When placed side by side, you can quickly identify excellent graphic design made by the pros and those by beginners. The journey to becoming a professional graphic designer takes years of blood, sweat, and tears. There's no shortcut to it, but there are graphic design tips that can help you get there quicker. Here are 25 of the best that pro designers want beginners to know:
1. Keep It Simple
Ornate and complex have no place in great graphic design. Keep your designs simple yet impactful. Never fall into the trap of adding elements that your design doesn't need.
2. Limit Your Typefaces
Stick to a simple collection of typefaces. Around two or three can be sufficient enough and avoid a cluttered look in your designs.
Pro tip: Check for licenses first before using a font as not all of them are free to use commercially.
3. Be Consistent
Whether it's fonts, colors, or images, make sure that you're consistent. This helps tie your design down into one visually appealing and harmonious look.
4. Use Contrast
Add visual interest to your design by implementing contrast. Use light against dark, soft against hard, small against large, and so on. It attracts the eyes, introduces rhythm, and establishes hierarchy, among others.
5. Create Visual Hierarchy
Give visual weight to the most critical element of your design. Do this by placing it higher in the layout, using bigger and bolder fonts, or contrasting colors. This helps lead the eyes to where it needs to go first.
6. Use Clear Imagery
Using crisp, clear, and clean imagery does wonders for readability and appeal. There are several ways to do this, one of which is to adjust the background to highlight the elements in the foreground.
Pro tip: Avoid using stock images and graphics that can dampen your design's uniqueness.
7. Learn to Achieve Balance
Give your design structure and stability by adding balance to it. Put equal weight horizontally, vertically, and diagonally to create cohesiveness and effective communication.
8. Maintain a Cohesive Color Palette
Understanding color theory and psychology can help you use colors at their optimal best. Colors can set the tone, mood, and style of your design. Thus, colors help in connecting with your audience and establishing a personality for branding. Using a color scheme generator can help you easily find color combinations for you designs.
9. Embrace Negative Space
Also known as white space, negative space helps with hierarchy and balance. It gives your design a cleaner and more focused look. This is what separates professional-looking work from the newbies', so learn to use it wisely.
10. Create Order with Alignment
A fundamental principle of graphic design, alignment is crucial in creating order, visual connections, and readability. Arrange elements to match how viewers will scan your design and avoid overcrowding.
11. Mind Your Font Pairing
There is art in pairing the right fonts for use in your design. You can combine serif with a non-serif, use bold with light, or handwritten script with plain fonts.
12. Don't Be Afraid to Use Scale
Changing the scale of texts, images, and other elements in your design can be difficult. But learning to do this confidently can help give focus to viewers. Scale these to point viewers to where you need them to focus.
13. Create a MoodBoard
To get a feel of what you're about to design, create a moodboard to help you. They can save you time and help you express your most creativity. Gather your ideas in your moodboard to inspire you or show your client before jumping in on the project.
14. Collect Inspirational Work
Build a collection of graphic designs that you find amazing. This will help you determine and create your own style, preferences, and interests. They aren't meant to be copied but rather to provide inspiration.
15. Set the Mood of Your Designs
Fonts and colors can set the mood for your designs. Identify the atmosphere of your project, then use appropriate typefaces and color schemes. Learn about color psychology and how fonts can put on a friendly, vintage, or somber tone.
16. Think About Kerning
The spaces in between two text characters matter more than most people think. Kerning is the process graphic designers use for making sure that each character fits well with its neighbors.
17. Know About the Latest Trends
Trends come and go. It's a matter of your or your clients' preference if you ignore or follow them. This can depend on the kind of work at hand, though. But to be better at your craft, it's essential to know what the latest trends are. This will help you determine when to follow and when not to.
18. Learn About Business Marketing
Although business marketing isn't a graphic designer's job, it pays to know a little about it. Knowing how design can influence consumers to buy is an excellent skill for a designer to have.
19. Accept Mistakes
Better yet, learn from your mistakes. The pursuit of perfection can be destructive for your designs. It can also do damage to your mental health.
20. Sweat the Small Stuff
Attention to detail is vital to a successful career in graphic design. Always consider factors such as dimensions, file types, or the difference between CMYK and RGB. It's essential to have these minute details before going to the drawing board.
21. Learn to Experiment
To further improve your skills, learn to try new things. Don't settle for one style; try several. If you're finding it difficult to get the perfect font pairs or color combinations, experiment.
22. Use a Variety of Design Elements
Use grids, lines, blocks, repetitions, frames, and many other elements in your designs. Avoid using the same tried and tested method and explore the many options available to you.
23. Understand Branding
In a graphic designer's career, you'll always come across branding. Spend time learning about it and how you can create better logos. Understand how colors can represent a company and everything about connecting with your client's target audience.
24. Get Feedback
Getting constructive criticisms can help you become a better graphic designer. If you can, get valuable feedback as these will help you towards improving your skills.
25. Be Original
You probably heard the phrase "think outside of the box," this is relevant in your career as a graphic designer. Avoid using cliches such as using the same icons as everyone else and, as mentioned above, stock images. Getting inspiration is okay, copying isn't.
Being open to learning new things, especially for the novice, is the key to a successful and profitable career in graphic design. Even the professionals take time to learn something new. It’s the way to improve and get better at what you do. Hopefully, these graphic design tips can help you grow further.