In this Graphic Design Lesson, I’ll cover A-to-Z of Graphic Design which is the basis of Graphic Designing. Before starting the post, a special thanks to Sanchit Sharma for compiling the beautiful cover image for us.
My name is Lalit Adhikari and we are at LTY. Let’s begin!
Here, I’m going to discuss and mention all the important things which one should know about Graphic Designing. Whether you are a beginner, student or someone who is going to start learning Graphic Design, I would recommend to read this blog first. I have written blog using my experience and after discussion with various other designers and students.
If you are already a designer, I would love to have your feedback about this blog.
- Understanding Graphic and Design separately
- What is Graphic Design?
- History of Graphic Design
- How to learn Graphic Design?
- Graphic Design Career
- Different industries where Graphic Designers are needed
- Graphic Design software
- Best PC for Graphic Design
- Best Laptop for Graphic Design
- Recommended configuration for PC & Laptops
- Graphic Tablets
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Understanding Graphic and Design separately
First of all let’s understand, what does both these terms mean separately.
What is Graphics?
Graphics derives from a Greek word ‘graphikos‘ which means ‘belonging to drawing’. Graphics are visual images or art on any surface such as stone, wall, canvas, paper or digital screen to inform, illustrate or simply to entertain.
What is Design?
Design is all about planning as well as executing the plan successfully.
A designer plans and prepares a design based on a design process (explained below briefly). There are various rules and guidelines for making an effective graphic design.
When I explain this in a classroom, from the definitions mentioned above, some of my students always asked me, “Sir, Design and Art are not the same thing?” or “What is the difference between Art and Design?”
To answer the question, let’s first look at ‘What is Art’ and then I will point out the differences between Art and Design.
What is Art?
Art is an expression or application of Human Creative skill and imagination, popularly in a visual form such as painting or sculpture. Art is also producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. As definitions from Oxford Languages.
Difference between Art and Design
- Art is subjective in nature.
- Art is an inner expression of an Artist’s mind, soul and heart.
- Art is open for interpretations. For Example: Modern art – some people love modern art while others’ can’t contemplate it.
- Design is objective in nature.
- Design is created because of the requirement of a client.
- Designs are universal in nature (explained below). For example: Symbols used outside ‘washrooms’ either for men or women.
Now let’s dive into the definition of both terms combined .i.e., Graphic Design.
As you can see, Graphics is purely based on Creativity & Innovation whereas Design is planning and execution. We all know, whenever Creativity meets Planning, that’s where Commercialism and Politics begins. (No pun intended.)
What is Graphic Design?
First watch is video from GCF Learn Free to get the basic idea of Graphic Design.
Graphic Design is the art and practice of creating visual content to communicate information, ideas or messages to a target audience. It can be done in two medias, which are Digital Media and Print Media. Graphic Designers uses a variety of software programs such as ‘Adobe Creative Suite’ (which includes Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign etc.), CorelDraw or Inkscape etc.
It is like a ‘means of communication’. As English, Hindi, Filipino, Indonesian, Urdu or Spanish etc., Graphic Design is also a language (means of communication). The only difference is in the use of basic elements. In Graphic Design, we use Text, Images and Colors as our syllable.
It is also like a craft which involves Creativity, Innovation and Lateral thinking along with Digital Tools where professionals create visual content to communicate a message or idea. Usually the message or idea could be a product or service of company or brand to solve a certain problem for their users. Hence, a great way for advertising or marketing.
Graphic Design has an interdisciplinary and universal nature as it’s involves Art, Profession and Academic Discipline.
Universal nature of Graphic Design
Graphic Designing has a universal nature which means unlike an artwork, a design usually have a single meaning or understanding for everyone.
Let’s have a look at few common symbols used in Graphic Designing.
In the designing world, a symbol is a combination of graphical elements used to represent a certain idea, situation or a brand’s identity, communicating it’s story and influencing the way it is perceived by audience.
Wet floor signage (icon used in the signage): It represents a wet floor or slippery floor and communicates the meaning of being cautious and avoid using that area.
Handle with care icon (Marked with a rectangle & arrow) – It represents a fragile item is being packed inside and communicates the meaning of handling the package carefully.
