Cheeps from Hunter-McMain

From Concept to Completion. Creative Advertising and Graphic Design Services.

How Did Graphic Design Work Before Computers?

Many people fondly remember the “good ole’ days.” Back when everyone sat down for Sunday dinner, singing kids played hopscotch in the streets, and couples could get into the drive-in for a nickel—those were the days!

Of course when it comes to graphic design, the nostalgia starts to…wear off. Before the advent of programs like Photoshop and InDesign, creating logos and ads was a significantly more painstaking and time-consuming process than it is now! It involved cutting out pictures and text with razor blades, carefully gluing (or waxing) things in place, and drawing perfectly straight lines, over and over.

Hunter-McMain, Inc. has been in business since 1989—and when we started out, we didn’t even use computers! Our designers can remember back (not so fondly) to long hours cutting and waxing down all the components of an ad until it was just so—only to start over from the beginning when the client decided he wanted a different font or a new image.

In fact, we still have some old design tools sitting around the office! Designers used tools like these to create their designs:

Lectro-Stik WAX (left, center) was applied to the back of type photo paper to attach it to art boards. Rubber cement (right)was used to adhere regular paper or “placement” photos (that is, photos used to determine the placement of an image within the ad.)

Lectro-Stik WAX (left, center) was applied to the back of type photo paper to attach it to art boards. Rubber cement (right)was used to adhere regular paper or “placement” photos (that is, photos used to determine the placement of an image within the ad.)

These special pens known as Rapidiographs, were for creating specific line-widths by hand.

These special pens known as Rapidiographs, were for creating specific line-widths by hand.

This “die-cut” was a specially made (and expensive) metal stamp, used to emboss paper! The designer usually owned the die-cut and sent it to the printer to use on the final product.

This “die-cut” was a specially made (and expensive) metal stamp, used to emboss paper! The designer usually owned the die-cut and sent it to the printer to use on the final product.

This fancy stuff is called Letraset. The letters could be rubbed off onto paper one by one, but it had to be done right or parts of the letter wouldn’t stick and the image would be ruined!

This fancy stuff is called Letraset. The letters could be rubbed off onto paper one by one, but it had to be done right or parts of the letter wouldn’t stick and the image would be ruined!

This great video by the publishing and multimedia company Airows shows the pre-computer process of building an ad! Our veteran designers at Hunter-McMain have confirmed that, yes, this is actually how they used to do it. Watch:

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BONUS: This beautiful tool is called the “Gentle Rub Electric Eraser.” That’s right, it’s just an eraser. That is ALL it was used for. You’re welcome.

Gentle Rub Electric Eraser.

Gentle Rub Electric Eraser.

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Author: The Cheeps

"The Cheeps" are the chick designers that run Cheep Cheep Postcards and Cheep Cheep Websites, two divisions of Hunter-McMain, Inc. We're here to provide fun information on advertising design, business tips, and holidays--sometimes random--we would like to celebrate with you.

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