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Newbie looking for some advice!

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by Tcam, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. Tcam

    Tcam New Member

    Hello, thank you for visiting my post. :)

    I'm here today looking for some advice really. I'm almost 18, and I've been interested in doing graphic design for a while now. I was looking to study at college but some health problems have basically set me back a lot. I wanted to try and get a head start before I decide to go and apply again, and study some stuff at home.
    I'm not really sure where to start. I'll be needing a portfolio to get in to college but again, wouldn't really know where to begin in regards to types or work that I would have to use.

    I've done a lot of google-ing around and have found a few nice sites like psdtuts+ that offer a course outline etc, but I thought it might be a good idea to try and get some advice from people who are already in the industry.

    So anyways, if anyone could give me any advice on what I'd have to study and/or what I need for a port, I'd be very appreciative.

  2. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    Hey, I think you're looking in some of the right places for the moment.

    If you're just looking to go to college then that's the place they will look to teach you a lot of the fundamentals and so on, so just have a play around and try to enjoy it. Places such as psdtuts+ as you've acknowledged are good places online to have a look around. Follow some tutorials to get to grips with software and so on, have a look at work you like and find ways to do the techniques yourself; that's always a good way to learn. If you can try and learn a new thing or two each day it will soon start to add up!

    Have a look through some books for design theory re: colour, composition and so on but, again, that's the sort of thing that should be taught in the college. But it certainly isn't just playing with Photoshop, so have a look through everything.
    Tcam likes this.
  3. Ken Reynolds

    Ken Reynolds Member

    I agree with the above comments. You are looking in the right places.
    At the moment you are in a position most 'jobbing' designers are envious of. You have free reign over your creative output while you develop your knowledge and skills. Try to embrace that.
    The learning never ends so it's a good idea to start early. A bit of design history never goes amiss. I'd recommend researching a little about Jan Tschichold, Neville Brody and David Carson for starters.

    The internet has a lot of resources available to give you a good grounding on theory, history and technique. This should prepare you well for education, where you will be taught to think, the most important and possibly most underrated trait in a designer these days.

    Complete the online tutorials, they'll help you explore the software. Then as your confidence grows trying getting a few live briefs, if you are OK working for little or nothing to develop your skills. Friends, relatives and charities are always good starting points. This should give you a bit of work to begin developing a portfolio. But as I said, you have total freedom, you can initiate your own projects, set your own imaginary briefs, go crazy with it.
    Tcam likes this.
  4. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    Like Ken said, being able to think differently is the most important trait of a designer. My first year of uni was easy. It was a case of learning the basics and them applying them to briefs asking you to design a posters, or a two-page spread for a magazine. The second year was like a kick in the face as the briefs basically became "here's a problem, solve it". No set medium or starting direction, just find a way to solve this problem. It took me a while to adapt to this so be prepared to think outside of graphic design. The answer to a problem might not be something simple like a poster, it may be an installation piece, or a choreographed dance routine featuring hundreds of people, or it may involve slinging dog shit at David Cameron. Well, maybe not, but that creative and different way of thinking is what's important.

    With regards to filling your portfolio, I'd focus on learning some fundamentals of graphic design and typography, such as hierarchy, shape, space, color theory, etc, and try to show an understanding of these when it comes to creating portfolio pieces. Don't worry too much about the final execution at this stage though, since you'll improve with feedback from tutors, peers and users of this forum. Following tutorials is a good way of getting content into your portfolio, but try and avoid following them step by step. Do your own thing, change stuff and soon you'll have something unique.

    A few books I'd recommend checking out;

    A Smile in the Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design - clever examples of creative thinking and doing things differently

    Getting it Right with Type: The Do's and Don'ts of Typography - brilliant, easy to understand advice on typography (mixing fonts, letterspacing, leading, etc)
    Tcam likes this.
  5. Ken Reynolds

    Ken Reynolds Member

    I second the suggestion of the Book - 'A smile in the mind'. I love that one.
    Tcam likes this.
  6. Tcam

    Tcam New Member

    Thank you very much everyone :D
    I'll definitely check out those books too!

    Can't wait to get started, thanks again! :)
  7. Tcam

    Tcam New Member

    Oh if anyone is still here I was wondering if someone could direct me to somewhere that I could learn about size and resolution for print and for web? I've googled around but can't seem to find much.
  8. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    Generally when you design for print, you should work at 300 dpi in CMYK colour. When designing for the web you want to be working in RGB colour at 72 dpi. With regards to web sizes I often use a maximum width of 960px. This ensures that your content can be viewed on smaller screens (such as tablets) and at smaller resolutions. Print size will depend on what you're printing. Just be sure to remember about printer's bleed.

    These are just general guidelines and there are exceptions to these rules but this is probably all you'll need to worry about at present.

    Any other questions just ask :)
    Tcam likes this.
  9. Tcam

    Tcam New Member

    Phew, doesn't seem too difficult then! Was worried in case it involved a load of math or something my brain just couldn't take that haha :)

    Thank you very much!
  10. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    Yeah: that - let's make that happen...
  11. amac

    amac New Member

    I'd use the Internet to research web/graphic design - most of the folks that use software to do this kind of work are self-taught. In terms of finding work:

    I couldn't put it any better than this.

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