Graphic design is a visual communication process using a balanced blend of typography (text) and imagery (photographs, illustrations, and icons) to communicate a specific message. Based on that, graphic designers employ visual-thinking strategies to solve and streamline communication problems.
The primary task of a graphic designer is to visually represent ideas in interesting, easily recognizable, readable, and legible ways. Graphic design is the art of making the invisible visible. In this tutorial, on how to learn graphic design we will explore the essential basics and principles as well as the tools that will enable you to effectively deliver your ideas.
Design theory is born of the visual arts and architecture. While there is no unified theory of graphic design, graphic designers might find it useful to draw on the theory and principles of design as employed in other artistic disciplines that deal with visual communication.
Learn Graphic Design – Principles and Theory
Design theory seeks to define the purpose of a project and utilizes a set of visual principles to achieve a proposed purpose or solve a given problem. These principles can help us to understand and solve a problem.
Depending on whom you’re speaking with, there are between six and twelve principles of blueskygraphics. Because this is a beginner’s tutorial we will like at seven fundamental principles to get you started. Again, there isn’t a real consensus on how many principles there are but these six will be sufficient in getting you started.
Harmony is often described as an accompaniment to unity. Harmony is expressed through likeness and the repetition of certain design elements such as color and shape.
Unity describes a sort of balance between all of the components or elements of a design to provide the observer with a sense of spatial contentment. When Harmony and unity are reached we feel that everything in the design is appropriate and in its right place.
Balance is related to harmony and unity but specifically addresses a design’s visual weight. Certain elements are more eye-catching giving them a heavier visual weight where others offer a sense of lightness. The idea is to find a harmonious balance between the layout of these different weighted elements.
This is done by employing symmetrical and asymmetrical design strategies. Symmetrical elements provide equal weight on either side of an imagined center line where asymmetrical elements offer different weighted or non-centered elements.
Hierarchy refers to an overall design schema for logically organizing content. The most important elements should be seen first or be the most prominently visible.
We can think of a magazine article as being laid out with a title and subdivided with a variety of headings and subheadings. Attention might be drawn to important aspects of the article using pull quotes and font differentiation such as italics or bold.
Rhythm is often achieved through the repetition of elements and their spacing or timing (e.g. intervals). A rhythm might be regular, random, alternating flowing, or progressive.
Regular rhythms have equidistant spacing or intervals. Random rhythms don’t follow a set pattern of spacing and intervals. Alternating rhythms follow patterns that have variation between certain elements. Flowing rhythms form wave-like element structures. Progressive rhythms evolve and change through iterations of similar elements.
Contrast refers to oppositional design elements such as weights, colors, textures, and shapes. The idea is to use the differences to highlight certain elements of a design.
Variety provides the opportunity for differentiation between elements to build interest. This can be done by utilizing a variety of shapes, colors, weights, images, etc.. However, a designer needs to be careful about how much variety they employ.
They still need to achieve a sense of harmony, unity, and balance. Too much variety might confuse, but too little can result in boredom. Variety should reinforce what is being communicated and not take away from the intended message.
- White Space
White space refers to the empty or negative space that is thought of as free from design elements. White space can create texture, help to highlight or frame certain elements, increase readability and legibility, and create the general aesthetic of a design.
How To Learn Graphic Design – Tips and Tricks
Graphic design is a field that encompasses several different types of skills. Different types of graphic design require different skills. Whether these skills are employed for marketing, branding, UI/UX, web design, print design, or whatever, below are five universal tips and tricks for design based on the seven principles we covered above.
While improvisation is an admirable trait the ability to improvise design comes from years of experience. As with anything, great improvisation is the result of a strong foundation. Before we can improvise, planning is the most important aspect of design work.
The planning process is different for everyone but most often starts with taking notes and making sketches. A plan doesn’t need to be concrete but it should give you a good foundation to work from.
- Color Selection
Whether you choose a minimalist black mad white design color scheme or you want to create some pop by utilizing neon you should always be considering your color selection.
Colors can dictate mood elicit emotions. It is wise to study color theory and come to an understanding of cultural differences in response to color and the meanings embedded in and associated with different colors.
- White Space
White space doesn’t mean the space is white. It is the unused space around your design elements. The negative space. Give your elements space to breathe and use white space to emphasize elements you want to draw attention to.
Be sure that you use consistent design features. If you’re using type be sure to use a limited number of typefaces and when you use a different typeface make sure that is complimentary or provides an interesting contrast.
The color scheme, textures, shapes, and weights of elements should be consistent to make the overall design aesthetically pleasing, coherent, legible, and readable.
We tend to overcomplicate things and especially when we are new to them. Even seasoned professionals are subject to this problem. In design, unless otherwise specified or intended, we should aim to keep things simple. Too many elements and too much variety between these elements can confuse and become unsightly.