6 Graphic Design Project Ideas to Help You When You’re in a Creative Rut

Maybe you have some extra free time to yourself or perhaps you’ve hit that one major hurdle that every graphic designer dreads: a creative rut. Designers look to the former as an exciting opportunity to experiment with new graphic design projects, while the latter can be a disappointing, albeit inevitable season of life for any creative. Yet, what feels like a lull in creativity is actually the best time to lean into your projects.

It might sound a little backwards, but creative ruts are often drivers of inspiration. So, during this time, what can you do to keep your skills sharp, avoid a time suck and recharge your creative batteries? Challenge yourself to try something entirely new.

This is an opportunity to expand your skillset and extend your network through collaboration. Allow yourself the freedom to try things and mess up and use this time to build up your confidence; self-initiated projects may help you discover something you likely wouldn’t encounter in client projects.

But where should you begin? If you’re having a difficult time finding new graphic design project ideas to try, there are a few places you can start: like browsing student portfolios, checking out leaders in the industry or just scrolling through Instagram. Yo u’ll soon discover that there is motivation all around you.

To get you started, here are 6 graphic design project ideas you can try the next time you need a little extra motivation.

1. Timed Experiments

Looking for a quick way to unblock? Setting yourself a challenge that is restricted by time is a great way to increase creativity and produce some fun, unexpected results. UK based designer and illustrator Shaun Swainland set himself a challenge called The Ten Minute Type Project . The result is a varied collection of individual letterforms, words and phrases in a multitude of styles from graphic and 3D to hand-rendered. Even our own teachers here at Shillington are constantly taking on side projects and challenges to keep themselves sharp. It’s practice makes perfect for Cathy Sison who has perfected her calligraphy through posting daily inspirational quotes to her Instagram account .

Both Alan Barba and Nikita Prokhorov each practice the art of lettering through their quick, colorful explorations of anything from scripts and three-dimensional type to ambigrams.

Setting a short time limit like 10 minutes leaves no room for creative indecisiveness and instead brings in the kind of spontaneity that helps creativity grow.

2. Gamify your learning

Getting unstuck from a creative block doesn’t always have to be a serious endeavor.

Designercize takes traditional whiteboard exercises to the digital realm with a fun retro gaming, analog throwback design. Designercize helps you test your problem-solving skills as a designer. You simply choose a level of difficulty and a random design prompt is generated for you. Each prompt acts as a simple brief with information about what you need to design and who it’s for.

There’s also an optional timer if you’re up to the challenge. According to the creators, Zach Albert and Jake Fleming ,  in just 15 minutes a day Designercize gives you better design thinking, helps you make faster design decisions and helps with interview skills.

You can also gamify your learning with other people and connect with a larger design community

Playoffs by Dribbble is an online platform that allow designers to upload a Shot (design) and prompt the community to upload their own Shot inspired by the original. With anything from logos and poster design through to app screens and packaging, it’s a fun, inventive way to riff off other creative ideas and help expand your own.

Try these other brief generators to download generated briefs with a bit of structure to guide you:

  • Briefbox  (Bonus: our students and  Shillumni get a 40% discount off their services!)
  • Fake Clients
  • What Should I Design

3. Design to Redesign

A brand redesign occurs for a variety of reasons including an outdated image, a change in target audience, international growth, new management or even a bad reputation.

Sometimes establishing a new brand identity doesn’t necessitate a complete rebrand, but instead relies on finding a balance between tradition and modernity; merging the old with the new. Other times, a rebrand might mean a complete overhaul.

Check out Under Consideration’s Before-After archives for in-depth case studies on the latest rebrands by industry leaders. It is a fantastic resource to find inspiration in the whys and hows behind rebranding projects and a starting point in undertaking one yourself.

Take, for example, the rebranding of online learning community Skillshare . With a previous logo that wasn’t flexible enough for digital spaces, Skillshare created a new dynamic identity that is more legible and communicates their spirit of experimentation, exploration and discovery.

Or how about the rebrand of Eight , a company that designs products, content and tools to help people sleep better for optimum performance each day. Originally designed with calming colors to be used within a sleep-inducing environment and a logo that reflected the phases of the moon, the company has now seen a complete brand refresh. “The rebrand moved Eight Sleep from mattress company to sleep fitness company.  Borrowing cues from athletic brands, the new identity stands in stark contrast to the predominately cute and simple voice of the mattress category and creates a whole new category unto itself.”

Next time you’re facing a rut or are blessed with some spare time on your hands, choose a business you think might be facing one of the aforementioned issues and challenge yourself to revamp their brand image. You could choose to take on a larger global brand or perhaps you could choose a small business, local in your community and even pitch it to them down the line.

4. Passion projects

A great way to get yourself out from under the pressure of a creative rut is to pause and reflect on your passions.

Undertake a self-initiated graphic design project that reflects the things you feel connected to. Not only will this work reflect your personality, but it will also add a more personal dimension to your portfolio and help shape the kind of work that comes your way in the future. What if your passion, interests or sense of humor resonates with potential clients? Your self-initiated project could be a shortcut to landing your dream job.

“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them”—Chris Grosser

Try exploring a design project that represents your approach, process or simply something you love about design

London based graphic designer Duane Dalton , currently a designer at SocioDesign , explores projects that reflect his love of clear communication in design. One project, an extensive series of simple stamps, use only type and simple, uniform shapes. The design series is a nod to the minimalistic qualities that are often employed throughout the rest of his work in logo design and brand identity systems.

Duane’s second undertaking is a project called Album Anatomy . “An exploration in the art of reduction. It breaks down album imagery into its purest form by discarding any unnecessary information.” Purist and Swiss in its use of a strict grid for the album details, each design reflects Duane’s personal response to an album.

Instead of design themes, you could also try something that shows off your personality or individual beliefs instead.

In March of 2017 illustrator, Josh Ryan created his series Introflirted , a series of love notes for introverts. Combining fun illustrations with witty expressions that would resonate with any true introvert, his project is now being published into a book of 31 postcards to tear out and send to all the introverts in your life.

Another great example is taken from our very own Shillington student showcase , Juliette Van Rhyn’s packaging project for an alcohol-free spirit was inspired by Berlin’s club culture but with the idea of catering to a more grown-up crowd who still crave the “unique connecting experience” but without the hangover. Get inspired by her full graphic design project here .

5. Collaborations and Swaps

It can be a truly inspiring thing to have a creative partner to collaborate with. Not only can they help with a creative rut, but they can also prove to be a support source to lean on, help things run more efficiently and help an ambitious goal feel more attainable. They are also a second creative mind to inject into a project. It’s way more fun to let a project unfold as the product of two or more brains, rather than just your own.

London designer, illustrator and part-time teacher George Simkin recently teamed up with Shillington graduate Juliette van Rhyn to create Good Shape Studio , a creative outlet to experiment and “explore the intersection between design and play.”

However, a beneficial collaboration doesn’t always have to be with a fellow creative. Teaming up to trade skills with a collaborator with a different skillset or offering up services in exchange for the non-monetary benefit can also help you to extend your network and gain invaluable experience.

A skill swap can be a great way for new designers to get experience working with clients when first getting started, or even experienced designers looking to break into a new niche. It’s an effective way to figure out or refine your process and of course, there’s the added bonus of a living, breathing design out in the real world beyond your portfolio.

When New York-based designer Lauren Hom wanted to branch out into chalk lettering she decided to combine two loves of lettering and lunching into a graphic design project called Will Letter for Lunch and offered free chalkboard art for restaurants in exchange for lunch. What started as a fun project turned into landing major paid projects with large clients.

6. Design Challenges

Participating in design challenges is a great way to inject some creativity with a community connection as well. The self-discipline required to take on such an endeavor is not just a fun way to break free from a rut, but can also serve as a nice distraction from the creative restraints of client work and a vital tool in gaining new skills.

LA-based product designer Travis Kane graduated in 2015 and rose to the heights of Instagram-fame in 2019 with his poster-a-day project . Not only did the project act as a means of some cathartic self-expression, but it also led to many freelance commissions outside of his day job, mainly across music and fashion.

“I’ve always had a passion for personal work and taking the client out of the equation, just making stuff for the hell of it and to express how I’m feeling. I learned that the end result doesn’t really matter: it was more learning about myself in general than about design.” ( AIGA, Eye on Design )

Check out other poster-based challenges like Blank Poster and Poster Jam which challenge designers to create based on a weekly or monthly chosen word.

The 100 Day Project is the brainchild of Elle Luna and Lindsay Jean Thomson. The goal is to inspire and motivate makers from all walks to create daily. Choose any project, do it for 100 days and join an online global community by posting on Instagram with the hashtag #the100dayproject.

The Daily Logo Challenge , 36 Days of Type  and Inktober are all fantastic challenge that are sure to get your creative wheels turning.

So there you have it. A creative lull isn’t always something to worry about, instead, it is a fantastic opportunity to lean into projects and get experimental. So next time you find yourself with some free time or approaching that disappointing hurdle, think about trying some of the graphic design projects above.  This will help drive inspiration, sharpen skills, build your confidence and recharge your creative batteries. Turn that rut into creative rewards!

Article by Shillington London teacher  Hilary Archer . 

Artwork by Shillington Manchester teacher Ed Baptist .

Enjoyed this guest author post? Read this article from Shillington London teacher Mark Ellis on ‘What You Need in Your Creative Toolkit’ and ways you can develop as a designer to succeed in your career.  Learn about our  online graphic design course  and how you can become a designer!

Hilary Archer February 11, 2020

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8 Easy DIY Graphic Design Projects

8 Easy DIY Graphic Design Projects

If you are not a professional designer or lack a graphic design background, choosing the DIY approach may be more beneficial. This allows you to enhance your graphic design skills while having fun, or perhaps you have a few graphic design ideas that you want to explore.

Viewing each DIY project as a stepping stone towards progress is essential. Whether experiencing a creative block, seeking inspiration, operating on a tight budget or lacking professional design skills, DIY projects can be an excellent way to delve into graphic design.

Evolution of Graphic Design is Here to Stay

Yes, PR and marketing graph design comes have become expensive over time. And that’s because graphic design continues to evolve at a faster pace. It is the main reason companies hire talented freelancers or independent contractors to save money and receive the best graphic design service.

DIY Graphic Design: It’s Easier than You Think

Contrary to a naïve misconception, graphic design applications have become simpler and easier than ever. So, why is it so hard to create a logo for a company ? Well, you have to be subtle and intuitive to create a logo. If you want the design to be truly great, it would be more practical to hire a professional graphic designer who understands intricacies such as curves and perfect lines.

Focus on 8 DIY Graphic Design Projects

Now, without further ado, let’s look at the 8 most easy and straightforward DIY graphic design projects you can try today:

1. Infographics

Infographics have become an essential graphic design tool for communicating information practically and effectively. They have become a staple element in modern blog posts and are highly favored by digital marketers for their ability to simplify complex information through data charts.

Creating intuitive infographics doesn’t necessarily require advanced graphic design skills. Anyone can create stunning infographics with tools like Canva and a bit of bravery, curiosity, and creative ingenuity. It’s essential to experiment with different visualizations of your complex data and determine which style stands out the most.

Logos are the official representation of an organization or company and creating an attractive logo requires a personalized approach and attention to detail. To create the best logo, it’s important to focus on the needs, culture, and business position of the company. The most effective logo becomes synonymous and natural to the company.

A DIY logo should be appropriate and precise at the same time.

For a DIY logo, simplicity and appropriateness are key. The logo should accurately reflect the essence and values of the company while following the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. Take some time to examine the logos of major brands and note their clean, catchy, understandable, and minimalist design.

You don’t need to be an expert in Adobe Illustrator to create a simple logo. Free tools like Wix Logo Maker can help you create a professional-looking logo with ease.

3. Brochures

The last thing you want to do is design your brochure in haste. On the bright side, now you can create a professional brochure on various online and dedicated graphic design platforms. Once you figure out the brochure details, you can try out various color palettes and aesthetic choices that make the brochure appealing to users.

PR, communication, and marketing professionals today design brochures for specific events or promotions. Avoid using complicated software and use a simple online platform like Lucidpress or Canva . In fact, you can browse an ocean of brochure templates. After you select a design, you can adjust the template and add more features. It is a much better option to craft a brochure design from scratch.

4. Banners and Photo Collages

Banners are not so different from social media covers. It would be fair to state that banners are the most standard graphic design for PR and marketing professionals. Whether it’s print banners or digital ad banners, you can design a banner in a few steps.

You can use Canva or Creatopy to design banners effortlessly. Just follow the basic design rules and your banner will look like professionals design it. Similarly, you can use a collage maker to create a series of photo collages for business or personal use.

For instance, you can use free photo editing tools like PicMonkey and Fotor to craft impressive collages. You can use designed templates and add image effects to make collages look more attractive. Focus on authenticity and simplicity in each collage to ensure a creative experience.

5. Business Cards

Business cards still represent the professional face of a business entity. In fact, designing business cards is more common than you think. For instance, when a company hires a new executive or manager, it already has a dedicated business card template. 

You can use the vector graphics editor to create visually impressive business cards. Pay attention to the size of the DIY project to create a perfect design. Ordinarily, 1050 x 600 pixels is the common standard for business cards.

It is hard to think about websites, mockups, and presentations without icons, right? Well, now you can make your custom designs of icons. Besides, professional graphic designers charge a lot of money for a single icon package.

Entrepreneurs and startup business owners who decide to design their personalized icons garner more attraction. In the end, designing icons boils down to simplicity. But if you don’t want to design icons from scratch, you can buy high-quality icons from Iconfinder. After that, you can customize as per your specific needs.

If you want to play around with graphic designs online, Canva is undeniably the best platform. You’d be surprised to find basic and complex graphic designs on Canva. But for the most part, you should be able to take care of icon customization independently.

7. UI Mockups

If you’re not a graphic designer, UI mockups may sound too complicated, and that’s fair. But you can’t communicate with your developers about the user interface when you don’t have the budget to hire a UI/UX designer team.

In this case, you don’t have to opt for expensive tools. Instead, get a free mock-up software or vector graphics editor. You can use the Moqups tool to craft detailed and simple UI mockups. Remember, your UI mockups don’t have to be perfect. They should just be good enough to help you convey your UI ideas to developers.

8. YouTube Visual Graphics

To become an influential YouTuber or social media manager, you must learn to craft various ideas for graphic design projects. Most YouTubers with dedicated channels have acquired pro graphic design skills over time.

Your objective should be to teach yourself throughout the journey.

Start with designing the cover image of your channel and then move on to the icons. Consider the sizes of the cover to find pre-built design templates. As mentioned earlier, you can use Vectr or Canva platforms to create YouTube designs.

DIY Graphic Design Projects: What Should be YOUR Approach?

From non-graphic designer to beginner designer, you can focus on DIY projects to make a swift transition. Your objective should be to teach yourself throughout the journey. If you want to learn or polish your graphic design skills, practice is the key.

As a graphic designer, you must understand that your work speaks for itself. You will need graphic design project ideas. So, gain complete creative freedom over your work and make the most out of each project. Your combination of skills, completed projects, and graphic design experience is bound to impress others.

As a beginner graphic designer, you should follow the lead of creative directors and professional graphic designers who exercise utmost caution in each project. Also, take your time no matter what DIY project you want to start. 

In retrospect, you must be broadminded and innovative from the start to start any graphic design DIY project. Besides, you no longer have to depend on traditional methods to create graphic design. In the digital age, more than enough tools can help you render an impressive graphic design.

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10 Free Graphic Design Tutorials for Professionals

  • by Domestika @domestika

Learn all the secrets and techniques of graphic design from the experts

Several areas of expertise fall under the umbrella of design : screen printing, editorial layout, illustration, user experience, and more. Although they may all be connected, each of these skills requires a unique and specific learning process. To become a true professional, you need to master a bit of everything. The following tutorials include essential tips from big-name professionals that will help you improve your knowledge of graphic design.

Watch the videos, and click on the red link to access the full blog post and get more information on the topics.

Illustrator Tutorial: Essential Tips for Beginners

It’s important to know some of the basic functions that make it easier to manage the program before starting to create your illustration and graphic design projects in Illustrator.

Graphic designer, illustrator, art direction, and typography fan Gilian Gomes ( @giliangomes ), uses his 15 years’ design experience to teach you how to use rulers, zoom, and screen movement in Illustrator, which will help make your work much faster.

graphic design projects with instructions

Screen Printing Tutorial: Get Your Illustration Ready to Print

Risography and screen printing techniques have a characteristic impact on your printed illustrations. Screen printing involves squeezing ink through a screen stretched over a frame. Risography is a digital printing system that produces very similar results to screen printing. If you want to print your illustrations using these two systems, it’s very important to know how to export your files to obtain the best results.

Illustrator Jimena Estíbaliz ( @jimena_estibaliz ) specializes in editorial illustration and often uses risography and screen printing to finish her work. In this tutorial, she teaches you how to create the final files in Photoshop and InDesign to allow you to print your illustrations using these two methods.

graphic design projects with instructions

Affinity Designer Tutorial: 10 Key Basics for Beginners

Affinity Designer is a revolutionary vector design package that has won the industry’s most prestigious awards, including the Apple Design Award and the Windows Developer Award, since its 2014 launch. But how does this alternative to Illustrator work?

Ros ( @ros_vectors ) is a vector master and graphic designer who specializes in data visualization and high-end presentation design. In this tutorial, he tells you what you need to know to get started with Affinity Designer.

graphic design projects with instructions

InDesign Tutorial: How to Create a PDF for Printing

Preparing a file for printing may seem like a simple process, but it requires a little care and attention so that everything goes smoothly. If you are going to need crop marks and bleeding, the process will be a little more complex, but not impossible.

