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A Graphic Arts Handbook

My professional life distilled into one book: the essential companion to print and screen graphics.

Available in ePub, PDF and paper. Publication date: Easter 2020.

Download the course slides here.

Preface

This book has been a very long time coming. I began using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator in their very first versions – and even before in the form of MacPaint and MacDraw. I was there at the beginning of the ‘desktop publishing’ revolution  in the mid 1980s which saw the gradual, then rapid decline of traditional production techniques in favour of computer-based systems. 

I’ve been an instructor for Adobe software, among other applications, since the late 1990s and continue to teach and lecture in design and creative software. So, it’s about time I finished what I’ve written in parts for any number of courses over many years.

At the time of writing, it’s easy to assume that graphic design is pretty-much synonymous with Adobe software – what is now branded as the ‘Creative Cloud’ applications of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat not to mention their tools for motion graphics and video editing, Premiere Pro and After Effects; their web design apps, Dreamweaver and Muse; the dominant photographer’s application, Lightroom and many niche products such as Dimension, Animate (nee, Flash) and Character Animator; and finally, the growing list of mobile apps such as Spark, Capture, Sketch and Draw.

It’s a long and exhaustive list and over the years Adobe have worked hard to maintain their dominance in the creative space. They were pioneers in the development of fundamental technologies such as the Portable Document Format (PDF) and the printer language, PostScript, which was the underlying technology of the venerable Apple Laserwriter, the first affordable laser printer in the 1980s. 

Adobe were also among the first to make web code accessible to designers, initially with their PageMill program, followed by GoLive, and finally Dreamweaver which they acquired in the 1990s. They also continue to dominate video editing and compositing despite competition from Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

But with the increasing move towards server-side ‘cloud’ applications and a growing number of independent developers producing effective alternatives, Adobe no longer have the field entirely to themselves. Besides this, so much of our engagement with information now happens on the web and through mobile devices that the conventions of graphic design as a primarily print-based craft, developed with desktop software are changing.

This book, then, is not just a guide to using Adobe software. Of course, Photoshop, InDesign etc form a crucial part of the discussion but the focus is on principles and concepts that are more fundamental than the use of software. Indeed, there are so many ‘tutorials’ on Adobe software available on YouTube alone that it’s hard to imagine the value of yet another source. 

Craig Kirkwood.