As a graphic designer, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that learning never stops. Whether you’re a Padawan, a Knight, or a Jedi master, you can always use some graphic design tips to become better at your craft.
No, for real – Star Wars references aside, over the last decade, the field of graphic design has become extremely advanced and competitive.
From website backgrounds, social media graphics, and infographics all the way to bespoke emails, invitations, brochures, and more, there’s a lot that graphic designers have to worry about.
Needless to say, your job as a graphic designer is versatile.
You need to find the perfect font, scale it, align different elements, find the perfect balance in what you’re creating and know when to quit.
If that sounds kind of overwhelming, keep reading. In this article, we’ll discuss 25 graphic design tips that both non-designers and experts can benefit from regardless of what they are looking to design and the software they are using (Photoshop, InDesign, Canva, and more).
Let’s dive in.
Graphic Design Tips for Beginners
If you’ve recently started your career in graphic designing, these expert tips will definitely come in handy:
1. Keep Ample White Space
It is a common misconception that more elements and a vibrant color palette mean a more attractive design. I can tell you that this isn’t the case.
Also known as negative space, empty white space can actually enhance the subject without being too overt. As per the psychology of color, white space presents the mind with less clutter to focus on, letting it quickly identify the message you’re trying to send.
That’s part of the reason why we’re intrigued by minimalist posters so much.
2. Stick with a Limited Number of Fonts
There are more than 550,000 font styles out there, but that doesn’t mean that you have to use each and every one of them. This is particularly the case if you’re working with a content marketing specialist or designer who is looking to create a brand.
Here are some awesome places where you can find free fonts:
- Creative Market
- Font Squirrel
Furthermore, make sure that you organize your fonts properly. I recommend using a font manager app like Suitcase Fusion or RightFont.
3. Mix Up the Size of Your Font
The human mind has a way of identifying a certain letter or word that’s out of place.
See how out of place the word “letter” looks above? It’s only 1 size larger than the rest.
Try experimenting with the font size, weight, and different fonts to enhance your design. Here’s another good example:
You can also go one step further and craft your entire design using nothing but typography.
4. Leverage Templates
Templates get a bad rep among high-level professional designers. The primary reason for that is that people often use the templates without even tweaking them or putting in any original thought.
But, believe it or not, one of the best beginner’s graphic design tips I can give you is this – use those templates to your advantage.
Just don’t outright plagiarize. Use them to create something unique.
For instance, you can create stunning, completely original designs with Pixelied in a matter of minutes, thanks to its vast library of templates.
You can customize them to your needs from head to toe thanks to the myriad of free tools you have at your disposal in the sidebar. To get started, head over to our free editor.
The sidebar also allows you to switch between different templates with just one click – and that’s the extent of it. You can also copy elements from one template to another. As an example, consider this template:
I’ve copied the image to another template and now I have something new entirely:
This type of customizability lets you craft custom, bespoke, and on-point templates without having to complete designer courses or spend years trying to master the craft.
Try it today. It’s 100% free!
5. Look for Feedback
Feedback – whether it’s from a co-worker, customer, or friend is a designer’s most powerful tool.
Remember, as an artist, you will most likely not know when you are crossing the line or when you haven’t done enough. Discuss your project with those around and ask for their insights. However, it is important that you don’t try to please everyone at the same time.
6. Keep Your Designs Simple
Simple designs stand out – and that’s a fact.
The more elements you keep on adding, the more distracting your design will start to become.
When designing, consider what’s more important; your subject matter or the extra design elements you add?
Keep it simple and cohesive.
7. “Plan Out” Your Design Before You Begin
When asked, many artists and designers agree that one of the most difficult part of designing anything is knowing when to stop.
Right after that (in terms of difficulty) is how to start.
This issue arises only when designers start designing without any plan. I recommend you create a rough sketch or doodle before beginning.
8. Replicate Designs to Flex Your Muscles
I recommend you find something that inspires you and try to develop it from scratch. In the first go, try to replicate it and then try to add your own elements to create something of your own.
This will help you flex your muscles, get inspiration, and start taking different creative angles with your designs.
Graphic Design Tips for Novices
Okay – let’s take things up a notch now.
This next set of graphic design tips are a tad bit advanced and targeted to mid-level designers:
9. Keep Alignment in Mind
Even some experienced designers often forget the most crucial element when designing something – symmetry.
It is important to keep your text aligned with other elements in your design.
Use the grid tool to ensure that everything is aligned (a common graphic design tool found in most software).
10. Adjust Brightness to Make Text Readable
When designing a brochure, social media post, or anything that needs to be eye-catching, you might be tempted to make it way too bright. Don’t do that – especially if you’re going to include some text.
Try to adjust the brightness of your background so that your text stands out, not your background.
Higher readability equals a better user experience so make sure to create appropriately readable designs.
