24 Graphic Design Tips For Beginners

Graphic Design Tips For Beginners

You could be a small business owner, a student or simply a graphic design enthusiast who wants to learn more and become a professional at some point.

If you really want to create amazing graphics like a true professional then you will have to be ready to learn. Don’t expect to become a great graphic designer within a short time because the learning process takes a while.

Begin your learning journey step by step, learn from experienced graphic designers and read every good material that you can find about graphic design. We’ve collected some graphic design tips for you to get you started.

1. Always Consider Offsetting Your Dominant Color

A strong color palette is key in graphic design. It is the color palette that determines if the design is a success or not. A boring color palette absolutely breaks design work that would have been appealing.

The colors could be great but you could be making a mistake in the way you present them in your design. The secret is offsetting your dominant color.

This is the ideal way of adding variety to your work and at the same time maintaining simplicity.  If your design has one strong dominant color consider offsetting it for the best effect.

2. Recreate The Designs You Love

Repeating something a lot is one of the best ways to improve it and repetition of design is no exception.

Look around and find a design that you love, then simply try and recreate it. You will not use it anywhere because it is not your own original design but recreate it will enable you to improve your skills.

Whenever you look at a lovely piece of design work always have that desire to know how it was made and then find out by recreating it.

3. Know The Power Of Whitespace

2018 09 27 11h09 07

Whitespace is usually very effective in graphic design. Many modern successful businesses around the world have realized the power of white space and have used it in their graphic designs.

Hardly will you find product images of most successful companies looking hard-edged, instead you will notice that shadows and lots of empty space are majorly on a play in the design.

There is no coincidence in such designs because such designers have deliberately used minimalism, white space and simplicity in their designs in order to have the best effect.

As a beginner emulate the famous designs as you create your own. Begin by giving priority to great quality typeface and simply centralizing your type.

Let the rest of your canvas remain white and the great effect will not be lost on you.

4. Sketching Is Not Outdated

Yes, we are living in the age of computers but good old sketching is still relevant.

Most creative people often sketch up their basic ideas before working on them using their computers. Always sketch basic mockups of all your concepts on paper before you digitize them.

Sketching helps in the creation process because you are able to fully grasp the basic representation of the design you are trying to create.

When you begin sketching, your finished design is likely to wow everyone who gazes upon it.

5. Texturize When You Can

A small element of texture will do a lot when it comes to making your design look professional. Well done texture often adds new dimensions to graphic design work.

However, before you experiment with the texture it is important that you fully understand what you are doing because badly done texture can really go awry.

6. Break The Rules If You Have To

Graphic design has a few rules but often times it’s a free world. You can try everything and try it in different ways until it works.

If you are not happy with a project, refine it over and over until it finally gladdens your heart. The balance of design and symmetry are important guides and good practices but that doesn’t mean that you limit yourself to following them.

Go outside the norm and you might just create the most amazing design that will put the design world into happy chaos.

7. Develop Your Own Unique Style

As your work gets more and more impressive, the technicalities that come with design will not be such a big deal. You will have understood how to create and turn basic ideas into a real design.

The next step will be trying to put your own touch on the imagery that you use. Don’t be hesitant to copy, but always make sure you refine and refine the piece you are emulating.

Eventually, you will notice that you are creating your own style which is similar to handwriting. This will be important if you are going to go professional.

8. Prioritize The Elements

Scale, typography, compositional placement, and color are very important when it comes to prioritizing elements. The message that truly matters in the design should never be overshadowed.

That message or image should remain dominant amidst the other elements in play. For example, if the vector image in the graphic design is that of a mother swaddling a baby and that is the message, at no point should you use a large colorful text to overshadow the image or shroud it with a thick border.

The message of a mother swaddling a child should remain clear and dominant throughout.

9. Learn From Feedback

After creating a design that you love, the next step is showing it to the world. This is the moment to be confident and allow yourself to hear what others think of your work. You could ask a professional graphic designer’s opinion and anyone else that you can showcase your projects too.

Collect graphic design tips from the experts. Welcome criticism and use the critic remarks to further improve your work.

Have the right attitude when you listen to criticism and you will be on your way to becoming one of the best graphic designers.

The whole point of wanting to learn is to eventually create designs that will attract and impress people. So, take advantage of every opportunity of getting feedback.

10.Be Passionate About Design

Before you begin a project, always consider ideas that you love. Look for projects that will ignite the passion to design in you.

Learn something with every project you take on and when you have acquired an arsenal of useful design skills, you can fit right in there with the professionals. Remain creative and keep practising and you will get better every day. Collect graphic design tips and articles to perfect your craft.

Graphic design is interesting and when you decide to learn it, you will never have to depend on others to create logos, webpage graphics and anything that requires graphics.

