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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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Design Glossary

DesignGlossary

Alignment: This term is use to refer to the position of the text in body copy. Alignments can be flushed left / ragged right, flushed right / ragged left, centered, and justified which means it is both aligned flush right and flushed left.

Aqueous Coating: A protective coating on a printed piece applied by the printer to enhance the printed surface.

Bitmap: A collection of individual dots or pixels in a computer graphics.

Bleed: This means we extend beyond the border or margin so when it is trimmed it “bleeds” off the edge.

Camera-Ready Art: Artwork is prepared to be photographed for a press plate and is ready to print. No additional work needs to be done before it goes to press.

CMYK: This is the abbreviation for process colors or “full color”…they stand for cyan blue, magenta red, yellow and black (K).

Die Cut: A finished printed piece that has a unique cut to the piece. For instance if you have a rounded shape, this is “die cut” from sharp blades to create its unique shape.

Duotone: Two colors combined make a duotone. A vintage photo look can be created with a sepia brown and black, combined it looks like one color but its actually two.

Em Dash: A long dash used in punctuation. (Em is a unit of measuring the width of printed text that is equal to the height of the type size being used).

Gutter: The term refers to the space between columns of type or in a center spread of 2 pages, the gutter is the middle where the catalog or magazine is bound.

Kern: To reduce the letter space between characters or type.

Low-Resolution: This describes the image on a computer that has a low number of pixels per square inch. Printing needs a hi-resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi).

Moiré: (Pronounced “mo-ray”) This is an undesirable effect found in a halftone print resulting from interfering patterns caused by incorrect screen patterns. If you scan a photo that has halftones and put it in a document that is printed again, a moiré pattern will happen.

Pantone: A collection of colors used in printing that is a global matching system that all printers use. These colors are numbered and used across the print industry to have the same system in place to match each other.

PMS: No ladies, not that! In the design world this stands for Pantone Matching System.

Runaround: In typography, the text would go around an image such as a photo or illustration this is also known as runaround.

SWOP: In printing this is a color standard for proofing which stands for Specifications for Web-Offset Printing.

Vector Graphic: Vector art that is object oriented by use of points, lines, curves and shapes which can be resized without it being halftones. If you send a picture that is a fixed size image, enlarging it will look blurry. Vector graphics can be sized and will not lose the quality of the image.

Watermark: A translucent logo in paper created during manufacturing so that the design is faint yet visible when held against the light which usually identifies the maker.