The 7 Core Graphic Design Basics You Should Know

Are you a creative type who likes to get your hands directly dirty? If YES, this article is for you! If not, well … there’s probably still a job waiting for you somewhere. But still, you should know these basic graphic design principles because, without them, everything else will be meaningless. A good designer knows their way around a digital toolkit, so to speak. Each tool has its own place and purpose in the design process. Use the right tool for the right job — or even better: learn how to use the right tool for the right job!

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Don’t make me work out

This one should be obvious, right? But still, it’s the first thing most new designers skid across when starting out. You don’t need to do any exercises or push yourself to the brink of exhaustion while trying to get a project finished. That will just make the project itself harder to deal with, and your clients less happy. Working out will do more damage to your health than good. It will stress you out, make you fat and ultimately, make you less productive in your work. There are healthier ways to get the job done, like taking a walk, going to the gym, or doing something that keeps your mind busy.

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Be Consistent

This one is pretty important! Your design should be consistent with your brand’s personality — not only in its design but also in the copy it uses and the colors it uses. If your brand is a brewery, for example, you’d want all your design elements to reflect that. You don’t have to go overboard — a few percent consistency is usually enough to make a big difference.

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Use an asset manager

You’ve probably used an asset manager at one point or another, either in your personal life or in your business life. Most of us have used one at least once in our working lives. You should use one if you’re a designer, and it should be the one you use the most. If you stick with just one tool, you’re bound to have bad experiences with it. You might start out using it okay, but then, over time, it might do a poor job of representing your brand. Or worse, it might actually be doing the opposite of what you want! You should use an asset manager because it can help you keep track of your designs, clients, and projects across the entire organization. You can see which designs are succeeding or failing, and you can quickly shift gears if things aren’t going well. It’s also a great way to take inventory of your skills and learn from your mistakes.

Show, don’t just tell

One of the best things about working with digital tools is that you get to be creative with them. You can choose the right tool for the right job or you can use a tool simply because it’s there. But you shouldn’t show off with your work — use your best judgment on that front. A logo doesn’t need to be a work of art. It can be, say, a 2D line drawing that you use to represent your brand. There is no reason you should be using stylized, complicated 2D designs when you could be using a simple line drawing. There’s a fine line between showing off and being lazy. The logo above, for example, is completely lazy. There is no reason for it to be a logo. Line drawings work just as well.

Find your creative voice

One of the biggest benefits of working with digital tools is that you get to find your creative voice. If you’re a brand new designer, you might not know your creative voice yet. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying! You don’t have to define your creative voice yet. You’re allowed to experiment and find what style of brand design you like best and then use that voice. You don’t have to limit yourself to logos, either. Can you think of any other creative elements you’d like to use for your brands? Once you’ve found your creative voice, use it. Use it in your web presence, use it in your brochures, use it in your press kits — use it everywhere! And if you find yourself stuck for ideas, remember the following words of wisdom from the late, great Saul Bass: “Think different, and the universe will think with you.”

Make it look and feel great

When it comes to designing a website, one of the most important things you can do is make it look great. A website’s design is likely going to make or break your business. If people can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll quickly lose interest in your brand and move on to the next shiny object. You don’t need to be an expert in website design, either. There are plenty of resources out there that will help you get started. The most important thing, though, is that you make sure your website looks great. If it doesn’t, people won’t stick around — they’ll simply move on to the next thing.

How to use a diagram: The big one or two

A diagram is a great tool to help you communicate ideas and convey information to your audience. It’s also a really effective way to break down large projects into digestible pieces. But don’t overthink it. A diagram should be simple, and clear, and let your creative voice be heard. When it comes to diagramming, there are two main types you should avoid: - Overlapping outlines: This look and feel is overkill, and it simply doesn’t communicate well. - Overlapping rectangles: This is also overkill, as it makes the shape itself look awkward, and it leaves your message without clarity.

A basic understanding of graphic design basics you need to know will help you progress as a designer and make better design decisions in the future. Whether you’re a brand-new designer or an experienced veteran, learning these techniques will help you create better work and help you get more out of your design toolkit.