Graphics Design Tips

WHAT IS GRAPHICS DESIGN?

Graphic design is the profession and academic discipline whose activity consists in projecting visual communications intended to transmit specific messages to social groups, with specific objectives.

First, what is graphic design?

According to the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), graphic design is defined as “the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content.” In other terms, graphic design communicates certain ideas or messages in a visual way. These visuals can be as simple as a business logo, or as complex as page layouts on a website.

“Graphic design takes graphical and textual elements and implements them into multiple types of media,” says designer Alexandros Clufetos, when asked to elaborate on the graphic design definition. “It helps the producer connect with the consumer. It conveys the message of the project, event, campaign or product.”

Graphic design can be used by companies to promote and sell products through advertising, by websites to convey complicated information in a digestible way through infographics, or by businesses to develop an identity through branding, among other things.

“Every day, we take many of the subtly artistic things around us for granted. But hidden in every magazine corner, exit sign or textbook lies a set of design ideas that influence our perceptions,” says Jacob Smith, founder of illustration studio ProductViz.

It’s also important to remember that although many graphic design projects have commercial purposes like advertisements and logos, it is also used in other contexts and graphic design work is often created purely as a means for artistic expression.

Graphic design basics

To better understand the meaning of graphic design, it is important to be aware of the elements and principles that make up design. Elements are used in conjunction or opposition with each other to create visually striking and impactful designs.

These graphic design elements include:

  • Color
  • Form
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Space
  • Texture

Graphic designers also adhere to the principles of design, which are essentially a set of guidelines that help a design achieve effective composition. These basic principles aid in creating balance and stability for the piece of work.

These graphic design principles include:

  • Balance
  • Contrast
  • Emphasis
  • Movement
  • Proportion
  • Rhythm

You’ve heard the old saying that “rules are meant to be broken,” which can certainly ring true in this case. But a good graphic designer must first understand these principles before making the conscious decision to break them.

Types of graphic design

As mentioned earlier, there is no single graphic design meaning. Graphic design is composed of many fields and specializations, ranging from print and web design to animation and motion graphics. Graphic design offers opportunities and options for individuals of almost any interest.

If you’d asked someone 30 years ago to define graphic design, their answer would have likely been focused on print-related examples like magazines, movie posters and advertisements. Now we’re living in the digital age, which has given birth to several new types of graphic design.

Some of the most notable modern-day graphic design examples stem from advancements in technology. Here’s a glimpse of some of these types of graphic design:

  • Website design involves creating engaging and intuitive web pages for users. This includes overall layout, color scheme and navigation.
  • User experience (UX) design is focused on ensuring a website or application is easy and satisfying to use. These designers emphasize value, usability, adoptability and desirability.
  • Motion graphics design—or animation—brings visual elements to life through special effects, TV shows, video games and movies.

GRAPHICS DESIGN SOFTWARES

Best Graphic Design Softwares?

1. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop best graphic design software

Adobe Photoshop is synonymous with photo editing for graphic designers. It is one of the most popular photo editing software tools in the market in a robust package that offers excellent graphic design capabilities.

Key Features:

  • Design Tools: Offers a lot of design tools for both mobile apps and web
  • Creative Cloud: Its active synchronization with Adobe Creative Cloud offers a lot of unique features, including Content-Aware Crop, Face-Aware Liquify, Artboards, the Design Space view, synced libraries, a glyph panel, Cloud Documents, touch, and stylus input support, among others.
  • User Interface: Adobe is continuously working on delivering a more customizable user interface. It offers several targeted workspace layouts, including Graphic and Web, Motion, 3D, Painting, and Photography, Designer can also create your own custom layout of panels and windows.
  • Open-Source GIMP Software: If you don’t want to pay a dime, then you can download and install this software for free. Consider installing it on a powerful machine to avoid lag and other performance issues.

Pros:

  • It offers a complimentary mobile application
  • Its slick user interface offers a lot of assistance for easy use
  • Got a rich set of typography and drawing tools
  • Comes loaded with 3D design capabilities
  • Offers a library and photo management with Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Efficient file transfer between different programs
  • Multiple design tools come with responsive graphics
  • Ability to edit animation and video layers
  • Users can define the size of the canvas, create custom brushes, work in 3D, isolate elements from backgrounds, among others.

