The reality is, getting started in graphic design is no easy task.
If you take the right steps to learn graphic design, you can teach yourself graphic design more efficiently and effectively.
These are the 6 most important first steps you need to take as a beginner to teach yourself graphic design:
1. FOLLOW DESIGNERS ONLINE
Designers, like myself, are often sharing their work, techniques, and methods online.
For instance, on my blog, I share blog posts that detail my client projects, behind-the-scenes of my design process, and tips or tutorials to share my experience.
Outside of bloggers, you can follow along with graphic designers on Instagram, Behance, Dribbble, Pinterest, or YouTube.
Instagram and Pinterest are great resources for following designers you want to learn from or work with in the future. You will find a lot more small business owners and freelancers on these platforms.
Behance and Dribbble are more professional platforms for designers in agencies.
YouTube is the best platform, outside of blogs, to learn graphic design skills and techniques.
2. STUDY OTHER DESIGNER’S WORK
This is something that is often missed or done incorrectly by beginners because they’re afraid of stealing people’s work.
But, it’s important to start understanding how all of these design theories are used in practice. By studying, practicing and recreating other designer’s work you can get a feel for your design software and the real-life uses of design theory.
Recreating famous or popular work, helps you deconstruct the basics of design and learn how to apply them.
3. START WITH FREE SOFTWARE
Before investing in Adobe software, utilize free software.
Free software is great for beginners because they help guide you through the design process with auto-alignment, patterns, and templates.
One of the most commonly used free software is Canva.
Note: If you want to use Canva for business graphics, be careful. The language on their website is a little vague and you don’t want to get in any legal trouble. Some interpretations would suggest that you cannot use the Free version of Canva for anything business related – and certainly not if you plan to sell an item (such as an eBook) that utilizes elements made with and/or found in Canva. There’s similar verbiage regarding “Canva for Work” that limits your use of designs created with the tool. I’m not a legal counsel, so if you want to use Canva for business graphics, I recommend getting legal advice first.
When you’re ready to graduate from free design software, or plan to do graphic design professionally, Adobe Software is the industry standard.
The most common Adobe Software you may use as a small business owner, are:
Adobe Illustrator is a vector based software used for graphics and illustrations. Since it is vector based, it has infinite scale. Adobe Photoshop is pixel based software primarily used for photo editing.
4. TAKE CLASSES ONLINE
If you’re struggling to learn on your own or you want more in-depth knowledge, online courses are a great route.
Programs like Envato Tuts+ and Lynda offer a wide variety of courses and different teaching methods.
BlueSkyGraphics design online UK based program can be really beneficial for learning a lot of different topics, techniques and methods.
This is great for getting a general understanding of a field.
One of the things I love about Lynda, is their learning paths, which combines a few of their courses to give you a more in-depth experience on a specific topic.
There are also some great online courses from small business owners. This can be really beneficial, if you want to learn a more specialized skill or technique.
You can typically get a more in-depth experience and understanding, than a general subscription might be able to provide.
For instance, I offer a course dedicated to designing your brand, called the Brand Your Business course. In this course, I take you step-by-step through the brand design process. Depending on what type of design skill you’re looking to learn, you can find a specialized course online.
You can also search YouTube, as there are plenty of tutorials on simple tasks and projects available for free if you know what you’re looking for.
No matter how much you study before you start designing, you’ll never become an expert until you start experimenting.
Trial and error is the only way to learn how to use the software, implement design theories, improve your skills and get comfortable with your style.
When I was first getting started, I liked to take part in design challenges.
Design challenges would push my limits and get me working within a specified set of boundaries that was really beneficial when I started working with clients.
6. GET CREATIVE
As you grow in confidence, you’ll slowly be able to get more and more creative. One of the easiest ways to get creative with your work is to learn the “rules” of graphic design and to start breaking them. Ignore trends and popular designers, create your own unique works and people will surely take notice.