How To Be A Graphic Designer: The Ultimate Guide
Table of Contents
Today, we can’t imagine a life without graphic design. From billboards to buttons on your mobile and laptop screen, we are surrounded by some graphic design elements.
And that’s because a picture is worth a thousand words. They are an intricate and crucial connection between your audience and you. Personalized images created by a graphic designer evoke interest in your audience and encourage them to share and engage with your brand.
Who is a graphic designer?
To kick it off, let’s first talk about who is a graphic designer and what does he/she does.
It wasn’t until 1992, when the term ‘graphic design,’ coined by William Dwiggins, was used to describe the art of designing using graphic elements. Graphic design, also known as communication design, is a form of art where professionals create graphical content to communicate ideas, thoughts, and or messages.
It is a process of problem-solving through the use of iconography, illustrations, typography, and photography. And graphic designers are visual communicators that create visual concepts/ideas by using computer software and or sometimes even by hand. They use various elements to communicate a particular identity or idea to be used in promotion, branding, and or advertising.
In the creative arena, a graphic designer, according to the requirements and skills, plays different roles. Every graphic designer is a professional visual-thinking problem solver and communicator given the task of solving a specific communication problem and or achieving certain creative outcomes.
For instance, a graphic designer could be:
In this position, you manage a creative team that creates visual content for branding, products, advertising, and marketing campaigns, etc.
As a package designer, your job profile requires you to come up with creative and unique design packaging for products and or marketing with respect to both – the physical construction and design.
This job profile requires you to create the visual expression of the brand’s principal value or message. A logo is a crucial element of a brand’s identity, a part of identity design wherein you carry the logo and brand identity forward for all branding materials.
A content developer creates graphical, written, video, sound, or any other multimedia content depending on the brief.
Art Production Manager
As an art production manager, your role is to manage the production part of art creation and generation, focusing on lowering costs and improving efficiency.
This job profile entails coordinating between illustrators and production artists to make sure that the projects are satisfactory to the client and completed on time.
As an interface designer, you are responsible for developing graphical user interfaces. More often than not, web development companies/organizations require an interface designer.
Visual Image Developer
A visual image developer creates designs and images through 3D modeling, image editing, and photography.
For this job profile, you are asked to create graphical designs and electronic media that can be used for television productions.
As a multimedia developer, you apply your graphic design skills to motion and or sound.
This job profile requires you to create informational graphics, also known as infographics, to communicate complex information. The graphics that you create as a visual journalist can be used for digital and print applications.
Brand Identity Developer
For your job profile as a brand identity developer, you are responsible for building brand identities for various organizations.
A web designer creates layouts, pages, and graphics for a company’s website.
Simply put, a graphic designer combines technology and art to come up with unique, engaging content to convey ideas, messages, and or concepts using a variety of design elements to give it an aesthetic appeal and artistic effect.
One of the aspects of being a graphic designer that gives you an edge over the competition is the use of technology. Keeping yourself up to date with innovative technology and software available in the market for graphic design can inspire and expand your horizons of ideas and creativity.
Be a master of tools
From all the designing software available in the market, choose one, and master it.
Out of the many software alternatives on the market, Adobe software is the most popular and widely used. These industry-standard applications that are part of the Adobe family make creating as well as designing easier and quicker.
Leaving the Adobe family aside, many other software are available for graphic designers to choose from. To help you select the one that suits your needs, we have curated a list of the most popular software available:
It is the standard and most advanced application used in editing and image manipulation by graphic designers. Adobe Photoshop allows you to create, design, and enhance your images using unlimited layers, tools, and masks.
Canva is a great tool launched in 2012 that allows graphic designers to create elaborate art projects efficiently. It is the ideal tool that can be used for websites and advertisements alike by brands from any industry.
Canva has a host of great features, including the drag and drop features. This feature allows users to edit, drop, and drag layers with ease and can be seamlessly used even on tablets.
It is the most favored page layout and design software in the industry for print and digital mediums. Learning Adobe InDesign gives you a grip over typography, interactivity, and page layout. It makes it easier for you to manage your design elements and export your designs in any format.
Procreate is an illustration app designed specifically for iPad users. It is a tool that simplifies a graphic designer’s steps while creating and illustrating any design. It responds well with the Apple Pencil and allows users to save their work as .psd or .pdf that can be easily integrated with Adobe.
Adobe Illustrator is vector-based graphic design software that has become the industry standard for everyone, including the newcomers. It is majorly used to create logos, icons, and vector graphics for web, video, and print projects.
It is a versatile tool that can be used on both Android and iOS systems. Pixlr is a free tool that offers the designers an opportunity to edit photos, add filters, effects, overlays, etc. What makes it more accessible is that it supports almost every image format such as PSD, PXD, Jpeg, etc. and also lets you post your creatives directly to the social media platforms.
The software that you wish to learn depends on the types of projects you want to produce. Choosing software that you will most definitely use to create images that you can post on social media platforms is a great place to start.
6 major principles that every designer should follow
But just learning the tools won’t cut the deal. To develop a great design, you must follow the basic 6 principles applied by designers irrespective of whether they are designing a logo, brochure, a social media post, etc.
Knowing how to combine these principles together will help accentuate your design and help you achieve the desired results:
A color’s value implies the intensity of its darkness and lightness. Whereas, darkening a color can make it seem corporate or professional, and further darkening it can make your brand feel unapproachable as well as apprehensive.
In graphic design, gentle, curved, and or sloped shapes have a more feminine appeal than angular and sharp shapes have rigid, more forceful appeal. Having a basic understanding of shapes will help you choose your graphic design elements wisely and help you generate the desired impact.
