DesignGraphic design

9 Design Secrets for Beginners

9 Design Secrets for Beginners

I was a beginner in the design world about ten years ago before I was offered my first job at a newspaper and using mainly Indesign, there were design words that I did not understand or programs that I used for the wrong purposes. Starting out as a college student and had taken a few graphic art classes in high school for two years I was using photoshop for all of my designs when i should have been using indesign. Now that I have been in the field for almost ten years when I see someone using photoshop for a design, or illustrator for a design layout with multiple pages, I cringe! Some designers just prefer using illustrator for a flyer or a book cover because of its crispness. I do it too for small projects. But mainly I use it for logos and illustration, hence the word “illustrate” in illustrator.

To help beginners that are just starting out I am going to let you in on 9 design secrets that you should know as a designer.

1. Photoshop

Photoshop is a program within the adobe creative suite, it is used for multiple reasons, hell you can even make a simple video in photoshop. Some web designers use photoshop for mockups of their landing pages to see how it will look before they actually start designing and coding their website. But I am not going to go in depth about that, I am just trying to keep it simple for print Graphic Designers just starting out. So photoshop should be used for editing photos. It has a lot of amazing filters and tools for editing images.

2. Illustrator

Illustrator is a program within the adobe creative suite, illustrator is great for bringing in hand-drawn images and tracing it with the pen tool in illustrator. The pen tool is pretty simple to use after you get the hang of it. It is highly recommended to use for designing logos. It is versatile for scaling your logo without losing its crispness. Vector illustrations are the best for scaling, for this reason, it is best to use illustrator. You can design a logo for a business card, and then turn around and scale that logo big enough for a billboard.

did you know, up close, billboards are actually pixelated?

3. Indesign

Indesign is a super easy program to learn if you have the patients. When I was in college I hated InDesign, but that was just because I was so stuck on photoshop for designing my page layouts. Indesign is so much easier for page layouts, I promise. So if you’re designing page layouts in photoshop just because that is what you are familiar with, please take the time to learn InDesign, you will not regret it! Some designers do use photoshop for posters to use the filter effects like lights, smoke and blur. The only problem with this is that the file will be huge. But hey if it looks good and the printer can print it, then, to each their own, right?

4. Kerning

Within all of these programs, there is kerning. As a designer, there will be times you want more space in between the letters of a word, playing with kerning on a word in a poster will really give you the emphasis you need. For example, if you have a long word above a short word, you might tighten up the kerning of the long word and loosen up the kerning of the small word so they can take up the same space and be aligned. Notice there is more space between the letters of the word “Graphic”. See below for an example

5. Leading

Not to be confused with Leading, as in “I was leading a heard of little duckies across the street”. It is Leading like the lead of a pencil with an ing and the end. Okay now that I covered how to pronounce it, let me explain what leading is! Leading is the space in between words. I am dyslexic so for me to easily remember the difference between kerning and leading, I put a peace sign up with my hand and if it is upright it is kerning, but if my peace sign is sideways it is leading. I hope that helps you as it does me! LOL.

Below is an example of leading.


CMYK is what your setting should be on your design program if you plan on printing your design. It stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. CMYK are the colors of the inks that make up your design when printed. If you select RGB you will make your printer cry. But seriously make sure it is CMYK if you’re printing your project. Just a little tip, also be sure your DPI is at 300 for printing a design too. I’ll touch on that another time.

7. RGB

RGB is what you would select if your design is for a screen. It stands for Red, Green and Blue. The computer has red, green and blue pixels that make up the other colors our eyes see. Back in the day TVs used to have 3 big lights behind the tv screen that was RGB, that would make up the colors you saw on a big screen tv from the 90’s. If you would like a more in-depth explanation of RGB please visit pcmag

8. White Space

White space is a design term you will hear a lot during your life as a designer. I am all for leaving some white space, as I said in my recent post Why a high quality logo does not cost $50, “less is more”. White space can help you get your idea across in a design. See below for a good use of white space. it does not necessarily need to be white, it’s just the space in a photo or anything design that is not used. As you can see from the below image, even with all that space, it still works, it does not feel over cluttered, it feels fresh and clean.

9. Flow

Lastly for my design secrets is flow. Flow is very important when it comes to design, you want to put together a design that is pleasing to the eye, you do not want your viewer’s eyes wandering all over the advertisement or poster. As you can see above the flow is perfect. For me, my eyes start out on the cell phone and work its way down to the book then the keyboard. But the keyboard is slanted for a reason it is so your eyes are directed back up the image. This is a good example of good design aesthetics. If you would like to learn more on design aesthetics please visit creative

That is my 9 design secrets for beginners.

Comment below and tell me your secrets or tips and tricks that you would like to share!

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