What is Graphic Design? A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Design

The term graphics corresponds to anything related to visual arts. Therefore, it becomes easy for us to understand that Graphic Design is the transmission of ideas by visual stimulation. To make it easier, it is the representation of your thoughts in a picturesque way. Graphic designers use photography, typography, illustration and iconography to accomplish the task. 

Professionals use page layout techniques and visual arts to create visually appealing content. It is basically inculcated to enhance the aesthetics of the website so that the audience have an enjoyable experience exploring the site. But it is essential to design the aesthetics which remain relevant to your business. The beauty must not out do the usability. Rather it should just add creative value to the content intended to be presented before the audience. 

Basics of Graphic Design

The outcomes of graphic design should be able to create a long lasting impact in the viewer’s mind. Here, the appeal is made to the people’s senses. Hence, it is extremely important to develop designs which are visually striking. For that there are certain basic elements which are used together or in contrast to each other, in a design to get a fine result.
The basic elements are:

  1. Color
  2. Form
  3. Line
  4. Shape
  5. Size
  6. Space
  7. Texture

In order to maintain the coherence of a piece of design, the elements must be used in the right proportion. Therefore, designers stick to some principles to bring out persuasive pieces of work.
The principles are:

  1. Balance
  2. Contrast
  3. Emphasis
  4. Movement
  5. Proportion
  6. Rhythm

Be as creative as you can, but don’t forget to follow these basic elements and principles. They form the foundation of your work.

Types of Graphic Design

Since we have already learnt that graphic design includes a lot of skills like photography, typography, iconography it is evident that each category has evolved to cater to a different sector of business. Though the combination of techniques can be used for a single purpose , there are different types of graphical designs which require certain specific skills. 

Visual Identity Graphic Design:
A brand cannot thrive without the support of its customers. Besides a professional approach, a personal connection with the audience shapes the reputation of a brand. The visual identity graphic design deals with the visual component of the brand and communicates the brand ideas through pictorial representation. 

Professionals usually work towards creating visual assets which will be pleasing to the audience. Logos, alphabet, colour palettes are certain things they work with to beautify their brand personality.

Publication Graphic Design:
Print media has emerged as an irreplaceable mode of information transfer. With the advent of technology, digital publishing is spreading its roots. Publication graphic designers are entrusted with making textual content presentable and appealing for the readers. 

They look into the typography, images and illustrations used in the content. 

Examples of Publication Graphic Design 

  1. Newspapers
  2. Newsletters
  3. Magazines
  4. Books and Catalogues

User Interface Graphic Design:
User Interface refers to the way a user interacts with an application or a device. UI design specialists focus on the on-screen components of a website or an application to give users a nice visual experience. The placement of different buttons, menu and other artistic elements with essential functionalities embedded in them are things which graphic designers affiliated to this field deal with. 

Examples of User Interface Graphic Design

  1. Game Interface
  2. App design
  3. Theme Design (WordPress, Wix, Shopify etc.)
  4. Web page design

Packaging Graphic Design:
When your products come wrapped in beautiful covers, then a wonderful impression is created in your mind about the service provider. Those beautiful covers are designed by packaging graphic design professionals. Almost all brands dealing with products require packaging material to store and transport them. It plays a very important role in enhancing the brand value.

If you wish to dive into Graphic Design , then certain qualities can help you stand out. 

Skills Required for Graphic Design

The more out of the box you think, the more you succeed. So if you are a keen observer and are able to grasp nuances from everything you see around and implement them in your designs, then you can do a great job.

Ability to empathize:
This will allow you to understand people’s psychology better. You will be exposed to what people want to see and can create more appealing designs.

Basic Skill Set:
You need to be well versed in technology so that using the tools for designing becomes easy. Besides having good communication, verbal and non verbal skills can take you a long way as you will be able to express ideas better.

Patience to Listen:
You need to be a good listener. This is very important as you can miss out required details if you do not listen to your clients properly. This can result in loopholes in your designs and client’s dissatisfaction.

Since graphic design does not work on a fixed set of rules, you always have to keep yourself motivated to think new ideas and create attractive designs. Lack of passion will adversely affect your work life. 

Popular Graphic Design Tools

Adobe Photoshop:
This is one of the most popular tools that has revolutionized image editing. From an empty canvas a variety of designs can be created using the amazing features it provides. Besides being user friendly and customizable , it allows you to add multiple layers to your projects.  You can create any kind of file and create images for different multimedia platforms.

Adobe Photoshop allows you to add multiple masks and support different color models. Other than .PSD and .PSB which are its proprietary file formats , it supports a lot others too. This is the tip of the tongue tool for expert graphic designers who do heavy lifting. Moreover, it has the capability of 3D design. So, if you are a graphic designer or are aspiring to be one, then this is the perfect tool for you.

The photo editing software that’s become so ubiquitous that people use its name as a verb. Hey, can you Photoshop this for me real quick? Although it’s a robust program, not everyone needs all the bells & whistles it boasts. If you need multiple layers, masks and support for various color models, it’s a great choice.

Besides its proprietary .PSD and .PSB file formats, it supports many others. Graphic designers who are used to doing heavy lifting are already well-versed in Photoshop. If you’re an aspiring graphic designer, it pays to learn. If you’re not, other software can likely meet your needs just fine.

Adobe Illustrator:
Adobe Illustrator is a wonderful choice if you have to use vector design for creating logos, symbols or complicated drawings. It allows you to create pixel-flawless structures and achieve fine craftsmanship. Structuring becomes super easy with Adobe Illustrator. Being a creative cloud, it can work both on Windows and Mac.

