7 Practical Steps to Learn Graphic Design in a Year
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Familiarize with the graphic design basics
  2. Select the right graphic design tools
  3. Start with simple projects
  4. Study the work of other designers
  5. Take graphic design courses
  6. Practice regularly
  7. Seek feedback and improve

If you've always admired the mesmerizing world of graphic design, and wondered "how to learn graphic design in a year?", you're in the right place. With the right steps, dedication, and a bit of creativity, it's absolutely possible to get there. So, let's get started with the journey!

Familiarize with the Graphic Design Basics

Before you start creating your first designs, it's important to get a good grasp of the basics of graphic design. Think of it like learning to cook; you wouldn't jump straight into making a five-course meal without knowing how to chop an onion, would you? The same idea applies here.

Here are some key areas to focus on:

  • Color Theory: Understanding color theory is like learning the language of design. It helps you know what colors work well together, how to create mood with color, and the impact of color on a design.
  • Typography: This is all about the art of choosing and arranging type. It might seem simple, but trust me, whether you're designing a logo or a website, the right font can make or break your design.
  • Layout and Composition: This is about how elements are arranged on a page. Just like how a well-organized room is easier to navigate, a well-composed design is easier to understand and enjoy.
  • Brand Identity Design: This involves creating a visual identity that represents a company or product. Think of it as the face of a brand—it's what makes a brand instantly recognizable.

Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will be your graphic design skills. Take your time to understand these concepts and be patient with yourself. After all, learning how to learn graphic design in a year means plenty of practice and patience.

Select the Right Graphic Design Tools

Imagine trying to paint a masterpiece without a paintbrush. Sounds pretty hard, right? In the same vein, choosing the right tools is a vital part of learning graphic design. But don't worry, you don't need to drain your bank account buying every tool out there. To start, you'll need a good computer, reliable software, and a lot of creative juices!

Here are some of the key tools you should consider:

  • Computer: A laptop or desktop with a good processor and ample storage will do. If you prefer working on a larger screen, consider getting a monitor. This will make your work easier, especially when working on detailed designs.
  • Graphic Design Software: There are plenty of options out there, but Adobe Creative Suite is the industry standard. It includes tools like Photoshop for image editing, Illustrator for vector graphics, and InDesign for layout design. If you're on a budget, consider free alternatives like GIMP or Inkscape.
  • Drawing Tablet: If you're serious about graphic design, a drawing tablet can be a game-changer. It allows you to draw directly onto the screen, giving you more control and precision.

Keep in mind, acquiring the tools is just the first step. You'll need to invest time to learn how to use them effectively. But don't worry, with a bit of practice, you'll be creating stunning designs in no time! Remember, the goal is to learn graphic design in a year, and having the right tools at your disposal is a significant part of that journey.

Start with Simple Projects

Picture this: you're learning to ride a bike for the first time. Would you start with an extreme mountain trail? Probably not. The same principle applies when you're learning graphic design. Starting with simple projects allows you to get a feel for your tools and design principles without feeling overwhelmed. It's like learning to ride a bike on a flat, open space before taking on those mountain trails.

Here are some project ideas to get you started:

  1. Business Cards: Designing a business card can be a fun and simple way to practice layout and typography.
  2. Social Media Graphics: Try creating Instagram posts or Facebook cover photos. You can experiment with different styles and see what works best.
  3. Logo Design: This might be a bit harder, but it's a great way to practice using different shapes and colors to convey a message.

Remember, the goal isn't to create a masterpiece right away. Instead, focus on experimenting with different elements and seeing what you like. With each project, you'll gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn't—kind of like figuring out how to balance on that bike. And who knows? By the end of the year, you might be ready to tackle more complex projects and be well on your way to learning graphic design.

Study the Work of Other Designers

Think about when you learned to read. You didn't just start inventing words and sentences, right? You learned by studying the work of others. This is exactly what you need to do when you're figuring out how to learn graphic design in a year.

Studying the work of other designers can help you understand different design styles, discover new techniques, and get a sense of what you like and don't like in a design. It's like looking at a map before going on a hike—you get an idea of the path you want to take.

