Are you a business owner who wants to create eye-catching marketing materials? Are you an employee who’s just been told you have to take on the design and printing of the company newsletter? You might run church or a small nonprofit, and you need to publish a bulletin or brochure. You’ve never designed anything, and you have no idea how to get started.
Graphic design is much easier these days with helpful software and templates. However, all the software and templates in the world won’t help if you don’t know the basics of good design. Here are some graphic design tips anyone can learn to improve the look of their printed materials.
Graphic Design Tips — Gather and Get Inspired
The first step in creating attractive, eye-catching designs is to get inspired by looking at professional designs. Gather any magazines, brochures, business cards, labels, booklets, or other printed materials that you find appealing. Scour the magazines on the newsstands to study how they draw you in with appealing content, text placement, fonts, and well-placed graphics.
Choose from a wide variety of materials. You should have examples of designs you consider the best. They can inspire you to create your own as you study them.
As you look at each one, ask yourself these graphic design tips:
- What is appealing about this layout?
- Do these colors work together?
- Why did the designer put that image right there?
- What is the overall mood of this piece of printed material? Does it inspire excitement, tranquility, urgency, or professionalism? Why do you think it gives you that feeling?
- What are the design elements you like, and which ones don’t you like?
- How much white space is there?
Get Graphic Design Tips from Nature
Artists get inspiration from the outside world, and you can, too. Nature provides a natural blend of colors that work amazingly well together. You can find inspiration by taking walks in a park or on a street.
Study the typography and images you see on posters, advertisements, and store signs. Take a notebook to jot down ideas that grab your attention, or bring a camera to record what you see.
If you pay attention, you can find graphic design tips everywhere. Even bad designs are worth studying. They can teach you what you want to avoid. Always be ready to be inspired for graphic design tips.
Focus on Alignment
Alignment of text and graphics is key to clean, organized design. Lining up the text keeps it neat and easy to read. Most printed materials use right-aligned text. Center-aligned text and images are frequently used in advertising.
Alignment keeps your text and images connected visually. If your design feels off, start by checking the alignment. At its most basic, your text and images should all use the same alignment, whether it is left-aligned or center-aligned. Once you understand the basics, you can play with alignment. For now, use it to keep your design organized.
Use Contrast to Draw Attention
Contrasting elements are basic to beautiful design. One of the most common and best-known is the contrast between black and white. A simple design of sharp black and clean white can be very striking.
Think about the use of contrast in other ways. Graphic design tips come alive with contrasts like thick and thin, bold and soft, large and small, or modern and traditional.
Contrasting colors are visually attention-getting, too. If you are familiar with the color wheel, you know that opposite colors can be stunning when placed next to each other. Colors too close to each other on the color wheel can get muted or lost, so focus on using opposites. Those color combinations may seem strange to you at first, but they will make your design stunning.
Graphic Design Tips — Keep Your Balance
Balance gives your design stability. You shouldn’t have style elements that are a dozen different sizes and colors. Balance doesn’t mean everything has to be perfectly symmetrical. It means you’ve given equal weight to elements on each side of the page.
Here are some graphic design tips for maintaining a balanced design:
- Keep the same amount of text on each side of a page and each page inside the booklet.
- Use several small images on the left-hand page to balance a single large image on the right-hand page.
- Use headers or graphics to keep text from becoming too heavy on the page.
- Divide the text evenly across all pages.
Think about a reader’s response to your graphic design tips. Is there too much attention on one side of the page? Or is there a natural flow that guides the eye from one side of the page to the other?
Use Premade Color Schemes
Make it easy on yourself by using color schemes that are already proven to work. This is one of our favorite graphic design tips because the work is already done for you.
A color scheme is a group of colors that work well together. These schemes were created by professional artists and designers. They typically include a base color that should predominate, secondary colors that should be used less often, and accent colors that should appear only occasionally.
With practice, you will get good at creating your own color schemes. For now, stick to those that will work for most publication designs.
Choose Typography with Care
Typography is important in any design. There are two elements to typography for graphic design tips.
- Font style: There are many free fonts you can use to make your design stand out. As a rule, san serif fonts are easier to read online, and serif fonts are easier to read in print. If you are designing a printed product, use a serif font.
For contrast, choose a sans serif font for your headers. Most designers say using more than two font styles results in messy, disjointed design. Stick to two for simplicity and a clean look.
- Font size: Your font must be large enough that most readers can read it without eyestrain. A typical size that works for most printed materials is 12-point font. Larger font sizes work well for headers and callouts. Try different sizes to see what looks right in your design, but always keep readability in mind.
Graphic Design Tips — Embrace White Space
A mistake many first-time designers make is a tendency to cram everything onto the page. This creates a product that is difficult to read because the eye never gets a break.
Have you ever seen a textbook or manual with a long, dense, unbroken stretch of text? Nobody wants to read that. A smart designer breaks up the design with headers, graphics, and plenty of white space. Make ample use of white space to give your readers a breather.
Take a Beginner Course
If you’re feeling lost at the thought of designing your publication, consider taking a course on graphic design basics. You’ll get a good grounding on the basic principles and the chance to practice producing documents.
Graphic design courses are available everywhere. You can sign up for a course at a local community college or take an online course. Either way, you will find an affordable way to learn graphic design tips and have some fun doing it.
Here are some free online courses to get you started.
- Graphic Design Workshop for Beginners: This Udemy course is a free, two-hour tutorial that teaches you to learn by doing projects in Photoshop and Illustrator.
- Graphic Design Basics: Free from the graphic design company Canva, this 12-session course covers everything from combining colors to using photos and mood boards.
- Professional Advertising and Graphic Design: This free, two-hour Udemy course walks you through the basics of vector tools, Photoshop, and logo design.
Give Your Design a Professional Look
Once you’ve created your beautifully designed booklet, brochure, or catalog, give it a professional look with professional printing from Dazzle Printing. Our speedy service and customer-focused approach can help you create printed materials you’ll be proud to share.