This stub is being originated by Hayne Ryu.

Overview[edit | edit source]

The Digital Revolution in Design is the advancement of technology from analog electronic and mechanical devices to digital technology in the computer graphics industry with the adoption and proliferation of digital computers from over the course of the 1980s to the present day. The Digital Revolution of Design had been largely driven by personal computer and the Internet.

Definition[edit | edit source]

The term Digital Revolution in Design refers to the radically altered design industry due to rapid technological advancements starting from 1980s to the present day. Until the late 20th century, the graphic design discipline had been based on handicraft processes: layouts were drawn by hand in order to visualize a design; type were specified and ordered from a typesetter; and type proofs and photostats of images were assembled in position on heavy paper or board for photographic reproduction and plate-making.

History[edit | edit source]

Computer generated orthographic view of human form

Graphics without a Screen[edit | edit source]

The term computer graphics was first used in 1960 by William Fetter(1928-2002), a graphic designer for Boeing Aircraft Co. Fetter was trying to "devise a new process in order to maximize the efficiency of the layout inside Boeing's airplane cockpits. His final product was a computer generated orthographic view of the human form. Fetter devised the term 'computer graphics' to describe his creation.

The computer images were created by plotting points on a mathematical field without the advantage of a screen.

The Screen image[edit | edit source]

Drawing with Sketchpad

In 1963, Ivan Sutherland submitted his PhD. thesis, Sketchpad: A Man-machine Graphical Communications System. The software enabled a person, for the very first time, to interactively create an image on a computer display. This was the first Graphical User Interface (GUI) long before the term was coined.

Early Screens[edit | edit source]

The screen before WYSIWYG

The CRT(Cathode Ray Tube) allowed for visualization of data. Initially the screen was mono-color and display was very crude bitmap image. The initial bitmaps were vertical but later the square pixels improved the screen clarity. All commands were input by keyboard until the advent of Graphical User Interface (GUI).

GUI and WYSIWYG[edit | edit source]

The screen after WYSIWYG

The Graphical User Interface (or GUI, pronounced "gooey") uses pictures rather than words to represent the input/output of a program. GUI allows the user to control a program via the use of icons, buttons and pointers.

In 1981, the first consumer GUI was made available, which inspired the Macintosh computer followed in 1983. WISIWYG is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get, where the screen content appears very similar to the final product.

Icons and Typefaces[edit | edit source]

Sketch of original Mac screen icon by Susan Kare

The early icons and typefaces were developed as soon as the computer was able to project actual images. After the MS-DOS type interfaces, where there is only a black screen and user types the command line by line, companies developing personal computers started hiring graphic designers to develop icons and typefaces suitable for the resolution of the personal computer at the time.

The Postscript page-description language from Adobe Systems, Inc., enabled pages of type and images to be assembled into graphic designs on screen. By the mid-1990s, the transition of graphic design from a drafting-table activity to an onscreen computer activity was virtually complete.

Digital Imaging[edit | edit source]

Further advances in technology and continued exploration by designers allowed for undetectable image manipulating, blurring the boundaries between photography, illustration, and fine art. This allowed new method of representing ideas as well as gaining a strong presence in visual landscape of late twentieth century.

Rapid advances in onscreen software also enabled designers to make elements transparent; to stretch, scale, and bend elements; to layer type and images in space; and to combine imagery into complex montages.

The Internet[edit | edit source]

A whole new area of graphic design activity mushroomed in the mid-1990s when Internet commerce became a growing sector of the global economy, causing organizations and businesses to scramble to establish Websites. Designing a Website involved layout of screens of information rather than on pages, which approaching the use of type, images, and color similarly as for printed pages. Web design required a host of new considerations, including designing for navigation through the site and using hypertext links to jump to additional information.

The international appeal and reach of the Internet enabled graphic design profession to be more and more global in scope. The integration of motion graphics, animation, video feeds, and music into Website design has brought about the merging of traditional print and broadcast media. As kinetic media expand from motion pictures and basic television to scores of cable-television channels, video games, and animated Web sites, motion graphics are becoming an increasingly important area of graphic design.

Graphic Design in 21st century[edit | edit source]

In the 21st century, graphic design is ubiquitous; it is a major component of our complex print and electronic information systems. It permeates contemporary society, delivering information, product identification, entertainment, and persuasive messages. The relentless advance of technology has changed dramatically the way graphic designs are created and distributed to a mass audience. However, the fundamental role of the graphic designer—giving expressive form and clarity of content to communicative messages—remains the same.

