7 Ways to Fine Tune Your Graphic Design Skills

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Ryan Somma image
Image via Flickr by Ryan Somma

By Natalie Bracco

Graphic designers are the gods of the sci-fi universe. They create the games most of us waste our days on, create the movies that force us out of our cubby holes, and make the comics that litter our bookshelves. Fact of the matter is if graphic designing is your forte, then it is something that should be heavily embraced and here are a few ways to begin that process.

Read Design Blogs

The best way to stay updated on design news and trends is to read design blogs. Created for graphic designers, web designers, and illustrators, these blogs have endless information, news, and tips. Some blogs to check out are abduzeedo, design instruct, design-newz, gomedazine, and onextrapixel.

With free icons, fonts, photo editors, tutorials, and other free resources given out regularly, these design sites will not only offer you trending news, but will also provide a whole design library for you to use. Stock up on the free tools, so you’re ready for any gaming projects in your inventory. Let’s go ahead a restart the 8-bit revolution! Viva Mario Party!

Create Mock Logo Design

University of SalfordImage via Flickr by University of Salford

The quickest way into the Sega history books lies with logo creation. Let’s go ahead and see how. You’re going to want to start by coming up with a whole bunch of names for yourself or any type of company that you might want to build. Obviously, if you want to use a preexisting name and add a new spin to it (like Nintendo – as iconic as their logo is), go right ahead. If you can’t come up with anything try utilizing the first three words that randomly pop into your head. Once that’s been done, grab your pencil/pen and paper and start sketching.

Repeat this process daily to sharpen your logo designing skills.

After you create the fake logo, you could take the project one step further and create an entire fake project. Think of this as Tekken’s practice level. You can’t complete the three ring circus without it and you can’t exactly go forward with your skill set without moving forward and setting up your project. Using the logo, create stationary, brochures, advertisements, and websites. Okay, maybe not the stationary, but you can start by utilizing several free online webhosting services. You can also find a few apps and programs that will help you move forward in whatever direction you want to move in with your graphic design layout.

Download Design Apps

As much as we’d like to say we’ve always got a pen and paper in hand – we don’t. In fact, we’re more likely to pull a Portal-like device out of our back pockets over dead tree bark and cultivated fungus. Let’s face it, we’re technology based and there’s nothing wrong with that since we have the new creation of –drumroll—apps! Design apps are a perfect way to take notes for an inspirational idea, or to practice your skills during some down time. Lenovo tablets are ideal for designers who are constantly on the go.

With a tablet like this you can download apps like Paperless, Fontly, Ampergram, and Fontest (the last is free! Yay free!). Whether you see a font on a billboard or sign that you want to identify, or you want to quickly sketch something while waiting in the doctor’s office, these apps will give you all the designing tools you need for your tablet.

Quote Typography

To practice your typography designs, you can pick any one of your favorite quotes, whether from a book or a song. First, pick the quote. Then, pick a theme that would convey the emotion and complement the design of the quote. Add color, and design away. Make sure to save a few of those designs just in case you decide to utilize them in your professional portfolio.

Sketch It Up

While working with logos and typography are wholly important, you’re going to need to address your artistic talents. Go ahead and put your pen, pencil, or stylus up to the challenge that your mind has created. In all honesty, the Enterprise didn’t start as a simple thought with no execution, and neither did the big blue giants known as Avatars. You have to give yourself some form of creative expression and putting those ideas onto a feasible medium is the perfect way to do just that. Once it’s been sketched, go ahead and import it into one of those aforementioned apps or any other app you can muster and curtail it to your wildest fantasies.

Redo Your Old Designs

It may seem counterproductive to re-create your old designs, but you’re fine-tuning the skills you used to create that design. Think about the time it took to create that design, and try to create it quicker. By redoing your design, you’re reinforcing your design skills, even if it feels redundant. It’s a bit like leveling up without dying a million times to do so. Just because you’re working with a digital medium doesn’t mean you can’t hone in those same skills. Take a few pointers from Andrew Gower or David Jones. Practice makes perfect.

Take Photos of Everything

Another good practice to incorporate everyday inspiration into your create bank is to take photos of everything. Whether you’re on vacation, just taking a walk around your neighborhood, or you’re gawking at a creatively designed restaurant menu, design ideas are everywhere. Take photos of building designs, textures, shapes of shadows on walls, and print ads. You can store the photos on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or the many apps intended for note taking and idea storage. Then take them, tweak them, and recreate them. Just watch out for infringement issues if you want to upload your work for critiques. Remember, disclaimers go a long way.

Whether you’re feeling a lack of inspiration, or you just need to practice your design skills, these seven tips should help you do just that. Which of these tips have helped you sharpen your design skills?

NR Team

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