In this tutorial, Leandro Rodrigues ( @leon_0 ), a graphic designer and art director who has been working in the field for over 10 years, shows you step by step how to prepare a file simply and efficiently.

graphic design projects with instructions

Illustrator Tutorial: 3 Basic Drawing Techniques

Adobe Illustrator is the most popular software for vector illustrations. It’s widely used by professionals around the world because of its infinite resources. Fabi and Carlos, the designers behind Marmota vs Milky ( @marmotavsmilky ), used this package to create major impact projects for clients including Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, and Havaianas.

In this tutorial, Fabi teaches us the three most basic ways to draw characters in Illustrator.

graphic design projects with instructions

InDesign Tutorial: Menus and Windows for Beginners

Adobe InDesign is a program that allows you to create efficient and versatile designs for countless visual formats, such as typography, editorial design, and branding projects across a variety of different media. Understanding your workspace and adjusting it accordingly will help you work efficiently.

Graphic designer Jamie Sanchez Hearn ( @jamiesanchezhearn ) has worked for visual design firms such as Pentagram and Johnson Banks and teaches at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. InDesign is a staple of his day-to-day work as a designer. In this tutorial, he will give you a tour of a typical InDesign workspace, the functions of each section, and show you how to adjust them to your needs and preferences so that you can begin confidently with the software.

graphic design projects with instructions

Creativity Tutorial: What a Mood Board Is and How to Create One

A mood board will provide any visual branding project with the foundational elements to become a success. In many cases, the better the mood board, the clearer the process, and the better the final result. A mood board can be comprised of anything that will inform the next steps you take in the design process: images, photos, textures, patterns, colors, text, typography, and objects.

Linus Lohoff ( @linus_lohoff ) is an art director and photographer who has worked for creative agencies such as Saatchi&Saatchi, BOROS & Vasava Studio. In this tutorial, Linus shares his process for how to easily create a clear and effective mood board.

graphic design projects with instructions

Editorial Illustration Tutorial: How to Adapt to Different Layouts

From the pages of magazines to the headers of online articles, editorial illustration is everywhere, using striking imagery to create engaging interpretations of body text.

In this tutorial, editorial illustrator Emma Hanquist ( @emmahan ) explains how to adapt your illustration concepts to different types of page layouts and cover mockups, and warns against common mistakes.

graphic design projects with instructions

Illustration Tutorial: How to Export Your Artwork Step by Step

Exporting a piece of artwork correctly is a vital step in any graphic design or digital illustration project. There is no point in spending hours preparing and polishing a piece in Adobe Illustrator if afterwards its print or the resulting file loses quality and detracts from your work.

That is why graphic designer and art director Silvio Díaz Labrador gives us these key tips to create our projects' final artworks in three different ways according to our needs.

graphic design projects with instructions

Adobe XD Tutorial: Basic Design Functions

User experience has become an increasingly important part of design—bringing together designers, developers, and other stakeholders to create websites and digital products that users can easily and intuitively navigate. That’s why Adobe XD is such an important tool. A leading vector-based UX design software for web and mobile apps, it can be used to design and prototype wireframes and layouts that can then be implemented and tested.

Ethan Parry ( @ethanparry ) is a service designer and UX research consultant who regularly uses Adobe XD in his own work. In this tutorial, he explains the software’s basic design functions, which are the building blocks you’ll need before you can begin building your own app.

graphic design projects with instructions

You may also like:

- 6 Design Documentaries That You Need To Watch - 20 Key Concepts For Surviving in the Creative World - 5 Sustainable Graphic Designers You Should Know - Logo Design: From Concept to Presentation , a course by Sagi Haviv. - The Art of Record Covers: Illustration Meets Lettering , a course by Steve Simpson.

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نقدم أسهل طريقة لصيانة وفتح جميع أنواع الأقفال. يحافظ الفريق على المواعيد ويقدم خدمة فريدة من نوعها في المجال ، بأحدث وأكبر المعدات لإكمال العمل اللازم السرعة والبراعة في أداء المهام لأن لدينا خبرة واسعة في هذا المجال وقادرون على التعامل مع الأقفال المختلفة دون التسبب في كسرها. فتح اقفال التخصص والتميز أسس إتقان أي مجال وهذا ما يقدمه النجار الكويتي لعملائه الكرام التركيب الاحترافي للألواح الخشبية وتركيب أنواع مختلفة من الرفوف وتركيب الإطارات. كما توفر فنيين مؤهلين تأهيلا عاليا لتقديم الخدمة. هدفنا هو تقديم أفضل خدمة في جميع الجوانب المتعلقة بالمنتجات الخشبية لإرضاء العملاء والنتائج الفريدة. نجار الكويت تقدم الشركة خدمات عزل الأسطح بأعلى جودة للمواد والدقة اللازمة. إذا حدث خطأ ما ، على مدار السنة لدينا المهارات للتواصل مع عملائنا ولدينا أعلى مستوى من خدمة العملاء ، مما يسهل على جميع عملائنا الوصول إلينا. عازل اسطح

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32 InDesign tutorials to boost your skills

Boost your skills and learn new techniques with the best Adobe InDesign tutorials.

Picture of bridge being edited in InDesign interface as part of one of the best InDesign tutorials

InDesign tutorials for beginners

Tips for using indesign tools, build complex documents and layouts, indesign tutorials for pros.

InDesign tutorials for beginners Tips for using InDesign tools Build complex documents and layouts InDesign tutorials for pros

The best InDesign tutorials will help you craft content for both print and digital media. So whether you want to create magazines, brochures, posters, flyers, books or e-books, you'll be able to do so more productively and creatively. 

Once you download InDesign , though, there's a bit of a learning curve. Below, we've curated a list of the best InDesign tutorials on the web, which will walk you through a variety of projects. We've divided them into the following sections:

The good thing about InDesign is that it's nicely interoperable with other software in the Adobe Creative Cloud. So if you need to improve your abilities elsewhere, then also check out our roundup of the best Photoshop tutorials , and sharpen your skills with our selection of the finest Illustrator tutorials . Finally, if you're looking to put your InDesign skills to the test, see our guide to gaining Adobe certification .

Get Adobe InDesign as part of the Creative Cloud

Get Adobe InDesign as part of the Creative Cloud Adobe InDesign gives you powerful tools to create amazing designs for print and digital. And the best way to get it is as part of a Creative Cloud subscription, which gives you access to the entire CC suite of desktop and mobile creative apps. (Alternatively, if you're a student or teacher you can save up to 60% on CC .)

01. Adobe InDesign Tutorial for Beginners

This super-comprehensive tutorial will tell you all you need to know about using InDesign. It's a long watch (over two hours) but it genuinely will have you using the software like a pro, and you don't need to have any prior experience.

With expert guidance, you'll be taught how to make a four-page brochure, with all the necessary skills that go into that. These include navigating the interface, adding text, using Adobe Fonts, adding images and more. Handily, the video is split into sections so you can easily jump to the parts you need.

02. See what you can create with InDesign

If you're a newcomer to InDesign, spend a couple of minutes watching this short tutorial that explains exactly what the software is, its purpose and who uses it. What is InDesign? gives a really clear explanation that shows off many of the time-saving tools and features that you'll probably end up using all the time.

03. Get started with InDesign

This series of short tutorials, created by Adobe, is designed to teach you everything you need to know to start working in InDesign . There's a mini video showing you how to make and save a document and a tour of the InDesign workspace. As you continue through, you'll learn how to add and format text, then move on to working with graphics.

04. Explore InDesign basics

Need something short? This is the one for you. There are many features to get your head around in InDesign and it's easy to feel intimidated by them all. In this five-minute tutorial on working with tools , Matthew Pizzi introduces you to the primary tools in InDesign and explains what does what, so you won't feel quite so lost.

05. A quick guide to master pages

The basic idea behind master pages is that whatever you place on the master page will all be applied to any other pages that have the master applied to them. They are extremely useful for ensuring consistency within your designs, and once you've got the hang of them they're ideal for streamlining your workflow. Here a basic guide to how to use master pages .

06. Add and transform graphics

This tutorial will walk you through the basics of working with graphics using InDesign. The four-step guide will teach you to add graphics to projects; move, resize and fit graphics; learn about linked graphics and to wrap text around objects.  

07. Essentials of print design

InDesign is the perfect tool for a range of print projects, including flyers and brochures, stationery, business cards, letterhead, postcards, books, magazines, catalogues, annual reports and proposals. This short tutorial on the fundamentals of print design tells you what you need to know to get started.

08. Beginners guide to using typography in InDesign

This seven minute tutorial gives you a basic lesson in using Typography in InDesign. Ben G Kaiser runs through five basic tips to create interesting layouts and compositions when using type. It's clear and concise, so if you want more detail Kaiser also has a full InDesign tutorial series on his channel.

09. Set a print bleed

If your print design extends all the way to the edge of the page, it's essential to include a print bleed so you avoid an ugly white margin. This InDesign tutorial shows you how to set up a print bleed , including adding crop marks for the bindery.

10. Essentials of digital design

You can create many different types of digital designs in Adobe InDesign, including ebooks (EPUB format), e-magazines (also called e-zines), presentations, portfolios, digital ads and social content like Facebook banners, Twitter layouts, and Instagram content. This short tutorial explores some digital design essentials to get you started.

11. Best InDesign updates from Adobe Max 2023

Not used InDesign in a while? At its Adobe Max conference last November, Adobe announced a bunch of updates for 2023. And this short and to-the-point video from Envato Tuts summarises the five most useful changes. These are copy and paste (0.35), auto styling (1.20), graphic format support (2.20), preview InDesign documents (2.47) and improved spread page duplication (3.48). 

 12. How to use Share for Review 

In this how-to video, Anne-Marie Concepción gives a quick tour of the Share for Review feature. She demonstrates how to post a file for client review and markup and how these comments are integrated back into the working file; all without needing to create a PDF first.

13. 10 InDesign keyboard shortcuts

These keyboard shortcuts are going to save you loads of time and increase your productivity. What's not to like?

14. 5 tips for working with images

In this tutorial, Adobe evangelist Terry White picks out five key tips for working with images in Indesign CC. It's a recording of a live session, so there's a bit of faffing about at the start – you can skip the first couple of minutes if you want to get straight to the tips.

15. How to wrap text around image edge in InDesign

Here's a short but useful video from Type Twice. It shows you how to use the text wrap tool and wrap text around an image in InDesign.

16. Subject Aware Text Wrap in Adobe InDesign

Launched in 2020, Subject Aware Text Wrap was a game-changing feature introduced to InDesign, as well as other Adobe tools. In this tutorial, Angelo Montilla goes over how it works.

17. 5 amazing things you can do in Adobe InDesign

In this video tutorial, Adobe expert Terry White and British graphic designer Dave Clayton share cool InDesign-made projects they've discovered. They also reveal tricks and tips they've picked up from Adobe events and their own experience using the design tool.

18. Magazine layout in Adobe InDesign (and Photoshop) tutorial

This in depth tutorial explains how to use InDesign and Photoshop to make a magazine layout. It does jump between the two to create the best possible result, so make sure you've got Photoshop fired up too.

19. Let's create a three-page magazine spread

Complete your magazine layout skill set by learning how to create a three-page magazine spread using InDesign. This 22 minute video covers everything you need to know, and is definitely worth the investment of your time.

20. Magazine cover design in InDesign

In this course from Envato Tuts, you'll learn how to design a magazine cover from start to finish using InDesign. Learn everything from the basic anatomy of a magazine cover and how to use a magazine cover template for fast results, through to choosing a cover image and fonts for your own custom design. 

21. How to design a modern poster

This video tutorial by Will Patterson walks you through the process of designing a modern, abstract poster from start to finish. Whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned professional this video will give you lots of insights.

22. How to create a book in Adobe InDesign

In this live stream, Adobe Evangelist Terry White shows how to set up your own book in Adobe InDesign. Whether you're creating a print book or an eBook, this tutorial will help you get started the right way.

23. Bind a book: a 10-step guide

A handmade self-promotional book can make a cost-effective, personal and unique alternative to help you stand out. In this tutorial, Karen Lewis explains how to bind a book in a few easy steps, from setting up page spreads and cover templates in InDesign to the essential tools and techniques you need to bind your own books.

24. Create a calendar

Plan your time out and get organised with your own calendar. Plus, designing it yourself means you can set it up exactly how you want it! In this InDesign tutorial, magazine designer Jo Gulliver walks through how to design and edit a calendar using Scott Selberg’s Calendar Wizard script.

25. Create a 3D calendar

Once you've mastered a 2D calendar, it's time to add an extra dimension. In this tutorial, Jo Gulliver reveals how you can create a 3D calendar by creating and manipulating cube nets in InDesign. 

26. How to make a restaurant menu template

In this 90-minute video from EnvatoTuts, you'll learn how to make a menu from a menu template and also how to create a menu from scratch. Practising restaurant menu design is a great way to learn how to set up a layout, create hierarchy, and master the most essential tools in Adobe InDesign.

27. How to Make a Booklet in InDesign

Knowing how to properly set up a booklet file in InDesign is very important if you’re looking to save time. As this tutorial explains, InDesign features some awesome editorial design tools to make it easier for you to design your own publication in a way that is cohesive, productive and effective.

28. Advanced InDesign tips and tricks

Adobe Live is a massive resource where experts and creatives walk you through different projects to show you just what's possible with Creative Cloud software. This 90-minute session with Adobe expert Tony Harmer is packed with ideas, inspiration, tips and techniques for your InDesign projects.

29. Create special print finishes

If you're after something really unique, special finishes can transform a print design. In this guide, magazine designer Jo Gulliver talks through the processes of creating special print finishes . You'll learn to st up artwork in InDesign for special finishes such as varnishes, foil blocking, embossing and die cutting. Each finish has some best practice guides you should follow, but once you get your head around creating one you should be able to easily apply this knowledge to the other processes.

30. Add interactivity to EPUBS

It is possible to use InDesign to create dynamic and engaging EPUB documents by adding rich interactive features. This tutorial shows you how to include slideshows, add buttons to trigger animation, add hyperlinks to your document, and more. It also explains how the EPUB Interactivity Preview panel can simplify your production process by giving you immediate feedback on how an animation might look when it's exported and viewed on a device.

31. Create a realistic neon text effect

Light-up neon type is an ideal way to add a little 80s glamour to your designs. This tutorial shows you how to nail the effect in 10 minutes – and the skills you'll learn are easy to apply to other designs, too. Time well spent.

32. Create reflective typography

Shiny and glossy graphics may not be to everyone's taste, but they certainly have their place and are often employed in sports branding and design. In this tutorial on creating reflective typography , Luke O'Neill demonstrates how to achieve this look using InDesign, although the tips could also be applied to Illustrator.

Related articles:

  • Best InDesign alternatives : Shake things up from Adobe
  • Adobe Illustrator tutorials : Lessons to boost your skills
  • Photoshop tutorials : Level up your Photoshop ability

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Rosie Hilder

Rosie Hilder is Creative Bloq's Deputy Editor. After beginning her career in journalism in Argentina – where she worked as Deputy Editor of Time Out Buenos Aires – she moved back to the UK and joined Future Plc in 2016. Since then, she's worked as Operations Editor on magazines including Computer Arts, 3D World and Paint & Draw and Mac|Life. In 2018, she joined Creative Bloq, where she now assists with the daily management of the site, including growing the site's reach, getting involved in events, such as judging the Brand Impact Awards, and helping make sure our content serves the reader as best it can. 

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8 Graphic Design Projects Every Beginner Should Know About

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Understanding different types of graphic design projects for beginners.

The importance of graphic design projects in building a portfolio doesn’t need any kind of explanation. It is the primary thing that helps you to attract clients’ attention and bring uniqueness in your branding. Today, every company emphasizes heavily on creative graphic designs. They know its importance in the business representation, especially for those that are associated with the fashion industry.

Considering the high demand, many beginners want to move towards this field in a bid to make their careers successful. But unfortunately, only a few of them tend to achieve top names in it. The reason is that most of these people do not learn the art of graphic designing completely. Some people just tend to focus on logo designing, whereas some only think about web and UI designing.

Now, all of us know that the industry of graphic and web designing is evolving quite rapidly. It has now become crucial for us to keep our skills updated according to the latest market standards. Today, it is just not enough to learn one part of graphic designing. Instead, we have to evolve ourselves on multiple domains, so that we can grab the emerging opportunities quickly.

If you are also a beginner in graphic designing and want to learn a pathway to become professional, this article is precisely written for you. It will let you know about some specific graphic design project that can optimize your learning potential. Let’s first understand how big the scope of graphic designing is in the world.

The Wide Scope of Graphic Designing

Graphic designing

Graphic designing is a very broad term including multiple types of jobs depending on the requirements. Earlier, people only knew about this field with a tag of logo or banner designing. But, in the last couple of decades, things have changed greatly.

Today, many companies are offering graphic design services using a variety of tools and softwares. All of them are created to cater different types of functions. They have allowed graphic designers to work seamlessly without having any technical glitch. All they need to do is to just utilize their creativity to craft stunning designs that can grab eyeballs quickly.

The scope of graphic designing has tremendously evolved in the last few years. The emergence of UI and web designing has also paved a way for graphic designers to find work easily. That is the reason why every youngster knows about the importance of graphic designing, and hence want to make a career in it.

