Graphic design by definition – From Robert Lane Design

Graphic design definition composition
Visual communication by a skillful combination of text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, books, etc.

It seems really simple. With the availability of easy to use software and templates today just about anyone can produce some sort of “graphic design.” What separates someone who knows how to use graphic design software and someone who understands how to communicate visually? A proper knowledge of the three basics of graphic design.

Graphic design is best broken down into three basic ingredients:
  • Composition
  • Components
  • Concept
Graphic design definition Composition

Composition is the manner pieces or components are combined and arranged visually to tell a story. Proper composition considers alignment, grouping, placement, space, and visual flow within a layout. This layout can be any medium. Once a proper audience and purpose have been determined then composition, components, and concept can encompass that identified purpose allowing a successful design. Here is a simple diagram to visually represent what I am trying to explain.

Graphic design definition infographic

Graphic design by definition – Components

building blocks of graphic design
Components are the visual elements used in any design and may include images, illustrations, icons, typography, edges, backgrounds, lines, or shapes. Basically it is the stuff, if any, you put into your graphic design work. The size and arrangement of these assets gets back to composition, but without these elements composition may not necessarily be possible.

Another resource that I use often is in my own personal collection of books. It is the Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color. This is great resource for choosing color combinations I use for various projects. I have even shown it to clients and had them pick colors directly from the book. Money well spent in my opinion. You can pick up a copy from

My last go to resource doesn’t cost me much, but is vital to my particular design process. I like to use the conventional pencil and paper to sketch a layout before I start working on the computer. Even for page layout. This helps me gather my components and saves me vital time in the long run.

Here is a small list of resources for some of the components that I use regularly. First I like to use textured backgrounds of all kinds. From specific like a brick wall to abstract textures that I use simple for displacement maps in Photoshop. I have found that I can find simply any kind of texture from a website called CG Textures. You name it they pretty much have it; check out their website. You’ll love what you find.

Graphic design by definition – Concept

The concept in a graphic design definition
The concept as it pertains to graphic design is simply a notion. It is the connotation or message with which a piece is presented. Without a proper perspective on the targeted audience or intended message your concept could be wrong. Don’t get me wrong. Your ideas might be great, but if given the wrong application, it will be of no consequence. The concept is intangible at times, but necessary nonetheless. If composition, components, and concept are leveraged correctly the message will be clear.

Employing proper principles in these three areas of your design will create for you the designer a practical and versatile framework from which to operate. No matter the stage in your creative process, proper execution of composition, components, and concept working around the targeted audience will produce successful design.

Composition, Components, Concept