Do you want to learn graphic design but don’t know where to start? We’re surrounded by the work of graphic designers. They create storyboards, work in advertisement, print media, animation, and game design. Websites, brochures, and logos are all made by graphic designers for businesses. Graphic design work progresses and develops in tandem with technological advancements.
But how do you become a graphic designer? What do you need to learn? And how do you stay up to date in a constantly evolving career?
Now that you’ve decided graphic design is the career path you want to take or the skill you want to develop in your current position, you’ll need some direction on how to get there. As with any discipline, you’ll have a lot of new things to learn, and you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss what you need to learn to achieve your goal.
What Does a Graphic Designer Do?
Graphic design is defined as “the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content” by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). In other words, graphic design is the visual representation of concepts or messages and serves as a means of communication. It could be something as simple as a company logo or as elaborate as website templates.
A Graphic Designer’s job is to create visuals that will convey a message or sell a product or service. They don’t necessarily have to draw, but they need to have creativity and the technical skills to make beautiful compositions by putting together design elements.
Working as a graphic designer involves the following tasks:
- discussing the project’s specifications with clients and associates
- estimating project costs
- selecting the best materials and style
- preparing rough sketches or computer visuals to show clients
- preparing designs using professional computer software
- creating a final layout that meets the exact specifications
- working within the budget and meeting deadlines.
You may also need to produce 3D designs for packaging, prototypes, displays, and exhibitions.
To have a successful career, graphic designers usually need to have IT and drawing skills. They need to be solution-oriented and excellent at communicating. Most have a degree in graphic design or another art and design-related subject.
You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with design software and image-editing software. You can enroll in courses, but you can also learn this through self-study. There are a lot of free online resources, including PDF tutorials. You can find tools that allow you to split PDF tutorials into modules. You can combine the modules with video tutorials for a more effective study plan.
Employers are most interested in your design skills and creativity, which you can showcase through a portfolio. It will be more difficult to get a job in the beginning, so we recommend looking into freelance work and internships to get opportunities to build a portfolio that will get you more jobs in the future. You should also want to invest some time in networking and creating a website to display your work.
Start With the Basics
From print and web design to animation and motion graphics, graphic design encompasses a wide range of specializations, so it can offer you a lot of options to suit your interests. If you asked someone to define graphic design thirty years ago, they would probably have focused on print media like posters, magazines, and advertisements, but now that we’re living in the digital age, several different specializations have emerged like website design, UX design and motion graphics.
However, you’ll want to start with the basics: topography, colors, and working with images.
Topography is essential to graphic design, and most designers have some strong preferences that sometimes border on obsession. Learning the fundamentals of topography will allow you to create logos, magazine copy, and advertisements that give a brand character. It’s central to communicating the brand’s message since it sets the mood and tone.
Color is also used to set the mood and personality of your layouts. You’ll need to understand how colors complement and clash with each other, how to use them in your designs and how to justify your choices when pitching your ideas to clients.
Then you’ll want to learn the basics of working with images. You don’t have to become a Photoshop expert right away, but you do need to learn how to use images in your designs and how to make them work for you.
Learn a Few Design Applications
In the digital age, all designers are required to learn a few industry-standard software tools. We recommend you take them one at a time, or you’ll quickly get overwhelmed. Thankfully, even if you decide to take the self-taught route, there are a lot of engaging and informative tutorials you can find online for free or at a very affordable price.
Adobe Photoshop is a highly versatile and powerful software tool that you can use to edit and manipulate images and use them to create compositions. It’s popular among many creative professionals, from graphic designers and photographers to digital artists and developers.
Adobe InDesign is a layout application graphic designers use both for print media and digital. It gives you control over layout, topography, and interactivity. It gives the best result when used in tandem with the previous two applications.
Sketch is another standard tool for graphic designers that’s very intuitive. It combines vectors and image editing, and you can use it when working on websites or apps.
Like any field of study, graphic design comes with its own terminology. You’ll encounter terms like tracking, kerning, x-height, leading, rule of thirds, and golden ratio. Through a simple google search, you can find lists of the most common terms.
We recommend that you read these lists before starting with any other courses on graphic design since it will allow you to understand “design speak” and make it much easier to choose courses according to your interests and communicate with other designers or design enthusiasts.