With the rise of freelancing, the demand for skilled graphic designers is also increasing in the world. Many businesses are frequently hiring freelance designers to handle their tons of projects. This shows how vast the scope of graphic designing has evolved in the world, encouraging every youngster to get attracted towards it.

Types of Graphic Design Projects for Beginners

Many youngsters are opting to become a graphic designer rightly due to its demand in the market. But many of them often face problems in becoming a top professional. There are many reasons involved in that, but the one most important among all is the lack of work knowledge.

It is therefore recommended to optimize your graphic designing learning according to the latest standards. You need to make sure that your skills are updated as per the emerging trends. It will allow you to work on any type of project regardless of difficulties in design and complexity.

To become a seasoned designer, you need to work on different types of graphic design projects. It will enhance your learning as well as enable you to get clients’ attention. Here are some of those areas where you should regularly avail graphic design projects.

Logo Design

Logo design

Every business knows about the importance of logo design. It is the primary source of their brand representation, allowing them to demonstrate a strong identity in the market. It is the major reason why every business wants to design a unique logo. They know how these logos encourage people to take interest in the products, as well as get converted towards it.

Considering the high demand of different types of logos , it has become a top freelancing source for many graphic designers. There are many marketplaces working on the internet where tons of graphic design projects related to logos are available for freelancers.

If you are looking to start your career as a graphic designer, tryout these logo projects. It will help you to know about the intrinsic details of logo designing, as how it should be completed starting from the scratch. You can learn how to design logos relating to different categories, increasing your own knowledge in the field.

Just like logo designing, there are also dozens of freelancing opportunities available in UI/UX designing . That is also one of those hot jobs that could help you to get connected with hundreds of clients. But, to do so, you need to have a sound knowledge of the cores of UI designing.

This process and method of UI design is totally different from the other graphic designing activities. It requires you to bring creativity in the website frontend that can attract the incoming traffic.

You can learn UI designing from tons of tutorials and other resources available on the internet. Many experts recommend YouTube as the best source to learn UI designing. It houses hundreds of tutorials aimed towards helping beginners to learn the art of UI designing.

Brochures / Flyers

Flyer design

Every marketer knows the importance of branding materials. They are primarily responsible to market any business strongly in the industry. It is the main reason why businesses always look for such designers who are well versed in creating quality branding elements such as brochures.

The usage of brochures comes really handy in tradeshows and other marketing events. Generally, companies distribute these brochures in those events to attract people’s attention. Therefore, they always want to get connected with those designers that can help them to create stunning brochure designs .

Being a freelancer, you can take these graphic design projects to enhance your professional portfolio. They are a bit different as compared to conventional banner designing. These brochures are designed with a mixed combination of content and graphical elements. As a designer, you need to learn principles of design and how to keep the balance between both, so that your brochure design can look great.

Icons are also termed very important for designing banners, logos, website content and more others. They are often designers with a custom style in order to assist any relevant design. This requires skilled expertise from a professional designer who knows how to create a font according to the design.

Today, you can find different types of freelancing opportunities available for creating masculine fonts . If you don’t have much idea about how to create them, take a look at the examples given on the internet. It will allow you to design creative fonts, precisely according to the modern standards.

YouTube Graphical Ads

Youtube ads

YouTube is undoubtedly the biggest online streaming platform in the world. It houses millions of videos relating from different categories. People from around the globe regularly visit YouTube to watch different types of videos . That is why its traffic just keeps on increasing with each passing day, making it the most popular video streaming global platform.

Considering this popularity, many marketers have started to target YouTube as a channel to attract clients. To do that, they need the services of a talented designer who can create engaging artwork for YouTube ads. This is a very high paid job that allows you to get connected with some of the top companies in the market.

You can create engaging videos and designs according to the brand requirements. This will be a great addition to your graphic design projects, giving your overall portfolio a stunning boost.

Infographics

Infographics are also becoming popular in the market due to their easy way of explaining things. They are used precisely to create designs that can help people to understand things quickly. But, the development of these infographics is not a straightforward process. It requires tactical knowledge on how to place different things in a single design, so that people can take a look at them all quickly.

You can find different types of infographics used by the marketers today. Most of them are built in a listicle manner, allowing people to notice various things quickly. As a designer, it brings a nice opportunity for you to enhance your graphic design projects portfolio by designing interactive infographics.

The good thing is that you can find many premade templates for designing infographics. Some of the websites like Freepik, Envato and more others are termed very good in this regard. These marketplaces will help you to find unique infographics templates, so that you can customize them easily with the relevant elements.

Banner design

Banners are also an important branding material due to their vast usage in marketing activities. They are used to grab people’ attention, rightly by displaying the best discount offers and product deals. You can find dozens of banner designing projects on marketplaces like Fiverr, Freelancer and more easily. Most of them are high paid, allowing you to build a strong graphic design projects portfolio.

All you need to do is to just enhance your skills on graphic design softwares like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and more others. These tools are termed pretty handy to learn the basic art of graphic designing.

If you don’t have good knowledge about their usage, take a look at the detailed tutorials given on the internet. They are precisely made for absolute beginners, so that they can learn the basics of graphics designing. Once you have the required knowledge of graphics, then you can easily take different types of graphic design projects. The demand of banner designing is pretty much more in the market, hence you can build a strong portfolio by getting its projects.

Business Cards

Business card

Every business knows the importance of business cards. It is termed as the most important branding material that allows people to know about your point of contact. That is the biggest reason why companies heavily emphasize designing these business cards with flawless perfection. They know that business cards showcase their identity and build a reputation for their business.

For freelance designers, it is best recommended to find those graphic design projects that are related to business cards designing. You can easily find these projects on sites like Upwork, Toptal and more others. All you need to do is to just build a strong profile on these marketplaces. People who are looking to hire skilled freelancers will quickly come to your profile and contact you upon finding the relevant work experience.

Best Graphic Design Projects for a High School Student

Being a high school student, you need to first find those graphic design projects that are easy to handle. This includes projects like logo designing, business cards designing and more others. Though it will be a bit hard to find some projects if you have no experience. But, if you will show the required expertise, then you can get some valuable graphic design projects.

It is also recommended to build some connections in the market to get quality designing projects. Once you will to do that, you can get long term projects allowing your portfolio to grow strongly.

Importance of Graphic Designing Projects for Portfolio Building

Frequently asked questions, final words.

That takes us to the end of this blog in which we have discussed different types of graphic design projects suitable for beginners. We all know that it has become a very lucrative field, rightly due to its demand in the world. Today, there are a lot of opportunities available for graphic designers. From IT to the medical field, the demand of graphic designers is everywhere making them a real asset for every company.

If you also want to become a graphic designer, you need to first work on the projects defined above. It will help you to know about the basics of graphic designing, allowing you to learn its art completely. This is indeed a very lucrative field that provides everyone great opportunities to work regularly.

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How To Learn Graphic Design: A Step-by-Step Guide (Including Resources)

We inculcate an inquiry based approach to learning, enabling you to develop awareness of yourself and the world..

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Do you want to learn graphic design from scratch? Then you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find an actionable step-by-step guide, complete with helpful resources to get you started.

Graphic design is a broad and varied field. This makes it incredibly exciting—but also pretty daunting if you’re a newcomer.

What should you learn first? How do you make sure you’re covering everything? What industry resources can you trust?

So many questions! But don’t worry. To help you in your quest to learn graphic design, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide. For each step, we’ve outlined clear learning objectives and linked them to helpful resources.

  • 1) Why learn graphic design?
  • Learn the history and fundamental theory of graphic design
  • Dive deeper into the key graphic design elements and principles
  • Learn the most important graphic design tools
  • Take free graphic design courses
  • Formalise your learning with a graphic design qualification
  • Apply your budding skills to practical projects
  • Network and join graphic design communities
  • 3) Next steps: Forging a career in graphic design

Are you ready to learn graphic design? Let’s begin.

1. Why learn graphic design?

There are many reasons why you might choose to learn graphic design. Perhaps you want to expand your creative skill set and become more versatile in your current career. If you’re working in a field like marketing, for example, being able to create your own graphics could come in handy.

The most popular reason for learning graphic design, though, is to become a graphic designer . Graphic designers (and graphic design-adjacent roles) enjoy high demand, good earning potential, and heaps of variety and creativity. That’s a pretty solid recipe for a rewarding career!

Here’s what you can expect from a career in graphic design:

A competitive salary. In India, graphic designers earn between ₹3,90,000 ( talent.com ) and ₹6,50,000 ( AmbitionBox ) on average. In the United States, the average graphic designer’s salary ranges from around $55,490 per year to around $75,000 per year . Check our full graphic designer salary guide for more salary data.

High job demand. Graphic design is everywhere, and talented graphic designers are needed across a wide range of industries and sectors. According to freelancing platform Upwork , graphic design is the most in-demand creative skill for 2023. And, with the design industry in India growing at a rate of about 25% each year, demand for graphic designers will only increase.

Variety and versatility. Once you’ve learned the fundamentals of graphic design, you’ll have a wealth of opportunities to explore. Graphic designer is just one possible job title in the field. Professionals with graphic design skills can go on to work as packaging designers, book designers, animation artists, social media designers, and more. Learn all about the most exciting graphic design jobs (and their salaries) in this guide .

Now you’re thinking “Sign me up!” So, without further ado, let’s show you how to learn graphic design and get started in the field.

2. How to learn graphic design in 7 steps

We’ve written this guide for beginners who want to learn graphic design from scratch, and made it as actionable as possible with clear learning objectives and helpful resources. Follow it step-by-step and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a job-ready graphic designer.

I. Learn the history and fundamental theory of graphic design

If you’re brand new to graphic design, your first step is to learn the basics. At this stage, your goal is to learn about graphic design rather than actually learning how to do it—that will come later!

Learning objectives:

  • To understand, and be able to clearly explain, what graphic design is and what graphic designers do;
  • To learn about the different types of graphic design;
  • To understand the basic history of graphic design and how the discipline has evolved over time;
  • To familiarise yourself with the most important graphic design skills.

Learning resources:

  • What is Graphic Design? Everything You Need to Know by AND Academy
  • Your Ultimate Guide to the History of Graphic Design by Amanda Walgrove
  • What Hard and Soft Skills Do Graphic Designers Need? by AND Academy
  • Design Matters podcast hosted by Debbie Millman
  • Graphic Design for Everyone: Understand the Building Blocks so You can Do It Yourself , book by Cath Caldwell

Overall, you want to build a solid theoretical understanding of the field and what it entails. Focus on free resources such as blogs and podcasts, as well as graphic design books.

Professional logo designer creating mock-ups

II. Dive deeper into the key graphic design elements and principles

You’re now well-versed in what graphic design is, where it comes from, and what it’s all about in theory . Now it’s time to delve deeper into the elements and principles that graphic designers use in their work.

  • Understand the 7 basic elements of graphic design: shapes, lines, colour, texture, type, space, and images;
  • Understand the fundamental principles of graphic design and how graphic designers use them to create aesthetically pleasing and communicative designs;
  • To explore these elements and principles in action with real-world examples.
  • Refer back to this introductory guide to graphic design —section four provides an overview of the 7 basic elements of graphic design
  • 12 Fundamental Graphic Design Principles and How to Apply Them by AND Academy
  • 9 Graphic Design Examples and What We Can Learn From Them by AND Academy
  • How to Use Colour Theory in Graphic Design by Zeka Design
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Typography by Zeka Design

III. Learn the most important graphic design tools

The next step in your journey from graphic design novice to hands-on professional: learning the essential graphic design tools.

Graphic designers use different tools depending on their exact role and industry. A book designer will use different tools than, say, an animation artist. That said, there are some fundamental tools that all graphic designers are familiar with—and these are the tools you’ll want to focus on first:

Adobe Illustrator: a vector-based illustration software used to create different graphic design assets from scratch.

Adobe Photoshop: used for creating and editing images and photos. You may want to start with Photoshop Elements , a simpler, more beginner-friendly version.

Canva: a free, beginner-friendly drag-and-drop graphic design tool.

Adobe Express: a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator.

The best way to build proficiency in graphic design tools is to jump right in. Download and/or sign up for different tools and follow free tutorials—the internet is bursting with them! Check out the resources we’ve linked to in the “Learning resources” section to get started.

  • Learn about the most popular graphic design tools and what they’re used for;
  • Download and/or sign up for industry-standard tools;
  • Get familiar with each tool’s interface and functionality;
  • Follow free tutorials to perform basic tasks in each tool.
  • A Round-Up of the Best Graphic Design Software and Tools by AND Academy
  • Adobe Illustrator for Beginners —a free YouTube tutorial by PR Learning Lab
  • A selection of free Photoshop Basics tutorials
  • Getting started with Canva by Canva Design School
  • Getting started with Adobe Express —a free video tutorial by Adobe

Once you’ve got the lay of the land in your chosen tools, search the web for more specific tutorials; for example, “How to create a logo in Adobe Illustrator”.

graphic design projects with instructions

VI. Apply your budding skills to practical projects

Graphic design is a highly practical field, and you’ll learn the most when you actually apply your burgeoning skills to graphic design projects.

If you follow our advice in step five, you’ll choose a graphic design course that includes project work in the curriculum. This will give you instant access to graphic design projects—and an invaluable opportunity to get feedback.

Beyond your chosen graphic design course, accelerate your learning curve by gaining as much practical experience as possible. This might be through volunteer gigs, passion projects, or even a graphic design internship. Gain valuable insights into portfolio building with these impressive student projects crafted by AND learners.

  • Print and Publication Design Project by Roohani Goyal
  • Brand Identity Design Project by Sai Prasad Chandran
  • Apply your new and budding skills to real projects;
  • Gain practical experience in different types of graphic design projects;
  • Learn from feedback;
  • Build out your graphic design portfolio.
  • 8 Graphic Design Project Types Every Beginner Should Know About by Logo Poppin
  • 7 Graphic Design Practice Project Ideas by Format
  • The Graphic Design Idea Book: Inspiration from 50 Masters—book by Steven Heller
  • Vollie —a platform for graphic design volunteering opportunities
  • RemoteHub —graphic design volunteer jobs
  • How to Create Your First Graphic Design Portfolio (With Examples) by AND Academy

VII. Network and join graphic design communities

Learning graphic design isn’t just about mastering the technical skills and tools. You can learn so much about the field—and how to navigate it successfully—from fellow graphic designers.

This is a lifelong learning tip: start building your graphic design network, be active in graphic design communities, and learn as much as you can from those around you.

Network with new and aspiring graphic designers just like you, as well as with seniors who’ve been in the field for a while. Every new connection can teach you something (and learn something from you in return, no doubt).

If you’re new to networking in the graphic design field (or to networking in general), you’ll find some useful pointers in the “Learning resources” section.

  • Join graphic design communities;
  • Attend graphic design meetups (virtual or in person);
  • Learn from senior graphic designers;
  • Participate in knowledge exchanges and peer-to-peer learning with fellow aspiring designers.
  • 5 Smart Networking Strategies for Career Changers by Lily Zhang writing for The Muse
  • The Importance of Networking for Creatives by Brandi Sea Heft-Kniffin
  • The Best Graphic Design Networking Groups and Platforms by Countingup
  • Design Communities: The Industry’s Best-Kept Secret by Nicolas Candelaria

3. Next steps: Forging a career in graphic design

That concludes our step-by-step guide on how to learn graphic design. Now you may be wondering: What happens once I qualify as a graphic designer? How do I forge a career in the field?

As soon as you’ve gained some hands-on experience (either through an internship, volunteering opportunities, or via your graphic design course) and built a strong portfolio, you can think about applying for your first graphic design role.

But, if you’re switching from an unrelated career path, it’s important to start marketing yourself as a graphic designer before you send out any applications. This includes updating your LinkedIn profile and resumé to reflect your new skills. It should be clear to recruiters and hiring managers that you’re ready to work as a graphic designer, so tailor your online presence and application materials accordingly.

Then, when the time comes, you can prepare for the graphic design hiring process. We run through the most common graphic design interview questions in this guide .

But one thing at a time! Focus first and foremost on learning the essential graphic design skills and tools, networking with fellow designers, and gaining real-world experience with a variety of practical projects. Good luck!

Here are some additional resources and recommendations that will surely be useful in learning more about graphic design - the industry, career prospects, and much more:

  • Watch this session by design veteran and AND’s Academic Head, Prachi Mittal, and our Course Lead, Soumya Tiwari.
  • Talk to a course advisor to discuss how you can transform your career with one of our courses.
  • Pursue our Graphic Design courses - all courses are taught through live, interactive classes by industry experts, and some even offer a Job Guarantee.
  • Take advantage of the scholarship and funding options that come with our courses to overcome any financial hurdle on the path of your career transformation.

Note: All information and/or data from external sources is believed to be accurate as of the date of publication.

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Top Illustrator Projects to Sharpen Your Skills and Build Your Illustrator Portfolio

If you dream of becoming a graphic designer , some of the key technical skills you will need to learn are digital illustration and vector drawing. Adobe Illustrator is the gold-standard tool used by professional designers to create beautiful and scalable logos, vector icons, and digital art. It is also popular among content creators to produce attractive digital marketing assets.

Designs produced in Adobe Illustrator are used everywhere, from product packaging, infographics, to billboard advertising. Adobe Illustrator allows you to create vector artwork that can be made very small or extremely large without losing resolution or picture quality. Read on to discover the top Illustrator projects to practice your skills and build your portfolio. 

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5 skills that illustrator projects can help you practice.

