Getting Started with Graphic Design

Overview #

There are many graphic design tools out there, and you should use what you are most comfortable with. If you have no experience with graphic design this page includes tool recommendations and basic tips to help you get started.

Beginner-Friendly Tools #

These tools are easy to get started with but may lack some useful features the Advanced Tools have. Most of these tools are free. Check out our DKC guides to get started with any of these tools:

Advanced Tools #

These tools are some of the most powerful you can find for this type of project but may be overwhelming for a beginner. Some of these tools require purchase or subscription. Check out our guides to find out more:

  • Adobe Photoshop (Available through AppsAnywhere and HCC lab computers or with a paid subscription)
  • Adobe Illustrator (Available through AppsAnywhere and HCC lab computers or with a paid subscription)
  • Adobe InDesign (Available through AppsAnywhere and HCC lab computers or with a paid subscription)
  • GIMP 
  • Inkscape 

Tips and Tricks #

  1. Brainstorm your end goal before beginning your project. It could help make the creation process less frustrating because you will have a more straightforward idea of what you want to create and what you want it to look like. 
  2. Know the difference between raster images/graphics and vector images/graphics. Vector graphics can be scaled infinitely, whereas raster graphics have a finite number of pixels and look bad when scaled too much.
    1. Rasters vs. Vectors  
  3. Work constructively, not destructively. Working in multiple layers will prevent accidentally damaging a design.   
    1. Layering in Photoshop 
    2. How Are Layers Used in Animation and Graphic Design Software? 
    3. Why Use Layers in Graphic Software? 

Common Mistakes #

  1. Including unnecessary words or images. Less is usually more in graphic design! Images should also match what you are informing, entertaining, or persuading your audience about.
  2. Using too many different fonts or colors. Having too many fonts can be confusing and draw attention away from the main point of your graphic.
  3. Being unsure of the size requirements/dimensions beforehand. Depending on the platform you select, it may be difficult or cost a fee to change the dimensions of your project once you’ve started.

Accessibility Considerations #

  • Always include alternative text.
  • Make sure any graphics and text have a high contrast with the background.
  • Avoid relying on color alone to convey a message.
  • See our Accessible Visual Design Guide for more info.

Want More Help? #

Reviewed by Anastasia Zanyuk 07/07/22

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