If you’re the type of person who is interested in the visual arts and always thinks of ways to improve the usability of the websites you visit, you may have an aptitude for graphic design. Graphic design is a very broad field with numerous subdivisions that draw on areas of knowledge such as visual art, user experience, color theory, design theory, typography, and web design. Fortunately, it is easy to delve into these subjects in formal study programs or even on your own.
Studying graphic design formally
If you are still in high school, study more history and drawing. Any subject related to the visual arts (painting, art history, photography) will help you strengthen your artistic skills and your understanding of artistic principles. If you don’t have access to these subjects at school, find out if there are summer programs and courses for high school students at universities in your area.
Language subjects, especially English, computer science, and even business are also useful for aspiring designers.
Save money by taking free distance learning courses. There are many educational websites, video lessons and online courses for those who wish to learn the basics of graphic design on their own. Although they are not as well structured as in-person classes, you will be able to learn without spending any money.
Alison.com, udemy.com and skilledup.com are some of the sites that provide learning programs in the field.
Some universities, such as MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), also offer free courses in English.
Enroll in a free course or a technical course in graphic design. If you are looking for structured learning with classes in person, your best option is to look for an educational institution. Investigate if there are any colleges in your area offering high school level courses.
Note that mid-level certificates, which are uncompetitive in the job market, are not the best option for those who wish to pursue a career as a designer.
Get a degree in graphic design if you want to pursue the career. There are numerous institutions that offer both on-site and distance learning undergraduate degrees in graphic design. Not only is a degree a requirement for the highest paying positions, but being in college will help you create a network of contacts that will be very important when you are in the job market.
An upper level graphic design course includes subjects such as fine art, fundamentals of design, commercial design, web design, advertising, and more.
There will also be a number of courses related to computer graphics.
The curriculum may include subjects more tenuously related to design, such as management and marketing.
Studying the fundamentals of design on your own
Practice drawing every day to improve your artistic notions. Every day, dedicate yourself to drawing everyday objects as realistically as you can. This helps train your eye and the firmness of your stroke, which will make you better able to create unmatched and well-executed works in the future.
The drawings can be simple (small objects you find lying around) or complex (grandiose landscapes drawn from your imagination). The essential thing is to practice a little bit every day.
Beginners are recommended to start with drawings of simple objects, such as fruit, and then gradually move on to more complex objects, or produce more detailed drawings of those same objects.
Study user experience to improve the usability of your creations. Look for books and articles on the intuitiveness of the interface of applications, websites, and other media. Knowing the subject is indispensable, as the north of graphic design is to provide the best user experience possible.
Everyday Design and Don’t Make Me Think are some of the most highly regarded books regarding user experience.
Look for articles about graphic design on sites like justcreative.com, designshack.net and b9.com.br.
Study the fundamentals of visual syntax. These are concepts such as alignment, contrast, balance, color theory, and repetition, which will help you create efficient and aesthetically pleasing pieces in any branch of design.
Look for textbooks or theory books on the subject to delve into all these concepts. You can also study each subject separately on the internet.
Familiarize yourself with the software used by designers. Study image, audio, and text editing programs daily. Much of a designer’s work is done on the computer, and it is important for the professional who wants to excel to master at least one or two of these programs.
Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are some of the most commonly used software in the industry.
Find your specialty
If you have an aptitude for working with text, learn typography. Typography studies the proportions, configurations and designs of graphic type with a view to improving the efficiency and readability of text. It is the most suitable segment for those who value text as much as images in their creations.
The main element of typography are typefaces, which are sets of typefaces of the same style but varying in thickness, height, pitch, etc. Typefaces are in turn a set of characters that share the same style, thickness, height and slant.
It is also important to know what the fundamental elements of typefaces are, such as serifs, open and closed eyes, and so on.
Study brand design if you want to work in design. The brand designer is the professional responsible for the logo and visual identity of individuals and companies. Graphic software is their main working tool.
Illustrator is one of the most common software in this field.
Study web design to create web pages with good usability. Creating pages that are pleasing to the eye, intuitive, and easy to use is the goal of the web designer. Because it is in high demand in the market, it is the most suitable branch for those who want to make a career in the field.
To begin your journey, start looking closely at websites that you find beautiful or intuitive. Ask yourself what makes them so good.
Study mobile application design if that’s what you want to work with. In this field, as in web design, you aim to create an aesthetically pleasing interface, very focused on the user experience, and in accordance with the specificities and limitations of mobile devices. It is the most suitable area for those who are interested in web design, but want to explore the growing app market.
The tip for aspiring web designers also applies here: to start understanding the principles of usability in apps, analyze the apps you like the most. What makes them so beautiful and pleasant to use?