Whether you’re just starting out, or are sharpening your Adobe Illustrator skills, the beginner, intermediate, and advanced projects outlined in this article will help you practice the following technical skills. Professional graphic designers and illustrators use these foundational skills throughout their creative process in designing anything from company logos, simple kids illustrations, to marketing media.

  • Simple Shapes. Drawing basic shapes is one of the first skills to learn as a foundation for all your designs and logos. Adobe Illustrator offers vector shape tools, which you can find by clicking on the rectangle shape in the Toolbar. Basic shapes can be combined to make more complicated and complete artwork.
  • Vector Skills. Vector drawing is what Illustrator is based on. Vector graphics are made from points, lines, curves, and shapes. To draw with vectors, you can use different tools, such as the Pen tool, with which you can create and edit the anchor points in a very precise way and make vector paths. 
  • Layering. The layers function offered by Adobe Illustrator is very useful to use as an overview of the edits you make in a design. This function lets you place different elements in each layer and activate or deactivate layers. This way, you can add or remove elements without affecting the whole design. It is one of the most useful tools when making any design, especially one that has many details.
  • Painting. Illustrator has a wide range of paintbrushes that can be used to create realistic artwork. You can also combine brushes with the fill function to create gorgeous digital graphics. Illustrator offers the most varied range of colors so that you can get unique colors and textures. 
  • Pathfinder. The Pathfinder tools are extremely efficient in helping you develop unique shapes. The tool allows you to combine different basic shapes to unite them, subtract one shape from the other, intersect, or exclude overlap. Once you learn the basics it’s easier to use than it seems, and will surely speed up your design process. 

Best Illustrator Project Ideas for Beginners

If you’re new to digital graphics, Adobe Illustrator can be an intimidating program at first glance. The best way to learn Adobe Illustrator is to practice with small projects to build your foundational vector skills. As you work through the following projects you can also begin to curate a portfolio, as executing and finishing projects will help your creative process. 

Create and Edit Shapes

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Simple shapes, vector skills

With the shape tools in Adobe Illustrator, you can draw, combine and trace different simple shapes. It’s a great basic exercise that will help you a lot in later projects. Creating basic shapes that can be used to develop simple icons is a great way to start developing your skills. Adobe Illustrator has a fun tutorial that covers drawing basic shapes and editing them.  

Create with Drawing Tools

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Vector skills

In this design project, you can practice the best tools for making strokes and curves in Adobe Illustrator. With the Pencil tool and the Curvature tool, you can design and edit endless illustrations. You will also learn about paths and anchor points which are key concepts in vector skills, and how to join paths to create a whole shape. 

Create an Owl Character Using a Circular Grid

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Simple shapes, vector skills, painting, layer, pathfinder

Learn how to create an owl using a circle grid. You will first draw circles to make a simple grid of circles, and then build the owl figure using only the simple shapes created by the circles in your grid. Finally, you will bring the design to life by adding color to paint your design. 

Create an Isometric Illustration

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Simple shapes, vector skills 

An isometric illustration is a simple technique that’s very useful for illustrating without using a grid. Apply your knowledge of simple shapes to create a two-dimensional object that visually represents a three-dimensional object. Isometric illustrations are a trending vector graphic style often used in web design. 

Create a Set of Productivity Icons

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Simple shapes, vector skills, layers, pathfinder

This step-by-step tutorial by Adobe Illustrator uses the Rectangle, Pathfinder, and Direct Selection tools to make a set of shapes that represent office icons, such as a document, a computer monitor, and stationary. This idea is very useful for many other projects, like creating social media icons. 

Best Intermediate Illustrator Portfolio Ideas 

Intermediate Adobe Illustrator techniques are great to continue reinforcing your knowledge and learning. Doing the projects in this section will help you improve your Illustrator designs and creative process. Add these projects to your portfolio to demonstrate your skills and show off the designs that prove you have intermediate Adobe Illustrator skills. 

Create a Tropical Pattern 

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Simple shapes, painting, pathfinder, vector skills

To create a tropical pattern in Adobe Illustrator, you will set up a grid to build elements. You will also use the Shape Builder Tool, Warp Effects, the Pen Tool, the Pattern Tool, and geometric shapes in your creation process. It is a very good project for creating a fabric pattern with applications in fashion design and interior design.

Create a Lettering Postcard

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Sketching, simple shapes, pathfinder, layers. 

In this project, learn how to make and decorate a lettering postcard. You will use the Pen Tool and other elements that you consider necessary to decorate the card. The important thing is that you master the lettering technique with the Pen Tool. 

Vector Hair With Brushes

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Vector drawing, sketching

This project is very useful for improving your drawing techniques and making your designs look more realistic. In this project, you will learn how to use vector shapes to draw hair, and then use the brushes to draw a full head of hair. 

Create an Emoji iMessage Stickers

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Vector drawing, painting, layering

In this excellent project, you will learn how to create a custom emoji pack. First, you will learn how to turn your hand-drawn artwork into a vector format. Next, you will use the Ellipse tool to make your own calligraphy brush, then trace the sketch using the Paintbrush tool, color in your stickers, and finally import the emojis into Xcode. 

Create a Flat Winter Scene

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Layering, simple shapes

Here you have an awesome holiday-themed pattern idea. To make this Adobe Illustrator flat illustrations project, you will ]use basic shapes to create the winter scene with the help of the Pen Tool and the Pathfinder panel. You will also use some colors and add highlights and shadows to complete this flat design. 

Advanced Illustrator Project Ideas

Advanced Adobe Illustrator projects will help you demonstrate your ability to complete the most challenging digital graphics, and present a complete portfolio of designs that include the most advanced techniques. Read on to discover several online advanced tutorials that can help you develop a wide range of expert-level skills.

Create a Watercolor Mermaid Illustration

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Layering, painting

For this advanced project, you will design a realistic watercolor painting of a mermaid. Just like in the previous tutorials, you will start by sketching the mermaid and then vectorizing it. Alternatively, you can sketch directly in Adobe Illustrator using a drawing tablet. Next, you will use the drawing tools that Adobe Illustrator offers, such as custom brushes to add details and finish your work.

Create a Surreal Portrait

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Vector drawing

For this Adobe Illustrator project, you will practice your skills to transform a real portrait into a surreal one using Illustrator’s image tracing tool or Live Trace tool. Follow the in-depth tutorial to add texture and layers to compose a surreal vector portrait. 

Design a Logo

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Vector drawing, simple shapes 

Adobe Illustrator is the best tool for designing a logo. Depending on what you want to make, a logo design can range from being basic to difficult. Therefore having more than one logo design in your portfolio is a good idea. Throughout the creative process of designing a logo, you will use a wide range of Adobe Illustrator tools and techniques to complete your design.

Design Game UI Assets

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Vector drawing, simple shapes

Designing game UI assets in Adobe Illustrator will only require simple shapes to form game assets such as buttons and icons. This project requires the skillful process of adding texture, highlights, and creating alternative shapes. It is very good practice in which you will use your imagination to create many objects.

Design a Cartoon Character

  • Illustrator Skills Practiced: Painting, vector drawing

Creating a cartoon character design can be a lot of fun and requires skills with most of the Adobe Illustrator tools. With a tutorial to guide you, you can create a set of characters that are unique and express different emotions by using basic geometric shapes and gradient colors. Character design has applications in children’s books, animation, and game design.

Illustrator Starter Project Templates

When it comes to getting started with Adobe Illustrator design projects, having a template or detailed tutorial can go a long way in mastering both basic and advanced concepts. Here are some starter template resources to jumpstart your design project. 

  • Adobe . Adobe Illustrator doesn’t leave its designers in a pinch, offering many cool Illustrator tutorials that take you through the entire process of designing a project. Their wide range of subjects will help you master various Illustrator skills.
  • Envato Elements . This resource offers thousands of templates compatible with Adobe Illustrator, over 82,000 vector templates alone! You can find a range of templates from a quick tutorial with simple steps, as well as a more detailed tutorial with advanced Illustrator techniques. 
  • Template.Net . Put your Pen tool to the test with over 8,000 templates and detailed tutorials to help you build a great portfolio. They emphasize the use of simple images and bright colors to make amazing Illustrator art and product designs. 

Next Steps: Start Organizing Your Illustrator Portfolio

Woman looking at graphic designs on a laptop.

When it comes to showcasing your projects, the best idea is to create a portfolio. By creating a portfolio, you can demonstrate your Adobe Illustrator skills to potential clients. It’s a great way to promote your work, so here are some ideas you can follow to create a great portfolio and begin a very successful career as a digital designer.

Make Your Website

Create a website to host your Adobe Illustrator portfolio. It is a very good option that you should consider to easily show your work to potential clients who request it. By using your own web domain or placing your portfolio on a third-party website that allows you to host it, you will be able to present your work more professionally and make a strong impression.

Easy to Navigate

You should organize your Adobe Illustrator portfolio so that the viewer can easily see or find your work. Try to design the portfolio in a minimalist, organized way. Consider putting only your ten best pieces. Put only one design per page and on that page, explain what the project was about.

Make a Selection

Don’t put all the work you’ve ever done in your Adobe Illustrator portfolio. Just make a selection of the ones you consider the best and the ones that help you create a story. Remember to show the passion projects that you’ve worked on as they’ll highlight what your style is. 

Illustrator Projects FAQ

Adobe Illustrator is a very powerful tool to create a great variety of vector designs and illustrations. With Adobe Illustrator you can work with shapes, colors, text, and many other elements to create anything from simple shapes to complex vector artwork. Some of the most common design projects using Illustrator are logo design, posters, illustrations, and icons.

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There are many cool Adobe Illustrator tutorials online that you can follow as you practice your vector skills. Start with easy projects that involve the main tools that Adobe Illustrator includes. Start practicing with simple shapes, figures, the curvature tool, vector paths, and simple patterns. You can also play around with basic tools like vector elements and the Pen Tool. 

The best option to learn Adobe Illustrator skills fast is to take a highly-rated Adobe Illustrator bootcamp , or follow Illustrator tutorials that teach design techniques ranging in various skill levels. The best way to become an Adobe Illustrator expert is to practice by doing a variety of projects. 

Adobe Illustrator can be used to create many designs, such as logos, icons, and digital art using colors, shapes, text, and different effects. Once you have developed great illustration and digital art skills you might consider learning graphic design . 

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Top 100 Graphic Design Project Ideas [Updated]

Graphic Design Project Ideas

Graphic design is a powerful and versatile medium that plays an important role in conveying messages, creating visual identities, and leaving a lasting impact. In the ever-evolving world of design, the exploration of graphic design project ideas is essential for staying relevant and innovative.

This blog will delve into various types of graphic design projects, considerations for successful execution, trendy ideas, challenges faced by designers, and tips to ensure a flourishing design journey.

What are the Types of Graphic Design Projects?

Table of Contents

Print Media

Print media remains a classic avenue for graphic designers to showcase their skills. Poster designs, brochure layouts, and business card creations offer a tangible and impactful way to communicate messages.

Each project requires a unique approach, blending creativity with functionality to captivate the audience.

Digital Media

In the digital age, graphic designers are tasked with creating eye-catching visuals for online platforms. Social media graphics, website designs, and app interfaces demand a keen understanding of user experience and the ability to adapt designs to varying screen sizes and resolutions.

Brand identity is a crucial aspect of any business, and graphic designers play a vital role in shaping it.

Logo designs, brand identity packages, and packaging designs contribute to establishing a brand’s visual language and fostering recognition.

Illustration

Illustrations bring a touch of artistry to graphic design projects. Whether through digital or hand-drawn illustrations, designers can create visually appealing and engaging content.

Infographic designs, in particular, allow for the effective communication of complex information in a visually accessible manner.

Considerations for Graphic Design Projects

  • Target Audience

Understanding the demographics and preferences of the target audience is paramount. Tailoring designs to resonate with the intended viewers enhances the project’s effectiveness and ensures a more significant impact.

  • Purpose and Goals

Identifying the purpose and goals of a graphic design project is essential. Whether the aim is to convey a specific message, create brand awareness, or provide information, a clear understanding of objectives guides the design process.

  • Medium and Platform

Choosing the right tools and software is crucial for successful graphic design projects. Additionally, adapting designs for different platforms ensures a consistent and visually appealing presence across various mediums.

Top 100 Graphic Design Project Ideas

  • Minimalist Poster Design
  • Vintage-Inspired Logo Creation
  • Social Media Quote Graphics
  • Infographic on a Complex Topic
  • Packaging Design for a New Product
  • Business Card for a Creative Professional
  • Magazine Cover Redesign
  • Website Landing Page Revamp
  • Album Cover Artwork
  • T-shirt Graphic Design
  • Custom Font Creation
  • Environmental Awareness Poster
  • Animated GIF for Social Media
  • Food Menu Design for a Restaurant
  • eBook Cover Illustration
  • 3D Product Rendering
  • Event Invitation Design
  • App Interface Redesign
  • Charity Campaign Graphics
  • Car Wrap Design
  • Product Label for Handmade Goods
  • Interactive PDF Portfolio
  • Icon Set for a Mobile App
  • Sticker Designs for Brand Promotion
  • Pattern Design for Textiles
  • Social Media Banner Ads
  • Digital Art Print Series
  • Website Iconography Overhaul
  • Annual Report Infographics
  • Conceptual Product Mockup
  • Educational Poster for Children
  • Visual Brand Language Development
  • Outdoor Billboard Advertisement
  • Email Newsletter Template
  • Health and Wellness eBook Layout
  • Virtual Event Branding
  • E-commerce Website Graphics
  • Augmented Reality Filters
  • Interactive Map Design
  • Beer Label Artwork
  • Conceptual Book Cover Design
  • Real Estate Brochure
  • Podcast Cover Art
  • Dashboard UI Design
  • Packaging for Sustainable Products
  • Coffee Shop Menu Board
  • Digital Magazine Layout
  • Logo Animation for Video Intros
  • Virtual Reality Environment Design
  • Financial Report Data Visualization
  • Influencer Media Kit Design
  • Concept Car Advertisement
  • Educational Game Graphics
  • Neon Sign Design
  • Recipe Card Illustration
  • Inspirational Quote Wall Art
  • Conceptual Product Packaging
  • Environmental Awareness Campaign
  • Logo Animation for Social Media
  • Pop-Up Banner for Events
  • Outdoor Apparel Catalog Layout
  • Virtual Backgrounds for Video Calls
  • Artistic Social Media Stories
  • Editorial Illustration for a Newspaper
  • Packaging for Limited Edition Items
  • User Onboarding Graphics for Apps
  • Annual Calendar Design
  • Sustainable Packaging Redesign
  • Custom Emojis for a Brand
  • Interactive Website Navigation
  • Abstract Mural Design
  • Company Milestone Infographic
  • Interactive Quiz Graphics
  • Conceptual Movie Poster
  • Fashion Lookbook Design
  • Website Loading Animation
  • Holiday Greeting Cards
  • Personal Branding Collateral
  • Conceptual Tech Gadget Mockup
  • Custom Snapchat Geofilters
  • Conceptual Album Art for a Band
  • Beauty Product Packaging
  • Art Exhibition Poster
  • Animated Explainer Video Graphics
  • 404 Error Page Redesign
  • Social Media Contest Graphics
  • Custom Avatars for a Community
  • Virtual Trade Show Booth Design
  • Science Fiction Book Cover
  • Travel Postcard Series
  • Packaging for Luxury Items
  • Conceptual Smart Home Interface
  • Concept Art for Video Games
  • Skateboard Deck Design
  • Food Truck Wrap Design
  • Retro Video Game Graphics
  • Financial Dashboard Infographic
  • Conceptual Space Tourism Poster
  • Animated Social Media Polls
  • Branding for a Virtual Reality Experience

Tips for Successful Graphic Design Projects

Achieving success in graphic design projects involves a combination of creativity, technical skill, and effective project management. Here are some essential tips to ensure your graphic design projects thrive:

  • Understand the Project Requirements:
  • Begin by thoroughly understanding the client’s needs and project goals.
  • Clarify expectations, deadlines, and any specific preferences the client may have.
  • Know Your Audience:
  • Tailor your design to the target audience. Understand their preferences, demographics, and behavior to create more impactful visuals.
  • Research and Gather Inspiration:
  • Conduct research to stay updated on design trends, industry standards, and competitors.
  • Collect inspiration from various sources to spark creativity and bring fresh ideas to your projects.
  • Create a Clear Design Brief:
  • Develop a detailed design brief that outlines project objectives, target audience, key messages, and any specific requirements.
  • A clear brief helps you and the client stay aligned throughout the design process.
  • Effective Communication:
  • Maintain open and transparent communication with clients. Regular updates, check-ins, and feedback sessions ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Time Management:
  • Create a realistic project timeline with well-defined milestones.
  • Prioritize tasks, set deadlines, and allocate sufficient time for revisions and unforeseen challenges.
  • Collaborate and Seek Feedback:
  • Collaborate with team members or clients to enhance the creative process.
  • Actively seek feedback and be open to constructive criticism to refine your designs.
  • Embrace Constructive Criticism:
  • View feedback as an opportunity for improvement. Analyze critiques objectively and use them to enhance your design skills.
  • Stay Consistent with Branding:
  • When working on branding projects, maintain consistency across all elements, including colors, fonts, and visual style.
  • Ensure the design aligns with the established brand identity and guidelines.
  • Test Across Platforms:
  • Test your designs on different devices and platforms to ensure they are visually appealing and functional across various screen sizes and resolutions.
  • Keep It Simple:
  • Strive for simplicity, especially in communication design. Clear and straightforward visuals are often more effective in conveying messages.
  • Stay Updated on Tools and Software:
  • Familiarize yourself with the latest design tools and software to stay efficient and competitive in the field.
  • Continual Learning:
  • Graphic design is an ever-evolving field. Invest time in continuous learning to stay informed about new trends, techniques, and technologies.
  • Build a Strong Portfolio:
  • Showcase your best work in a portfolio that reflects your diverse skills and style.
  • Update your portfolio regularly to showcase your latest and most relevant projects.
  • Network and Connect:
  • Engage with other designers, attend industry events, and participate in online communities.
  • Networking can lead to collaboration opportunities and provide valuable insights into industry trends.

