Graphic design can seem like a daunting task considering the sheer volume of techniques and software to use. When it comes to professional software such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, what seemed like a fun creative project can quickly turn into a dreaded task that has to be done. Fortunately, with the evergrowing use of technology, more and more software is released to help with graphic design from experienced designers to inexperienced. Here are 11 essential graphic design tips to get you through your next design project.
1. Choose contrasting colors.
Color can be difficult. The goal of your design is to capture the attention of your target audience and evoke a specific emotion. The colors you choose will have a strong influence on your audience’s reaction to your design. Keeping in mind your brand identity, consider choosing high contrasting color palettes to make it pop. High contrast colors are located directly across from each other on the color wheel, such as red and green.
Consider matching the color of your font or other graphic elements with your background image to create a cohesive look.
Adobe Color CC is a great online resource to help create cohesive color schemes with thousands of color options and will provide you with hex codes, which defines the levels of the component colors. You will want to make note of these to ensure your colors are consistent across designs.
Learn more about color and branding here!
2. Keep it simple with the font.
When it comes to design, readability is crucial. You do not have to restrict yourself to a single font, but try not to use more than two and keep them in the same font family. If you go with two fonts, use one for header text and one for body text.
Experiment with different fonts preloaded in your design software or consider downloading free fonts from online resources. The more stylized a font is the harder it will be to read. The fundamental purpose of text in a design is to communicate information so using hard to read fonts could compromise the message you are trying to send.
Keep in mind that not all fonts are available for commercial use so make sure to check the license before using them in your projects.
3. Use white space.
Keeping with the color theme, utilizing white space is a great graphic design tip, especially for those with less experience. This helps showcase simplicity by focusing on a single element with nothing to distract from it. You won’t have to worry about tons of other elements as well.
Apple is famous for its use of white space and the simplicity it inspires.
4. Consistent elements are key.
When choosing design elements such as background images, keep in mind the quality and style. Graphics, diagrams, images, and illustrations should all have a purpose in your design and remain consistent in terms of quality, framing, style, proportion, and lighting.
5. Sketch and scan.
If you are sketching your design the old fashion way, make sure you scan it to your computer. You can easily use your smartphone camera to take a picture and import the scan directly into Illustrator or Photoshop. Use your scan as a background guide to developing your design digitally.
6. Utilize the flat design technique.
Flat design is your friend! This design style has become increasingly popular over the years which is great for both beginners and experienced designer. Having moved to a more classy look, flat design allows a better sense of alignment and spacing for a great design outcome with an easy process!
7. Structure your text.
Keep in mind the alignment and structure of each element throughout your project. Adobe has built-in tools to ensure consistency throughout without having to go through and manually inspect each element. Go through and apply header style to each header and you’ll be good to go!
If you are including a body of text (i.e. a paragraph) each line should have no more than 30-40 characters, including spaces. Anything longer than this may prove to be hard for readers to get through. Remaining consistent with your line characters will help to avoid a paragraph that looks like a game of Tetris.
8. Use icons.
Icons can help draw attention to a particular part of a design. If you’re trying to get people to follow you on social media, add the instantly recognizable icons for each platform so that your audience can immediately identify your username. Icons can be a great element to spice things up without adding too much if your design is on the simpler side.
Find a great free selection of icons at icons8!
9. Typography effects.
A very popular typography effect is the knockout effect. This effect works particularly well with logos but can be implemented in any design.
Another great typography effect is placing it over an image. Simply placing text over a background image does not always work and often results in hard to read text. This can easily be fixed by applying a dark color layer directly above your image. Set the blending mode of this layer to “multiply” and your text will pop and your image will not be compromised.
10. Align, align, align.
Keeping your elements aligned will create a presentable design with a professional and sophisticated look. Utilize guides in your software to ensure correct placement for each element. Adobe has both alignment options and guides you can use to help with this aspect.
11. Lines create style and impact.
Using lines to separate sections can easily complete a minimalist design. Consider using a 3-pixel line right below the header to create a sense of order or place lines around a body of text to create an anchor for them.
If your design includes a short amount of text that you’d like to draw focus on, consider creating a white border around it. A strong white border around text will create a contrast between the text and the background.
Graphic design can become quite complex depending on the techniques you want to employ. Keep these graphic design tips in mind for all projects to help streamline the process.