Improve Graphic Design Skills: 11 Practical Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. Get familiar with design principles
  2. Practice sketching
  3. Learn to use design software
  4. Follow design blogs and books
  5. Attend design workshops
  6. Join design communities
  7. Take on personal projects
  8. Seek critiques and apply feedback
  9. Observe and analyze designs
  10. Stay updated with design trends
  11. Learn about color theory and typography

Are you looking to bolster your graphic design prowess? You're in the right place. This blog will guide you on a journey of self-improvement, specifically focusing on how to improve graphic design for personal growth. We'll explore 11 practical tips, each stepping stone on your path to becoming a more skilled and confident designer. Let's dive right in.

Get Familiar with Design Principles

Think of design principles as a compass guiding your creative process. Having a solid grasp of these principles is the first step in improving your graphic design skills. It's like learning the ABCs before you start writing sentences.

Balance: Balance involves distributing elements evenly in a design. It doesn't always mean perfectly symmetrical. You can also achieve balance through contrast or color distribution.

Proximity: This refers to how close or far apart elements are placed in a design. Proximity can indicate a relationship between elements or help organize information.

Alignment: Proper alignment creates a clean, orderly look. It can help guide the viewer's eye and makes your design easier to read.

Repetition: Repetition can create a sense of consistency and cohesiveness. It can also reinforce an idea or message.

Contrast: Contrast can be achieved with colors, shapes, sizes, and other elements. It can help highlight important points and add visual interest.

Space: Space refers to the area around the elements in your design. It can help your design breathe and prevent it from feeling cluttered.

Remember, these principles are not strict rules, but rather guidelines. They'll help you make design decisions and solve problems. By understanding and applying them, you're already on your way to improving your graphic design for personal growth.

Practice Sketching

Ever tried making a sandwich without bread? That's what designing without sketching feels like. It's a fundamental skill that every graphic designer should have under their belt. And guess what? It's also an effective way to improve your graphic design skills for personal growth.

Sketching helps you quickly get your ideas out of your head and onto paper. It's a flexible and forgiving process — if you don't like something, you can easily erase it and start over. Plus, it saves you time. How so? Well, it's faster to sketch out an idea than to build it digitally only to realize it doesn't work.

But I'm not that good at drawing, you might say. Here's the thing: sketching for design is not about creating a perfect, museum-worthy piece of art. It's about communicating ideas effectively. You're not aiming for a Picasso-like masterpiece; you're aiming for clarity.

Here are some tips to help you improve your sketching skills:

  • Start with basic shapes: Break down complex objects into simple shapes. This technique makes sketching less overwhelming and more manageable.
  • Practice regularly: As with any other skill, practice is key. The more you sketch, the better you'll get.
  • Don't fear mistakes: Sketching is a process of trial and error. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. They're part of the learning process.
  • Use references: If you're having trouble drawing something, look up references. They'll help guide your hand and eye.

Remember, every stroke you make takes you one step closer to improving your graphic design skills. So grab that pencil, and let's sketch our way to growth!

Learn to Use Design Software

Imagine you're a carpenter. You know exactly what you want to build — you've even sketched it out. But you only have a hammer and some nails. Sounds frustrating, right? That's how it feels when you're a graphic designer who doesn't know how to use design software.

Design software is your toolbox. It's filled with different tools that help you bring your ideas to life. But here's the catch: You need to know how to use them. It's one of the ways to improve your graphic design for personal growth. But where do you start? Here are some of the most commonly used design software and what they're good for:

  • Adobe Photoshop: Ideal for photo editing and creating raster graphics. It's perfect for tasks like retouching photos, creating web designs, or painting digital art.
  • Adobe Illustrator: Great for creating vector graphics. You can use it to create logos, icons, and illustrations that can be scaled without losing quality.
  • Adobe InDesign: The go-to software for layout design. It's perfect for creating magazines, brochures, and other print materials.

But knowing the software isn't enough. You need to practice using it, just like you practice sketching. The more you use it, the more comfortable you'll become. Start with simple projects and gradually take on more complex ones. And don't forget to explore online tutorials — they're a gold mine of practical knowledge.

Keep in mind, learning to use design software isn't just about mastering the tools. It's about learning how to bring your ideas to life. And that's a skill worth growing.

Follow Design Blogs and Books

Ever heard the saying, "The more you read, the more things you will know?" Well, it applies perfectly to improving your graphic design skills for personal growth. Following design blogs and reading books on the subject is a great way to deepen your understanding of design principles and learn new techniques.

