Graphic Design 101: A Guide for Beginners

By Mallory Cromer

Photo by Mikaela Shannon on Unsplash

Graphic design is all around us – magazines, logos, brochures, posters. The t-shirt you are currently wearing was created by a graphic designer. The Snapchat filter you just used was also thanks to a graphic designer. In a world that is increasingly reliant on digital media for means of communication, this skill is vital to spice up any resume. 

Additionally, graphic design is an essential skill for anyone pursuing a career in public relations or advertising, because it allows for creative and effective displays of communication to a target audience.

Here are some easy ways to get started on your path to becoming a graphic design connoisseur.  

Take a graphic design course offered at UGA

There are many great class options. Click here to view a full list of graphic design courses offered at the University of Georgia and descriptions of each. For beginners, I would recommend taking ADPR 3515 (Foundations of Graphic Communication) or ADPR 3520 (Graphic Communications). Both of these courses will equip you with the necessary foundations you need in Adobe programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Don’t have room in your schedule?

LinkedIn Learning is a service that all UGA students have access to, and it offers a variety of video courses geared towards graphic design. A good place to start is the “Introduction to Graphic Design” course by Tony Harmer. 

You can watch any of these videos in your spare time and before you know it, you’ll have all the necessary tools needed to start designing. If you’re interested in acquiring skills in the Adobe programs, there are many courses that walk you through the basics of navigating this software.

Take advantage of the resources available to you

Learning graphic design doesn’t require a formal setting such as taking a class. According to third-year graphic design major Sydney Shores, YouTube is a very helpful resource with many channels that have videos catered towards beginners. 

In addition to this, many computer labs on campus offer free access to Adobe CC software. You can also purchase an annual Adobe Creative Cloud license through UGA for $75. Canva is another great (and free!) online service that allows you to create a wide range of designs with thousands of templates and images.

Start designing

The best way to learn is through experience! 

“Once you figure out the tools and what exactly they do, then it’s easier to go from there and make a design,” Shores said. 

Create fake Instagram posts for an upcoming event or design a magazine cover for a topic you’re interested in. One of my favorite ways to practice my skills is to create Snapchat Geofilters for a friend’s birthday party. Familiarize yourself with your software of choice, and you’ll surprise yourself with what you can create. The options are endless!

A few pro tips for designing

A good design does not have to be super elaborate. Don’t be afraid to leave white space in your design and remember that sometimes, less is more. If you’re having trouble picking a color scheme, this website generates aesthetically pleasing color schemes and provides the hex code for each color. As far as typography, never use Comic Sans or Papyrus and you should be good to go!

Start a portfolio with all of your creations

Not only can you add Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign to the skills section of your resume, you can ‘wow’ potential employers with a tangible display of your abilities through a portfolio. This will help set you apart from other candidates, because it shows that you can build a brand identity, design for social media, and so much more.