Cons:

  • Adobe now offers Photoshop along with the subscription of Creative Cloud. The recurring payment turns out to be more costly, and people who want to buy software forever don’t have the option to buy a perpetual license
  • A plethora of features might overwhelm a new user
  • Offers lessor support for raster and vector images like SVG files

Pricing Plans:

Adobe Photoshop Pricing

Adobe offers Photoshop at a subscription price of US$33.99 per month per license.

2. Adobe Indesign

Adobe InDesign cover photo

Adobe Indesign is a must-have software tool if you are in the business of publishing. It offers excellent capabilities to design stunning magazines, info sheets, and brochures while easily exporting them to PDF or HTML.

Key Features:

  • Easy To Use: Unlike PhotShop, InDesign requires a low learning curve. That means new users can quickly learn how to combine text and graphics to achieve the best results.
  • Adjust Layout: The ‘Adjust Layout’ feature empowers the designer just to change the text of the template, and design gets adjusted automatically, which is great for infographics.
  • Sensei Technology: Adobe’s AI-powered Sensei technology ensures automatic resizing and arrangement of images.
  • Adobe InCopy: Designers can leverage InCopy to work with other members of the team by sharing text, colors, and graphics.

Pros:

  • Graphic designers can efficiently combine graphics and texts for easier streamlining and optimizations of files.
  • It allows users to add tags to indexes, keywords, anchor text frames, footnotes, table of contents, and captions with hyperlinks.
  • It supports HTML exporting that enables web developers to export clean and simple codes during the implementation of the website’s layout designs. This works great for WordPress sites.
  • It can help you eliminate redundant div tags in HTML files along with insignificant content grouping.
  • Has the capability of resizing multiple objects and change the width and height at the same time.
  • Designers can leverage its Eyedropper tool to apply position or size instantly to another object within the document.
  • It is an industry-standard for desktop publishing.

Cons:

  • The less intuitive user interface can make things overwhelming for new users.
  • Not positioned for general users. Suitable for enterprise use only.
  • Relatively expensive than other similar software available in the market.
  • PDF comment integration needs perfection

Pricing Plans:

Adobe offers InDesign at a monthly subscription of $20.99. The full Creative Cloud costs $52.99 per month.

3. CorelDraw Graphics Suite

CorelDraw Graphics Suite Cover Image

CorelDraw Graphics Suite packs some pro-level features and offers a highly accessible interface that is easy to use. It is a bundle of multiple applications that deliver powerful editing features.

Key Features:

  • Content Exchange: It is Corel’s online digital library through which registered users can get access to thousands of high-resolution photographs and digital images. It also offers over 2000 vehicle templates, 1000 fonts, 350 professionally designed templates, more than 500 interactive frames, over 600 gradients, vector, and bitmap fills.
  • Flexible Payment: Corel offers three payment programs through which users can buy the software along with nominal charges for regular upgrades. It also offers an upgrade program for existing users.
  • Customizable UI: You get a customizable UI environment for the desktop, icon sizing, toolboxes, options for how your documents open, and window border color scheme. Users can also visit Corel’s developer community website to design macros that suit their workflow.
  • New Pointilizer: Corel’s new pointilizer offers a lot of variable parameters that are not just limited to regular dots.

Pros:

  • It offers app-wide workflow and under-the-hood innovation and performance enhancements to boost productivity
  • Works perfectly without any lag with Surface Pen
  • Users get the option to choose GPU acceleration over the default CPU while working with system-intensive sophisticated vector graphics
  • Smooth transition from desktop to tablet mode to leverage touch features
  • It offers better EPS and third-party PDF importing capabilities and leverages with their GPL Ghostscript feature
  • It is capable of exporting files in up to 48 file types, including AutoCAD, JPG, PNG, SVG, AutoCAD, JPG, and TIFF. It can also open 35 file types, including EPS, HTML, AutoCAD, PDF, PowerPoint, SVG, and even old FreeHand files

Cons:

  • Unlike Adobe, there are no complimentary mobile applications offered by Corel
  • Two many payment options might confuse the user
  • Not easy to operate for beginners

Pricing Plans::

CorelDraw is available for a 15-day free trial. Its full version is available for $474 with a 30-days money-back guarantee. You can also pay for an annual subscription for $198, or just $16.50/month.

4. Inkscape.

Inkspace Cover Image

Inkscape is a capable free graphic design software that can help designers create scalable graphic designs that won’t stretch or blur during resizing. It’s a user-friendly option for hobbyists or beginners interested in vector drawing.

