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The Graphic Design Process: Researching, Rendering, Revising

July 22, 2013 IADT General, Graphic Design 0 Comments

Graphic Design Researching, Rendering and RevisingYou must find a design process that fits your aesthetics and work style. There is no universal method for design.

You may have noticed by now that your instructors and other professionals in the industry each have their own approach to design projects. Some may spend more time in different phases according to their individual styles, client demands and project needs.

Below, we compare the design processes of two graphic designers: David Airey, a graphic design entrepreneur, and Chris Steurer, a freelance graphic and Web designer. Their processes have been broken up into three categories: researching, rendering and revising. Learn from their differences as you attempt to answer the question: what is your graphic design process?


Called his “brand identity design process,” Airey begins with an interview-like session with his clients. He creates a Design Brief outlining the details of the project after the interview. He thinks this “saves everyone time.” After reviewing this information, he begins researching and brainstorming. He takes into consideration competitors, market trends, product and service differentiators, the history of the business he is working with, the future, the current brand and the clients’ aspirations for the brand.

Steurer begins with research. He believes this is one of the most crucial steps in the design process because it allows you to create something worthwhile for your clients. He begins by researching the client and their competitors. Steurer does general research regarding the product, including synonyms, keywords and specific industry terminology. He also likes to compile reference images as inspiration for design and layout elements.

After completing research, he brainstorms. Unlike Airey, Steurer mind maps.” This means he organizes his brainstorm around central concepts – on paper. Mind mapping allows him to see connections and begin to conceptualize.


Next, Airey begins sketching on paper. He sees sketching as an opportunity to explore every direction the design could go. In his next step, rendering, Airey takes two or three of the most effective ideas from his sketches. These ideas are developed on a computer.

Similarly, Steurer’s next step is also sketching. However, he sketches in rounds. In the first round, he is minimal; his sketches do not include much detail. He uses it to focus on ideas, especially the layout, shapes and elements he is incorporating. He sketches further rounds to add detail. Once he is satisfied, Steurer creates a digital mockup of his sketch. For digital mockups, he recommends focusing on the structure of the design rather than on color or excessive detail.


Unlike Steruer’s process, which focuses on research, Airey’s design process concentrates on client satisfaction. Therefore, he spends most of his process in the revision stage. After submitting his renderings to the client, he revises and finalizes the project. He tries to maintain flexibility in his designs.

In the composition phase, Steurer adds finer details and develops a “nearly finished” design. In this stage, he takes feedback from the client that allows him to tweak and edit his design. When everything is approved by the client, he creates the final deliverables.

The differences in design processes between these two professionals might seem minimal. However, these processes have been designed over the course of their career to reflect their style and work ethic. Be conscious of your work process as you complete projects.  Start developing your work esthetic today by asking yourself: how can this process translate to the industry?

For more information, ask your Graphic Design program adviser for tips on creating your own design process.


What do you think?