Exploring graphic design project ideas is an exhilarating journey filled with creative possibilities. From traditional print media to cutting-edge digital designs, graphic designers play a crucial role in shaping visual experiences.

By considering the target audience, purpose, and medium, embracing trendy ideas, overcoming challenges, and following essential tips, designers can embark on a path of continuous growth and innovation in the dynamic world of graphic design.

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The 23 Best Graphic Design Portfolios We've Ever Seen, & How to Start Your Own

Caroline Forsey

Published: September 28, 2023

A great graphic design portfolio can’t move mountains, but it can change your life with a new job or opportunity. AI and other factors are impacting graphic design hiring, making your portfolio more important than ever before.

graphic design portfolio

While some designers still carry a physical book of printed design examples, most portfolios are graphic designer websites. These sites show audiences much more than design skills like logo design or typography.

Whether you're a full-time graphic designer or dabbling in design as a freelancer, it's critical you create a sleek graphic design portfolio to showcase your work to potential clients.

Fortunately, we've created a list of over 20 impressive graphic design portfolios , followed by instructions on how you can create your own . Keep reading to get all the tips you need to curate the perfect space to showcase your work.

graphic design projects with instructions

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What is a graphic design portfolio, and why does a graphic designer need one?

A graphic design portfolio is one of the most important elements a client or employer needs to see when choosing a graphic designer. A portfolio should include a selection of a graphic designer’s best work, as well as professional samples from client projects.

If you're a graphic designer a portfolio is essential for proving your design skills. It's also a chance to:

  • Share your design process
  • Talk about design or industry specialties
  • Showcase your unique style

A graphic design portfolio, like a resume, will also include contact information. It may also feature case studies from past employers.

Most portfolios today are graphic designer websites. This means that they’re not only a way to connect with clients. They also help graphic designers build communities and share their work with potential fans around the world.

So what does a graphic design portfolio website need to include to stand out? Your portfolio is much more than proving you know how to use Photoshop. Many graphic designers will include logos, typography, print design, or web design in their portfolios.

And, some of the best graphic design portfolios today may also include:

  • Motion graphics
  • Original illustrations
  • Product design
  • Ad campaigns
  • Storyboards
  • Brand identity

As you'll see below, the most powerful graphic designer portfolios balance personal vision with standout client samples.

Graphic Design Portfolio Website Examples

  • Jessica Walsh
  • Morag Myerscough
  • Heather Shaw
  • Mohamed Samir
  • Gail Anderson
  • Gleb Kuznetsov
  • Stefan Sagmeister
  • Lotte Niemenen
  • Luke Choice (Velvet Spectrum)
  • Sophia Yeshi
  • Eduardo Nunes
  • Stefanie Brüeckler
  • Ryan Dean Sprague (Pavlov)
  • Alex Trochut
  • Leandro Assis
  • Peter Tarka
  • Tobias van Schneider
  • Aries Moross
  • Nisha K. Sethi

Let’s look at some graphic design portfolio website examples to inspire and motivate your portfolio development. You could be a traditional graphic designer or experimenting with new media. There’s something here for everyone.

1. Jessica Walsh

Graphic designer portfolio, Jessica Walsh

The design industry is competitive. It takes eye-catching imagery and typographic finesse to create a portfolio that draws top clients like Apple, Benefit, and Levis.

This portfolio comes from a designer who's been named one of Ad Age’s "Top 10 Visual Creatives," among many other accolades. Currently a design professor, creative director, and head of creative agency &Walsh , this designer's portfolio on Behance makes great design the focus.

Why we love this graphic designer's website : Walsh's approach to type is bright, graphic, and complex. Her style also favors lush colorful photography and illustrations. This could get overwhelming, but this graphic designer is an expert with negative space, using careful visual composition to draw the eye and make a statement.

2. Morag Myerscough

Graphic design portfolio example: Morag Myerscough

Bright graphics, animations, and clean design make this an exceptional graphic design portfolio. This approach is great for designers who lean into the art of design. It also works for designers who take on more experimental or site-specific projects.

Why we chose this graphic design portfolio: Myerscough’s aesthetic is unique and this image-focused site quickly communicates her style.

Short sections of copy connect her visual brand to her background, professional experience, and personal philosophy. The combination makes the site feel like it shows the whole designer, not just a visualization of the work she does for clients.

3. Heather Shaw

graphicdesign_4

This graphic design portfolio website includes samples of book and website designs, branding, and more. It’s good for designers who work in many different media but want to present a cohesive portfolio.

Why we chose this graphic design portfolio: Heather Shaw’s portfolio is super clear and easy to navigate. It shows a wide range of skills and approaches to solving client problems, but it’s also visually consistent.

The designer also uses text effectively to explain each project and to encourage further engagement with the work.

4. Mike Mills

Graphic designer portfolio, Mike Mills

Mike Mills is a talented designer, artist, and filmmaker, known for his punk aesthetic and original style. His portfolio is a reflection of his diverse interests and skills. The website offers a quick lesson in clean design, with easy-to-understand headers, professional photography, and crisp layout.

Why this is a great example of a graphic design portfolio website : When you’re a design beginner , creating your first graphic design portfolio, you quickly learn the importance of editing.

For example, a logo for your first-year graphic design class might have been your best work then. It shows that you know how to use Illustrator or other design software alternatives . But five years later, you have to ask — does that logo belong in a professional portfolio?

As your body of graphic design work grows, you'll find yourself making tough decisions about what to include, and just as important, what to leave out of your portfolio.

This portfolio example stands out because Mills has found a way to include samples of design that span from the 90s to today. This could easily feel disjointed or overwhelming. Instead, it's a beautiful and cohesive portfolio with exceptional attention to detail.

5. Mohamed Samir

Graphic design portfolio example: Mohamed Samir

Samir’s work includes branding, typography, posters, and print design. So, this graphic design portfolio zeros in on a tight collection of award-winning designs.

This graphic design portfolio is on Behance . This makes it a good fit for graphic designers who want an online presence without designing their own website.

Why we love this graphic designer's website: Besides the high quality of the design work, this portfolio shows a diverse range of approaches to typography and style. At the same time, it shows a consistent vision and passion for visual communication.

The printed design work is also well-photographed. While the designer could have added a digital file instead, the photographs give you a better sense of the final polished design.

6. Gail Anderson

Graphic designer portfolio, Gail Anderson

Image quality matters. And if your portfolio pieces include a lot of detail, you may get stumped with your online portfolio design. This graphic design portfolio website has a simple left-hand navigation. So, with each click, you have a chance to see detailed posters, book covers, and more at a scale that shows how they look for print while also being easy to scroll on a mobile phone.

Why we chose this graphic design portfolio : Anderson's work is smart and timeless. Each piece shows her dedication to the depth and value of design thinking, technical skill, and passion for design.

7. Gleb Kuznetsov

Graphic design portfolio example: Gleb Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov’s portfolio combines product design, user experience, and graphic design to create something entirely new. This Dribble-hosted portfolio has over 50 images, which could be overwhelming. But they're split into seven easy-to-understand projects.

This makes it a great graphic design portfolio example for designers who want to show long-term or complex projects.

Why this is a great example of a graphic design portfolio website: From the images to his brief "About" statement, this designer makes his unique vision and personality part of the work and its presentation.

8. Stefan Sagmeister

Sagmeister is a legend in the design world, and his website reflects the curiosity and power of the designer. The home page features a grid of images with text that appears as you scroll over each image. With a click, you're presented with images and/or videos that show the details of each project.

The site is a mix of collaborations, art projects, and more traditional design, like the corporate identity for the Jewish museum.

Why this is one of the best graphic design portfolio websites we’ve ever seen : This portfolio site doesn't just show the quality and technical ability of the designer. It also gives any client working with Sagmeister a sense of what the design process might be like.

Quick note : The "answers" section of the site is full of useful advice no matter where you are in your designer journey.

9. Lotte Niemenen

Graphic designer portfolio, Lotte Niemenen

Great designers often let the work do the talking. That's certainly true here, with a streamlined graphic design portfolio that calls attention to client deliverables. When text is present, it adds to the value of the work, like sharing what parts of the design process their team completed. This is a great portfolio format for designers doing graphic design work like:

  • Logo design

Why we chose this graphic design portfolio: This group of work is simple and to the point. It also shows off a wide range of skills and tactics with a consistent vision. Be sure to take a closer look at the website navigation — it’s clean and exciting while adding to the functionality of the site.

10. Luke Choice (Velvet Spectrum)

Graphic designer portfolio, Luke Choice (Velvet Spectrum)

3D animation is an exciting design form that's growing in popularity. But if you're a client who's not in the market for an animated billboard , it may be difficult to figure out how you might use this creative form for your business.

This site is a great example of a portfolio that educates with simple text, graphics, and video. It gives both a quick look and a deep dive into how this designer approaches his art form.

Why we chose this graphic design portfolio : If you're doing something interesting and new, it may be a selling point. But truly new ideas can also challenge or frustrate people who don't feel "in the know." This means that your portfolio can't just sell your designs. It also needs to teach viewers about the new format you're using and why you think it's important.

11. Sophia Yeshi

Graphic design portfolio example: Sophia Yeshi

A clear header and tile design emphasize work samples from this powerful graphic designer.

While the tiles emphasize the designer’s unique style, you can click on each tile to get the full details about each project. This is a great approach for designers who want to share the deeper story behind each project while still making the site easy to navigate.

Why we love this graphic designer's website: A distinct style is important in graphic design. That said, it can be tough to show how many ways you can apply that distinct style in a business context. Major brands, including Google, Nike, and Comcast, use Yeshi’s unique illustrative voice to speak for their brands.

This website portfolio makes that point clear, while still making graphic design the focus.

12. Eduardo Nunes

Graphic designer portfolio, Eduardo Nunes

Designers often have a muse — someone or something that inspires and motivates them when the designing gets tough. Sometimes that inspiration can serve as a starting point for your portfolio design, as it did for this design portfolio example.

The landing page starts with a quote from Ansel Adams, "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept." Then, using clean motion graphics and fresh design, Nunes points to a central theme, a philosophy that guides his design approach. This leads every site visitor on a journey through his portfolio.

Why we chose this graphic design portfolio : This portfolio shows intense work, focus, practice, and care. It's an excellent model for anyone who wants to show the world what they're creating and why.

13. Stefanie Brüeckler

Graphic design portfolio, Stefanie Bruckler

This portfolio includes packaging design, illustration, and web design as well as graphic design and branding work. It’s one of our favorite graphic designer websites because it’s clean and easy to navigate.

It also shows a lot of different examples of work at a glance. This makes it a great example for designers who aren’t sure how to organize all the work they want to include in their portfolio.

Why we love this graphic designer website example: Brückler’s graphic design portfolio focuses on the tiniest of details to create an excellent user experience. From the simple page-loading animation to the thoughtful use of motion graphics, this designer hones in on the stunning details.

14. Chip Kidd

Graphic design portfolio example: Chip Kidd

Book cover designer Chip Kidd’s graphic design portfolio website uses lightbox-style pop-ups. Popups make it easier to focus on each book cover. This is a smart way to narrow in on the visuals with a graphic design site while still making it easy to see all the work in one place.

Kidd uses a range of different styles for book covers, and it’s edited in a way that makes this range look natural and exciting instead of chaotic.

Why this is a great example of a graphic design portfolio website: The dark background makes this graphic designer’s style pop. And the simple side navigation gives users a quick path to learn more about the designer and his work.

15. Ryan Dean Sprague (Pavlov)

Graphic designer portfolio, Ryan Dean Sprague (Pavlov)

This Texas designer's style is heavily influenced by music. So, this portfolio features illustration and design work that's bright, evocative, and fun. This portfolio website shines because it keeps the UX and site structure super simple. This puts the focus on a tight curation of exciting design samples.

Why this is a great example of a graphic design portfolio website : If you have a distinct illustration or design style, the tough sell for your portfolio may not be how good your work is. Instead, you may need to focus on showing the client how you can do your best work for their needs.

This graphic design portfolio is a vivid display of individuality that also shows clients how this designer can help them sell their product or brand.

16. MDZ Design

Graphic design portfolio example: MDZ Design

Concise and exciting images on this graphic designer website example give site visitors a peek at execution and strategy.

MDZ Design also offers product design and strategy to clients. This makes their graphic design portfolio a useful example for strategy-focused designers.

Why we love this graphic designer website example: The range of services this portfolio shows could be overwhelming or confusing. Instead, it’s a chance to see their approach to problem-solving. They also make it easy to see how their process leads to results for their clients.

17. Alex Trochut

Graphic design portfolio example: Alex Trochut

This graphic design portfolio is also a home for Trochut’s product design, animations, music, and NFTs. It’s a great example for multimedia artists who want to present their work on a single website. It also works for creators with a big collection of work to show.

Why we love this graphic designer website example: The four-column layout of this site shows image thumbnails of varying sizes. Each column moves at a different pace as you scroll down the page.

This motion feels dynamic and exciting and reinforces this designer’s original takes on color, type, and layouts.

18. Leandro Assis

Graphic designer portfolio, Leandro Assis

Sometimes a graphic design portfolio isn't just about a style — it's about a vibe. This exceptional portfolio comes from designer Leandro Assis.

From brand identity to hand lettering to package design, this portfolio displays a wide range of design skills and original style.

Why this is a great example of a graphic design portfolio website : It's not like this portfolio isn't enticing to the eyes. It's fun, bright, and a little wild. But what makes this portfolio excellent isn't just the quality of the work, it's the experience.

Fun icons, engaging UX, and lots of white space make this bold and playful site a pleasure to peruse.

19. Peter Tarka

Graphic designer portfolio, Peter Tarka

If you're a self-taught graphic designer, you might have less guidance on where to start with your portfolio website. Look no further for inspiration than the interactive design portfolio for Peter Tarka.

Best known for captivating 3D motion graphics like the ones featured in the video below, Tarka started with a love of architecture and vector graphics that's grown to a career working with top brands like Spotify, Google, and LG.

Why we love this designer's website : The fewer clicks it takes to show people what you're doing the better. This site isn't just low-click, it's no-click.

A simple scroll shows you the work, client, and completion date for 15 exceptional portfolio pieces. If you want to see more, a quick click at the top-right brings you to more work samples, links to other portfolio sites, and contact information.

20. Tobias van Schneider

Graphic design portfolio example: Tobias van Schneider

This graphic design portfolio website uses a range of type sizes and contrasts to emphasize the ideas it communicates. This is a great approach for entrepreneurial designers. It's also smart for anyone who collaborates in their design work.

Why we love this graphic designer's website: A sticky header and big blocks of color and text make this graphic designer website interesting to explore. This site also uses scale well. It combines big images with both big and small text to emphasize each client project.

21. Aries Moross

Graphic design portfolio, Aries Moross

There are many ways to play up a unique style, and this graphic design website highlights this designer’s recent work as well as a full project archive. This is a great example for designers who also do illustration.

Why we chose this graphic design portfolio: Moross uses space effectively on this site. It’s easy to get an immediate sense of the designer’s distinct style. The simple navigation helps users refine their search to target a specific type of work, like hand-drawn fonts or editorial design.

Graphic design portfolio example: Ling K

LingK's portfolio features their latest project while also showing other industry niches. The structure of the website helps prospective clients quickly decide if they want to work with this designer.

Why this is a great example of a graphic design portfolio website: It can be tough to convey how campaign materials for a complex event, like a wedding or conference, work together. This designer effectively shows the breadth and depth of work for each project and makes it easy to see the value of each deliverable.

23. Nisha K. Sethi

Graphic design portfolio example: Nisha K. Sethi

Sethi’s portfolio is simple and straightforward. It puts the spotlight on each design project. The "About" section also tells a clear story that encourages further questions and conversation.

It can be tempting to tell an audience everything on your website. But a great portfolio should offer enough samples to entice clients to reach out and learn more, but not so much that it overwhelms. This website is a great example of offering just enough.

Why we love this graphic designer website example: This graphic design example combines hand-lettering, printmaking, and other media with digital design. While this designer works in a range of media, their portfolio shows a strong voice that is effective across many channels.

Looking for more design portfolio inspo? These designers and design studios may not be a model for your personal portfolio website, but they’re great design resources:

  • Paula Scher
  • Michael Bierut
  • Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv
  • Wolff Olins
  • Milton Glaser
  • David Carson

If you've finished your portfolio pieces and want to get more website design ideas, check out this free lookbook with over 70 examples of incredible websites.

How to Make a Graphic Design Portfolio

  • Curate your best work, and show a wide breadth of skill.
  • Choose the right platform to showcase your work.
  • Include a professional case study, or client recommendations.
  • Integrate your personality.
  • Describe the creative process.
  • Show non-client work, or side projects.

1. Curate your best work, and show a wide breadth of skill.

Lindsay Burke , a HubSpot Product Designer, emphasizes the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to curating a graphic design portfolio. She says, "I recommend selecting your strongest projects and making these the primary focus of your portfolio website."

