Laborious Tools

The Lost World: Laborious Tools And Techniques Of Graphic Design

Feature Image Source: Freepik

Have you ever used a composing stick for typography? I bet only those who know the history of graphic design are aware of the back-breaking instruments and processes designers used once to create books, magazines, newspapers, posters and other design items by hand. It was hard labor accompanied by cuts from blades and hazardous toxins from rubber cement. Today everything is rather simple for you with all the software and technology – a few clicks and it’s done. On the contrary, in the beginning of graphic design, things weren’t automatic.

Labor – Intensive Graphic Design

Today we’re literally “blessed” with design gadgets, software and apps to help us make a stunning project. However, these perks weren’t there in the fifteenth century for example. To become a graphic designer was not easy since everything was hand-crafted. There was a huge difference in the way things were planned, designed and produced than now.

  • For photo manipulation, Adobe Photoshop wasn’t an option. Designers had to use paper cutters and glue to cut and paste images into one new conceptual layout.
  • Since shapes weren’t automatically made via a software algorithm, designers had to use dietzgen drafting sets for technical drawings and precision.
  • To align objects, there weren’t software generated rulers and grids. Back then, graphic designers had to use wooden rulers and their eyesight for alignment.

So the next time you fret over client changes or deadlines, remember how designers in the past dealt with such situations when they didn’t have any digital assistance. Just imagine for a second and it’ll surely give you goosebumps.

Labor Day For Graphic Designers

For this Labor Day, let’s retrace the laborious tools and techniques graphic designers used at a time when computer didn’t exist. Apart from the list of ten below, the documentary Graphic Means gives a great insight into the world of design sans digital. Moreover, in the book Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, you’ll discover how visual communication evolved into a full-fledged industry.

Also Explore: Recommended Books for Newbie Graphic Designers

Check out these taxing tools and techniques you can seriously call the pioneers of graphic design.

laborious graphic design

1. Movable Type

Movable Type

2. Relief Printing

Relief Printing

3. Dip Pen

Dip Pen

4. Lettering Guide

Lettering Guide

5. Dial-A-Color


6. T-square


7. Paper Cutter

Paper Cutter

8. Photo Montage

Photo Montage

9. Rubber cement

Rubber cement

10. Composing Stick

Composing Stick
Despite all the strenuous efforts, passion for graphic design never died.

In some design schools students are taught about the forgotten graphic design supplies, but there are several places where design education starts from a computer and there’s no trace of graphic design history in their syllabus. We’ve come a long way and we should be proud of what we’ve achieved. We must know about all the inventions that got us where we are today.

Have you used a laborious graphic design tool or technique we’ve not mentioned?

Vectors Source: Freepik ; custom-made

A visual design blogger passionate about interactive, experiential and captivating techniques designers, marketers and brands use to accentuate messages, tell stories, and spread awareness. I’m a visual addict like Alice, who finds books (or anything) without pictures boring! My writings focus on graphic and web design, branding, and visual marketing. My hobbies are to write poems, draw zentangles, read mysteries, and watch YouTube videos.

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