Common Color Representations:
Just like design symbols, colors too convey a message. Here’s few of commonly used colors and there respective meanings in signages.
|Serial No.||Color||What that color represents|
|1||RED||Emergency, Stop, Danger and Fire|
|2||ORANGE||Machine and Electrical|
|3||YELLOW||Caution and Physical|
|4||GREEN||Safety Equipment, other than Firefighting|
What is Graphic Design Process?
In Graphic Design Process, work always starts from a client’s demand or requirement. The demand or requirement could have been passed on to the Graphic Designer either by client him/ herself or by the Graphic Designer’s senior authority depending on the method or the structure of the Graphic Agency.
Graphic Design as an interdisciplinary field, has different knowledge focused on any visual communication platform either print or digital. For example: Graphic Designs are applied in Advertising Strategies as well as in Aviation world. From posters on the wall to the most advance game available.
History of Graphic Design
The history of design dates back to ancients – the homo sapiens.
The cave man made use of cave paintings and rock carvings to convey information or important events. This means of communication is referred to as Pictography.
Pictography involves the use of pictures or illustrations which can be further classified as Pictographs (or Pictograms) and Petroglyphs.
What is Pictographs?
Pictographs were painted on rocks or inside caves and it narrated an entire story.
What is Petroglyph?
Petroglyphs were carved on rocks. They were used to demonstrate an event.
In Design’s lengthy history and in the relatively recent explosion of visual communication, in the 20th and 21st centuries, the distinction between advertising, art, graphic, design and fine art has disappeared. They share many elements, theories, principles, practices, languages and sometimes the same benefactor or the client.
In advertising, the ultimate objective is the sale of the goods and services. In graphic design, “the essence is to give order to information, form to ideas, expression and feeling to artifacts that enhances human experience”.History of Graphic Design
How to learn Graphic Design?
There are various ways in which you can learn Graphic Designing. They are as following:
- Graphic Designing Course Online
- Free Graphic Designing Tutorials Online
- Graphic Designing Course at an institute near your location
- Author’s Personal Experience & Advice (both while learning and teaching)
- Final and most important and compulsory step, is to practice a lot.
The best online Graphic Design Course (Paid options)
Yes, you can learn Graphic Designing Online. The following are some of the best online graphic designing course providers:
- Creative Live
- CG Master Academy
- Linkedin Learning
- Shaw Academy
I would highly recommend to explore these websites on your own as most of these have large amount of courses. Read their content and then chose the one that suits you best.
How to learn Graphic Design for free
Most of the options available for free learner are online only. Here, I will not be mentioning Youtube as it has become a common platform for everyone. So, everyone already knows about it.
Free Graphic Designing Course Online
Here’s I’m mentioning few of popular choices for free sources to learn Graphic Design:
Join a Graphic Design Course in an institute near you
You can ‘Google‘, graphic design institute near me and the results will show you all the places near you.
Here are notable mentions, some of which are quite popular in Asian region (some of these are colleges which may have a entrance criteria). I am creating this list in alphabetical order:
- Arena Animation
- Asian Academy of Film & Television
- National Institute of Design
- Picasso Animation College
- Reliance Education
- Whistling Woods International
- Zee Institute of Creative Art
Author’s Personal Experience & Advice
Before sharing my experience, from being a student to a teacher, I will like to first share a few things about me.
As you may have read, my name is Lalit M S Adhikari (Yes! It’s quite big!!!). I’m a Blogger, Graphic & Web Designer as well as a Digital Marketer. I have also done 2d projects and a few 3d projects.
My freelancing and learning path started simultaneously. Initially, I started my freelancing from Content Writing in 2009. With time I needed to learn few things in Graphic Designing then Web Designing then 2d Animation and the list went on…
I also have more than 5 years of teaching experience in Graphic Designing, Web Designing, 2d animation and Digital Marketing. So, I believe, I’m an apt person to share my personal experience and advice.
So, here it is, “No matter which medium or source you chose to study. If you are only going to stick to one source or medium of learning, YOU WILL NOT FEEL SATISFIED.”
Due to the data and information blast in the recent years, every single source you chose would feel incomplete when you will compare it to course somewhere else. There are mainly 2 reasons behind it:
- In Graphic Designing, there are several combination to perform any given task.