Space is an essential principle that every designer should live by and follow. It makes your design look clean, neat, and tidy. Learning to balance the negative space is important because having too much of it can make your elements seem disconnected and floating all over the place.
Lines are one of the important principles that a graphic designer needs to master. Using hand-drawn lines gives your design a more artistic appeal, whereas straight lines bring out a more corporate flair in your design. Having lines creates a visual separation and also helps you transition from one thought to another without breaking the thought process.
Textures are the ideal choice to go with if you’re looking to create a lasting impression on your viewers. From background graphic designs like chalkboard and or paper to natural patterns like leaves and wood, there are a variety of textures available for you to choose from.
Finding the right color balance is crucial so as to create a positive association between your brand and your consumers. Choose an appropriate color palette for your graphic design that makes the right perception in the viewer’s mind and encourages them to take the appropriate action.
Adhering to these 6 principles can be very overwhelming. But having a general understanding of them can help you decide how you want you designed to be perceived and which design will suit best for your brand.
5 design composition and layout rules every designer should live by
Design composition and layout are a part of the final step of designing. Once you’ve got your graphic elements and principles together to make the graphic design, use design composition and layout to provide a definitive structure to your design.
Play around with the various graphic elements of your design to find perfect harmony. As a creator, you need to make sure that every element you have included in your design has breathing space. Also, keep in mind not to tip the design’s balance by cloistering all the elements towards one side of the grid.
One of the primary reasons for using grids is that it brings organization to your design and brings organization in your creative process. Building a strong grid around the images, colors, texts, etc. will make your design feel interconnected and relatable. And having a basic grid idea will give newcomers a roadmap to work on.
Rule of odds
It means that any aesthetically pleasing compositions have an odd number of elements placed in the foreground. There are three elements, where two of them are placed in such a way that they balance the focal object, creating a natural balance between all three of them. Following this rule will ensure that there are not too many elements on the page and that all of the elements are focused on the main subject point.
Scale and emphasis
Scale and emphasis, make sure that you know the focal point of your design so that you can structure it so that it guides your audience’s eyes in that direction. Scale and emphasis help build an organic hierarchy in your graphic design that makes it easier for the audience to follow.
Rule of thirds
This is a must-follow for those struggling with finding the right balance while placing their elements and subject on the page. The most straightforward rule to follow is to place your main subject matter and supporting elements where horizontal and vertical lines intersect. These intersections form a basic guideline that helps in organizing your graphic design better.
The above rules are merely an outline of the various ways a pro graphic designer shapes his/her composition to have the desired impact on the audience.
3 areas to focus while creating a graphic design
These 3 areas of focus can either transform your design into a piece of art or can ruin it completely. It is vital to learn about them since they play a crucial role in conveying the message effectively and efficiently.
So, let’s dive right into these 3 areas of focus that separates a good designer from an amazing one:
Prioritizing the different elements of your graphic design will make your design look neat and organized. It also helps in getting a clear understanding of which elements are of utmost importance and what can be easily disregarded. Having this understanding is essential since it allows you to focus on the message rather than drifting away from it.
This one comes as a no brainer. Contrast is something that every designer, as well as a non-designer, knows about. It can be added to design through various principles such as typography, color, and texture. Using enough contrast between your elements makes sure that some of them stand out more prominently than others.
This one might come as a surprise as it is often not spoken about but unconsciously done in every good graphic design. Rhythm is nothing but the part that makes the human eye transit from one element to the other, without losing context.
When you get a proper understanding of the creative process behind the graphic design, you can go ahead and recreate anything using your own style. And if you like what you see, then you can take it up a notch by using more filters and layers to give it a professional look.
But hold up! Before you go ahead and get started, there is just one more graphic design aspect that you should know. To unleash the full potential of graphic design, you need to know why it is important.
Importance of graphic design in this day and age
Graphic design is so much more than just aesthetics. It is a form of communication between your business and your potential customers. It is what every marketer, without a doubt, adds to his/her marketing strategy.
Caught yourself wondering why is it so? Well, we have come up with 4 reasons that might answer all your doubts regarding graphic design:
Spreads the message
Graphic design is all about communicating a message. It tells a story about your brand that speaks more volumes than words to your audience. Simple graphic design elements such as colors, fonts, etc. will evoke a particular emotion that will reflect upon your message.
A well researched graphic design showcases that you have knowledge about your industry and have an idea as to what your consumers want from you. When you provide more content that relieves a pain point or helps solve a problem in your consumers’ lives, the more your consumers will trust you and take your advice when facing a similar problem.
Consistency with your content will regard you as an expert in your field that will resonate well with your audience.
Creates an impression
For any brand/organization, creating a positive, lasting impression is a must. The first encounter between your potential customer and you will set the tone for the rest of your professional relationship.
And graphic design simplifies this for you. Creating designs that are engaging, interactive, and relatable with a warm, welcoming feel will pull your audience closer and have a higher reach.
Showcases your creativity
Creating original, unique content that is relatable will help you get ahead of your competition. Coming up with creative concepts/ideas to convey your message across will make you stand out from the crowd and even showcase your efficiency.
With these, you have an idea and knowledge about almost everything that you need to know about graphic design. So what are you waiting for? Get your creative juices flowing and start experimenting!
Explore more idea polishing guide at All Time Design.
Having a basic understanding of the different areas, principles, rules, etc. playing together on the blank canvas is just the beginning. With the availability of resources online and offline, the task of creating an interactive graphic design has become more comfortable and quicker.
Though having to learn so much can prove to be quite challenging, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so. Since most of it are things you already know about, this guide is just a means to further emphasize your existing knowledge.
So what are you waiting for? Turn on your device and get started!