How to improve your graphic design skills in 2020

Have you ever considered becoming a graphic designer but then decided you were not good enough? Well, those like you out there who love to design but have limitations in your mind it is time to think differently. Today you can improve your graphic designing skills with use of the latest design tools for graphic designing backed by a course in design, and of course a burning desire to succeed. I am not an expert graphic designer myself but an inquisitive learner who has tried to collate maximum information on various aspects like how does a graphics tablet work, the latest tools in designing, the process, and more for graphic designers to improve their design skills. So let’s commence by getting to know a bit more on how to become a graphic designer and develop your signature style.

How Can I Become A Graphic Designer?

If you have artistic skills and intend to become a graphic designer but don’t know how to proceed in the designing industry, here is what you can begin with: –

1. Understand the purpose of design

The purpose of any design is to communicate a goal, elicit a response or action, solve a problem, and provide a user experience. A good design is like a story that communicates all/any of these to a target audience/potential customer.

2. Build a solid foundation in the elements of design

Understanding typography, color, and design layout are important for anyone who chooses to become a graphic artist.

3. Explore the design process

Visualize compelling ideas of design by co-creators and understand the process to create a winning design. Start to practice with hands-on exercises in InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.

4. Design as per end goals

The idea in backward design is to start directly with your end goal in mind, and then work backward from there to develop a plan.

5. Once finished you can ask for reviews from seniors in the industry through social media

Social media is buzzing with graphic designers. Put out your design and get criticized or complimented.

6. Post your design on multiple platforms for more visibility

There are numerous sites and social media platforms where you can post your design work.  Use these platforms to widen your reach and to serve as lead generators for your art.

7. Start networking with designers to seek guidance and learn new concepts

Become a part of a social network website where other graphic designers share their work. On websites like Dribble, Behance, Deviant Art get inspired, meet others in your line of business, and start to build relationships. There are also groups on Facebook and Instagram that you can join or follow.

8. Get a formal education

Having decided you want to pursue a career in graphic design, its time to get a formal degree in design.

For a career in graphic design UI, UX, or front-end, the best way to begin would be to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Since most ad agencies and employers in India demand a degree, it becomes a stepping stone. Some of the reputed colleges/institutes offering the best professional designing courses in India are National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, NIFT, Delhi, Sir J.J Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai. Upon completion of the degree course, a graphic designer can begin to earn a salary of INR 20,000/month.

Image credits: ncgraphicarts

The industry scope for graphic design

A graphic designer is a visual thinker who communicates concepts with illustrations that inspire, inform, and transform. From a merchandise designer to visualizer and art director his/her unique skills and services are mainly required in the following industries: –

  • Advertising
  • Product Development
  • Video Gaming
  • Web Design
  • Multimedia Art & Animation
  • Publishing

Following few top graphic designers

Here are a few graphic designers who have excelled in the design industry and have created a huge follower base and brand image for themselves through social media. It is great to get a glimpse of some of the works of these creative minds.

1. kerbyrosanes

The 29-year-old Philippines-based illustrator Kerby Rosanes works with ink, fineliners, and markers to illustrate his “doodle” world. He has been featured in design blogs, international magazines, and online art communities. His books include Animorphia: An Extreme Coloring and Search Challenge; Imagimorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge; and Mythomorphia: An Extreme Coloring and Search Challenge. The freelance designer has over 1million followers on Instagram.

2. thegalshir

Gal Shir an Israeli digital artist is famous for his eponymous YouTube channel and Instagram page. He has gained massive popularity for his digital art and vlogs. His YouTube channel has more than 550,000 subscribers and Instagram account over 800,000 followers. His digital art tutorials using iPad Pro and Procreate offer an easy way to learn.

3. Steven Harrington

Called “the leader of a contemporary Californian psychedelic-pop aesthetic” with 237k Insta followers, Steven’s design style is contemporary and playful that encourages a two-way conversation between his design and the viewer.

Over and above these designers follow more creative graphic design artists who identify with your style. You can delve deeper too – watch the Netflix documentary series titled, Abstract: The Art Of Design (about innovative designers in a variety of disciplines on how their designs impact every aspect of life), and listen to or watch numerous other podcasts and YouTube videos on design.

To become an expert graphic designer observe the work of others, but NEVER INTERNALIZE & NEVER BORROW!

Apple iPad Pro 2020 Image credits: gsmarena

Investing in the best graphic tablets in 2020

Designing has climbed to a new level with the improvement of technology, one of the examples being the integration of designing tablets.