Key Features:

  • User Experience: For free vector software, the user experience is quite impressive. Designers who are familiar with Adobe tools can efficiently operate Inkscape.
  • Regular Updates: Inscape has a robust community of developers that enables it to provide updates and new features regularly. Its latest update has got mesh gradients, a checkerboard background to view transparency more comfortably, improved spray, and measurement tools.
  • Free of Cost: It is one of the most robust and capable alternatives to Adobe Illustrator that is available as a free tool.
  • Manual Improvement: Users can leverage the open-source code to change the lines of code and enhance or personalize the software as per the requirement.

Pros:

  • Users can easily make individual text lines without frames along with the paragraph type.
  • It supports multiple gradients and comes with a separate tool to create complex combinations.
  • It comes equipped with Bezier handles to ensure more effortless movement of nodes.
  • Inkscape offers several well-designed and full-featured tools to create, edit, and convert vectors.
  • It is also capable of downloading or creating ready-made plugins.
  • Users can leverage different preset categories of filters to save time and effort.

Cons:

  • Inkscapes’ streaming text needs to be converted into plain text, for instance, before export.
  • The Mac version is not error-free.
  • Processing is a bit slower than other graphics software.
  • Compatibility with Illustrator is not bulletproof.

Pricing Plans:

Inkscape is an open-source platform that is available for free.

5. Sketch.

Sketch: vector-based graphic designing tool

The sketch is a vector-based graphic design tool that is best suited for app, web, and interface design. It is best suited for creating interactive prototypes for UI/UX purposes.

Key Features:

  • Low Cost: Sketch offers a yearly subscription that is significantly lower than other subscriptions
  • Great For Mobile and Web: It leverages grids, snap to grid functionality, and snap to pixel functionality to avoid half-pixel renders or imperfect alignment. These perfections are critical to ensure perfect responsive design/multiple screen sizes and resolutions.
  • Screen Templates: It offers a library of artboard templates for iOS devices and responsive web design layouts. Designers just need to select an artboard and the device.
  • Custom Plugins: Designers can easily find custom plugins for specific tasks through robust community support

Pros:

  • It allows easy sharing and collaboration through the cloud. Designers can share the entire interface in the cloud through a simple file sharing process
  • Users can mirror designs on larger devices for team viewing to identify how the design would exactly look in a particular device
  • Users can export any layer or group as a PNG file
  • Sketch autosaves all the changes in the design step by step to avoid any loss of design. Significant relief for designers, indeed!
  • Users can leverage libraries with standard Android icons, iOS icons, and Mac icons
  • It requires a low learning curve

Cons:

  • Being a new design tool, it is not entirely polished and requires a lot of enhancement
  • It offers limited illustration capabilities that can hamper intricate illustration work
  • Screens don’t render in high resolution while accessing from the cloud
  • Available only for Mac users
  • Absence of automatic layout flowing option

Pricing Plans:

Sketch Pricing

The yearly subscription costs $99 per year.

6. Adobe illustrator

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe illustrator is more than just a graphic design tool that is perfect for illustrative artwork, page layouts, corporate logos, website mockups, and almost anything else as per the requirement. Moreover, it’s an industry benchmark in vector creation tools.

Key Features:

  • High-customizability: Adobe Illustrator is highly customizable through multiple preset layouts along with other customizability options. Users can leverage the drag and drop feature to move panels anywhere on the screen.
  • In-Panel Editing: Its in-panel editing feature allows designers to edit multiple artboards simultaneously to help designers work with more efficiency.
  • Highly Compatible: It is highly compatible with numerous devices that have different configurations from Mac and Windows.
  • User Interface: Its user interface is highly accessible and customizable. It offers custom viewing and space-saving features to help you work on any machine.

Pros:

  • Instead of stored pixels, it generates graphics based on mathematical equations to ensure crisp and sharp lines that you can print in any dimension
  • It creates graphics files in relatively small sizes so that designers can share them easily through a simple email attachment
  • You get access to over 90 million images, graphics, templates, and videos from Adobe Stock
  • Use Adobe font integration to select thousands of fonts and implement the most suitable font for the project
  • Tight integration with other Adobe products

Cons:

  • It is costlier in comparison to other vector-based graphic design tools
  • So many features can look a bit overwhelming for new users. It requires a steep learning curve to use it efficiently
  • It could eat up a lot of space on your machine

Pricing Plans:

Adobe Illustrator offers a monthly subscription of US$9.99 for personal use and US$33.99 for enterprise use.

