It’s not as hard as it looks – really.
That’s the first thing that wannabe graphic designers need to know, whether you’re thinking about pursuing graphic design as a career or just want to have a cool and fun creative hobby.Which isn’t to say that you should just jump right in and start trying to design without really understanding what you’re doing. You could do that, but there’s a much better chance that you’ll be happy with the results if you take a few minutes to learn the basics.
Here are five things every aspiring graphic designer should know:
What graphic designers do
Seems pretty obvious, right? If you’re going to try to become a graphic designer, you should know what that term really means and what kinds of jobs it entails. Graphic designers do everything from creating logos (for movies, books, companies, television shows, and more) to coming up with the visual design and layout for websites, posters, postcards, magazines, billboards, and more. Essentially, graphic designers create the visual look of things.
What the principles of design are
There are eight principles of design, and most of us have a built-in understanding of them, at least on a basic level. Still, it’s wise to learn about them a little more in-depth before diving into designing. These elements are unity (pulling a design together so that it feels of a piece), rhythm (repetition, depth, and contrast), proportion (realistic or unrealistic, depending on your intent), emphasis (creating a focal point), economy (providing the viewer only with what is needed to understand the design), direction (how to guide the viewer through the design), contrast (utilizing opposing colors and textures), and balance or lack thereof (to evoke specific emotions).
What the elements of design are
You use these eight elements to convey the principles described above. They consist of value (how light and dark create contrasts), texture (conveying the feel of three dimensional objects in two-dimensional design), space (positive and negative), movement (using the composition to draw the viewer through the design), volume (using highlights, shading, perspective, and so on to create the illusion of three dimensions), color (know your shades, tones, and hues), line (to create and delineate objects), and typography (an element created by the other elements).
Which software is best to use.
Gone are the days of canvas and paint – in this day and age, it’s a given that you’re going to be using computer software in your graphic design. Because of that, you need to know a program or two so that you can be ready for any job and understand the lingo. According to Top Ten Reviews, the three best graphic design programs from 2012 are Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, CorelDraw Graphics Suite, and Zara Designer Pro 7. You don’t need to know them backwards and forwards, but developing at least a familiarity is a great idea.
How this whole graphic design thing works
Graphic designers can be self-employed freelancers taking jobs as they come up or they can make a steady income working for magazines, newspapers, movie studios, marketing companies, or any business where they feel the need to have someone with good artistic sensibilities on staff. Both options have benefits and drawbacks (you can potentially make a lot more money as a freelancer, but you also have to have talent and great self-discipline), and some people even prefer to simply do graphic design for a little extra cash beyond their “real” job or just for fun – there’s no right way to be a graphic designer.
And that last thing is the most important one to keep in mind when looking into graphic design. Yes, it’s important to have a sense of how to use the elements and principles mentioned above to create a great design, but if you’re simply looking to learn, it’s just as valuable to use your instincts, do what feels right and get feedback. After all, if you’re a beginner, experimenting and playing around are how you develop your personal style and voice.
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