If you are a business owner, the knowledge will work to your advantage. However, if you decide to go professional, then you will find a friendly market that will require your skills.

The above graphic design tips should steer you in the right path. And once you create a project you’re proud of, consider printing it on our high-quality Ultraboard.

11. Tools of the graphic design trade

Here is number 1 on our graphic design tips for beginners.  In order to get your project off the ground, you need tools to work with – that goes without saying. In the world of design, you’ll soon find that Adobe is king.

While you can of course purchase a perpetual license for one of their products, a better solution might be to sign up for their monthly cloud subscription service – this gives you access to a range of products for one price.

Below are the three main programs you’ll be using:

Illustrator – if you’ve ever come across clever infographics and cool logos, chances are they were made with this one.

Photoshop – this is the weapon of choice for photographers and image editors alike, as it has an impressive arsenal of editing tools.

InDesign – once you’ve created logos in Illustrator and edited images in Photoshop, you’ll want to use InDesign to put it all together if you’re making a poster or brochure.

There are of course other tools you can use as alternatives to the above (such as Affinity Designer or Inkscape) but Adobe is pretty much the industry standard.

12. Questions to ask about your graphic design

As a budding graphic designer you probably already have an array of heroes and sources of inspiration. You have most likely discovered amazing artists, graphic designers, and styles from across history that you want to emulate and build on.

That’s great – but your internal mood board might not necessarily be the right tool for the job. So what is the right tool for the job? Well, that depends on the job – obviously. Use your goal as a starting point for how to collect inspirational references. Ask yourself questions:

  • What are you trying to achieve with your design?
  • Who are you trying to reach with your design?
  • Where will your design be displayed?

If your job is to produce an advert for a product, then a good starting point is to look at similar ads. But don’t simply collect a bunch of ads that look nice. Be analytical in your approach. Make a note (mental or physical) of why you think a particular piece works. Again, ask questions.

  • What makes this particular design stand out?
  • How does it speak to its intended audience?
  • Why does it work the way it should?

Equally important in answering these questions is answering the opposite questions.

Some graphic designs don’t work. Why not? What makes them subpar? Answering these questions will help you avoid making the same mistakes.

Once you have the answers to these basic questions, it will be much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff when you go hunting for inspirational references.

13. How to find inspiration for your graphic design

Number 3 of our graphic design tips for beginners, seek and ye shall find. But where does one seek? You could, of course, look at posters, billboards, banners, and flyers you come across when you’re out and about.

Tearing down other people’s adverts will probably get you run out of town pretty fast, so taking some snaps with your phone is probably a better idea.

Flipping through magazines is another way and an approach that has stood the test of time. Again, ripping out pages or cutting out images is impractical, as you will quickly land yourself in an episode of Hoarders.

Then there is the Internet. Pinterest and Tumblr are the go-to places for visual inspiration, and in particular, Pinterest is great for creating mood boards you can easily categorize and revisit when the need arises. Create separate boards for separate kinds of job, and label them appropriately.

14. Good artists copy; great artists steal

That’s a Picasso quote you can take to the bank. This is not to encourage copyright infringement, but it is worth keeping in mind that everything you see if derived from something else.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and without the work of those who came before us, we would have to first invent the wheel.

Fortunately, the wheel has already been invented, so now you can focus on improving and modifying it, rather than reinventing it. Take the ideas of other graphic designers and… change them!

The art of the remix is not limited to the music industry. Who knows – the changes you make to the work of someone else may themselves become something worth for others to imitate.

15. K.I.S.S.

“Less is more”. “If you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it well enough”. Or, more frankly, “keep it simple, stupid”. You’ve probably heard these sayings thrown around more than once, and there’s a good reason why certain clichés stand the test of time: they’re true.

As a beginner, you are most likely very eager to try out a lot of different techniques to impress yourself and others. Here’s another one: “You have to learn to crawl before you can walk.”

What’s worth bearing in mind when you enter the graphic design industry is that it’s easier to add to your existing design that it is to subtract elements from an elaborate piece.

16. Focus on flat graphic designs

With graphic design, the possibilities for making things come to life are endless. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say (okay, enough sayings). You can easily make a design pop without doing so literally by using textures and shadows.

There will always be the temptation to use 3D techniques in order to appear more “professional” –  skip these for the time being, and focus on making flat designs. There are two main reasons for this.

First, if you look around, you will notice that a lot of big companies make use of flat graphic designs. This isn’t because they wanted to save money on a more expensive design, but rather because flat designs work.

Secondly, when you’re at the beginning stages of learning about graphic design, you will want to focus your efforts more on learning about spacing and alignment.

Not only are these elements easier to master, but mastering them will help you build a solid foundation on which to further develop your skills. 

17. Think outside the box(es)

Another technique that has been done to death is the boxing of text when it comes to the best graphic design tips for beginners.