Since it is an Adobe product, like the others, you might witness a steep learning curve. But extensive video tutorials are there to make you familiar with its features. It has impressed power users with the precise controls. What users in general have liked is its  compatibility with other programs of the Adobe suite which makes their work experience super flawless.

Due to some add-ons it is also a creative cloud. Given their dominance in the industry, it’s not surprising that this list includes three Adobe products. This one, Adobe Illustrator, specializes in vector graphic design. Users can draw sketches, icons, typography, logos and more. Like other Adobe products, Illustrator has a learning curve that can feel too steep to many.

However, there’s a wide variety of tutorials and videos online to help users discover features and get the most from their software. Power users appreciate the precise controls, and PC Magazine rates it as one of the best vector drawing applications.

Adobe InDesign:
Introduced around 1999, following Adobe PageMaker, This tool is deemed to be an industry standard for graphic designers. It is used widely to design posters, brochures, magazines, flyers, newspapers, books and for other forms of print or digital designs. So with Adobe InDesign, you can create pretty much everything.

.INDD is its proprietary file format but it can be exported to other files which include .SWF and .EPUB in case of ebooks. If you are a beginner or an amateur designer, the learning curve might appear too complicated and cumbersome. But once you get a grip over it, then the flexible functionality and incredible features are sure to amaze you.

This is a desktop publishing software application by Adobe Systems. It is primarily used by graphic designers to create posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, newspapers and books. Adobe InDesign is considered an industry standard for graphic designers and publishers. It’s been around since 1999 and was the successor to Adobe PageMaker. InDesign is suitable for both print and digital designs, making it a popular choice for laying out publications like magazines and books. Its proprietary file format is .INDD, but it can export to a number of file formats, including .SWF and .EPUB for ebook. Though it’s a powerful program, its learning curve might prove too complex and time-consuming for casual users..

It is the first choice of designers for industry graphic design. It has commendable functionality. It is user-friendly and can also be used for vector designing. With this bitmaps get automatically traced. PDF can be imported through drag and drop which does not consume a lot of time. CorelDraw cares about your time. With speedy software it operates and loads very fast. 

A suite of well designed editing tools allow you to balance color, adjust contract and introduce special effects. It is specialized in typography and vector designing. It comes with a host of useful features which adobe software do not provide without plug-ins. CorelDraw is accessible only on Windows. It can cost you a bit more but if you are a professional designer, then the expenditure is worth it. 

If you’re not an experienced graphic designer, you could be forgiven for assuming CorelDraw is a dinosaur. It’s been around for ages, it’s compatible only with Windows, and, well, it’s not Adobe. But the truth is, CorelDraw is a fully modernized and formidable competitor, with a plethora of features you can’t get from Adobe software without plug-ins. It’s popular with production houses and great for designing typography and vector graphics. However, its price can certainly be prohibitive. For Windows-only enterprises, or designers who want professional-level features, CorelDraw is a solid all-in-one choice.

Flash comes at hand for graphic designers who work on web pages concerned with designing. It is very lightweight and is used to develop vector animation to be displayed on web pages. 

This is a vector-based software mainly used for delivering high-impact, rich designs, animation and application user interfaces (UI). This software comes in handy for graphic designers working on designing web pages.

This is a software that deals with web development and primarily assists web designers to create engaging content for mobile and web.  This is basically a web development software, used by web designers and developers to create engaging and dynamic web & mobile content.

Career Opportunities of Graphic Design:

When it comes to job opportunities in graphic design, know that it is a wide spectrum. Almost all sectors give attention to aesthetics. So graphic designing is fundamental to every industry as  the first impression you form will mostly be from the outer personality of a brand. Let’s see what professions you can take up.

Graphic Designer:
Basically as a graphic designer, you have to beautify a piece of information by keeping its relevance intact, so that it becomes easy for the viewers to remember the details.  If you have a lot of creative ideas brewing in your mind and you have a good taste for colors, then every industry will keep its door ajar for you.

Graphic designers have a great demand in the advertising field. Be it a video ad or an image or even a brochure, the visual elements will be controlled by a graphic designer. So you can direct the making of the advertisements. Besides when it comes to photo editing and fashion editing, a specialist in graphic designing is always needed to see if the basic elements like symmetry, color contrast, space etc. are precisely maintained or not.

UX Designer:
UX Design is often confused with UI design. But we can say that UI design comes under UX design , which is a vast concept. As a UX designer you need to be equipped with a lot of skills. Besides being creative, you need to understand the user’s psychology and focus on giving him a great experience with the product. 

UX design combines different aspects like psychology, creativity, technology and marketing. The professionals are always on toes and user needs shape their work. From presenting the products in an aesthetic manner to ensuring a hassle-free experience with it to trouble shooting, everything is taken care of by a UX designer.

Logo Designer:
Though the logo appears as a small sized icon in the corner of websites or products, it actually speaks about your brand. For any business, owning a logo makes it look professional. If you have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, then you can choose logo designer as a profession.

You can either work as a freelancer or in a design firm or publishing house. Knowing your client’s business and designing appropriate logos relevant to them will be your prime responsibility. Make sure that the logos you create are concise and unique. 


Hopefully, this article has given you a sneak-peek into graphic design. It is a very interesting field to work in. If you stay true to the basic elements and are able to come up with visually stimulating pieces of designs, then you will go on climbing the ladders of success. Nowadays, a lot of tools have also evolved to make your designing journey easy and fun. All you have to do is squeeze out your creative juice.

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