So, what should you be reading? Here are some recommendations:

  • Design blogs: Some of the best include Smashing Magazine, Creative Bloq, and Design Shack. They offer a wealth of information, with articles on everything from color theory to typography.
  • Books: "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman is a classic that every designer should read. "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug is another excellent book that teaches you how to make user-friendly web design.

Why is reading so important, you ask? Because it exposes you to different styles and perspectives. It keeps you updated on the latest trends and techniques. It helps you understand how other designers think and solve problems. And most importantly, it inspires you to create better designs.

Remember, the world of graphic design is ever-evolving. Staying current is crucial to your personal growth as a designer. And one of the best ways to do that is by learning from others through blogs and books.

Attend Design Workshops

Imagine a space filled with like-minded people, all working together to solve a design challenge. That's a design workshop for you! It's an excellent way to improve your graphic design skills for personal growth.

Design workshops offer you the chance to learn directly from industry professionals. You not only get to understand their thought process but also get hands-on experience on dealing with design problems. Plus, it's fun to learn new things with others, don't you agree?

Workshops can cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Software skills: From mastering Adobe Illustrator to getting the hang of Sketch, workshops can help you become proficient in various design tools.
  • Design thinking: This is the process of solving problems creatively, which is at the heart of graphic design.
  • Specific design elements: Want to dive deep into typography or learn the ins and outs of color theory? There's probably a workshop for that!

So, how do you find these workshops? Look for local design meetups, check with your local colleges or universities, or search online. Platforms like Eventbrite often list design workshops you can attend.

So, what are you waiting for? Start exploring workshops and take a big step towards improving your graphic design skills for personal growth.

Join Design Communities

Ever heard the saying, “Iron sharpens iron?” Well, it holds true for graphic design too. By joining design communities, you immerse yourself in a rich pool of ideas, perspectives, and critiques that can sharpen your skills and fuel your personal growth in graphic design.

Being part of a design community gives you the chance to meet like-minded individuals, share your work, and receive constructive feedback. You can also learn from the works of others, and maybe even find a mentor or two. It's like having your very own design think tank!

Some popular design communities you might consider joining include:

  • Behance: This is a platform where designers post their projects and receive comments from other users. It's like a social network for designers.
  • Dribbble: Here, designers share small screenshots of their work, process, and current projects. It's a great place to see design trends and get inspiration.
  • Reddit: Subreddits like r/graphic_design offer a more casual forum for designers to discuss ideas and seek feedback.

Remember, the goal is to not just join these communities, but be an active participant. Ask questions, give feedback, and share your knowledge. It's by giving that we receive, right?

So go ahead, join a design community today, and watch how it propels your journey of personal growth in graphic design.

Take on Personal Projects

Ever thought about taking on personal projects to enhance your graphic design skills? Well, here's the deal: personal projects are one of the best ways to learn new techniques, test your limits, and express your creative freedom. And the best part? There are no restrictions or deadlines; you're the client and the designer!

Personal projects can range from designing a logo for your imaginary coffee shop, creating a poster for your favorite band, or even redesigning your favorite app's interface. The sky's the limit!

Here's why personal projects are important:

  • Freedom: You're free to experiment, make mistakes, and learn. This freedom allows you to push the boundaries of your creativity.
  • Portfolio: Personal projects can make a great addition to your portfolio. They showcase your skills and creativity, making you stand out from the crowd.
  • Confidence: Completing a project from start to finish boosts your confidence, reinforcing the belief that you can handle bigger projects.

So, how about setting aside some time this weekend to start a personal project? It could be the catalyst to improving your graphic design skills and triggering personal growth. Remember, it's not about the end product, but the journey and lessons learned. So, don't be afraid to take risks and try something new. After all, you never know where it might lead!

Seek Critiques and Apply Feedback

How can you improve your graphic design skills if you don't know what you're doing right or wrong? That's where seeking critiques and applying feedback comes in. It's like having a personal trainer for your design skills, but instead of lifting weights, you're refining your design concepts.

Getting an outside perspective on your work is an invaluable tool for growth. Here's why:

  • Fresh Eyes: Other people can see mistakes or areas for improvement that you might have missed. They bring a fresh perspective to your work.
  • Learning Opportunity: Feedback gives you a chance to learn and improve. You get to understand how others perceive your work, which can help you cater to different design preferences.
  • Builds Resilience: Let's face it, not all feedback will be positive. But, learning to take criticism in stride builds resilience and professionalism.

