12 Tips for Great Graphic Design

For a raster image to look good on the web, the resolution must be 72 dpi. For that same image to look good on paper, the resolution must increase to over four times the resolution for web. Vector images, however do not require a change in resolution to keep the quality between changes from web to print.
For a raster image to look good on the web, the resolution must be 72 dpi. For that same image to look good on paper, the resolution must increase to over four times the resolution for web. Vector images, however do not require a change in resolution to keep the quality between changes from web to print.

Whether you’re an experienced graphic designer or an amateur who wants a couple solid hints on how to create an eye-catching piece, here are 12 tips for great graphic design.

1. Work backwards. Put all your info into the layout before you begin designing. This way, you can know how much space you have to work with, where you will make folds, etc.

2. Choose your fonts wisely. Less is more, in this case. It might be a good idea to have a couple of contrasting fonts that compliment each other. Make it a rule of thumb to have 2-3 font styles max in your design.

3. Choose a focal point. Use a big bold font, color, or picture to create a sense of hierarchy. Your design should flow so the viewer’s eye travels smoothly across the piece.

4. Be careful of placement. You may have 20 pictures that you just have to use but resist the urge. This goes back to the previous tip. You want to have flow in your piece and slapping on pictures in random places will make the design look awkward and uncomfortable. It is, however, a good idea to group a couple of pictures together. Grouping is a good technique for catching a viewer’s eye.

5. Keep it consistent. This goes for your entire draft, in general. Keep the spacing equal and the font sizes consistent in that you are not using five different font sizes within the same piece.

6. White space can be good. You don’t have to fill every inch of the page. Sometimes it is good to have some negative space to compliment or balance the positive. Utilize it.

7. Use the right software. Consider the capabilities of your software and make sure it fits your needs before starting on the design. Use your program based on the purpose for which it is intended. I.e. Adobe InDesign does not have the same use as Adobe Dreamweaver.

8. Be careful of font and graphic resolutions. Just because it looks good on the screen doesn’t mean it will look as good on paper. Resolution needs to be almost 4 times higher for print compared to the web.

9. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Mess around a little, try new things. Test out an unfamiliar tool, or a design you saw in a magazine. Though your design usually does need to abide by a certain template, you can sometimes get away with straying from it.

10. Consider using vector images. These are especially good for logos. A vector image is an image comprised of shapes, points, lines, and curves. They look good on the screen and in print without any major modifications, unlike pixelated images (known as raster images) which lose quality when zoomed. Another benefit of a vector image is it saves as a small file, unlike raster images.

11. Choose your colors wisely. Avoid using cliché color schemes, such as rainbow or black and white. Sometimes it is good to have a lot of color (or none), but generally, it’s good to stick with complimentary colors. And don’t feel limited to the color swatches that your program provides. Kuler is a useful website that lets you create your own color schemes with the color wheel.

12. Don’t flatten your artwork. Leave the type layers unrasterized and the different art layers as they are so that you can go back and make changes or manipulate separate items later.

Graphic design is an art that requires special training, but you can still create a fantastic piece without a degree by keeping a few tips in mind.  Using these tips as a guideline in creating a finished piece will allow your company or concept to stand out in the best light possible.

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