11. Create a Colour Palette
Maintain a specific color palette throughout a design. Remember, your designs will have a direct impact on your or your client’s brand – so maintain consistency when you use color.
Take a look at this intuitive website as an example. If you scroll down through the different sections, you’ll see that the images and graphics they use all stick within a color palette that is pleasing to the eye and mixes well with other elements on the site.
You’d want to replicate this in how you create your graphics.
Some tools to create and manage your own color palette include:
You can also design a digital color wheel for even better color combination guidance during the design process.
12. Incorporate Contrasting Colours
Contrast is the best tool designers have at hand when looking to differentiate between two (or more) subjects.
Look at the image above and see how the contrasting color combinations separate the elements on it.
Contrast is a much more powerful tool than color differentiation, so use it wisely!
13. Seek Inspiration
As you continue to sharpen your graphic design skills, it’s important to seek design inspiration to keep those original ideas coming.
Think of inspiration as a fuel that helps you consistently move forward and produce masterpiece after masterpiece.
Follow your favorite graphic designers on Dribbble and Behance, and pin tutorials you like on Pinterest.
14. Incorporate Icons
You know how they say an image can speak a thousand words? Well, icons can be so much better.
Before your audience reads, they see. To make your designs more enticing, use icons.
On Pixelied, you get access to a wide range of icons sourced directly from Iconfinder and Svgrepo.
However, use icons with tact. Overusing icons can actually be counterproductive and send the wrong message.
15. Incorporate Frames and Grids
As mentioned above, symmetry is one of the most important elements of any design. It doesn’t have to be a disciplined symmetry, but can be chaotic as well.
And the best way to achieve this symmetry is to align images within the design with frames and grids for optimal spacing and visual uniformity.
16. Don’t Forget Your Audience
At the end of the day, the most important element in any great design is the audience.
When designing, remember the old adage, “true beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.”
Regardless of whether you’re designing a simple blog post header or a detailed website template, design from your heart, but do so for your audience.
17. Maintain Visual Hierarchy
There is a hierarchy present in any message you are looking to convey – no matter the medium. Take the design above as an example.
Certain elements are more important than others and should be highlighted whether with a contrasting color scheme or differentiated font sizes.
Graphic Design Tips for Experts
And now, for the experts. Here are some graphic design tips for pros, by the pros:
18. Create a Mood Board
If you already haven’t, I highly recommend creating a mood board.
A mood board is a collage/arrangement of various visuals (images, paintings, illustrations, posters, typefaces, graphic elements, text, etc.) that convey the feel or the general idea of what you’re trying to design.
With a mood board, you can ensure consistency and never run out of inspiration.
You can have more than one mood board.
19. Leverage Flat Designs
Today, the best design is minimalistic and streamlined, instead of complicated and chaotic.
Use that to your advantage. You will have to go the whole nine yards for these illustrations, but they are well worth the effort in the end.
20. Use a Productivity Tool
These tools can not only help you manage your workflow but also help you enhance it. Try to incorporate them into the mix to enhance your productivity and aid your design process.
What separates an expert graphic designer from a novice or a beginner is how efficiently they manage their resources.
Some recommended tools include Trello, Magnet, and Toggl.
21. Play with Transparency
Transparency is something that can make or break your design. If you still aren’t comfortable with the use of transparent hues, silhouettes, shapes, and more, now is the time to start practicing.
It offers complexity beyond words and really adds to the aesthetic appeal – if done right.
22. Don’t be Afraid to Go Against the Rules
You are now at a point where you can actually define the rules. Your experience means that you can now get away with even the riskiest ventures out there.
Take risks – but do so with tact. Always keep a buffer. This is where feedback is most important.
23. Keep the Dimensions in Mind
This may sound like basic advice, but make sure that you stick with the recommended/ideal dimensions – especially when creating social media design.
For instance, the recommended Twitch offline banner size is different from the ideal Twitch banner size. Make sure you get those dimensions right.
24. Keep Individual Designs Consistent
One rule of thumb that you must always maintain, even when going against the rules, is that of consistency.
Never underestimate the constructive abilities of consistent design and the destructive potential of even good design that doesn’t maintain consistency. Think of consistency as the two-dimensional version of the word symmetry.
25. Switch Styles from Time to Time to Mix Things Up
Finally, consider switching styles from time to time and mixing your own design elements up to get the most out of your skills and diversify your design portfolio.
This will help you sharpen your skills and reach whole new heights in your career.
As mentioned before, graphic designing – or any other creative field, for that matter – demands continuous learning for professional growth.
No matter where you are in your career, you can always get better. Implement those tips to move the needle and get to the next level.
If you are ever short on time or simply need design templates that you can practice your skills on, to get inspiration, or use it professionally as well, you can always use Pixelied.