Graphic Design for Beginners
An intern’s journey to (passable) design: lessons learnt from facing a blank screen
The first assignment I received at my new writing internship was to design a banner. If you’re thinking, “This doesn’t add up…”, then, same. The thought was daunting, that’s for sure – I have no talent in graphic design, much less in a professional marketing setting.
Content creation on the graphic side of things isn’t really my thing, so I didn’t have much confidence in my abilities. But like any eager intern on her first day, I gave it a shot. Multiple shots, in fact. For three hours straight.
Struggle making endless drafts, find something I finally like and submit. Repeat. #GrindNeverStops
Now that I’m not so spanking-new to the graphic design game (thanks to the hours spent straining my eyes at the gigantic colour wheel and making truly hard decisions), here are the things I’ve learned on my journey to arting: graphics, quotes, banners and more.
*Disclaimer: Follow at your own risk.
Many firms have a strong branding identity, and what better way to express it if not for colour? For starters, if they don’t have any specific requests, get to know your client and stick close to their vision of the brand.
Vibrant colours are more friendly and inviting; make them your choice for fun-loving clients! Don’t be afraid to pair bright colours together – just make sure they don’t clash. On the contrary, professional brands prefer calm, muted colours, so rein in the crazy for a look that matches up.
The look of a font is important, sure, but the most important thing to remember is that fonts have to be readable. Otherwise, go wild – you never know what a font can bring to the table until you try it out.
Similar to colours, brands likely already have a look they prefer, but fonts are a wide field worth exploring. Try serif fonts for brands angling for a serious, established look, and clean sans-serif for a modern one.
One of the first lessons I ever learned from my design-loving colleague: alignment is (almost) everything when it comes to drawing attention to certain words. Split long sentences up into different levels to make content more digestible.
Changes in alignment can also affect overall symmetry of the whole graphic. Play around with levels and length of content to produce a satisfyingly stunning piece.
- Extra elements
If you’re afraid of colour like I am, being asked to go a step further and add extra elements into your graphic can be daunting.
Use elements to brighten and add spirit to an overly simple graphic: start with a basic background image or solid colour and work in elements that match the overall vibe and feel of the graphic– like the image above. Deceptively simple.
Contrast is key to letting all your elements and wording pop and be seen. Stray away from your monochromatic tendencies, if you have any; colour usage matters here – so experiment!
Pops of colour lend a playful and fun vibe, while various shades of dark tones can bring different depths to your work.
A bonus: Increase your intake
If you relate to my struggle of knowing nothing on design and yet needing to create, this tip is definitely for you. Actively seek out images and graphics you love, save them and note what you love about them. Instagram is a great option: follow hashtags to see more similar content every day and find a look you personally love and want to recreate.
Becoming a good competent designer takes time, but be kind to yourself, as with all creative pursuits! The key in discovering what works is exploring, so be active in looking for inspiration as well as trying out new and different things – be it colours, images or fonts. Good luck!
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