Graphic Design 101: A quick guide for Beginners

Do you think you have a creative mind? How cool would it be to get paid for illustrating from the essence of your creativity? There aren’t many fields that allow you to show your creativity and artistic skills to its fullest. 

Graphic Design is one that does

But don’t worry, being good at drawing isn’t a necessity in this illustrative world. As Chris Do once said, “If you can design one thing, you can design everything”

A flair for creativity, a habit of thinking outside the box, and some basic understanding of the field are all you will need to enter this creative field. 



What is Graphic Design?

Simply put, graphic designing is planning and projecting ideas using text and visual elements. Graphic designs are used to communicate a message that is visually appealing to the audience. 

These designs are mainly used to advertise and for marketing purposes but some artists also use it to show their artistic skills. Graphic design also helps with building a brand in an enormous way. Just think about the impact that Nike, Apple, Starbucks, or any other major company’s logo has.



Elements of Graphic Design

There are a total of six elements, anyone trying to understand graphic design should know about:


  • Line : These are primarily used for separating different elements or sections of a design. It can be short, long, red, black, dotted, or any other kind. Some minimalistic designs have started to use them less and in certain cases not include them at all.
  • Shape : Multiple lines are combined together to form shapes or a definite form. They are circles, squares, triangles, or any other shape.
  • Texture : These are used to replace solid colours, mainly in the background. Textures can be concrete, paper, stone, fabric, natural elements, brick, and so on.
  • Colour : Since colours have the most impact on any visual element, they are a crucial element. When used correctly, colour can create emotions and bring life to any design. Knowing how the hue, saturation, shade, tint, tone or chroma work in designs is a crucial thing for any designer.
  • Value : The value represents how light or dark design is and can set the mood for any design.
  • Space : The new trend of minimalistic designs often consists the use of a lot of negative spaces. Space gives the reader time and makes it easy to consume the design. Nobody likes to look at a cluttered design anymore, so understanding how space works for your design can be very important.



Principles of Graphic Design

Every designer follows his/her own set of principles while creating a design. Nonetheless, they always know and understand the basic principles of designing and then choose whether to follow, tweak, or ignore them. 

1. Balance : It refers to the distribution of elements throughout the design. It provides stability and structure to the overall design. There are 3 types of balances : symmetrical, asymmetrical and radius.

Symmetrical designs distribute the weight of each element evenly in either section of a design. When two sides of a design don’t look the same, it is called asymmetrical design. Radius balance is achieved when the elements are placed in a circular manner.  

2. Proximity : Proximity creates a relationship between different elements. Proximity helps to connect these elements using font, colour, size, shape, and so on. 

3. Alignment : Alignment refers to connecting with design by giving it an ordered appearance. 

4. Visual Hierarchy : A hierarchy is formed by determining which elements are more important than others and then giving them weight accordingly. Extra weight can be given by using bold font, placing the message higher than other elements, or by using colours. 

5. ConsistencyConsistency or repetition is required largely in branding. Using the same colours, font, shapes, etc. in each design creates consistency. 

6. Contrast : Having a difference between two opposing design elements is how contrast happens. The most common type is the contrast between light and dark colours. 

7. Typography : Sometimes the style of your font is all you need to show your design.



Graphic Design Tools

Graphic Designers often use their sketchbooks to jot down their creative ideas. However, at the end of the day they use different tools to digitise these ideas.

Here are some of the most common tools used by designers:

  • PhotoShop
  • GIMP
  • Illustrator
  • Inkscape
  • CorelDraw
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Serif Drawplus
  • Xara Xtreme
  • Coral PaintShop
  • Coral PhotoImpact


Here are some of the computer tools that Designers make use of :

  • Pixlr
  • Wacom Bamboo
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Visual CSS Tools
  • PicMarkr
  • InDesign Secrets
  • Pantone Color Guides
  • DeviantART
  • Icon Finder
  • PageCrush

You can also choose to draw using a mouse/ trackpad or use a graphics pad like Wacom Intuos Pro or XP-Pen Star05


Types of Graphic Design

From the logo of a company to the icons on a website, from the illustration on a billboard to the designs on your t-shirt, we can see examples of graphic design all around us. Here are the different types of graphic designs: 

1. Visual Identity : This refers to the branding aspect of a company. It creates a relationship between a business or organisation and its audience. It includes logo designing, style guides, typography, colour palette, etc.

