Graphic design is the process of visual communication and problem-solving using one or more of typography, photography and illustration. The field is considered a subset of visual communication and communication design, but sometimes the term "graphic design" is used synonymously. Graphic designers create and combine symbols, images and text to form visual representations of ideas and messages. They use typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to create visual compositions.
Common uses of graphic design include corporate design (logos and branding), editorial design (magazines, newspapers and books), wayfinding or environmental design, advertising, web design, communication design, product packaging and signage.
Some designers argue that computers allow them to explore multiple ideas quickly and in more detail than can be achieved by hand-rendering or paste-up. While other designers find the limitless choices from digital design can lead to paralysis or endless iterations with no clear outcome.
Some designers use a hybrid process that combines traditional and computer-based technologies. First, hand-rendered layouts are used to get approval to execute an idea, then the polished visual product is produced on a computer.
Graphic designers are expected to be proficient in software programs for image-making, typography and layout. Nearly all of the popular and "industry standard" software programs used by graphic designers since the early 1990s are products of Adobe Systems Incorporated. Adobe Photoshop (a raster-based program for photo editing) and Adobe Illustrator (a vector-based program for drawing) are often used in the final stage. Designers often use pre-designed raster images and vector graphics in their work from online design databases. Raster images may be edited in Adobe Photoshop, logos and illustrations in Adobe Illustrator, and the final product assembled in one of the major page layout programs, such as Adobe InDesign, Serif PagePlus and QuarkXpress. Powerful open-source programs (which are free) are also used by both professionals and casual users for graphic design. These include Inkscape (for vector graphics), GIMP (for photo-editing and image manipulation), Krita (for painting) and Scribus (for page layout).