Here are a few ways to study the work of other designers:

  1. Design Books: Books like "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman or "Logo Design Love" by David Airey are gold mines of design knowledge and inspiration.
  2. Design Blogs: Websites such as Dribbble, Behance, and AIGA Eye on Design showcase the work of designers from around the world. Spend some time each day browsing these sites and taking note of designs that catch your eye.
  3. Real Life Observation: Don't forget to look around you! From restaurant menus to billboards, design is everywhere. Take pictures of designs you like—or don't like—to analyze later.

Remember, the goal isn't to copy other designers but to learn from them. So, while you're studying, ask yourself: Why does this design work? Why doesn't it? What would I do differently? These questions will help you develop your critical thinking skills, which are a must-have for any graphic designer.

Take Graphic Design Courses

Okay, you've got a grasp on the basics and you've been studying designs that catch your eye. But you might still wonder, how exactly do I learn graphic design in a year? Well, taking a course is a great next step.

Graphic design courses can provide you with a structured way to learn the skills you need. They typically cover a range of topics, from typography and color theory to digital illustration and photo editing. Plus, they offer hands-on projects that allow you to apply what you've learned.

But where do you find these courses? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Online Learning Platforms: Websites like Coursera, Skillshare, or Udemy offer a wide range of graphic design courses, from beginner to advanced levels. You can learn at your own pace, and many of these courses are quite affordable.
  2. Community Colleges: Many community colleges offer graphic design courses that you can take without enrolling in a full degree program. This can be a great way to learn from experienced instructors and interact with other students.
  3. Design Workshops: Workshops, whether in-person or virtual, offer intensive, focused learning experiences. They can be a great way to learn a specific skill or technique in a short amount of time.

Remember, the goal isn't to become a master overnight (or even in a year). It's about continuous learning and improvement. Every new technique you learn, every project you complete, brings you one step closer to becoming a graphic designer.

Practice Regularly

It's a no-brainer, right? Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to something as hands-on as graphic design. But, how do you make sure you're practicing the right way and really learning graphic design in a year? Let's break it down.

First off, let's be clear about one thing: "practice" doesn't just mean messing around with your chosen design tool. It means actively working on projects that challenge you, that push you to try new techniques and improve your skills.

Start off each day with a quick warm-up. This could be a simple sketch or a quick layout exercise. It helps get your creative juices flowing and sets the tone for a productive day. And remember, not every piece you create has to be a masterpiece. Sometimes, it's more about the process than the end result.

Next, make sure you're dedicating specific time each week to learning new skills. This could be through a course, tutorial, or even a YouTube video. Set clear goals for what you want to learn, and track your progress over time.

Finally, don't forget to experiment. Graphic design is all about creativity, after all. So try out different styles, play with different tools, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. The best designs often come from the most unexpected places.

Practicing regularly might seem like a lot of work, but it's the only way to truly learn graphic design in a year. So keep at it, and before you know it, you'll be creating designs that you're truly proud of.

Seek Feedback and Improve

So, you've put in the hours, worked on the projects, and mastered the tools. You're feeling pretty good about your graphic design skills, right? Well, hold onto your pencils because there's one more step to learning graphic design in a year: seeking feedback and improving.

You see, creating a design is only half the battle. Understanding how others perceive your design and making improvements based on their feedback is crucial to your growth as a designer.

Start by sharing your work with family and friends. Their fresh eyes can spot issues that you might have missed. Remember, constructive criticism is a gift, not a personal attack. It's all about improving your work, not tearing you down.

Next, consider joining an online design community. Places like Behance or Reddit's /r/graphic_design are full of designers who are more than willing to share their insights and expertise. Just remember to be respectful and return the favor by offering feedback to others as well.

Lastly, don't forget to reflect on your own work. Look for patterns in the feedback you receive and areas where you consistently struggle. Then, make a plan to tackle those areas in your future practice sessions.

Seeking feedback and continually improving is the key to mastering any skill, and graphic design is no exception. So don't be afraid to put yourself out there and learn from the criticism. After all, that's how you truly learn graphic design in a year.

If you're eager to put your newfound graphic design knowledge to use, don't miss Linsey Mouse's workshop, 'Designing a Logo in 1 Hour.' This workshop will help you apply your skills in a practical way by guiding you through the process of creating an eye-catching logo in just one hour. Continue your journey in graphic design with this hands-on experience.