7. Affinity Designer.

Affinity Designer graphics software cover photo

Affinity Designer is a clean, capable, and cheaper alternative to Adobe Illustrator. It offers an excellent budget proposition that is also easier to use and faster than Illustrator.

Key Features:

  • Grid Systems: Its versatile grid system enables designers to set up grids while creating isometric video game graphics and icons. This feature helps users in acquiring total control over angles, gutters, spacing, subdivisions to create accurate layouts.
  • Snapping Option: It allows designers to lock and position objects and elements depending on multiple things, including grids, alignment guides, shapes, and nodes of other objects.
  • Dual Environment: Through Affinity Designer, users can work in both pixel art environments and vector art environment without opening any other application.
  • Zoom Feature: Its zoom feature can go as far as 1,000,000 percent enabling designers to design with utmost precision and accuracy.

Pros:

  • Designers can leverage dynamic on-screen guides to ensure objects and designs are laid out with accurate measurement and alignment
  • Users can create smooth and accurate curves through rope and window stabilizers to create beautiful vector illustrations
  • Boolean operation is not only capable of combining shapes, but it is also capable of efficiently moving and editing some parts
  • It offers a wide selection of colors to enhance designs.
  • Users are also allowed to apply for their work on one project to multiple numbers of artboards
  • Its iPad app is as powerful as its desktop application

Cons:

  • Doesn’t export files in AI
  • Absence of natural perspective grid
  • Absence of vector eraser in Designer Persona
  • Some tools are missing that are available on Illustrator

Pricing Plan:

Designers can buy Affinity Designer software for a one time cost of $49.99.

8. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program).

GIMP Cover image

GIMP is much more than just a photo editor that offers a lot of incredible Photoshop features for free. It provides multiple professional-quality functions to fine-tune snaps and create artworks from scratch.

Key Features:

  • Flexibility: The photo editing tool’s user interface is highly customizable, and the GIMP community has developed several incredible plugins for added features free of cost. People who know coding can customize it to higher levels as per the requirement.
  • Regular Updates: Its active community of developers means that it keeps getting regular updates and the addition of new features.
  • GEGL Scripts: It is one of the best features of GIMP that makes it an open platform for image processing.
  • Compatibility: It is compatible with a plethora of operating systems including macOS, Linux, Windows, Solaris, and BDS

Pros:

  • It enables users to sketch the drawing by leveraging tools, including cloning, pencil, and airbrush
  • GIMP offers tutorials for every feature to help out the users
  • Its Layers feature allows designers to design an image under an existing image
  • Clean and easy to use user interface for users who are new to the world of image editing
  • It offers the option of working on a modular and single-window interface
  • It is very lightweight and uses the computing resources optimally, leading to ensure speedy performance

Cons:

  • The user interface is not perfect for Mac users
  • Adjustment layers come with a non-destructive way of combining multiple photo manipulations
  • The developer community is not significant. As a result, it gets updated at a much slower pace

Pricing Plans:

Since it’s an open-source platform, it’s an entirely free version of design software.

9. Xara Designer Pro X.

Xara Designer Pro X

Xara offers advanced features and tools while that provide advanced design elements. The software is used extensively for web and print design solutions to create illustrations, edit photos, and design web pages.

Key Features:

  • Direct Action Tools: The ‘direct action’ tools offer robust features and stable functionalities for general use.
  • Drag and Drop Feature: This time saving and intuitive feature allows designers to zoom up to 25,000 percent and leverage direct action tools easily for faster execution of the job. It also allows placing any item on the page through a simple drag and drop.
  • Performance: It offers faster performance and gives users an easy way to implement creativity. It also allows users to make numerous modifications through unlimited redo and undo options.
  • Super Fast: Xara boasts of one of the fastest and most sophisticated vector rendering engines. This gives it the capability to deliver more complex graphic designs efficiently.

