Starting out as a Graphic Designer


scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#1
We all had to start somewhere, right?

On the forum there's a constant trickle of Designers or 'want to be Designers' asking for advice on starting out and improving themselves.
Usually it's pretty much the same questions which is quite understandable so I thought I'd start a thread for a bit of advice to cover some of the basics and most asked topics.
Hopefully forum members could post up any lessons they've heard through hindsight and experience or post a link to any good articles they've found that may be useful.

I'll start off with my bit of advice which is the very first thing I learned at college:

K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Stupid!
This is not a put down but something EVERY designer should keep in mind wether they're just starting out or a seasoned pro.

Here's a link to an article I found this morning about improving your design skills.
 
hankscorpio

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
#2
This is now a sticky - thanks for bringing this to the forum. I'm sure it will be very valuable!

Another tip for print design is the following "Think finishing at the beginning!"

Sounds ironic! However, finishing is how something is to be folded, cut down, stacked and cut, or whatever way it will appear when finished. Always consider how your product will finally look when finished before even starting design!

Another angle of that saying is to consider how long it will take to get your product to finished final production and to leave enough time. If it's print and just fold, then maybe a day. If it needs to be laminated you need to allow another day - if it needs to embossed, gold stamped, folded, enveloped, stamped, etc. then you should speak to your print finishers before even starting so that you're aware of how many days it will take - which gives you an idea on when to have artwork ready and with the printers so that you get your finished product on time.
 
scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#3
Thanks @hankscorpio . :D

Thats very sound advice.

When I worked at a printers it was AMAZING how often I'd open a file (even from big agencies) and find it was all wrong.
Things like missing fonts/images, no bleed, RGB instead of CMYK, low-res images (I could go on....and on.)

If you're going to design for print, educate yourself on setting artwork up for print.
There are instructions for this in various Designers Handbooks and it's worth understanding this before you get that print job dropped on your toes.
Don't rely on the printer spotting errors.

A mistake can cost time and money, especially if it's a large and expensive print run and the mistake can be traced to the Designer/Artworker after printing.
 
Paul Murray

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
#4
Trust your gut. This is true of everything, from deciding whether or not to take on a client, so deciding if something looks good. Relying on exact measurements can be a bad idea, as you'll often find that your eye tricks you. Something that is positioned exactly half way down a page will look off, so it's often better to move it upwards slightly to accommodate for your eye 'pulling it down'.

Another tip, is to remember to baseline shift the '@' symbol down in email addresses so that it sits level with the other characters. I see this missed so often. It's a little thing, but once you start looking it's as noticeable as bad kerning. Attention to detail like this will help you stand out if you're applying for your first design job.
Starting out as a Graphic Designer, , Graphic Design Forum: Starting out as a Graphic Designer, , Graphic Design Forum:
 
scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#5
Relying on exact measurements can be a bad idea, as you'll often find that your eye tricks you. Something that is positioned exactly half way down a page will look off, so it's often better to move it upwards slightly to accommodate for your eye 'pulling it down'.
I remember this from college when we were taught how to window mount out work.
The rule was to have equal spacing to the top and sides but a larger margin at the bottom.
Can't quite remember but I think it was called "Optically Correct".

I used to find myself checking pictures in pubs and restaurants.
Thus is design.
Sends you a bit mad. ;)
 
Martin Scurry

Martin Scurry

Member
#11
Don’t fall into the trap of always drawing a solid line. You can use dashes, dots, triangles, stars and anything else you can think of to create the line you want and it still accomplishes the same goal.
 
staunton_rook

staunton_rook

Member
#13
Thanks @hankscorpio . :D

Thats very sound advice.

When I worked at a printers it was AMAZING how often I'd open a file (even from big agencies) and find it was all wrong.
Things like missing fonts/images, no bleed, RGB instead of CMYK, low-res images (I could go on....and on.)

If you're going to design for print, educate yourself on setting artwork up for print.
There are instructions for this in various Designers Handbooks and it's worth understanding this before you get that print job dropped on your toes.
Don't rely on the printer spotting errors.

A mistake can cost time and money, especially if it's a large and expensive print run and the mistake can be traced to the Designer/Artworker after printing.
yup, great point, I see so many young designers that don't pay attention to the detail, drives me crazy!
 
L

LucyFali

New Member
#16
Hi,
this is very great what you are saying.
I know a little bit about art and design and have a degree in it. Somehow creative cloud has missed me. I want to create new work but do not have the skill in digital software. Where should I start..

My thoughts so far:
I have been literally a click away from purchasing the creative cloud for good half a year. I have also been looking into courses which may get me started. I wonder if getting creative cloud would be sufficient at this stage. I am unsure whether being able to use the software and view tutorials without having set briefs and feedback is the right start. The graphic design courses I found online, including a fast-track graphic design college, seem to be very expensive and lack credibility. Where do you suggest I should start?
 
G

GJBean

New Member
#17
Hi,
this is very great what you are saying.
I know a little bit about art and design and have a degree in it. Somehow creative cloud has missed me. I want to create new work but do not have the skill in digital software. Where should I start..