There is no single best tablet for graphic design but here are a few tablets choices that graphic designers are currently investing in:

1. Apple iPad Pro 2020 12.9 approximate price INR 112,900.00

  • Active drawing area: 10.32 x 7.74 inches
  • Resolution: 2,732 x 2,048
  • Pen pressure sensitivity: Not specified
  • Connections: Lightning, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  • OS: iPadOS 13.4
  • Uses your voice to send messages, set reminders and more by Siri

2. Microsoft Surface Book 3 (13.5 inch) released in May 2020 @USD 1599.00 on Amazon

  • Active drawing area: 11.25 x 7.5 inches
  • Resolution: 3000 x 2000
  • Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels
  • Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, USB-C
  • Compatibility: Windows 10 Pro

3. Wacom Cintiq 22 approximate price INR 109,980.00

  • Active drawing area: 19.5 x 11.5 inches
  • Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
  • Pen pressure sensitivity: 2048
  • Connections: HDMI, USB 2.0
  • OS: Windows and Mac

4. Wacom One Creative Pen Display approximate price INR 58,960.00

  • Active drawing area: 11.6 x 6.5 inches
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Pen Pressure Sensitivity: 4096
  • Connections: USB-C, HDMI
  • OS: Windows and Mac

5. XP-Pen Artist 15.6 pen display (currently not in stock)

  • Active drawing area: 13.54 x 7.62 inches
  • Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
  • Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
  • Connections: USB-C
  • OS: Windows or macOS
XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro with Stylus & shortcut keys for graphic designing. Image credits: Amazon

How to choose the best drawing tablet

As a beginner who is considering buying a digital design tablet, you must first look for features to fit your specific needs. There are several tablets in the market but whether you require to edit pictures, create illustrations, draw conceptual art, etc. will influence the choice of the tablet. Search on Google for best drawing tablet for photoshop or best drawing tablet for beginners, and you will find what you are looking for.

What Features Should a Graphic Design Tablet Have?

1. Active area

The larger the active area on a tablet that closely simulates the size of a sheet of paper, the easier it is for the graphic designer to get a better perspective of his/her drawing.

2. Pen type

The stylus or optical pen helps the illustrator to draw comfortably as close to creating paper sketches. Choose a pen that is not too heavy (preferably without a built-in battery).

3. Pressure sensitivity

From a graphic tablet for teaching to drawing tablet for architects, it is vital to understand the role of pressure sensitivity since it directly affects mobility and helps to control the thickness of lines. The most widely used graphic tablets by designers have a pressure level around 2048, but today many professional illustrators prefer to opt for pressure sensitivity above 3000.

4. Resolution of graphic design tablets

This simply translates to a capacity of strokes per inch. Beginners can get a graphic design tablet with lower resolution but professional graphic designers need a 5080 LPI graphic tablet.

5. Scrollers

Today most high-end graphic tablets can be programmed to zoom in and out on your screen and scroll up and down more easily and accurately. These displacers that allow movement help to rid errors on the screen more easily.

6. Shortcut keys

The latest XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro has eight built-in shortcut keys at the side of the tablet, which allows you to customize zoom in/out, alter brush sizes, or access applications, functions and directories. The primary purpose of these Hot Keys or Shortcut Keys or Touch Buttons is to allow a graphic designer to work without a mouse or keyboard to perform tasks.

Designing Software

As a beginner in graphic designing, you can begin to get acquainted with some design software used by professional artists. These include:

  • Figma
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Sketch
  • CorelDraw Graphics Suite
Graphic Design Image credits: 99Designs

The 5/7 graphic design Principles and Process

Principles:

The principles of design work in unison to create an aesthetically appealing graphic/image to optimize the user experience. The various principles of visual design include symmetry, balance, pattern, proportion, hierarchy, white space, repetition, variety, color, and contrast.

1. Maintain symmetry in design to create a division, balance, and flow.

2. Keep a little distance between various elements within a design so each can stand out on its own without disturbing the complete effect. Even pay attention to negative spaces.

3. Decide whether the design needs to be left-aligned, center-aligned, or right-aligned to provide continuity of elements with one another.

4. The size of an element and typography are some ways a designer intends to grab the users’ attention. Visual hierarchy is intended to allow the viewer to consume a design in the order that you intend them to. On the other hand, kerning refers to the process of adjusting space between specific characters.  

5. Contrast and color

While contrast helps an element to stand out, overall color, tone, and tints are used to grab attention and stimulate interest of the user.

7-step process:

1. Define the goal by studying the client brief and gathering information

2. Research and brainstorm on the subject

3. Build a strategy and develop a concept with rough sketches

4. Produce a comprehensive design

5. Present the design to the client

6. Refine by making any revisions requested by the client

7. Deliver the final design

Conclusion

While in the US, the employment of graphic designers is estimated to decline by 4% from 2019 to 2029, in India as per the survey done by the Department of Labor Stats, the demand for Graphic Designers will continue to grow.  Also, since India is among the largest and fastest growing bases of digital consumers, from small online sellers to big brands in India, everyone wants to work with graphic designers who can help differentiate their product and make it stand out in a crowd. We’ve just initiated you into how to improve your graphic design skills in 2020. If you have an artistic mind it is the right time to pursue a career in it and aim for a WOW.

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW!

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