So, how do you go about seeking critiques? You can start by sharing your work with friends, family, or colleagues. Ask them for their honest opinion and be open to their suggestions. You can also join online design communities and forums where members share and critique each other's work.

Remember, the goal is to learn and improve, not to seek validation. So don't take negative feedback personally. Use it as a stepping stone to improve your graphic design skills and fuel your personal growth. Who knows? The next critique could be the key to unlocking your full design potential!

Observe and Analyze Designs

Imagine you're walking through a city full of towering buildings. Each one has a unique architectural design that makes it stand out. As a graphic designer, you can do the same thing with designs. Not with buildings, of course, but with graphics!

Observing and analyzing design work by others is a fantastic way to boost your design understanding and creativity. This isn't about copying what others have done, but rather learning from their techniques, style, and color choices.

Here's how you can go about it:

  • Explore Diverse Styles: Whether it's the bold, striking visuals of a movie poster or the minimalist design of a product packaging, take the time to appreciate and understand different styles. This can help broaden your design vocabulary and inspire your own creations.
  • Analyze the Elements: Look at how designers use elements like color, typography, and layout. What feelings do these evoke? Why do you think the designer chose these elements? Asking these questions can help you understand the thought process behind the design.
  • Look for the Message: Good design is not just about aesthetics, it's also about conveying a message. So, try to decipher the message in the designs you observe. It's like a fun puzzle that not only improves your design skills but also your communication abilities.

Remember, every design you see, whether on a billboard, in a magazine, or online, is a learning opportunity. The more you observe and analyze, the more you can improve your graphic design skills. So, keep your eyes wide open, and let the world be your design school!

Think about fashion for a moment. Styles change with the seasons, right? One day bell-bottom jeans are in, and the next day, it's all about skinny jeans. The same goes for graphic design. Trends keep changing, and to stay relevant and competitive, it's important to keep up.

The dynamic nature of design trends can seem challenging, but it's also what makes graphic design exciting. Staying updated with the latest trends can help you know what's hot in the design world and what clients are currently seeking. Plus, it can also serve as a source of inspiration for your projects.

Here's how to keep your finger on the pulse of design trends:

  • Online Research: The internet is awash with design websites and blogs that offer insights into current design trends. Sites like Behance, Dribbble, and Pinterest can provide a wealth of visual inspiration.
  • Design Magazines: Magazines like Communication Arts, Print, and HOW often feature cutting-edge designs and discuss the latest trends. They're a great resource to see what's making waves in the design industry.
  • Industry Events: Design conferences, webinars, and workshops can be a great way to learn about new trends. They also offer the added bonus of networking with other design enthusiasts and professionals.

Remember, while it's essential to know and understand trends, they shouldn't dictate your design style. Trends come and go, but good design—design that communicates effectively and resonates with its audience—always stands the test of time.

So, are you ready to ride the wave and stay updated with design trends?

Learn About Color Theory and Typography

Let's talk about color theory and typography. You might think, "Hmm, aren't those just fancy words for choosing colors and fonts?" Well, not quite. Both play vital roles in creating effective and impactful designs.

Color Theory: Ever noticed how certain colors make you feel? Maybe red gets your heart racing, while blue calms you down. That's color theory in action! Color theory is a set of principles used by designers to choose and combine colors in a way that engages and influences the viewer. Understanding color theory can help you make design decisions that align with your message and audience. Here are some basics:

  • Hue: This is just a fancy word for color. Red, yellow, blue — they're all hues.
  • Value: This refers to how light or dark a color is.
  • Saturation: This describes a color's intensity or purity.

Now, let's dive into typography:

Typography: This is the art of arranging text in a way that makes your content readable and appealing. It includes everything from font selection to line length to spacing. Here's what you need to know:

  • Font vs. Typeface: Although often used interchangeably, they're not the same. A typeface is a family of related fonts, while a font is a particular style within a typeface.
  • Font Size: This impacts legibility. Too small, and your audience will need a magnifying glass. Too big, and your design may appear shouty.
  • Line Length: Keep it comfortable. Too long, and the reader's eyes will tire. Too short, and the text becomes choppy.

Mastering color theory and typography is a game-changer. It can improve your designs from "just okay" to "wow". So, are you ready to explore the fascinating worlds of color and type?

If you're looking to further improve your graphic design skills and learn how photography can play a significant role in enhancing your designs, don't miss the workshop 'Creative Crossovers: Photography & Graphic Design' by Jarrett Lampley. This workshop will help you understand the connection between photography and graphic design, showing you how to use this powerful combination to take your designs to a whole new level.