My thoughts so far:
I have been literally a click away from purchasing the creative cloud for good half a year. I have also been looking into courses which may get me started. I wonder if getting creative cloud would be sufficient at this stage. I am unsure whether being able to use the software and view tutorials without having set briefs and feedback is the right start. The graphic design courses I found online, including a fast-track graphic design college, seem to be very expensive and lack credibility. Where do you suggest I should start?
dont waste your money on a graphic design course, your best off reading a lot and browsing forums and Bechance for inspiration and design techniques.

in my experience uni/college courses for design really don't teach you anything about the industry, they (most of them) don't even teach you how to design for print or what the difference in design processes are for print/web etc.

take a look here, they have good tutorials for beginners, advanced and intermediate people: <<link removed>> as well as providing stocks/fonts/images royalty free (selected ones) they also have numerous interviews with creatives from all walks from the industry and advices, etc. its also available to buy in magazine format if you wish each month, not to mention they also keep up with and a lot of the time are ahead of the design/creative. trends.

look to pintrest too for inspiration or stocks, its a very good source too.


----

Adobe to pick up is easy as pie, the advanced stuff is where the ''fun'' begins, you can download CS2 for free now its a little out of date but you get most of the stuff there and while you learn you don't have to pay a penny located: xhttps://helpx.adobe.com/creative-suite/kb/cs2-product-downloads.html?promoid=19SCDRQK

you may need to create a creative cloud account, but thats also free, the serial numbers are on the website - this is i would like to add 100% full programs and 100% legal, the CS2 servers went down so adobe released them for free, though its not advertised.

you can also use websites such as : <<link removed>> this is a website which has competitions, for all levels and all aspects (design/illustration/manipulation/photography) all of it, its free to enter with a system to earn you ''credits'' to enter competitions etc you get free critique and if you win you can also link / add to your portfolio.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
hankscorpio

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
#18
Let's be clear about CS2 - it was released in 2005 - that was 12 years ago now.

Please read the disclaimer posted right on that link

Read before you download a CS2 product
Adobe has disabled the activation server for CS2 products, including Acrobat 7, because of a technical issue. These products were released more than seven years ago and do not run on many modern operating systems; Adobe no longer supports them.

Adobe strongly advises against running unsupported and outdated software. Only customers who legitimately purchased CS2 or Acrobat 7 and need to maintain their current use of these products may use the serial numbers provided during the download.

And I strongly advise not entering competitions - this phenomena of "gaining experience" (working for free basically) needs to come to an end. We are human beings, we work, we learn and we get more experience. We have bills, mortgages, kids, and all other things going on in life that need to be paid for. You cannot pay for things by winning competitions, or the chance to win money by entering a competition.

www.nospec.com
 
Clare

Clare

New Member
#19
Hi,
this is very great what you are saying.
I know a little bit about art and design and have a degree in it. Somehow creative cloud has missed me. I want to create new work but do not have the skill in digital software. Where should I start..

My thoughts so far:
I have been literally a click away from purchasing the creative cloud for good half a year. I have also been looking into courses which may get me started. I wonder if getting creative cloud would be sufficient at this stage. I am unsure whether being able to use the software and view tutorials without having set briefs and feedback is the right start. The graphic design courses I found online, including a fast-track graphic design college, seem to be very expensive and lack credibility. Where do you suggest I should start?
Hi LucyFali,

When I started getting interested in graphic design I first used Inkscape (similar to Illustrator) and GIMP (similar to Photoshop) as they are free to download, but theyre not industry standard as Adobe software is which means less on a CV, and you're quite limited with what you can do. But I thought that its a good way to get used to the concepts of how the programs work, and maybe when you're comfortable with them, try Adobe CC as a free trial. I tried the free trial at a point when I knew I had a lot of spare time (e.g. if you have a weeks holiday from work), so that I could learn as much as possible (from help.adobe.com and youtube) and that way I had a starting point from which I could get a jnr job position. I now pay monthly for Adobe CC and pay monthly for lynda.com tutorials, which I personally think are worth the money. I'm happy to pay a reasonable amount for good quality content from professionals - but lynda.com does have a trial available, so you can even see how much you use it to see whether it would be worth it for you. You may eventually find yourself working for an employer who would be willing to pay for you to access the courses if you can prove theyre worth it in your output. As for briefs, if you feel stuck, then you could see http://briefbox.me for practice briefs :)
 
A

Alinexx

New Member
#20
Hi, I'm really a beginner in this graphic design and never have any experiences with it.
I'm just curious how many type of design graphics actually have and how can we find the suitable tutorial related to it. I did search of Youtube and Google about photoshop tutorials but I don't really know the design field (like if the tutorial related to logo or photography). I did learned and tried the tutorials I watched but is there any place where I could gain tips and feedback from people because I really want to improve myself and I have always been curious with graphics especially when I look at all those movie posters.

I'm sorry if my question is inappropriate, I'm new with this things but that won't stop me from getting serious with this field. :oops::cry:
 
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