Ideally, your portfolio will feature your sharpest, most impressive 10-20 designs — undoubtedly, someone pursuing your portfolio won't have the time to look at more, and if your first couple projects are impressive enough, they shouldn't need to.

But it's equally critical you show potential clients your versatility. If you've dabbled in logo design as well as video animation, it's good to include both kinds of projects in your portfolio.

2. Choose the right platform to showcase your work.

Investing in a quality website with a custom domain URL will pay off in the long run by demonstrating your professionalism to potential clients.

Having your own website helps you organize your portfolio to suit all your business needs — for instance, perhaps you'll include 'Projects', 'About Me', and 'Contact Me' sections, so visitors can peruse your content and then contact you without ever leaving the site.

Take a look at this list of the best website builders if you need help choosing a platform for your portfolio.

3. Include a professional case study or client recommendations.

Lindsay Burke told me it's incredibly valuable to write out a case study to complement any website visuals — "Through a written case study, your site visitors can get a sense of your project's background, the problem you were aiming to solve through design, and the process you took to arrive at a final deliverable. A lot of time, effort, and iteration goes into design solutions, and a written case study will help communicate your unique process."

To cultivate a strong case study, consider including the background of the project, the problem, the process, your deliverable, and any next steps.

In the process section of your case study, Burke suggests including research, experience mapping, persona development, wire-framing, sketching, usability testing, and iteration.

Plus it will impress future clients if you can include recommendations from prior employers, which allows you to display a level of professionalism.

4. Integrate your personality.

As you can see in the examples above, each portfolio is drastically different depending on the artist's unique style. Someone checking out Tobias van Schneider's portfolio will expect something vastly different from someone looking at Ling K's site. Make sure your portfolio — including layout, background, and website title — reflects who you are as a designer.

5. Describe the creative process.

Each designer has a unique process when working with clients — and the sooner a potential client can learn about your process, the better. It's important you include context, so visitors can get a sense of how you handle challenges, and how your designs solve real-world problems.

Plus, including a description of your creative process can help a potential client figure out whether you're capable of handling the scope of their project.

For instance, they might be unsure of your ability to handle graphic designs for mobile until they read how you single-handedly brainstormed and created the designs for another client's mobile site. In this case, context is critical.

6. Show non-client work, or side projects.

Amanda Chong , a former HubSpot Designer, says, "Side projects are a great way to demonstrate your will to take initiative and your ability to balance multiple things at once. They're also a great way to show some of the more experimental, creative ideas that you might not be able to show through your day-to-day work."

If you're just starting out, it's acceptable to include side projects or non-client work so potential customers can get a sense of your ability and style.

Consider incorporating school work, a logo you designed for your aunt's company, or an internal design you created for your current company — ideally, your designs will negate any concerns potential clients have over your lack of career experience.

Graphic Design Portfolio Ideas

  • Help a local business or start-up with its design and brand.
  • Create content for your own personal brand.
  • Redesign an existing website.
  • Create graphic design materials for a made-up company.
  • Design a logo for a brand you love.
  • Create a stock theme for WordPress.
  • Take part in a design challenge.

1. Help a local business or start-up with its design and brand.

One of the easiest ways to begin building your client base is by contacting nonprofits or local businesses in your area. Think about creating mock-ups or sketches in advance, These can help you give businesses a sense of your skill and vision.

Perhaps you think a local restaurant needs a new menu logo, or want to help a gift shop with their online marketing materials.

Projects like these will help you better understand local marketing challenges, and give you time to develop your skills in those areas. You never know what a pro-bono project could lead to next.

2. Create content for your own personal brand.

As you build personal brand content, take the time to make sure your marketing materials are cohesive and sleek.

Design a unique logo for your brand. Next, start building your website, and add that same design across various materials, including your business card and resume. This is also a great time to start a branded social media account, and to create posts that show off your design skills and interests.

Clients are more likely to work with you if they can see the type of high-quality work you're able to create for yourself.

3. Redesign an existing website.

Don’t wait for your dream client to give you a call. Instead, create a complete website redesign for a well-known brand to prove your skills to future clients.

This is a well-known strategy already used by plenty of designers — just take a look at some of the impressive Behance mock-ups for brands like RyanAir .

Additionally, Amanda Chong told me, "If you're creating mockups for established brands to use as part of your portfolio, it's important to pair this with a case study or description of the process that helped you arrive at your proposed design. Talk about what you think wasn't working with the existing design, some of the constraints that you think the designers were working with, and why you made the decisions that you did."

Chong added, "Mockups are great at showing your visual design skills, but don't necessarily demonstrate your ability to work in a real-world context, so you'll want to take the time to explain how you would have approached it in a true business setting."

4. Create graphic design materials for a made-up company.

If your designs are impressive enough, potential clients won't care that you created them for a fictitious company. In fact, you could impress them with your innovation and creativity.

Consider showing your skills by putting together a creative brief for a fake company, complete with wireframes and sketches. Other projects you can create for imaginary companies include:

  • Style guides
  • Social media ads
  • Apparel graphics
  • Wrapping paper
  • Brochures and email newsletters
  • Simple GIFs
  • Animated infographics
  • Trade show booths
  • Branded wall art
  • Pitch decks
  • Book covers

In due time, real companies will take notice.

5. Design a logo for a brand you love.

Stick to the type of content you enjoy designing. If you're particularly adept at making logos, and are often inspired by the logos used by real brands, consider designing an alternative logo for a brand you like.

Then take a look at these inspiring reimagined NFL logos . While these NFL teams probably won’t make a shift, they're great examples of the designers' skills and creativity.

6. Create a stock theme for WordPress.

WordPress, a popular content management system, allows users to develop stock themes for WP. Best of all, if your theme is approved, you can sell it as a premium theme for extra cash.

Begin by studying WordPress's most popular themes, and considering how you can create an impressive alternative. Take a look at WordPress's Theme Review Requirements and this overview of how to create a child theme to learn more.

7. Take part in a design challenge.

To get inspired, practice your skills, or interact with other designers in a community and build your portfolio at the same time, think about participating in a design challenge.

Design challenges can also help you uncover skills you didn't know you had by forcing you to step outside your design comfort zone.

There are various daily, weekly, or monthly challenges that will send you prompts on things to design — for instance, try checking out the Daily UI Design Challenge or The Daily Logo Challenge .

Graphic Design Portfolio Tips

  • Show your versatility.
  • Display your best work.
  • Include case studies.
  • Make it clean and easy to navigate.
  • Prominently display contact information.
  • Display your unique personality.

You’ve done the work, and now you’re pulling together your graphic design portfolio. Try these tips to make your graphic design portfolio stand out.

1. Show your versatility.

A portfolio should show a range of different works, so you want to highlight what you can do. Some clients prefer a more streamlined look, while others are looking for more experimentation.

If you have clients from different industries, include some work from each industry. Then, edit your portfolio based on the kind of client you’re showing your portfolio to.

For example, if you’re meeting with a client in real estate, show work samples from similar industries.

You’ll also want to show anyone who sees your portfolio what you can do. So, if you create design logos, books, and motion graphics, include a little bit of everything in your portfolio.

2. Display your best work.

That said, try to limit your portfolio to your best work. Don’t include a piece in your portfolio just to show that you can do it. The way that you edit your portfolio shows that you understand your strengths and know how to play them up. So, edit your portfolio to include only your best work.

If you’re great with one skill set but not as good with another, edit your portfolio to spotlight that skill. If possible, create portfolio pieces that show many skill sets at the same time.

For example, if you love hand lettering, a poster could emphasize your graphic design skills alongside this unique ability.

3. Include case studies.

Every client is unique, and each will teach you something new. As you continue to work with different clients, build up a collection of these stories.

Try not to throw anything away without documenting it. That page of thumbnails might not be much to look at on its own, but this kind of work in progress is a great way to show prospective clients how you solve problems.

When you present case studies in your portfolio, start with the initial problem your client approached you with. Next, show what the conversation and ideation process looked like over time. As you pull your case study together, don't forget to include the final solution you delivered.

4. Make it clean and easy to navigate.

Design is about more than visual skills, it’s about communicating. So the format of your portfolio, whether it’s printed or online, should be clear and simple to scan.

This point is especially important for graphic designer websites. It can be tempting to build a website that shows off the latest trends or to add Easter eggs that people need to hunt for. There’s a fine line between art and design, and those approaches can be super inspiring.

But building a complex site can also mean that clients in a hurry could miss some of your best work.

For example, a graphic designer once sent his portfolio to a creative director friend of mine. They liked the designer’s drawing but didn’t see much of the graphic design or web work that he talked about in his resume. With a little digging, they found a URL in one of the sketchbook drawings, and that URL led to his website.

This hide-and-seek process was cool, but it wasn’t clear or easy to navigate. This scenario could have been a missed opportunity for that designer.

5. Prominently display contact information.

If someone wants to talk to you, there are many places they can find you online. But you want to make it easy for them, and for you. You don’t want to miss out on an important meeting because a client reached out to you with an email you don’t check anymore.

Most graphic designer websites have a contact page that has your contact information. Once you add this to your site, be sure to check that the links and forms are working.

6. Display your unique personality.

There are thousands of successful graphic designers out there, and you might be competing against some of them for your next client. So, the best tip for a great portfolio is to be yourself.

Whether you have a feel for typography or are talented with color, show off the way that you see the world in your graphic design portfolio. Think about every detail, and then execute to the best of your ability.

Whether it’s the first version of your portfolio or the 200th, make it feel like something only you could create.

The best graphic design portfolios aren’t ever finished.

You’ve learned about the value of a graphic design portfolio and checked out some of the best portfolio examples. You read about how to create your portfolio, then you scanned some smart ideas to build on the graphic design work you’ve already completed.

So what’s next?

Even the best graphic design portfolios need constant updates. Keep in mind that while your first graphic design portfolio may be complete, portfolio building won’t ever really end.

What do you want to tackle for your next project? Social media to promote your new portfolio? A new resume or professional bio to attract clients? The possibilities are endless.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Create an Effective Graphic Design Workflow in 7 Steps

August 29, 2022

Graphic design is both an art and a science. It requires creativity on the part of a graphic designer to produce a beautiful design. At the same time, the graphic designer should follow a systematic approach to the workflow to ensure that the output meets the client’s specifications and is delivered on time.

I’m sure you already have the necessary creative talent, all you need is an excellent graphic design flow to ensure your final output meets and exceeds your clients’ and stakeholders’ expectations—this guide will show you how.

Step 1. Take a look at the brief

Step 2. research the topic, step 3. brainstorm ideas, step 4. create a mood board, step 5. prepare sketches and get client feedback, step 6. incorporate feedback, step 7. present the final product, what is graphic design.

Graphic design is the process of combining text and images to communicate a message. It is essential for businesses that need to stay visible to generate leads and convert these into paying customers. With attractive visuals, businesses can drive traffic to their brand. Businesses can also connect with their prospective customers and customers at a more personal level. That helps ensure sales.

Businesses already recognize the importance of using graphic design. In fact, according to Piktochart , a whopping 81% reported using graphic design in various formats. The most common visual formats used in businesses are social media graphics, presentations, videos, flyers and brochures, and posters.

So, does that mean for as long as businesses use visuals, they’ll be fine? Not really. The visual content should be created the right way first for it to yield the results they’re looking for. The only way to produce visual content correctly is to implement a systematic approach to the graphic design workflow.

Besides, with the right workflow, plus the proper tools, of course, you don’t just ensure the quality of your design. You improve efficiency and productivity, too.

Optimize Your Graphic Design Workflow: 7 Steps to Follow

Let’s be clear. Each company or designer will have its own design workflow. At Lform, for instance, where we specialize in web design workflows , we have a pretty straightforward one.

All projects begin with a “discovery” phase. This consists of an initial (and usually lengthy) kickoff meeting where we learn who the client is and their goals and discuss the best overall approach to the project. We then do our due diligence and begin creating supporting documents.

It could be making a sitemap outlining the structure of a website, review of their competitors, research into SEO, or a whole host of other things.

Once discovery is done, we begin putting concepts together for whatever the project deliverable might be. For example, maybe you’re completing a wireframe for a UI/UX project (in the case of the web) or creating an outline and sourcing content for something like print collateral.

One key aspect differentiating Lform is that we produce “ vision boards .” Vision boards aim to establish a design style, writing tone, and branding “feel.” For example, you can see a small mock-up for our client, Hockmeyer, below:

Vision board Lform

Finally, we go into production once the client has approved all deliverables in question. This may be as simple as providing design files and fonts to a printer (like a business card), producing multiple versions of a deliverable (if, say, we’re creating an ad or flyer), or can be as complicated as going into full development with a website redesign.

Whatever the workflow is, you might notice that the basic steps are the same. 

If you don’t have a workflow just yet, whether you’re a graphic designer creating a visual for a client or an in-house graphics department, here are the steps to a good graphic design workflow you can follow in completing your projects:

To kick off your graphic design process , you should review the project’s creative brief . 

The design brief is a set of instructions about your graphic design project , usually from your client or management—it shapes up your entire graphic design workflow. You need to understand your client’s instructions and ensure everyone involved is on the same page before diving into the design work itself.

And it’s your responsibility as the designer to ensure that the design brief provides all the important information needed for the project.

This is a crucial step to cover, especially when building rapport and showing your professionalism and experience as a designer. Avoid being the designer that calls to confirm timeframes, deadlines, or color palettes long after the project was assigned.

The best way to steer clear of this is to create a brief template that you can use to cross-check. You could borrow ideas on the details to add to your design brief from similar projects you have worked on.

But there are essential details that you should never miss like:

  • Company background information : The niche, customer base, customer personas , and target audience. You also need to know the people to contact in case of any queries. That includes the company partners like the web hosting provider if you’re designing a graphic for a website, for example
  • Type of project : What type of project is it?  It could be a logo design, product design , or poster-making 
  • Brand guidelines : How should the brand be represented? So the branding details like the signature font, color palettes, and logo placement should be specified.
  • Project goals : What does the company hope to achieve with the concept you create? Also,  how will they measure your success?
  • Budget : How much are they willing to spend on the project?
  • Timelines : How long is the project expected to take? 

Here’s an excellent example of a simple workflow template for Nike that you could use to create your creative brief template. 

Creative brief example Nike

When creating your brief template, ClickUp’s Docs is one of the tools you should consider using. It allows you to create and save your design brief template in Docs.

The product allows you to add features like tables and embed bookmarks to format your document. It is a document collaboration tool that allows you and your team to edit the document in real time. You can share this Doc page with clients or other stakeholders via a public or private link.

Finally, you can integrate the document into the tasks in your project management workflows . 

ClickUp Docs

After receiving all the details from the project’s brief, ensure you understand each requirement and get any questions answered in this early stage. 

Remember, your brief will be your point of reference throughout the graphic design process. 

The project creative brief will give you many details about a particular project. It’s essential information, but that’s not all the information you need to deliver a fantastic concept or design. You still need to perform your research to get a better understanding of the company goals and know how to use your skill to help them achieve those goals.

Start by looking at the company’s previous projects in its graphic design library to get a sense of specific useful trends like the type of designs the company’s clients interact with the most on online platforms. You could also request access to social media data and landing page tools activity reports to confirm this.

Also, review the company’s style guides as part of your research. That’s important because you want to ensure your final output aligns with the company’s branding. Apart from the guides, you can check out the other marketing collateral and platforms the company has already produced.

For instance, if you’re creating a social media infographic, check out what the company has posted on their account in previous instances to get general ideas like the project’s fonts, preferred colors, among others, for that type of content.

But if you’re designing a graph for their website, then check out their website first so you can understand the company’s website design practices , font, colors, and other visual elements.

It’s beneficial to conduct general market research to understand the design trends in specific industries. You do not have to follow them, but it is information worth having.

For instance, you might find that there are design elements your target audience interact with more on online platforms, or find which fonts or colors work well in specific industries. Additionally, you must conduct competitor research.

From your findings, you can point to similar elements working for most brands. You also get informed on the existing competitor designs and concepts to avoid creating concepts similar to other brands.

While all this research can be laborious and time-consuming, tools like ClickUp’s Notepad make the note-taking part of it easier.

ClickUp Notepad

The note-taking app allows you to take trackable notes from anywhere. You can use its rich formatting features to organize your data with bullet points, highlight important findings with colors, and adjust headers to show text structure. 

The best part about the feature is you can capture notes from anywhere, either on your phone app or through ClickUp’s Chrome Extension, and turn your notes into an actionable task in ClickUp.

By this point in the process, you should have a strong idea of what your clients or management is looking for and what’s currently working in the industry. 

The next step of your graphic design process concept development—it’s time to find ideas that will reach and exceed your client’s expectations. It’s time to look for inspiration through brainstorming sessions; kick off your brainstorming session after you have received the brief and the research findings are still fresh.

The only thing better than creative ideas from a single designer is more ideas from more designers. So share the brief and research with your graphic design team to collaborate and bring all your bright ideas together. For effective brainstorming sessions, you’ll need a tool to help connect all your ideas and create roadmaps you can easily refer to.

In this case, use  ClickUp’s Mind Maps to plan and organize ideas to create a more visual outline. You can also share your Mind Maps with your team, clients, and others, making it easier for anyone to visualize the design process and ideas or give feedback.

ClickUp Mind Maps

Finally, ensure your design ideas are aligned with the project creative brief and research before moving to the next step of the graphic design process. 

Once you have settled on the best design ideas, the next step in your creative process should be to put them on a mood board — a collection of visual content that creates a rough idea of what your final concept could look like. 

