Key terms every graphic designer should know

Graphic design, like any profession, is littered with jargon and phrases you might not be familiar with. Here are some of the key terms you should know, with a brief explanation – in words you can understand – of what they mean, plus info on where to go to learn more.

A bit like a design style guide, we’ve separated our list into different section, with a page for the themes of images, typography, graphic design and printing. Use the drop-down menu above to navigate to the theme you’re interested in. We’ll start with terms related to images.

Image types

Raster images

Raster images (sometimes referred to as bitmap images) are made up of thousands of pixels that determine colour and form. Photos are raster images. Photoshop CC is the most common raster editor, enabling you to manipulate the colour and other properties of the pixels.

Because raster images are made up of a finite amount of pixels, resizing can be tricky. If you give a raster image larger dimensions in Photoshop, the software has to make up data in order to add the size. This results in a loss of quality.

Vector images

Vector-based images (such as those created in Illustrator CC) are made up of points, each of which has a defined X and Y coordinate. These points join paths to form shapes, and inside these shapes you can add colour fills. Because everything you generate is based around this, vectors can be blown up to any size without any loss of quality.

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