Graphic Design

Design Principles

A brief history in Graphic Design

Gothic Revival

Arts and Crafts - The Arts and Crafts movement emerged as a rebellion to the negative impact of mass-production and the Industrial Revolution, and its romantic ideals still reverberate today:

Bauhaus - Bauhaus, one of the 100 ideas that changed graphic design, revolutionized design education by introducing a cross-disciplinary curriculum and embraced the intersection of innovation and inspiration:

Modernism - Modernism emerged from a disillusionment with history after the World War and spanned every corner of creative expression, from art (e.g., Agnes Martin) to music (e.g., John Cage) to design (e.g., Charles and Ray Eames), becoming the single most influential creative movement of the 20th century:

American Industrial Design -   Postmodernism criticized modernism for having failed at reinvigorating society and set out to transform culture politically, philosophically, and creatively, pushing society to question why things are the way they ar

American Industrial Design -  After The Great Depression erased consumer demand, American industrial design set to out rebuild the world of tomorrow and reignite people’s appreciation for objects by making things that previously didn’t need to appear attractive now sleek and desirable, effectively bridging form and function and ushering in The Century of the Self:

style became equally as important as function

Postmodernism - Postmodernism criticized modernism for having failed at reinvigorating society and set out to transform culture politically, philosophically, and creatively, pushing society to question why things are the way they are:

Graphic design elements

Typography -
Colour - colour psychology

Other considerations - graphic deign should be simple and scalable (logo Design)

when revising graphic design, you should study two logo design examples, referring to image, typography, layout, colour and the simplicity and scalability of the logo.  you should also have some background information about the product. 

You should also study two examples of packaging design, referring again to the branding - imagery, typography, layout and colour,  while also analysing the shape of the product and it's visual impact.

When revising Poster design, you should discuss the imagery, typography and colour utilised in the poster, however when analysing the layout of the poster further information should be included referring to the balance, contrast, alignment, proximity and unity between elements of the composition.

Graphic design exam questions

2013 Q - 20.
The role of packaging in the sale of soft drinks cannot be underestimated.
Discuss this statement with reference to two such products of your choice. Refer to design concept, branding, and the use of art elements such as shape and colour.


What would you consider to be the most important factors when designing packaging for a perfume or aftershave aimed at the teenage market?

Illustrate your answer.

2006 – Q19
A successful logo readily identifies a company and its product or service.

 (a) Sketch and describe in detail two logos that you find particularly effective.


 (b) Outline the important considerations when designing a logo for a sports company.

Use sketches to illustrate your answer.

Some questions may require you to think outside the box slightly - but you should still remember to apply the same knowledge of design principles when answering:

2007 - Q 18
Select and name a picture from your Irish or European art history course which would be suitable as the inspiration for a poster to advertise a local amenity area or a health and spa centre. Give reasons for your choice of painting


 Discuss the relevant design considerations for such a poster.

 Illustrate your answer.

Branding and Brand Identity

2009 – Q19

As a consumer culture we encounter a proliferation of brand identities daily. Discuss this statement in

relation to packaging design, naming two examples you feel work particularly well.


Discuss briefly your own design ideas that would improve one of your chosen packages.

Use sketches to illustrate your answer.

Digital Photography and computer editing software in Graphic Design

With the advancement of technology, everything is already fast and more convenient. The world is revolving around technology and when it comes to taking pictures, the world of digital photography would be there to be in line with these fast changes.  Digital photography is of course a huge advantage when creating pieces of graphic design; here are some of the most popular reasons.
Speeds up the process.
Aside from the easy picture-taking process, one can also easily reproduce your design and add it to digital communications like emails and websites. It can reach millions of people in an instant. It is of great advantage especially in the fast moving world today.

Easy image editing.
If there are changes you want to make for your design, you will be able to easily edit them. You can add effects to it, adjust the brightness, saturation, contrast, colors and apply filters. You can also choose which software you would like to use like Adobe Photoshop and others.
It is more economical.
Digital photography and design editing software are also more economical. A digital graphic design piece can be reproduced in as many copies as you want even, in a variety of sizes.  Due to the fact that the time needed for the design process has decreased, design companies can also complete more work in a shorter period of time and can therefore take on more briefs. 

Better photo quality.
A picture taken using a digital camera looks a sharper and more professional than hand rendered imagery. They look more vivid, sharper, brighter and are realistic. Colour quality is also much better and clearer. With digital photography, you can even place effects while taking a picture because some cameras have built-in effects like black and white, sepia and many others.

Digital Imaging Software

Being a good software user is important, but it’s not as important as being a creative thinker. That said, the most common software used in the graphic design industry is listed below. There are applications other than the ones below, but these are the industry standards.
Page Layout – For creating brochures, flyers, books, reports, etc. These two applications are in direct competition with each other. Quark came first but the industry favourite has become InDesign.
Illustration – For creating logos, charts, icons, or almost any kind of vector-based illustration.
Photos and Images – For working with any kind of pixel-based image like photos or scanned hand-drawn artwork.
Website Design - For creating and working with websites.

Computer editing software in graphic design exam questions

2013 – Q19
Photography and computer editing software are often used to develop posters to advertise new films. Discuss and compare the two posters illustrated on the accompanying sheet, indicating if they are effective and which of the two in your opinion is the most effective design. Give reasons for your answer referring to concept, imagery, layout, typography and colour.


 Briefly outline the benefits of using digital photography in graphic design.

Illustrate your answer.

Product Design

When revising product design, you should study up to 3 different products (preferably one recycled product) analysing the following areas of each product:

  • Ergonomics – how user friendly something is. Ergonomics is the science of making things comfy and it also makes things efficient.  The product should suit the requirements for those whom it was designed.  Examples include –
    •  a small kitchen utensil should fit in the hand comfortably and should be able to fulfill its purpose.
    •  Larger items such as pieces of furniture should be shaped to their purpose – the body position of the user has to be considered.
  • Functioning - properly and efficiently, a product needs to be mechanically safe and sound.
  • Materials – the product should be made of suitable materials, a modern electric kettle has a heat resistant kettle making it safer to use.
  • Aesthetics – a product should look well and be pleasing in shape, colour and texture.  Culture and fashion partly dictate what is acceptable, but well designed objects should be ageless.

Product design exam question

2006 – Q17

The 19th century designer, William Morris (1834-96) said ... ‘have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’. Discuss this statement in relation to the function, form, materials, texture and colour of any two objects found in the home


what would be your main considerations when buying an electric kettle or a floor rug.

Illustrate your answer.