Pros:

  • Xara Designer Pro offers substantial editing options, including solid dragging, scaling, and rotating of objects to achieve the best in editing results
  • It offers anti-aliasing that helps in improving the quality of on-screen images by softening the edges of objects through blending the edges with the background
  • It comes with cloud capabilities to view, edit, and update documents through a web browser on any computer or tablet
  • The zoom tool is capable of zooming up to 25,601% to enable designers to take a closer look
  • Designer Pro is capable of syncing files with Dropbox and Google Drive
  • It offers support to an extensive range of file formats, including bitmap types like JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF, PSD, and allows import of photos such as RAW or JPEG XR
  • It also supports importing and exporting Adobe PSD files, including layer support, alpha channel, and 16-bit color and CMYK layer conversion

Cons:

  • It is available only on Windows
  • Requires a steep learning curve to use all the features efficiently
  • The masking feature is cumbersome and difficult to understand

Pricing Plans:

It is available at a yearly subscription of $299.

10. Gravit Designer.

Gravit Designer: HTML-based graphic designing application

Gravit Designer is an HTML-based graphic design application to deliver high-quality vector graphics. It is one of the most suitable tools for graphic, product, or web designer professionals.

Key Features:

  • Gravit Designer Dashboard: The dashboard is easy to navigate and allows to switch between the tabs or switch dark themes instantly easily. Users can also easily set the width and height of the document through the dashboard.
  • Pages: Its pages feature a perfect blend of artboards and pages that comes with its canvas settings.
  • Tools and Effects: It offers several tools, including the Bezigon tool, Lasso tools, and Pen tool, among others. It also allows adding multiple fills to an element.
  • Portability: It offers absolute cross-platform portability for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS to enable the designer to work from any machine efficiently.

Pros:

  • It offers a modern user interface that is entirely customizable, engaging, and easy to use
  • Gravit Designer offers an implicit way to design social media posts for various platforms, including Instagram and Facebook
  • It offers natural flexibility through web and desktop versions of the software
  • It supports multiple file formats for export as well as import
  • It allows editing of scalable vector graphics
  • Users get knife and tool support for non-destructive Boolean that makes it a potent tool for user interface design
  • Designers can easily open multiple documents and go to the papers on the tab
  • Its Pro version offers unlimited cloud storage

Cons:

  • There is not a lot of information present about the software from official resources
  • A real-time collaboration feature is absent
  • Designers can’t run prototypes on smartphones to find out how would they look
  • Fonts need an active internet connection to work

Pricing Plans:

Gravit Designer comes entirely free of cost with limited features. Gravit Designer Pro is available for $100.

11. Photoscape.

Photoscape offers indispensable features for editing and managing photo archive. It positions itself as a tremendous free graphic design tool for beginners and professionals who don’t want to buy expensive subscriptions.

Key Features:

  • Editing Tools: Photoscape offers numerous types of image editors, including page, batch editor, editor, viewer, print, combine, print, screen capture, animated GIF, print, combine, and so forth. Its editing toolkit offers a set of distinct and well-labeled features for beginners.
  • Multi-lingual: It comes loaded with English and Korean. However, designers can gain access to more than 30 languages through downloadable modules.
  • User Interface: It offers a simple and easy to use interface that helps beginners to use the software efficiently.
  • Design Module: Its design module and image editing capabilities pack a lot of features, including color adjustments, size, gamma, backlight, resolution, brightness, and so forth. It also comes loaded with text, design, and drawing tools, including effects brush, filters, paintbrush, clone stamp, among others.

Pros:

  • The batch editor feature is a boon for designers who edit images regularly. It allows the user to resize, convert, or rename multiple pictures with a single mouse click
  • It is capable of opening RAW photos and comes equipped with a converter that allows converting RAW images to JPEG images easily
  • It is a cross-platform design app compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux machines
  • It comes with a PhotoScapeX edition for Windows 10 machines that is available free of cost.
  • Offers integrated editing and graphic solutions
  • It is highly responsive and lightweight that leverages computer hardware smartly

Cons:

  • Doesn’t provide advanced image editing capabilities like in Photoshop
  • Not available on Linux

Pricing Plans:

Photoscape is available free of cost.

Note: other design apps not yet reviewed for this list include Vectr, Microsoft DrawPad, and Pixlr.

What Are the Benefits of Graphic Design Software?

A capable graphic design software tool enables designers to create visually stunning graphics and images.

Here are a few crucial benefits that a capable graphic design software brings to the table:

1. Flexibility and Scalability.

It provides you with the flexibility to create visually stunning images and graphics without actually shooting them. Aside from this, the user can get the file exported into multiple file-formats instantly for easy distribution to other marketing platforms.