Here’s an example of a typography mood board below because it helps you visualize the wide array of fonts you can use for a specific project and the corresponding image styles that can go with them.

Mood board example

That’s not the only things you can include in your mood board. Since mood boards help you define where your project direction, try adding anything that helps you whether it’s illustrations, descriptive words, or color palettes.

A mood board is the closest you can get to seeing what your end product could look like, even before you work on it. As a result, it makes it easy to see the best ideas to go with and those you need to throw out. Also, it is possible to notice the designs you could combine to create even better designs.

Bonus: Check out 10 Free Mood Board Templates to Organize Your Ideas

Different graphic designers approach mood boarding differently. Some prefer physical mood boards, while others prefer digital mood boards. Either one of the two will work just fine. But, if you are working with a remote design team, the digital mood board is the way to go. 

You can collaborate with other creatives from anywhere throughout the creative process as long as you provide the necessary access. One of the best resources you can use for digital mood boards is ClickUp’s virtual Whiteboards software .

The Whiteboards allow users to visualize concepts, link multiple objects by different people, and upload images, links, and ClickUp tasks. 

ClickUp Whiteboards

Mood boards are easy to refer to if you or anyone on your team are stuck at any point in your design process. Just remember to stick to the brief requirements and whatever info you gained from your research. 

Share the mood board ideas with your clients and other stakeholders to see if you are all on the same page. That’s important because if they have a different vision, you can adjust to it before going too far. Don’t lose time and effort repeating the process later. 

At this stage of your graphic design process, the ideas are on the wall, literally. So it’s time to put them on paper or digital devices like iPads or computers, whatever works best for you.

Create as many rough sketches as possible because you are still exploring your options. At this point, you do not have to refine or capture every little detail. Just give enough details to get an idea of the overall concept you are going for. 

An excellent example of such a sketch is the WWF logo. The sketch is not as detailed as the final design. Instead, it focuses mainly on the concept of having Pandas as the official logo.

Design sketch example

As you sketch, you may think of better ideas for details to add to your design or fonts to use. But remember to use the mood board to inspire and guide you through your sketching process .

Once you are done sketching, look over your concepts and shortlist the best sketches to present to your clients or management. So, for instance, if you have 20 sketches, choose five best.

For these five, you should spend more time highlighting the details. For instance, create a digitalized mock-up with graphic design software to achieve that professional look. The Chase Bank original logo sketch shows the digitized version in a more presentable way.

Digitalized design mock-up example

Client feedback is one of the most nerve-wracking stages of a graphic design workflow, but it’s fine if you follow the creative brief and develop a quality product. At this stage, the client or management will choose a graphic design sketch and give instructions for any revisions. 

You may weigh in and present your top choices and explain why, but remember to be mindful of their opinions and feedback as they are the client or management requesting these designs. The best route is to help them understand your point of view and creative direction. Try asking specific questions to understand their perspective and encourage them to point out what they loved about each design to formulate ideas for revisions.

Once you all have aligned on the desired modifications and creative direction, the next step is to get back on your graphic design software and work on the final designs with the client’s or management’s input in mind.

Design revisions are a workflow stage that even the best graphic designer must go through. In fact, you might have to do a couple of revision rounds before your client or management is satisfied with the final product.

But you could try to make multiple revisions per round to reduce the times you need to revise your final design. Also, an excellent graphic design workflow process allows for internal feedback from colleagues and graphic designers’ communities.

This feedback catches some of the issues with your design before the presentation, which shortens the feedback process. 

Once your clients or management give their design feedback, provide a short time allowance if they change their minds. If there’s more feedback to add, which is very normal, give it a day or two to send a confirmation and proceed with the revisions. That will save you a lot of time redoing your design.

The most important thing while making revisions to the design is avoiding going against the clients’ or management’s requests. Whether you agree with it or not, it is too late to add ideas.

They have already settled on the actual design they want. If you feel adjustments should be made, make recommendations with your client’s goal and preferences in mind.

Most importantly, be mindful of deadlines . Assess the design feedback and request a timeframe extension if needed, so you have enough time to deliver a high-quality end product.

Presenting your final concept for client approval is the last step and deciding moment in your graphic design workflow. By this point of the process, you should have made all the revisions necessary and are ready to present your masterpiece design.

But before presenting it, follow these steps:

  • Verify you have all your deliverables. Check the brief and ensure you have everything you’re supposed to produce.
  • Double-check your final output’s alignment with the brief and client or management feedback: Refer back to your design brief to ensure your design is up to the standards outlined in the brief in the first stage of the graphic design workflow.
  • Ensure the final output is in the correct file format . Check out the brief and your previous communication with the client or other stakeholders. If they want your product in JPG form, make sure it’s in JPG form.
  • Use an editable software version of your final output. This will help the client or management, especially if they want to make adjustments to the final version.

Once you’ve checked the items above on your list, it’s time to present your work.

If you’re working with a client, in particular, it is essential to follow up a short while after sending the finished product to see if your product was up to their standards. That goes a long way to helping build positive working relationships that will put you top of your mind for upcoming graphic design projects. 

Using a Project Management Tool to Manage Your Design Workflow

A solid graphic design process and the right tools are essential to creating the best visuals . Businesses rely on stellar designs to generate leads and communicate messages to their audience.

Whether you’re a graphic designer managing your business or an in-house graphics department, the right tools, such as a design project management app , help you with critical steps in the graphic design workflow, such as document ideation , store research, and understanding the importance of the client-feedback process.

Remember, doing it right and being prepared from the beginning will not only help you save time and shorten the design process. It will also help ensure you deliver visuals that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also deliver the best possible results.

Ian Lowe Lform Design

Ian Loew is a web entrepreneur and inbound marketing expert and the Owner & Head of Business Development of Lform Design . After four years of helping Fortune 500 companies with MGT Design, Ian embarked on his freelance career before establishing Lform Design in 2005. When not at the helm, Ian can be found mountain biking with friends or spending time with his family.

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20 of the best graphic design projects to inspire you to enter this year's A' Design Awards

You don't have long to enter this year's A' Design Awards , the world's leading annual competition that gives you the chance to be internationally recognised and join the very best artists, architects and designers.

Souldrops Detergent by Réka Baranyi

Souldrops Detergent by Réka Baranyi

Every year projects that focus on innovation, technology, design and creativity secure an A' Design Award. Categories range from Good Industrial Design and Good Architecture Design to Good Communication Design and Good Product Design, and there are 100 of them to choose from, so there's something to suit every creative discipline.

For now, we're delving deeper into last year's winners, focusing on the winning graphic design projects from packaging to visual communication. This will hopefully give you some encouragement to put forward your own work for consideration. Scroll to the bottom to find out how to enter. In the meantime, here are Creative Boom's top 20 graphic design winners of the A'Design Awards in 2017.

1. Excalibur Limited Edition packaging by Fengsheng Cai

The inspiration behind the design for Excalibur whisky by Fengsheng Cai came from the legend of the sword of King Arthur as well as his armour.

Featuring the bottle inside the packaging, it rises up slowly with the opening of the outer case. "The package is shaped like a teardrop diamond," explains Fengsheng, "meaning every dip of the whisky is as precious and glorious as the diamond."

Excalibur limited edition packaging by Fengsheng Cai

Excalibur limited edition packaging by Fengsheng Cai

2. Omdesign 2017 promotional packaging by Omdesign

Omdesign's promotional packaging celebrates the 165 national and international awards they have won in the last three years, using sustainable materials in light of Portugal's devastated forest following fires and extreme drought in 2017.

Omdesign 2017 promotional Packaging Promotional packaging by Omdesign

Omdesign 2017 promotional Packaging Promotional packaging by Omdesign

3. Amaro 33 packaging by YG Design

For Amaro 33, a new grappa-based liqueur, YG Design created contemporary packaging for a traditional drink that would appeal more to a younger audience. During the day, the label looks elegant and modern, but at night it brightens up and glows in the dark.

Amaro 33 by YG Design

Amaro 33 by YG Design

4. Souldrops Detergent by Réka Baranyi

Souldrops is a laundry detergent brand whose packaging and identity by Réka Baranyi really stands out from the crowd. You could call its design revolutionary, as there is no other detergent in the world that shares the same look and feel. We especially love the reimagined bottle shapes and the dreamy palette of pastel colours.

Souldrops Detergent by Réka Baranyi

5. Santaren Rum Bottle by Estudio Maba

A narrative design inspired by old engraving graphics, the packaging for Santaren rum suggests that the drink takes a long time to produce. That it's old and therefore full of feeling and history. Estudio Maba's packaging evokes a calm elegance of the distilling process as its amber hues contrast delicately with its lush textured label.

Santaren Rum packaging by Estudio Maba

Santaren Rum packaging by Estudio Maba

6. Flo Alkaline Water by Matter Branding

"With water being an elemental part of existence, the main concept behind the brand is how nature comes to life with the nurturing quality of water, a quality that flows through every aspect via the cycle of life," explains Matter Branding of its packaging design for Flo Alkaline Water.

Matter adds: "We were approached to work on the creation of a premium brand for the only Alkaline water to be released in Egypt, with a brand name and design that are unique and strong enough to become the most aspirational, Egyptian, water brand in the market. With a modern, progressive and artistic persona, we set to work to create an intricate brand that conveys its values of being bold, sophisticated and vibrant."

Flo Alkaline Water by Matter Branding

Flo Alkaline Water by Matter Branding

7. Licha Packaging by Uvisual

Licha, a local tea brand in Taiwan, is inspired by "the affection of gifts", emphasising the brand experience of "sweet quality, fresh mellowness and long lasting aftertaste". Licha has always worked closely with local tea farmers in Taiwan to source teas with a rich and full flavour and an enduring aftertaste. Its products include gift sets, teas and iced teas.

Uvisual's brand expands on the idea of sending gifts by creating western-styled sophistication, integrating the classic and the chic, and highlighting characteristics of different products with bright and colourful packaging, thus promoting the fine teas of Taiwan to the world.

LiCha Packaging by Uvisual

LiCha Packaging by Uvisual

8. Maker Oats brand packaging by PepsiCo Design

PepsiCo's brand packaging for Maker Oats was inspired by Scandinavian simplicity. The design language embraces simple geometry paired with clean iconography and san serif letterforms while also translating traditional premium cues into a modern interpretation.

Simple, natural, and high quality are the design principles the agency used to create the Maker brand. Black and white with an intense hit of colour. Simple iconography to communicate. A few little moments of delight to show you how thoughtful Maker Oats are.

Tropical Lighthouse vinyl record by Robert Bazaev

Tropical Lighthouse vinyl record by Robert Bazaev

9. Tropical Lighthouse vinyl record by Robert Bazaev

This project by Robert Bazaev was inspired by tunes and sounds of the tropical forest, and the main musical inspiration is oeuvre of the musician and artist Mtendere Mandowa famous under his stage name Teebs. His music contains special beats and vibrations combined with a light vibe of retro creating alien landscapes in imagination.

Maker Oats brand packaging by PepsiCo Design and Innovation

Maker Oats brand packaging by PepsiCo Design and Innovation

10. In The Mood for Coffee packaging by Salvita Bingelyte

"I immediately thought of monkeys since they are a common thread among the five coffee regions represented," says designer Salvita Bingelyte of her packaging for In The Mood for Coffee. "I was inspired by their expressions and behaviours, which seem to reflect their moods, much like us humans.

"By using monkey illustrations with expressions that reflect their mood, it creates an impressionable and long-lasting image, playful and a bit ironic, especially with a hat on their head."

In The Mood for Coffee packaging by Salvita Bingelyte

In The Mood for Coffee packaging by Salvita Bingelyte

11. Death by Chocolate by Alain Aebersold

We love this album artwork by Alain Aebersold for Death by Chocolate, a Swiss rock music band. Inspired by the album's name, Crooked for You, Alain wanted to work with a crooked and surreal landscape, as he explains: "I got a lot of inspiration from old science fiction illustrations of others worlds. Worlds with landscapes that aren't seen on earth, something special, and at the same time familiar.

"Another inspiration was all the iconic music artworks. Artworks like The Dark Side of the Moon from Pink Floyd or Unkown Pleasures from Joy Division. Something that sticks in people's heads. Something that becomes one with the music."

Death by Chocolate by Alain Aebersold

Death by Chocolate by Alain Aebersold

12. Calendar 2018 Puzzle by Katsumi Tamura

This clever 3D calendar is something you have to put together yourself. Designed by Katsumi Tamura, it's a puzzle that becomes a useful tool as well as an attractive desk accessory.

"I think it's wonderful if there is a calendar that's like a toy," Katsumi explains. "Users can change the form freely and make various forms: waterwheel, car, and original object. The puzzle is a calendar consisting of various pieces in circle, triangle and square shapes. Play with the colourful, patterned pieces and put them together any way you like."

Calendar 2018 Puzzle by Katsumi Tamura

Calendar 2018 Puzzle by Katsumi Tamura

13. Mangata Patisserie Bakery visual identity by M — N Associates

As Mangata Patisserie launched to become one of the most luxury bakeries in Saigon, serving beautifully designed cakes to a sophisticated audience, M — N Associates was appointed to create an identity to reflect its high-tea concept. "The owner has been wandering, researching and studying for a long time in French and Belgium to find exclusive recipes," says the Saigon consultancy.

"Endorsing the minimal lifestyle of Northern Europe, the name is chosen for its unique meaning, a feeling for falling in love, romantic and delight, like a beautiful novel, a love song, something comes without thoughts but from the bottom of hearts."

Mangata Patisserie Bakery visual identity by M — N Associates

Mangata Patisserie Bakery visual identity by M — N Associates

14. Way of Knowledge book design by Yuta Takahashi

Inspired by the designs of cloisters and leather bound bibles found in churches and the images of "doors we imagine when we visualise the human thought process", Yuta Takahashi combined these concepts for his book design for Way of Knowledge and the Holy Spirit, written by Michael Debus.

As the likely readers are researchers and people well versed in their fields, Yuta also took inspiration from the writing implements and notebooks they might use.

Way of Knowledge book design by Yuta Takahashi

Way of Knowledge book design by Yuta Takahashi

15. Tri-leg calendar by Katsumi Tamura

Another great 3D calendar by Katsumi Tamura, this time focusing on a more minimalist design. The Tri-leg is made up of three-legged units. "By assembling the triangular pieces and stacking them so they are easily visible, you can create a beautiful work of calendar art," explains Katsumi.

"Quality designs have the power to modify space and transform the minds of its users. They offer the comfort of seeing, holding and using. They are imbued with lightness and an element of surprise, enriching space."

Tri-leg calendar by Katsumi Tamura

Tri-leg calendar by Katsumi Tamura

16. Different Everyday by Bao Xiying

Bao Xiying's unusual dot-to-dot calendar is a clever concept: as each day passes, you can join the dots until, at the end of each month, you have drawn a completed building. Each month stems from the buildings in Tongji University in Shanghai, China.

"I deeply admire the modern and unique architectural style on campus and I can often be inspired by the academic atmosphere and interaction created by these buildings," says Bao. "Tongji University is celebrating its 110th anniversary in 2017, which is why this calendar is designed exclusively."

Different Everyday by Bao Xiying

Different Everyday by Bao Xiying

17. Anti-Glitch Foundation by André Arruda at Papanapa

Anti-Glitch Foundation is a post-production company which approached Brazilian studio, Papanapa, to develop its new visual identity. It wanted the new brand to represent the technological, creative and automated process behind its services.

"Our research and exploration process lead us to a rich visual universe inspired by the 8-bit language; the incomprehension and inconsistency left by glitches, and the half-tones present on low-res technology," says designer André Arruda.

"We also incorporated many film structures' concepts such as fragments, montage, exaggeration and conflict, as the fundamental basis for the entire visual system, increasing the narrative within the brand.

Anti-Glitch Foundation by André Arruda at Papanapa

Anti-Glitch Foundation by André Arruda at Papanapa

18. Haymarket brand identity by 25AH Design Studio

For Haymarket, a Scandinavian luxury hotel based in Stockholm, 25AH were inspired by the building's strong history and by the 1920’s art deco movement. "Our objective was to create an identity that felt natural at the same time as it was unexpected. We, therefore, created the concept 'Greta Garbo meets Lady Gaga' which we used as our strategic tool when creating the brand identity."

Haymarket brand identity by 25AH Design Studio

Haymarket brand identity by 25AH Design Studio

19. SAHB Poster by Naoyuki Fukumoto

Naoyuki Fukumoto created this wonderful poster design for Space, Art & Human Body, an exhibition at the Tokyo University of the Arts in the Faculty of Fine Arts.

"In order to appeal directly to the concept of this exhibition, I superimposed a double image of the astronaut and Vitruvius. Astronauts are symbols of 'Universe', Vitruvius is the symbol of 'Art' and 'Human Body'," Naoyuki explains.

SAHB Poster by Naoyuki Fukumoto

SAHB Poster by Naoyuki Fukumoto

20. Watson Vegan Truck by Donovan Bernini

Donovan Bernini's visual identity for Watson Vegan Truck is inspired by fast food trends but also from ancient craft store signs which used capital lettering fonts. Because the brand's unique selling point was based on organic food and a premium offering, the identity used a dominant pastel green colour and a refined graphic design.

Watson Vegan Truck by Donovan Bernini

Watson Vegan Truck by Donovan Bernini

If you want to submit your work and enter the 2018 A' Design Awards , you have to register online and follow the simple instructions. Entries will be judged by an international panel of over 200 leading designers, prominent academics and influential members of the press.