Yes, it can be incredibly useful to draw attention to a particular piece of text in a text-heavy design, but always ask yourself if you really need to box in a given piece of text.

Are there any other ways you can draw attention to it? Perhaps you can experiment with a different font, size, color or style. Maybe it’s no more complicated than simply positioning it differently (see tip 6 above).

What’s more, you can use the lack of boxes to your advantage: in a world where everyone and their mother have an affinity to boxes, a bit of creativity on your part can easily make your designs stand out from the crowd.

18. Using negative space in your graphic design

White space, blank space, or negative space. This is an often underrated element of any image design, whether you’re a graphic designer, photographer, painter, writer, or film-maker. Beginners often fall into the trap of thinking that they need to fill out a canvas.

This is understandable, because it can easily feel like something is missing, or that a lot of space has not been utilized.

However, this is the wrong way to think about it. Think about the negative space as the part of your design that draws the viewer’s attention to the central part of it, whether that be a logo or a piece of text.

Without negative space, there would be too much going on for the viewer to focus on what you actually want them to see. I know that there are images that are so beautiful, intricate and complex that you can spend hours poring over it without getting bored.

That’s all fine and well – but we live in the of short attention spans. Goldfish now have a longer attention span than the average person browsing the Internet.

Don’t believe me? They believe in science. Studies show that negative space makes elements easier to comprehend.

A perfect example of this is spacing between words and paragraphs. Spaceswouldmakethissentencemucheasiertoread. As with anything, negative space can be overdone, so it’s a balancing act you will have to learn by trial and error. 

19. Analyze and dissect graphic designs

When you’re a beginner, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with all the different techniques and approaches there are to learn.

You should reach out to anyone you know for graphic design tips.  When this happens, step back and take a deep breath. As with any other piece of work, graphic designs can be analyzed, dissected and broken down into pieces. Many smaller elements composed the whole graphic design.

Just like a house is traditionally built one brick at a time, so is a graphic design created one line and one shape at a time.

As mentioned earlier, it’s always best to focus on the general shapes, and then work your way into the tiny details. By practicing on designs you come across, you will soon get used to identifying the general concepts – and then it won’t seem to intimidate.

20. Learn from professional graphic designers, graphic design tips for beginners

The Internet has a wealth of knowledge available – all for the price of free! All you have to do is check YouTube and Google (after you’ve read this guide of course) and you will find that there is a bottomless rabbit hole waiting for you.

21. Get Inspired, Our Favorite of the Graphic Design Tips

You are already interested in graphic design but are you inspired? You can only get inspired by the best graphic designers in the industry.

One of our favorite graphic design tips has to do with collecting inspiration. Closely look at the pages in your Pinterest and pin on your board all the designs that take your breath away.

Follow renowned graphic designers online and learn from everything graphic design-related that they post. Attend graphic design workshops in order to get inspired and start hanging around real graphic designers in order to directly learn from them.

You could even work in a graphic design firm as a volunteer or intern for a few hours so that you can learn.  However, you shouldn’t copy anyone’s design, the beautiful graphics you see should inspire you to create uniquely beautiful ones of your own.

22. Simplicity Is Good

2018 09 27 11h08 07

By now you know a few things about design, therefore don’t be in a hurry to create complicated designs by cramming too much on your canvas.

Using too many colors, typefaces and elements will create a design that is too busy and ignites that hectic feeling. Let your design breathe and express itself on the page.

Always think how your finished work would look like if you removed certain elements. Never underestimate simplicity in design, it is the simple designs in most cases that have the most powerful effect.

23. Always Choose The Right Fonts

One of the vital aspects when it comes to a design is clarity. The design is supposed to effectively communicate a certain message.

Therefore, if you make your text too complicated or fancy just in order to achieve visual appeal, you will fail to communicate your message successfully.

If you absorb any graphic design tips, absorb this one! Avoid using diverse typefaces in one design because the viewer will have a hard time adjusting their eyes to the different styles and forms of your test.

It is always important to use a variety of the same font family if you have to create that visual appeal in your text.

Experiment with different fonts if you don’t want to stick to the same font throughout the design but make sure that you find the perfect style in your quest to achieve visual appeal in the text. Your text should be anything but any of those boring fonts because the options are endless.

24. Consistency In Your Choice Of Images

When choosing images for your design, ensure that images’ quality remains consistent all through.

The quality, style, framing, proportions, and lighting of image elements should be constant throughout the design. Your diagrams, graphics, images, and illustrations you decide to use should always add more appeal and meaning to your design project.

Besides consistency in your images makes the design more professional looking. This is an important inclusion on a list of our favorite graphic design tips.

Don't forget to share this post!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp

Want to see more from Nonstop Signs?

We’ll send you emails with our latest and greatest posts—and some fun extras.