2. Cost Efficient.

Apart from paid tools that offer great value for money, there are also free open source graphic design software that designers can leverage to create beautiful designs. It helps in saving a lot of expenses on shooting real objects.

3. Branding.

Graphic design tools help organizations in maintaining their brand positioning by embedding logos and watermarks on marketing collaterals. Users can save templates in the software that can be used every time to maintain consistency of image size and design.

4. Increased Engagement.

High-quality visuals created through graphic design software helps in enhancing brand engagement. It helps in sending the message to the audience more clearly.

GRAPHICS DESIGN TIPS

If you’re a beginner, chances are you’re looking for some high-impact graphic design tips to help you quickly improve your skills and understand the industry. Perhaps for years, you didn’t fully grasp what a graphic designer does. Or maybe you hadn’t realized that it’s an extensive field that covers everything from the morning coffee cup in your hand through to the mobile app you use to track your sleep habits and nearly everything in between.

Designers create brands and experiences, advertisements and publications, physical spaces, digital spaces, animations and an endless list of other things. Design directly impacts our lives and has the potential to influence the world for the better. There’s never been a more exciting time to study graphic design whether that’s online or in person.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, what makes a good design? And how can I achieve it for myself, a beginner?  Graphic design cannot be simplified down to a straightforward equation. There is no ‘1+1 = award-winning design.

However, the good news is that there are very easy to understand principles in graphic design that when applied can mean even the earliest of beginners or even non-designers, can achieve a successful design. Read on for 11 powerful graphic design tips to make more of an impact in your work, no matter how experienced you are.

1. Moodboard it out

Create a moodboard of inspirational designs that convey a similar look and feel to what you would like to create in your design. This might include elements like fonts, color palettes, imagery or illustration styles and importantly, layout references that deal with a similar design context.

By collecting a variety of references, you will begin to see similarities amongst them that will help spark those creative ideas of your own.

There’s no set number, but aim for enough references to give you a variety of inspiration to draw upon. If you only choose one, you’re in danger of unintentionally copying it too closely. 

Browser-based platforms like Pinterest are great for creating digital moodboards and finding inspiration and the algorithms will aid you in finding similar styles but ensure you check out the best design blogs to see what the industry leaders are creating. These great graphic design example are also a good place to start.

2. Have a plan

The worst way to design is to simply hop into a program and start “pixel pushing”.

Before even touching a computer, it’s important to think about the objective of the design, what you want the viewer to see and take away. Start with a few quick, rough sketches to plan out your page and where all your content will be placed and keep that aforementioned moodboard in tow to stay inspired..

3. Simplify your type

One of the most important aspects of design is clarity, so it’s important that we don’t sacrifice legibility for visual appeal. When in doubt, simplify it out and typography is the perfect place to start. 

When starting with a new design, it’s a good idea to experiment a bit and find the perfect style font for the particular project you’re working on.

There are also over 900 free fonts to snag from Google Fonts which can sometimes make choosing one no easy feat!

However when it comes time to apply them, limit yourself to pairing two fonts in your design. Better yet, choose a single font family with a large variation in weights and styles so you can be sure that the fonts you pair up will be complementary to one another. For example, the Futura font family not only comes in a range of weights from Light through to Extra Black but also has a variety of styles such as Oblique and Condensed.

4. Make sure color is on point

Colour is one of the most impactful elements of design in communicating a certain tone or message.

Therefore, it’s important to think about the psychology of color as well as a color theory when choosing your palette. An easy starting place is beginning with a color palette of 1-3 main colors that complement one another and then using different tones of the same color for consistency by adjusting the relative brightness or saturation. This is important in achieving enough contrast in your palette. Think of each color as having a ‘volume’ and adjust your tones so that they are not all shouting (or whispering) at the same volume. 

It is also important to play around with the proportions of your color palette and how much of each color is applied to the design. Remember smaller type will need a stronger distinction against a colored background. Here are a few great resources for creating color palettes:

5. Don’t be afraid of white space

Integrating space between the elements of your design is called ‘white’ or ‘negative’ space. White space can aid in achieving a certain look or feel to your design. It can feel clean, minimal, contemporary and even fashion-forward.

If clean and minimal are not necessarily what you’re aiming to communicate, you still shouldn’t discount the impact of creating some space. It can be tempting to fill up any empty spaces in your design, however, space can also be one of your greatest assets when used strategically and can help in creating a focal point.