For example: Suppose we have to remove a background of an image.
Now there are several ways to do it (this will get a little technical now). You can use any selection tools (there are many), Color Range or you can use advance feature in Adobe Photoshop CC i.e., select subject or Channel Masking, Clip Masking or Layer Masking.
So, the best method to remove background of an image will always depend on the image, the expertise of a designer and the quality requirement. The ‘expertise of the designer’, here represents the practice and not commercial work.
Practice and exploration are the most important aspect of learning in this field.
- Whenever you learn something from a professional place, be it a website or an institute, college or school. They always have a professionally defined curriculum.
In this era of ever-changing knowledge, these curriculum are usually updated or revised yearly. So, you can understand the gap.
Before taking admission anywhere you should read there curriculum first. Even in some cases, sometimes they provide trial classes to check the tuning between the teacher and student.
I would recommend to join free online courses to begin and to get into a habit of reading and exploring internet and blogs. Practice as much as you can. Don’t just watch videos and do nothing.
And although I promote self-learning as I’m a self-learner. Still, I always recommend to find people to mentor you. In fact, I have my mentors too like Rahul Kaushal Sir, Mohit Yadav Sir, Ankit Kumar Sir, Vikas Singh Rawat Sir, Ali Hilal Zaidi Sir and many more…
Self-learning doesn’t mean you need to do all by yourself. Mentors can help you in finding what to learn next, what to focus on according to your goal, what to practice more and in many other ways. If you are a beginner or currently studying Graphics, you can join our Facebook Group, LTY Group.
Here, I can mentor you in my free time, as I still like teaching. And if you are already a professional or intermediate level student, I would love to have you in our group for helping our beginner’s community.
Learn, Practice and Keep Exploring:
The key point to learning any new field is by lots of reading, practice and also keep exploring the field. Keep searching for new topics in the field and practicing the old topics too.
And remember, ‘Basics seem boring to start with and to study… but eventually you will always go back to Basics.’
Graphic Design Career
The rapid and massive development in content generation, information sharing & content marketing has lead to the demand for experienced designers, greater than ever. Especially with the development of new and improved technologies and the need to pay attention to human factors & emotions which is beyond the competence of the engineers who develop them.
Hence, Graphic Design will be a massive field to work and grow both personally and financially.
Different industries where Graphic Designers are needed
Almost all creative fields require Graphic Designers to enhance and showcase their work.
Nearly for all of creative professionals, it’s an addon to learn Graphic Designing to enhance there skills and work.
Here’s a list of few courses which can be supplemented using Graphic Designing:
- 3d Design course
- Aquaponics Design course
- Exhibition Design course
- Fashion Design course
- Fashion Accessories Design course
- Furniture and Interior design course
- Garment Design course
- Information Design course
- Interior Design course
- Interior Design and Styling course
- Lingerie Design course
- Product Design and Development course
- Product Packaging Design course
- Swimsuit Design course
- Textile Design course
- UI & UX design course
Graphic Design software
First of all, there are 2 types of Graphic Software i.e., Raster software and Vector software.
Second, the plural form of software is software. I know it sounds crazy but that’s true. You can check here. So, there’s no such word as ‘softwares’, it’s software for more than software too.
The word ‘Raster’ is used to whenever we have ‘something made up of pixels’. The term in it self means ‘a type of computer image that is based on a rectangular grid of pixels’.
For Example: Adobe Photoshop is a Raster Software. Common raster images extensions are PNG, JPG and GIF.
Vector software use points and lines or geometrical shapes to create design. They don’t have pixels.
For Example: Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw are Vector software. A popular Vector image extension is SVG.
Graphic Software and Market
There’s a long list of Graphic Software available in market. Many of are paid with free trials, some have both free and paid versions and some are completely free.
As an independent Graphic Artist, you can chose your own choice of Graphic software. But for job professionals, depending on your company, you may not have that freedom.
Most of production houses, studio or graphic agencies use Adobe software or Corel draw.
I’m listing the most popular and other software available.
Most popular Graphic Software
These are the software, you will find in many Graphic Designing Courses. They are also the top requirement for most of the Graphic Designing Jobs.
