended—they
set the tone for your project but leave room for interpretation. Some stock images are just too generic to
be effective. For instance, how many times have you seen
a business presentation with something like this? For a more modern, professional design, avoid
images that lack context or are too literal in meaning. Instead, look for imagery that’s connected
to your work, but in a more subtle, relatable way. Of course, it’s not just about content. There’s also a technical side to images, which
can have a big impact on your work. It doesn’t matter if the photo you’ve chosen
is absolutely perfect in every other way—if it’s blurry or pixelated, it could give the
wrong impression. Look for high-quality images that are sharp,
clear, and free of distortion. In general, bigger is better, because it gives
you more to work with. A large, high-resolution image can always
be cropped or sized down, depending on the needs of the project. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the other way
around. If you enlarge a smaller image, it immediately
loses quality. That’s because most images are in something
called raster format. They’re made up of thousands, sometimes even
millions of tiny little pixels. When you view a raster image at its original
size or smaller, the pixels are invisible—they’re just too small to see. But if you zoom in or enlarge it… the results
aren’t pretty. Vector graphics are quite different from raster. You can make them any size, big or small,
without losing any quality. That’s because they’re made of something more
complex than pixels—they’re rendered using a special form of geometry. You’re not likely to find vector graphics
outside of professional design settings, but it’s good to know what they are. Few stock images are perfect as-is, even if
they’re technically high quality. Maybe the image is the wrong size or the colors
could use some work. Fortunately, even basic programs let you make
simple adjustments nowadays. Look for these options the next time you need
to fix or enhance an image. Cropping can be used to change the size, shape,
or focus of an image, making it useful in many different situations. Try this feature if your graphic is the wrong
dimensions, or if it includes something you’d rather cut out. Cosmetic adjustments let you enhance certain
image qualities, like brightness… contrast… saturation… and color. If your favorite program offers filters or
presets, you can change your image dramatically with very little time and effort. Resizing an image will ensure it’s the perfect
fit for your project. Just remember: you can’t make images bigger
than their original size without affecting their quality. If the image you’re working with simply isn’t
big enough, it’s best to choose something else. Alternatively, find a creative way to work
with the image size you have. Adding photos, graphics, and other visuals
to your work is a great way to make it more engaging. Even a simple background image can transform
your design into something special. Just remember what you’ve learned about image
quality—both technical and conceptual—and your work is sure to stand out for the right
reasons. We hope you enjoyed learning the basics of
images. Check out the rest of our design topics, including
typography, color, and composition.


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