10 Tips for awesome Graphic Design
- Plan your design: Rather than having planning as the first essential step, the average non-designer only begins to think seriously about their plans for a design AFTER they’re well into the design process. The planning stage doesn’t need to be long. In fact, it can just be a minute or two. But if you know what you want to accomplish before you start designing, you’ll get things done muchquicker.
- The best designs tend to have beautiful colors and that’s no accident. Choosing a great color palette is one of the keys to a great design. As a general rule, you should choose a color scheme that has 1-3 primary colors (Red, Yellow & Blue) and an additional 1-3 secondary colors (Orange, Green, etc) that contrast and complement each other. Use different tones of the same color for consistency by adjusting brightness for contrast. If it’s difficult to select the colors, you can use a site like ColourLovers, that gives you access to millions of beautiful color palettes. Just find a hex code you like, and use it in your design.
Here are two more great resources for finding color palettes:
- Ideally, you want to limit yourself to 1 or 2 fonts. This keeps you from having to worry about tons of combinations. However there is a way in which you can add variety to your font uses, while still keeping things consistent. The key is to use text from a single font “family”. An example of a font “family” would be Helvetica, which consists of the basic Helvetica font, along with variants like Helvetica Bold, Helvetica Bold Oblique, Helvetica Condensed Bold, Helvetica Light and Helvetica Oblique. These fonts all look different. Yet there is enough of a common thread between them that it will give a sense of consistency when used together in designs.Alternatively, if you decide to use multiple fonts within one body of artwork, you could use one for the header and another for the body.
- Add text over images by adjusting brightness levels. When your design involves putting text over images, adjust the brightness level of the background image or add a color overlay. This way the background image will offset the color of the text, causing the text to be readable and the design to still look clean and clear.
- Don’t be afraid to leave blank, white space in your design. Less really is more. Often designs get so cluttered that some white space with nothing occupying it will actually enhance the design. This may call for a bit of a mental adjustment on your part, but with the right change, you can use this simple concept to elevate your design. If you want a lesson in how to utilize white space, look at any marketing image created by Apple
- Align your objects, text, etc. This helps to keep design elements in a presentable order, regardless of their differing sizes. Proper alignment is an easy way to give your images a sophisticated and professional look. Each document or object creation and editing software such as Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop all have align tools so get familiar with them whilst working on your design within your selected software.
- Follow your own design rules: Follow the design rules you set for yourself. Such as deciding to use a particular set of colors, lines, textures, etc for a design. If you’re set on that decision, don’t turn around and do something contrary to it. Stay consistent with your “design rules”, to ensure consistency in your image overall
- Take full advantage of contrasts: Using contrasts helps to make certain elements stand out in your design. There are plenty of ways to generate contrasts. You could use contrasting colors, fonts, or even contrast amounts of space between items in your design. If you want to identify which colors contrast, use a color wheel like Adobe Color.
- Focus on the Target audience for your design: Never forget that “who” that you’re designing for. This ensures you create something that the intended audience for your design actually wants to see and something they’ll react favorably to. Context matters here. An overly bright, colorful design (light colors, cartoons, squiggly lines) – for example – wouldn’t be the sort of thing that you’d want to have on a website for a minimalist, mature and expensive product.
- KISS: Keep it simple, stupid: If you overdo your design with too many special effects like shadows and tint gradients, you’ll quickly move toward a bloated and aesthetically muted image. You can still use some design “special effects” but add them by the handful onto your design. Too many special effects and it negates the rest of your design.