“What graphic design school have you been to?”, “How did you learn to design like that?”, Two questions I’m asked way too much, and to avoid getting asked over and over, I decided to make this blog post that will hopefully be of help to many people. The answer is, I went to an engineering university and I learned all I know with the help of this global network called the “internet”, I’m sure a lot of you have heard of this new and rising piece of technology, it’s trending really widely lately.
My main resource for learning was:
- Motivation: since you’re here, you’re obviously motivated. But how can you keep this motivation for the long haul. In this article, I will give you techniques that will hopefully keep you motivated like myself.
- Dedication: well, that’s a required spirit for pretty much anything you want to achieve in your life. Unless what you want to achieve in your life is facebook and watching series all day. In that case, dedication is not a requirement for most people.
- And finally the links I will be providing in this article.
To get started you have to keep your hands busy, a technique I have been using is following full project tutorials step by step, this allowed me to get introduced to the tools and the software, and get myself up and running. It might seem that you’re just copying someone else’s work and not really being creative. But THAT’S OKAY! The purpose of this step is to learn the tool and be a ninja in Photoshop or Gimp or what have you!
I always say that knowing how to hold a pen doesn’t make you an author. That’s why similarly Graphic design is not just using a set of tools, so let’s learn how to grab a pen first anyway! Here are few links of channels that I personally start with, and I owe most of my knowledge to:
- ChChCheck it: https://www.youtube.com/user/ChChCheckItsClan
- Blue Lightning Tv: https://www.youtube.com/user/bluelightningtv
- TastyTuts: https://www.youtube.com/user/TastyTuts
And those are my top three website at the time I was getting started.
Decide a certain creative field
This is where you want to settle on a certain style; Visual Identity development, Film Making, Motion Graphics, 3D… but first, I believe you’ve got to have an idea about all of the fields (or most of them if possible). And I believe you should keep learning other creative fields even after you settle on that field of your expertise – so to speak.
You might be worried that you end up falling in love with maybe web design or video montage, but you already spend too much time learning Photoshop. But remember, that was just a basic knowledge for colors and common tools that every designer should have no matter what.
So how would you decide you might ask! Well, easy! Get to know every field and then see what inspires you the most, what makes you go “this is so awesome, I will never be able to do something like that in my entire life”. What moves you! Because as we discussed earlier, you have to keep the motivation and a big part of it is challenging yourself, but more on that later (I promise).
And to help you get to know certain fields, here are some links so you can start checking:
- Web design
- UI / UX
- Motion Graphics
- Film Making
Those are some links that I could provide, but if you don’t know how to use google. I suggest you pivot to another career path, sorry.
Practice makes perfect
Following tutorials will make you a master over the tool, but mostly you want to also be creative beast. True that some people are just more creative than others. However, people ignore the fact that practice has a ton to do with creativity, alongside with inspiration from other designers. Even though creativity means not copying mainly, I think if you can get away with copying, then you’re creative enough! (not that I encourage plagiarism or anything haha!)
Here are more links to get you busy:
Adobe Illustrator (Branding, Illustration, Graphic Design)
After Effects (Motion Graphics)
- VideoCopilot: http://www.videocopilot.net/tutorials/
- MaxAfter: http://www.maxafter.com/
- TutsPlus: http://tutsplus.com/tutorials/search…
- creativecow: https://library.creativecow.net/tutorials/adobeaftereffects
- Lynda: http://www.lynda.com/After-Effects-training-tuto…/150-0.html
- CG Swot: http://www.cgswot.com/tutorialsall
- Youtube Chanels
- Mt. Mograph: https://www.youtube.com/user/mtmograph/videos
- After Effects Tutorials w/ Mikey:https://www.youtube.com/user/LongLiveMikey/videos
- ECAbrams: https://www.youtube.com/user/ECAbrams/videos
- Tara Arts Movie: https://www.youtube.com/user/TaraArtsMovie/videos
- ZENGen Learning:https://www.youtube.com/cha…/UCd3y4gXZ5kj1MY6_dTtTIUQ/videos
- Lonearcherfilms: https://www.youtube.com/user/lonearcherfilms/videos
3D Modeling / Texturing and lighting (Cinema 4D)
- Greyscalegorilla (My favorite ever)
- Lawrence Black
- Visual Intelligence (My old channel)
Keep yourself motivated!
Alright, those were the longest list of links I have ever put in a single post. This must have been overwhelming for a fresh designer like you. Once you get started, you will get struggled over and over. You will hate your design at first, let’s be honest, chances are, this post will not make you the next big designer in the globe. And most probably you won’t be (certainly not in the next couple years). But that’s ok! You are perfectly on the right track. Not liking your design means that you have a TASTE! The only way that your becomes as good as your ambition is by practice.
Here are few tips to keep you going:
- Personal Projects: at first, no one will trust you for, say, branding of their company, or their next ad that will be shown to millions. And that means you will have to do more personal projects to keep your hands busy. I spent over two years doing almost only personal projects. Example of which are some photo manipulation edits, low poly 3D objects, and even YouTube tutorials.
Even though my aim was just to do the one thing I love, which is graphic design and art. This helped me to get discovered on the internet. And that was not even my intention. I never thought “Hey I will upload this content to the internet so people can hire me” (even though I should have thought of such a brilliant idea haha!). But people take notice of passionate people, and what is better than working without limitations on a personal project that you are excited about, to shape your passion into an astonishing piece of art (-ish).
- Working with limits: tools can be overwhelming, really really overwhelming… at some point you will get your first Photoshop plugin that makes you do some crazy stuff, and then you get another, and after that you learn another tool. And this will leave you with endless possibilities, but it doesn’t expand your horizon of creativity as you think! You might end up with some cool looking piece of art, but most of it isn’t yours because it was generated.
In addition, anyone can tell which plugin you’ve used, and that can look really unprofessional in your portfolio,… and trust me, psycho critiques of other creatives are no joke!
Best examples of working with limits is flat design as you can see in the pictures. Even though it limits you from using shadows, glossiness, depth, but it forced creatives to find alternatives that look absolutely amazing.
- Attend Events: It’s by far the most fun tip, surely you can learn a lot from your pc, at home, on YouTube or elsewhere on the internet. But it gets really repetitive to keep doing so, remember that design is for people, and what I mean is you don’t design for the soul purpose of designing, but it’s better to use your design knowledge to solve a certain problem. This is why attending events will be a big help in that. The fun part is they don’t necessarily have to be design related event, in fact, they better not be. It is very critical to know what else is there, it’s the best way to give your design a goal!
As an engineering student, I attended tons of technology events, most of them have certain themes, and many of them gather professionals to discuss what’s even beyond technology. In certain events where you have to compete with a team against other teams, mostly I am the only designer around. And that allowed me to express my creativity, especially as a beginner with no trusted clients and all of that. It made me able to tackle real life problems using my skills.
And not only that, the feedback that you get from your team mates, coaches, and even juries sometimes is very rewarding, and pushes you forward in your career.
- Finally, Experiment!
- Don’t limit yourself, you can do more than illustration, I have seen digital painters that switch to animation, 3D artists that are now doing web design, and what got them to switch is human nature, we get bored very easily, especially us working in the creative field! So unless you try new things, you will lose your motivation quickly doing the same old thing.
Remember that once you reach a certain skill level, and you start seeing your work becoming as good as your ambition, you then don’t become the best designer with only your skills with Photoshop and the rest of the tools, but by knowing how to be a good with communication, dealing with people promoting yourself (but that’s for another day and another article).
I will leave you now with this video:
Thanks for your time, my name is Imad Toubal and I ama proud Graphic Designer!