Adobe Photoshop is the most advance image editing software available in the market. Over the years, Adobe Photoshop has become synonym for Graphic Designing.
Even I like to call it a Zero for Graphic Designing. Just like in math, you can’t work without zero. Similarly, in Graphic Designing, in same or other, you will end up using Adobe Photoshop.
Adobe Illustrator is one of the most popular vector software available in market. It’s also one of the prime software used in Print industry. More common in market of developed countries.
Adobe Indesign is a publishing software from Adobe. It helps in performing publishing tasks of industry in best possible ways.
Corel draw is currently the only popular competitor for Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Indesign. It is the second most popular software in print industry. More common in market of under-developed and developing countries.
Other Graphic Software available in market
These are some other Graphic software available for use in market.
- Clip Studio
- Capture One
- Canvas GFX
- Golden Software
- Affinity Software
- Eximious Soft
- India Font
- Stamp Seal Maker
- CAD tools
- Summit Soft
- Art Rage
- ACD Systems
- Get Paint
- JPEG mini
- WN Soft
- AAA logo
- Design Wizard
- Sumo Paint
- Cyber Link
- Sketch (For Mac only)
- Sketch Book
- Xara xtreme
Best Graphic Designing Apps
These are the best Graphic Designing Apps available in market.
- What is Adobe Illustrator
- Line Segment, Arc, Spiral, Rectangular & Polar Grid Tool
- Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, Star & Flare Tool
Best PC for Graphic Design
First of all, I’m creating this list just to answer the question which almost everyone had asked me, a best configuration for PC or Laptop.
This list has nothing to do with reality and it would be very costly, not everyone could afford it.
I’m only sharing the main best components for a PC in multimedia field. These could be assembled to make a PC.
Best Graphic Card
- Type Tool in illustrator
- Paintbrush & Blob brush Tool in illustrator
- How to use Eraser tool in illustrator
Best Laptop for Graphic Design
Again, this is just an perfect example for someone who could afford it.
Recommended configuration for PC & Laptops
It is a general recommend to always calculate you budget first. How much are you willing to spend for your PC.
Again, the minimum requirements depends on your budget. But here I’m defining the minimum criteria based on smooth working of Graphic Software.
I have seen students working on different configurations and in past I have used most of them myself too. Based on my and student’s usage experience of software in different configurations, I would suggest:
Motherboard is second most important thing in a PC or laptop after a processor. If your motherboard is not powerful enough then you may experience bottle-neck in your PC or Laptop’s performance.
Amount and speed of RAM is also a critical factor for the performance.
Cabinet is something you can chose as you like.
Recommended Graphic Card
Graphic Card is required for smooth working of Graphic Software. You will need a powerful Graphic Card, if you are into Image Manipulation, Matte Painting and Digital Painting.
These are some recommended laptops in the market.
Intel i5 laptops
Intel i7 laptops
- Width Tool in illustrator
- Shape Builder, Live Paint Bucket tool in illustrator
- How to use Gradient Tool in Illustrator
Using a Graphic Tablet is an integral part of Graphic Designing. Graphic Designers use Graphic Tablets for smooth work process and greater ease of designing than with mouse or track pad.
Basic Small Tablets
You can start with a basic small tablet then go up to advance tablets as you grow.
Medium Size Tablets
You can also start with medium size tablets if you have a big hand like me. (Pun intended.)
Advance Display Graphic Tablets
Display Graphic Tablets have an in-built screen in them. You just need to connect it with your PC or Laptop and start using your Graphic Software in it with the tablet’s pen. They have better control and compatibility but again, some people may have pricing issues as they are quite costly.
And of course, I would recommend Wacom. They have the best in the industry Display Graphic Tablets. Although for pricing issues, you can chose from other options too.
- How to use Mesh Tool in illustrator
- How to make a Semicircle in Illustrator
- How to design a Retro Flower Pattern
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
I am answering here few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), either by my students or by people over the internet.
What is the best online graphic design course?