Examples[edit | edit source]

Development of digital typography[edit | edit source]

Progression of the letter 'e'

Bitmap fonts[edit | edit source]

The first generation of technology in typography resulted in bitmap fonts, comparable to super-composing a sheet of graph paper over a drawn letter and coloring the boxes that fell within the outline of that letter.

Bitmap fonts were faster and easier to use in computer code and could be edited for quality and readability. However, they also required a separate font for each size and resolution which resulted in large amount of memory space required for each font.

Vector fonts[edit | edit source]

Bezier curve

vector fonts(also known as outline fonts) use Bezier curves which draws instructions and mathematical

formula to describe each glyph. This enable the fonts to be scalable to any size as well as saving memory size and process speed.

For vector fonts, analogy drawings of letters were plotted with a mouse or stylus to create an outline representation. These digitized outlines composed the fonts that were installed in a computer operating system.

Post Script Language vs True Type[edit | edit source]

Post Script Language is a computer language designed to describe any printed event on a page. It enabled the transfer of vector art to any output printing device. Although the quality of the fonts appeared better, the first versions needed to have several sizes installed to appear sharp on screen.

TrueTtype is a rival system to Post script language which also used a scalable curve system. However, the Bezier spines were composed of quadratic curves. True Type could hold sufficient information for plain, italic, bold, and bold italic styles. Since True Type fonts have more points for screen, they appeared sharper on screen than Post Script Language fonts.

Digital Imaging[edit | edit source]

MacPaint example

US postage stamp of New York and Frederick Law Olmsted(1998)

Software for Apple's 1984 Macintosh computer, such as the MacPaint program by computer programmer Bill Atkinson and graphic designer Susan Kare, had a revolutionary human interface. Tool icons controlled by a mouse of graphics tablet enabled designers and artists to use computer graphics in an intuitive manner.

In a United States postage stamp from 1998, designers Ethel Kessler and Greg Berger digitally montaged John Singer Sargent's portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted with a photograph of New York's Central Park, a site plan, and botanical art to commemorate the landscape architect.

Resources and Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Patrick Cramsie. The Story Of Graphic Design: From the Invention of Writing to the Birth of Digital Design. 2010. New York: Abrams

This book begins with the origins of the alphabet and carries the reader through the history of graphic design. The last segment describes the impact of digital technology on design today.

This research compares how graphic designers approached their work before the invention of personal computer to after. It analyzes different mediums of digital design and how the application changed the dynamics of graphic design works.

Susan Panning. The Status of Print Designers and the Influence of Digital Technology. 2005.

This study examines the effects that recent technological advancements have had on graphic designers working in the design industry. The study is conducted by exploring how different graphic designers use technology and adapting to the changes caused by it.

Jonas Lowgren. Articulating the Use Qualities of Digital Designs. Aesthetic Computing. 2006. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

This book explores the qualities of aesthetic computing and how the use of computing has evolved with the change of nature of computing in the past 20 or 30 years.

Ida Engholm. Digital style history: the development of graphic design on the Internet. 2002

This is an analytic and reflective article about web design as an aesthetic phenomenon. The article shows how the study of graphic design development of internet may benefit by employing central concept from art and design theory.

Keywords[edit | edit source]






References[edit | edit source]

  5. Cramsie, P. (2010). The Story Of Graphic Design: From the Invention of Writing to the Birth of Digital Design. New York: Abrams.
  6. Downs, S. (2005). Is it a book, is it a screen, no it’s…—graphics and the interface in electronic paper. Digital Creativity, 16(1), 31-42. Retrieved on 12.08.2011 from EBSCOhost.
  7. Engholm, I. (2002). Digital style history: the development of graphic design on the Internet. Digital Creativity, 13(4), 193. Retrieved on 12.08.2011 from EBSCOhost.
  8. Heller, S. and Pettit, E. (2001). Design Excerpts in Kelsalls, A. ‘The Impact of New Digital Technology on the Nature of Graphic Design: The Digital Designer’. Retrieved on 13.082011 from
  9. Hollis, R. (2001). Graphic Design: A Concise History. Revision and expanded Edition. London: Thames & Hudson.
  10. Lowgren, J. (2006). Articulating the Use Qualities of Digital Designs. Aesthetic Computing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  11. Panning, S. (2005) The Status of Print Designers and the Influence of Digital Technology.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.