What is that designer talking about?

Hi, I’m Erin — a designer at Able Sense. As a first blog post, I thought I would start with answering the question,“What is that designer talking about?”

5 Basic Design Terms You Should Know

1. What is CMYK, RGB, and PMS? These are 3 common colour modes.

CMYK or ‘Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key or black’, is a colour mode used in print. When Cyan Magenta and Yellow are mixed, they produce black. You’ll also notice that 3 new colours appear — this brings us to the next colour mode, RGB.

RGB or ‘Red, Green and Blue’ is a colour mode used for viewing colours digitally. When Red, Green, and Blue are mixed, they create pure white. Those CMYK colours also reappear.

The third common colour mode is PMS, and no, it’s not a state of the human body. PMS stands for “Pantone Matching System”. This colour mode is used in print. Every Pantone colour is numbered to insure the exact shade of colour is produced each time.

2. Raster and Vector?

For the purpose of this example, I’m using a cute dumpling to show the difference between raster and vector because, why not?

At first glance, both dumplings look the same, but if we zoom into the raster dumpling, you will see the image is made up of pixels, or little squares. If we zoom into the vector dumpling, the edges are crisp since vectors use mathematical equations to produce lines and curves. A vector graphic can be stretched to whatever size, and will still have crisp edges.

Raster images lead us to #3.

3. High Resolution and Low Resolution?

Resolution is the amount of detail an image has. Typically, the higher the resolution, the better the image will appear, whereas lower resolution images will appear blurry or pixelated. When printing an image or graphic, it’s always best to have a high-res image.

4. Trim, Bleed, and Margin?

If you have a document that will be printed, these three terms will come into play.

The trim is where the print will be cut to create the final edge

The bleed is the safe zone beyond the trim. Say you have a colour that goes right to the trim, the colour should continue to the bleed for a clean cut, otherwise, there could be an unwanted white border around the page.

The margin is the space inside the trim. Opposite to bleeds, margins are the inside safe space to insure content does not get trimmed.

If you see these lines when looking over a design, don’t worry, they won’t show up in the final print. These act as communication to the printer.

5. Negative Space?

Negative space refers to an area of a design that is not filled with content. You’ve probably heard a designer say “the design needs breathing room”, this is what we’re referring to. The saying “less is more” walks hand-in-hand with negative space and is very important in design to make content easily digestible.

Those are 5 basic design terms you can use next time you’re talking to a designer.

What are some design terms you often hear?