There is no single best course for it. You can join multiple online courses from Udemy, Coursera, Shaw Academy, Domestika, CG Master Academy, Linkedin Learning, Tutsplus or here. You should explore these websites and also developing a habit of exploring internet about the topics you learn there. You can also chose to read and expand your grasping power from blogs like Veerle’s Blog or LTY.
Can I learn graphic design online?
Yes, you can learn it online by purchasing courses from a large variety of websites such as Udemy, Coursera, Shaw Academy, Domestika, CG Master Academy, Linkedin Learning, Tutsplus or for free at LTY by reading and watching videos as well as practicing them.
Can I learn graphic design online free?
Yes, you can learn it online for free. There are various websites which offer free courses Online like Creative Pro, Design Canva, Kadenze, Linkedin Learning, Tutsplus, Veerle’s Blog or our free blog LTY. You can also join our Facebook Group, LTY Group, to get your practice work checked and get free mentorship either from me or other designers.
Can I learn graphic design on my own?
Yes, to be self-learner, you should have good observation and internet exploration skills. I would still recommend having a mentor. You can also join our Facebook Group, LTY Group and get Free Mentorship and Guidance.
Do graphic designers get paid well?
An experienced and skilled Designer is always paid well. Although we must understand that ‘this’ questions has a lot of aspects to consider like, ‘The country of Designer’, ‘The company of Designer’, ‘The clients of Freelance Designer’ and so on.
Is graphic design in demand?
It is being used in a lot of industries now. From ‘Logo’ designing to car designing, from website’s interface to app’s interface. Every industry has a role for Graphic Designer. For complete list of all industries, click here.
How many years does it take to become a graphic designer?
In an ideal scenario, one can become a Graphic Designer in about 6 months. Although, the expertise and completion of a course depends upon the student. Graphics beings a form of Art, takes life long practice and exploration skills.
Which design course is best?
There no single best course because a course is merely an indication of your interest in the field and to guide to ‘How to start learning it’. This could be done through any course. The main part is to keep exploring, observing and practicing. That’s the best course of action to take.
How do beginners learn graphic design?
For beginners, I would recommend to first develop your observation skills. You can do so by practicing sketching, painting or crafting etc. After that check for some free online graphic courses, explore the topics in that free course over the internet and try to read and watch other videos about it. Now to develop further look for a mentor any institute near you or purchase graphic courses online.
How do you get a job as a graphic designer with no experience?
By building your ‘Design Portfolio’. Once you have learnt the designing principles and practiced designing. Your are ready to work on your ‘Design Portfolio’. You can create a portfolio using existing companies or imaginary companies and making designs for them.
Is graphic design a good career?
Yes, it is great career option, if you are either a creative genius or a dedicated learner. This career option requires a lot of practice and patience as it’s a form of art. And everyone knows, Art takes time.
How do I start a graphic design career?
To start your graphic design career, first you need to learn the designing, the required software and then start developing your portfolio. Once the portfolio is ready, you can apply for job opening in job portals or even try to get freelancing work by showcasing your work in relevant design portfolio websites.
Is graphic design hard?
It depends upon, what do you think about Art. Now if you are not an artist, at least you should have interest or sense of art. As in graphics, you will be studying and exploring about it a lot, digitally. If you looking for image editing only, then it’s not required.
Can I learn graphic design on my phone?
Yes, you can learn on your phone but you will not be able to practice it which kind of defeats, the whole purpose of learning.
What laptops do graphic designers use?
You can use laptops with minimum Intel i5 core processor and Graphic card nVidia 1050ti. Although, if you have a decent budget, I would recommend one with Intel i7 processor and Graphic card nVidia 1660ti. For a list of recommendations click here.
Are online graphic design courses worth it?
Yes, they will help you in developing a deeper understanding of designing at the comfort of your home or commute.
How can I become a graphic designer for free?
By joining the free graphic design courses offered by various websites mentioned here.
What is the best free graphic design software?
How do you design a logo?
Designing a logo, depends on a number of factors like Company’s name, vision, mission, ideologies, length of name etc. Though it all starting by brain storming on a piece of paper creating rough sketches and then digitalizing them later.
Is a graphic design certificate worth it?
No, mostly your portfolio defines your capabilities and strength. But in some countries or companies, it may be required for promotion. Again, not a mandatory formality.