2. Marketing and Advertising : Companies depend heavily upon their marketing campaigns to promote their products/services to the correct audience. All these marketing campaigns have multiple visual elements which attract the user to interact with a specific brand. The different marketing collaterals can be:

  • Postcards and flyers
  • Magazine and newspaper ads
  • Posters, banners, and billboards
  • Infographics
  • Brochures (print and digital)
  • Vehicle wraps
  • Signage and trade show displays
  • Email marketing templates
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Menus
  • Social media ads, banners, and graphics
  • Banner and retargeting ads
  • Images for websites and blogs

3. User Interface : This defines how a user gets to interact with a website, mobile application, or any other product. Examples of designing UI includes: 

  • Web page design
  • Theme design 
  • Game interfaces
  • App design

4. Publication : Designers are needed to curate designs for publications like the newspaper, books, magazines etc. They work on curating the cover images, page layouts, custom illustrations and any other element that might be needed in a publication.

5. Packaging : Most products come in professional packaging, which means they would require designs for the same. This can include designing boxes and bags in which a particular product is delivered to the customer. 

6. Motion Graphics : These are graphics that are moving or are in motion. These can include typography, audio, animation, imagery, video, and other effects that can be used in television, films, or various online media. 

7. Environmental : These designs aim to improve the overall experience of people going through places. Examples include: 

  • Signage
  • Wall murals
  • Museum exhibitions
  • Office branding
  • Public transportation navigation
  • Retail store interiors
  • Stadium branding
  • Event and conference spaces

8. Art and Illustrations : Graphic art and illustrations involve creating detailed, visually appealing, and original pieces of artwork.



A Quick Intro to UI / UX Design

Graphic designing, UI designing, and UX designing are three fields that go toe to toe on a daily basis. It can be easy to get confused amongst the three but here’s a quick differentiation to understand them better. 

  • Graphic design is mainly associated with designing visual elements like logos, images, etc. Graphic design can be called the art of deciding how things should look to communicate the message best. 
  • UI design stands for User Interface design. It is the specialisation of designing the look and flow of all the interactive elements. UI is used in websites, mobile applications, video games, computer software, etc. 
  • UX is the most different of them all and stands for User Experience design. It focuses on the logic and the structure of a product to provide the most desired experience to its user. It involves researching, developing, designing, launching and modifying a product and its design. 



Who is a Graphic Designer?

Graphic designers create visual representations either by hand or by using computer software. They are masters of communicating by combining technology and art. 

A major objective of a graphic designer is to captivate viewers by communicating ideas that inspire and inform. 

Graphic designers are responsible for structuring the layout of an advertisement, t-shirt designs, websites, magazines, etc. and use visual elements with design principles and their expertise on the subject to do so.



Role of a Graphic Designer

A graphic designer has to do a lot more than just designing something. Some of the typical tasks include: 

  • Determine the scope of a project by meeting with clients or the art director
  • Advise clients on various strategies to reach their goal
  • Define the message the design should portray
  • Design graphics that help identify a product or convey a message
  • Generate graphics for product illustrations, logos, and websites
  • Select colors, images, text style, and layout
  • Change and modify the final design to meet the client’s requirements.


Scope of Graphic Design in India

As more and more companies start to realise the importance of not just communicating through designs but through the right designs, the demand for graphic designers has been on the rise. 

Today, at least 40% of the communication done by a company is visual. 

The average salary of a graphic designer depends on many factors such as whether he/she is an employee or a freelancer, experience, portfolio, and so on. But to put it broadly, a graphic designer can earn anywhere between INR 90,000 to INR 6 lakhs yearly.


Want to explore the world of design with young mentors in the field? Then sign up for the MyCaptain Graphic Design Workshop!

1 Comment

  1. Maneesh Kumar

    I am interested with full details for contact me and proses Kya hai..

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