Space in design isn’t simply the absence of content but a design choice in itself and can be used to aid in achieving important design principles such as contrast and hierarchy.

Try creating space around an element that you want the viewer to focus on. For example, if it’s an important headline, keep it a distance away from the rest of the copy to help your viewer know to read it first.

This packaging design for small-batch coffee roastery Little Wolf uses lots of space to help create a focus on their logo and the coloured variant tab creates contrast to the illustration-filled reverse. Speaking of…

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6. Don’t play it safe

Contrast is without a doubt one of the most effective design principles to consider.

It can be achieved through the use of size and scale, relative lightness or darkness, color and the use of space. Ensure you have contrast in the size of elements on the page and make sure your colors are contrasting tones or shades. You can play with the size of type on the page and it can also be a useful rule of thumb to consider the contrast in pairing the typefaces you choose. Some designers adopt a ‘go big or go home’ mentality in this area and choose fonts to pair that are very different from one another.

7. Pay attention to the hierarchy

When sitting down to design something, ask yourself ‘what’s the most important element of my design?’ More simply stated, what is someone supposed to look at first?

Hierarchy is an extremely important aspect of GRAPHICS DESIGN. As a designer, it is your job to guide a viewer through the design, therefore, you need to prioritize elements according to their importance.

Luckily hierarchy goes hand in hand with contrast and you can achieve that priority easily through scale, the application of color, the size of type and your font choices as well as the use of space.

The most important message of the design should remain dominant no matter the style of the design or how many other elements you use.

These POSTERS for an annual organic wine festival in three cities is a great example of a strong hierarchy. In each poster, the city within the headline text is clearly the most important information, followed by the festival name and logo.

8. Align align align

Alignment helps give structure and order to design. Without it, your design is at risk of looking like a bad game of Tetris.

Keeping your elements like type, images and illustrations aligned to one another will ensure a presentable design. Bonus—there are alignment options and guides right in your Adobe software you can use to help out. Always make sure you have margins around your page and use them to line up your elements.

9. Icons go a long way

Symbolism isn’t a new concept. Humans have been living with symbols for thousands of years from early markings on cave walls through to today’s ability to have an entire conversation through emojis.

An icon is a small graphic representation of something and can be used to represent things, places, people, emotions and actions.

Icons can convey meaning often more quickly and in less time than actual words. They can surpass language barriers, can help draw attention to a particular part of a design and can take up much less space whilst providing the same meaning as written instruction.

For example, if you’re trying to get people to follow a social media account, add the instantly recognizable icons for each platform so that the viewer can immediately identify your desired action.

Icons can be a great element to spice things up without adding too much if your design is on the simpler side. When using icons, ensure they work as a set and feel consistent in style. Check out The Noun Project for a large library of free icons sets to use.

10. Get in line

Simple lines are an effective way to help anchor items in a design and create the sense that there is an overall order and structure.

You can use a line to separate a piece of content from the rest of the design and also to call attention to it. For example, you can use a thin line above, or a box around, your ‘call-to-action’ information such as a logo and a URL to visit. Check out this example of a poster design to see how the footer information was used with a line to help visually distinguish it from the rest of the page.

You can also use vertical and horizontal lines as “separators” between various elements in the image. In this case, the sense of elements being separated furthers the feeling of planning and coordination in the design and helps the design to feel more structured. See how the designer for All Call Travel used lines to help structure the content on their website.

11. Consistency is king

Now that you’ve done all this work and considered all these important principles in design, make sure you follow the rules you set for yourself and be consistent in your design.

Set rules for the sizing and spacing of type elements such as headings, subtitles and body copy and make use of the paragraph and character stylings in Adobe to easily apply these rules wherever those text elements appear.

Ensure your imagery has the same look and feel. Search for images that have the same tones of color or levels of saturation, as well as similarities in how detailed/busy or abstracted/simple they are.

Be consistent with your color palettes and application and repeat elements where you can. 

Consistency is particularly important in multi-page designs or in the case of branding where a business will have more than one touch-point with its audience. The design of the brand should be recognizable anywhere the audience might interact with a business; on their website, their business card, their social media channels and in their physical environments.

So as you can see, while we can uphold our respect for the industry giants, we can also achieve successful designs of our own by following straightforward principles of graphic design.

Like anything else, skills take time to hone and sharpen. However, by practicing these 11 graphic design tips, even the most novice of designers can grow, develop.

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