Graphic designers around the globe come from different walks of life. Some discover this passion quite early and take-up professional courses or certifications, while some are self-taught who start with logo designing or social media graphic designing. While the later didn't choose a more formal training route, it doesn't imply that their expertise or portfolios are any lesser than their counterparts.
If you fall into the self-taught category, we have 10-tips that can help you boost your design skills:
1. Watch and learn from tutorials and web courses
A plethora of tutorials and webinars are available online which act as a godsend for those teaching themselves the designing. These tutorials are extensive and cover each and every aspect of design, right from the beginning. Make use of this knowledge shared by the experts in the field. There are some great online courses that guide you through the basics of design. Also, webinars and tutorials on YouTube are an accessible and affordable way to learn.
Even if you are an intermediary with basic knowledge of the fields, keep following and watching as many tutorials as possible, you never know what new tool or hack you may find. Absorb as much information as possible from the tutorials and try them on your own. This practice will keep the fervour of learning alive while improving your design skills.
2. Experiment as much as possible
When it comes to design, experimentation is the key. Trying out new font styles, new color combinations and experimenting with different tools not only gives you more exposure but can also spark inspiration. This process can help improve your layouts and designs. You can start by creating any graphic such as a custom logo, brochures, posters etc. to learn more about the various templates and mediums. Never be afraid of experimenting. When you mix up things a little, it can help the creative juices flow leaving you astounded to see how much boost it provides to the confidence.
Take a shot at using typography in your designs. Icons also make a huge difference when used skillfully. Another aspect of design you can experiment with is the smart use of Whitespace. Whitespace (also known as the negative space) is essentially the empty space between text, margins, icons, images, graphics and other such elements of a graphic design. Proper utilization of whitespace impacts the readability and adds an elegant touch to the design. It is crucial in providing good aesthetics and visual for the viewer.
3. Master the use of grids.
Learn how to use and implement a grid. Some design experts say, “A grid is to a designer what a blueprint is to an architect”. This is because a grid helps you keep your content and other elements organized. Keeping an image uncluttered is crucial while designing and grids help create a framework to work within. Once you have mastered the use of grids, you will appreciate how much they make your job easier, right from text alignment to creating a neat and organized layout.
Visual hierarchy is an element that helps break the autonomy of a design while bringing focus to the message is being conveyed. Hence, each design must have a visual hierarchy and grids help you achieve this with ease while maintaining the symmetric harmony of the layout.
4. Take inspiration from everywhere
All the great artists find their inspiration from the beauty around them. Feel free to choose a design and take inspiration from it. It could be in the form of element placing or even the color palette. Always be alert and observant of different graphics as they work as a spark that can help you create something great. Your inspiration for a poster can come from a social graphic or even a digital magazine. More than one source of inspiration can work as well; such as combining two layouts or adding elements of one template to another template design. In fact, in the field of design, seeking inspiration each day is as crucial as learning new tools. An excellent way to get inspired is tracing how a certain logo design has evolved. What did they look like to begin with and what they have come to be today.
5. Follow design blogs and industry experts
Learning and gaining knowledge is a never ending process, especially in the dynamic field of design; and it is prudent to believe otherwise. Design blogs by experts and design communities are the best source of information and latest updates of the industry. You can understand better and even create a dialogue with the design gurus on public forums. Various design websites and tools have their own blogs where they shed light on how you can enhance your work and pick up neat new tricks.
6. Make free tools your best friend
Today, certain tools are available which are free of cost and prove to be beneficial for beginners. Especially, when you are trying to teach yourself and test the waters before investing a good amount of money in purchasing a professional designing tool. Try using tools like designhill to learn and master designing. You can even use these to improve your design skills. These tools even have self-help tutorials that help you learn better and assist you in creating great works using existing artwork or templates. These templates not only work as practice material for beginners, but can also provide inspirations for new styles and designs. Templates are designed in order to give you ideas regarding complementing fonts and color psychology.
7. Figure out your expertise
While it is good to try out different branches of designing such as logo design, custom design, leaflets, and advertisement posters etc., it is recommended that you pick your specialty early and work on developing it over the period of time. This will not only help you create a distinct path of work but also prevent you from being overwhelmed with the vast variety of techniques available. Once you have figured out a specialty, it will help you pay more attention towards learning more about the specialty.
8. Stick to the classics
Certain design aspects remain in fashion for a reason. A neat, clean and uncluttered design can never go wrong. In the initial stages, most of the self-taught designers tend to apply everything that they have learnt in a single design, creating chaos. Yes, you must not stop experimenting but the key here is the 'balance'. A good balance creates visual harmony, and while it is natural to make mistakes initially, don't give disappointment a chance to discourage you. In time you will understand that it takes a considerable measure of time and practice to gain expertise. However, not piling too many different textures and elements is a good way to avoid unwanted failures.
9. Trust your instincts
A great piece of advice every design expert will give is to trust your artistic instincts. This paves way for you to discover something new and unique. Just like each painter had a different stroke to their credit, each designer has a distinct style. When you trust your instincts, you give your inner artist freedom to create a masterpiece. The author Robert T. Kiyosaki quote said, “Do not let fear of failure overwhelm the joy of success”. Accept that you may end up with designs which you might have to discard but don’t be afraid to try as even the failed attempts give you something to learn.
10. Aim for perfection but don’t forget to embrace the imperfections
As you teach yourself the art of design, always remember that you are aiming for perfection. And while it is a worthwhile goal, you need the perseverance to reach it. This means a lot of imperfections along the way. Consider these imperfections as small victories and learn from them.
Pick up your old designs from the initial days and work on them again. This will show you how much you have learnt and accomplished. This sense of achievement is no small feat and is crucial in motivating you in order to learn more. Once you believe you have achieved perfection, collaborate with other designers. Never stop trying to enhance your skill and become an elite designer.
It requires investment, persistence and dedication to master the art of designing on your own. These tips help you get a head start or may even give you that extra push to up your designing game. Aptitude can be created with training and design skills need to be honed regularly in order to succeed. Regardless of what you are learning to design and how you are doing it, always remember that designing is rewarding when you are patient. The underlying key is learning and practicing. In order to learn, you must practice and in order to practice you have to learn some more. This is a never-ending cycle which keeps on giving. So go and try, give your artistic instincts wings to fly.
Some of the great graphic designers of the world are self-taught. Not only have they found their calling and worked exceptionally hard to reach the top, they have learnt through practice. In order to teach yourself design boost your design skills, you must be persistent and keep reminding yourself why you started in the first place. When you teach yourself the art of design, it is essential to learn from each and every source of knowledge.