If you win the coveted prize, you'll get special treatment with lots of publicity, an award trophy and certificate, a gala night of celebrations at Lake Como in Italy (with the chance to network with the best in the industry) and inclusion in an exhibition for all the winners. You'll even be included in a special edition, hardback yearbook of published works.

Of course, we don't need to remind you that awards are an excellent way to showcase your skills and expertise. They add that extra layer of credibility, proving to potential clients that you're worthy of their attention. Winning an A' Design Award also means you can add its logo to your website and marketing materials for life.

Deadline is 30 September 2018 and winners will be announced on 15 April 2019 (watch this space, as we'll be sharing them on Creative Boom too). To find out more about the A' Design Awards, visit whatisadesignaward.com .

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16 of the best online shops to buy original art prints for your home

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Creative Boom Podcast Episode #108 - The art and science behind successful rebranding, with Lee Rolston

The art and science behind successful rebranding, with Lee Rolston

Creative Boom Podcast Episode #107 - The magic of filmmaking and surviving Hollywood, with Miles Watts

The magic of filmmaking and surviving Hollywood, with Miles Watts

Creative Boom Podcast Episode #106 - The Creative Boom Podcast Christmas Special 2023

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Creative Boom Podcast Episode #105 - Why it's ok to have no idea what you're doing, with Graeme McGowan

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Further reading.

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Creative Boom embraces a new era: Marking 15 years with a vibrant redesign

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Volume Nº3: Minimalissimo's curated magazine that explores a life of simplicity through minimalist design

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London Calling: Lettering installation by Craig Black pays homage to the capital

Image created by Nicolle Rodriguez, using the Looking Glass action set and an Adobe Stock photo

Free, limited-edition Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator actions for creatives

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

10 superb online resources to help upskill your creativity

All photography courtesy of Color Factory

Color Factory launches in New York City, bringing a rainbow of Instagrammable artworks

Portrait of Yayoi Kusama © Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama: major exhibition of new work to include her iconic My Eternal Soul series

All images courtesy of Monotype and G . F Smith

Monotype celebrates seven years of its Sony SST typeface at G . F Smith's Show Space

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The 8-step graphic design process (from briefing to user testing)

January 30, 2024

8 ways to optimize the graphic design process

The digital world we live in today made graphics part of our everyday language. That resulted in 55% of companies using creative graphic design to communicate with customers, 24% of them to drive engagement on social media, and 19% internally. 

Yet, so many companies still struggle to create an efficient graphic design process for their communications.

Here is the eight–steps graphic design process:

  • Design brief – setting out the goals and strategy of your design 
  • Research phase– learning about the market or users you’re designing for
  • Concepts – brainstorming ideas for your designs
  • Concept development – polishing and refining your ideas
  • Design review – getting feedback on your design ideas
  • Iterate – improving your designs and collecting more feedback
  • Approve – getting sign-off from your stakeholders
  • User testing – collecting feedback from real users or customers

Let’s go through each step of the creative design process, and look at how you can optimize them.

Less review rounds, better designs

Get quick and clear feedback right on top of your designs with Filestage.

1. Design brief – setting out the goals and strategy of your design project

The first step of your design workflow is the design brief. This will be the cornerstone of your project, setting your digital design process up for success.

Here, you pre-define goals and strategies for executing your design project. It requires a lot of details and straightforward communication to do it right.

This document should be no longer than two pages and communicate the vision and key criteria for the project.

How to optimize the creative brief for your graphic design process

A bad brief can cost you time, money, and even your reputation. Yet, so many people neglect the importance of the brief and turn it into a phone call, a short meeting, or worse, a message on Slack or Microsoft Teams.

To optimize your creative brief, consider using design collaboration tools like Google Suite (Docs, Sheets, or Forms, depending on the brief type you’re creating). This way, you’ll be able to work together with your client or a teammate on essential aspects of the design.

2. Research phase – learning about the market or users you’re designing for

Like with everything else in the world, good research is half the work. Learning about the market, competitors, and the people consuming your design will make your job much easier.

Plus, good graphic design research can guide you in some new directions and yield great inspiration that will benefit you later in your design workflow.

How to optimize your design research process

Besides simply looking up your competitors, your design research process could use more extensive analysis. 

Here’s how you can up your research design game:

  • Come up with some key criteria to measure your competitors
  • Chat to your competitors’ customers to see what they like and dislike
  • Read reviews to see what people think of the competition
  • See how your competitors’ look and feel on social media

The list goes on! But with these few steps, you’ll already have a great foundation to start designing.

3. Concepts – brainstorming ideas for your designs

Pen and paper or an online whiteboard – it’s time to kickstart the create part of your design workflow. This is where you can dream up as many ideas as possible. Brainstorming includes inspiration, colors, emotions, mood, images, and everything else that might contribute to your design.

Invite your colleagues or clients to throw their ideas in the mix and create some truly amazing designs.

How to optimize your creative process for graphic design

Organizing a live brainstorming session might take up a lot of time and complicate things when people aren’t in the same office or don’t have similar schedules. 

Here are a few graphic design project management software you can use to organize asynchronous yet effective brainstorming sessions:

  • Google Docs – its collaborative nature allows everyone to pitch in ideas whenever they want to. Add comments, attach images, ideas, and links, or add to someone else’s idea, and round up the conversation. 
  • Canva – this highly visual tool allows you to create a moodboard and have your collaborators comment on it.
  • Miro – this online collaborative whiteboard platform is designed to help teams work together on projects from anywhere. You can create brainstorming boards and allow everyone to  add their ideas. 

4. Concept development – polishing and refining your ideas

Once the brainstorming is done, and everyone is set on the general idea for the design, it’s time to polish all the details. This is the stage where you can really show off your skills to create something that’s both beautiful and functional.

How to optimize the design development process

Here’s some inspiration to help you optimize your design development process:

  • Become a mad professor – try a wide range of colors, layouts, and styles until you land on something you’re happy with.
  • Keep your mockups – it’s tempting to delete things you don’t like as you go, but you never know what could come in handy later.
  • Give it the overnight test – sleep on your ideas so you can look at them tomorrow with fresh eyes.
  • Ask people for feedback – more on that in the next step!

5. Design review – getting feedback on your design ideas

A design review is a process of getting structured and meaningful feedback on a piece of design.

During the design review stages , designers present their ideas to all their stakeholders and get feedback on how they can be improved. By online proofing your graphic designs , you’ll get different perspectives from various colleagues, helping you to create the best design possible. 

How to optimize the design review process

One of the best ways to optimize your creative design review process is by implementing a design approval software for collecting and organizing everyone’s feedback. It’ll help you cut time spent chasing everyone for feedback and make it easier to improve your designs.

Here are a few ways Filestage makes it easy to review graphic designs:

  • Annotations – draw on the content to add clarity to your comments
  • Attachments – share references or important files like fonts and logos
  • Highlights – select specific words and sentences that need editing
  • Strikeouts – select which parts of a document you want to be deleted

Collect feedback from all your reviewers on documents

6. Iterate – improving your designs and collecting more feedback

Every piece of design requires multiple review stages from different stakeholders until it’s ready for publishing. 

But iterations can be slow and draining while waiting for everyone to review your design. In the meantime, you and your reviewers can get lost in the sea of design versions, making the whole process even more confusing. 

For everything to run smoothly without frustration, it’s essential to make giving and receiving feedback as easy as possible.

How to optimize the design iteration process

The good news is that design review tools have come a long way in improving the iteration process!

Gone are the days of pulling up two windows and a bunch of old emails to collect and implement all client feedback.

Here are three ways Filestage makes design iteration easier:

  • Compare two versions of your design side by side, including all the comments
  • Make sure everyone knows which version is the latest
  • Hop back to previous versions and feedback in seconds

By giving your reviewers a more convenient way to review your designs, you’ll make the iteration stage of your digital design process more fun and effective for everyone. Check out our full guide on design version control to learn more.

Compare versions_ poster

7. Approve – getting sign-off from your stakeholders

At the end of the day, all your stakeholders need to be on the same page about your final design before it can see the light of day. But sometimes it’s impossible to have your design approved in one or two steps. 

Keeping track of who’s approved what and not losing track of which designs you still need to review will help you create a smooth approval process.

How to optimize the design approval process

In Filestage, you can organize your design review process by designing separate review steps for each type of reviewer. On top of that, you can choose whether you want your reviewers to submit review decisions or just add their comments. 

Your reviewers then have a choice between two buttons every time they give feedback:

✓ Approve 

↻ Request changes

This way, you can easily see which documents need more work and which ones can move on to the next review step. Plus, if something gets published that shouldn’t have, you can go through your document’s review history to see where it all went wrong.  

all content approved

8. User testing – collecting feedback from real users or customers

User testing is a helpful tactic to get your design approved by the group that matters the most – your users and customers. 

Here are some key benefits of user testing:

  • Discovering important pain points
  • Higher chances of creating a successful design
  • Getting approval for your solution to a problem
  • Building relationships for a continuous stream of feedback

How to optimize the user testing process

Even though you might struggle to get many customers to leave feedback on your design, the effort will be worth it. 

There are a couple of things you can do if you want to maximize the amount of feedback:

  • For smaller companies with loyal customers, simply reaching out to them will be the winning method. In such an environment, most customers will be happy to help. You can consider social media if you need to spread the word to a broader audience.
  • Running focus groups and inviting people to give feedback on new designs is a highly successful method for bigger companies. 

If you’re still having trouble attracting customers to leave feedback on your designs, you can always introduce some incentives. The reality is that people are more likely to help if a reward is waiting for them at the finish line. 

The typical design process and methods to help you create your best work

When you think about design, your mind can go from graphic design all the way to fashion design in moments. But these two actually have way more in common than it seems when it comes to the design process and methods.

A typical design process consists of three main stages:

Sketching ideas with pen and paper

Developing a rough draft or wireframes

  • Developing the final design

Just like in the old days, every design process still starts with the designer sketching their initial concept with pen and paper (or, these days, with a stylus and tablet). 

In this stage, the graphic designer has all the freedom in the world to express their wildest imagination. However, the idea is to put those ideas on the paper and make it presentable so everyone can agree on the initial plan for the design.

Once everyone working on the project has a good idea of what the design is going to look like, it’s time to put your sketches in digital and create rough drafts and wireframes. Here different types of designers use different tools to make their lives easier. 

Developing the rough draft may be the hardest and most rewarding part of the design work because here you’re implementing your ideas into a more realistic environment. 

In other words, you’re following the rules and limitations that come with the tools you’re using or the brand guidelines that you’re designing for. 

Developing your final version of design

Typically, after sketching a couple of rounds of feedback and going back to the drawing board, graphic designers reach the stage of developing the final version of their design. 

It’s important that in this part of the process you’ve collected enough feedback from all your stakeholders so that you’re able to produce your best work. By this point, you should know all the requirements from different stakeholders and find ways to implement them into your work. 

How graphic design flow can make or break your designs

In graphic design you’re often combining several elements and information in a single image with a distinct goal in mind. And it’s important to know how the people looking at your design are going to consume all the information from it. 

That’s where having a good design flow will help and erase any confusion.

Let’s say you’re creating an image for the next webinar that your company is hosting. You want to create a design that will grab visitors’ attention, get them to understand what the webinar is about, and then look for information like the date and time and where to register. 

By respecting the visual hierarchy of information in your design, you’ll effortlessly guide people through your content and make sure you’re communicating everything properly.

How to stay focused during the graphic design process

As much fun as designing is, it’s also exhausting to handle multiple projects at once or work on the same piece for months at a time. And sometimes, your focus and sources of inspiration dry out. 

Here are three things experienced graphic designers do to stay focused on designing:

  • Make a list of all your daily tasks
  • Dedicate focus time and time for breaks
  • Get in the zone with a Focus on Design playlist

Final thoughts

Once you establish an excellent graphic design process from start to finish, you’ll soon start to pick the fruits of your labor. So, make sure to tick all the boxes, cover all eight ways to optimize your design process, and enjoy creating outstanding designs! If you’d like to start collecting feedback on your graphic design with Filestage, start a free trial here →

Nika Prpic

Design and creative

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In the world of graphic design, success often hinges on the quality of the design brief itself. Whether you’re working with an in-house design team or external designers, a well-crafted design brief is the foundation of a successful project, aiding the design process.

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How to Write a Graphic Design Brief: 5 Must-Have Elements

A graphic design brief is a document that provides detailed instructions and requirements for a graphic design project. It serves as an agreement between the client and the designer, setting clear expectations about project scope, timeline, budget, and success metrics before work begins.

A design brief is a blueprint that guides the graphic designer's creative process from start to finish. Just as an architect can't build a house without first consulting the client's plans and specifications, a graphic designer can't effectively develop a logo, brochure, website, or other design materials without first understanding the client's goals, target audiences, brand style, technical needs, and further vital details—all of which should be captured in the brief.

Table of Contents

Why Graphic Design Briefs Matter

You're probably wondering—why go to the trouble of creating a formal design brief ? Can't I verbally tell my designer what I need or provide a loose description? Here's why taking the time to develop a thoughtful design brief pays off:

  • Saves time and money. With clear instructions upfront, designers don't waste effort going down the wrong creative paths or using incorrect brand elements that then require rework.
  • Manages expectations. The brief ensures all stakeholders are “on the same page” about what will be delivered and when.
  • Drives better results. Designers can tailor their work directly to your strategic business objectives rather than guessing your needs.
  • Reduces miscommunications. Unlike verbal conversations, the documented brief minimises confusion about requirements.
  • Provides helpful reference. Designers can refer to the brief frequently to ensure they remain on track to serve your goals.

In other words, the upfront investment to create an intense design brief gives clients and designers the clarity, focus, and alignment needed for efficient and successful projects.

Elements of an Effective Graphic Design Brief

Tips For Writing A Web Design Brief

Design briefs range from single-page to multi-page documents. But every well-constructed brief contains these key elements:

Project Background

  • Goal – What does your business aim to achieve with this design project ? Be specific. Example goals: Increase website conversions by 20%. Make our brand identity cohesive across all materials. Educate consumers about our new eco-friendly packaging .
  • Objectives – Break down the overall goal into smaller measurable objectives. Example objective: Drive 10% more traffic to our product pages.
  • Business/brand overview – Provide brief context about your company, products/services, brand personality and position in the market. Help the designer understand your “why.”

Audience Profile

  • Primary/secondary target audiences – Detail demographic and psychographic qualities of who precisely you want to reach. Prioritise primary targets.
  • Audience needs/values – What does your audience care about the most? What would compel them to engage with your brand?
  • Audience media habits – Where and how does your audience consume information and make decisions? Online? In stores? Word-of-mouth?

Project Details

  • Project scope – High-level description of the end design deliverable(s). Example: A tri-fold brochure to distribute at trade shows.
  • Timeline – Key project milestones and target completion date.
  • Budget – Total available budget and payment schedule, if applicable.
  • Success metrics – How will you evaluate if goals are met? KPIs? Conversions? Sales? Surveys?
  • Mandatories – Is anything required or prohibited? Fonts , colours, elements?

Creative Direction

  • Tone – Personality attributes your brand should express. Fun? Reliable? Helpful? Providing adjectives helps designers make appropriate choices.
  • Style preferences – Visual aesthetics, typography, colour palette guidance. Provide examples if possible.
  • Sample layouts – Sample sketches indicate the preferred format for print projects like brochures .
  • Mandatory assets – Logos, brand guidelines , and image libraries are available.
  • Mandatory text – Boilerplate statements are legally required.
  • Open questions – Are there any unclear or TBD decisions requiring designer input?
  • Internal team – Key staffers who will review/approve deliverables. Info helps manage the process.
  • Decision process – Steps for providing feedback and granting approvals at milestones. It helps set clear expectations.
  • Payment process – When and how will the designer be paid upon completion?

In Summary…

…a thoughtful graphic design brief sets clear client expectations, gives designers critical context and constraints to spark creativity, aligns stakeholders, and ultimately results in better work that effectively serves your brand and business goals. Skimping on the brief jeopardises the whole undertaking, while an investment here pays dividends throughout your project and partnership.

Now, let’s explore how to craft an effective design brief for standard projects:

How to Write a Logo Design Brief

Logo Design Brief Example

A company logo is the cornerstone of your brand identity, symbolising your business at a glance. Your logo appears ubiquitously across websites, business cards, signage , packaging, uniforms, advertisements, swag, and more.

Given a logo’s tremendous visibility and influence, providing detailed direction to your designer through a thoughtful creative brief is essential. Follow these best practices when writing your logo design brief:

Set Clear Objectives

Articulate what precisely you want your new logo to accomplish. Common goals include:

  • Establish our brand identity
  • Communicate our core values
  • Convey a particular personality trait like “innovative” or “approachable.”
  • Visually differentiate from competitors
  • Expand into new markets
  • Commemorate a milestone
  • Aid recognition and recall

The more details you provide about strategic intent, the better designers can tailor shapes, symbols, typography, colour palettes and other elements to meet your needs.

Describe Your Brand Identity

Help designers deeply understand your brand identity so the logo seems an obvious fit:

  • Products/services – What does your business offer? Share capabilities, processes and expertise.
  • Brand attributes – What qualities or personality traits represent your brand? Detail adjectives.
  • Position – How do you differentiate vs. competitors? What makes you unique?
  • Mission and vision – What societal needs do you meet? What future do you envision?
  • Values – What core principles or beliefs guide your business?
  • Voice and tone – If your brand were a person, how would it speak? Provide examples.
  • History – Share interesting context about your origin story and milestones.

Profile Your Audience

The more designers grasp your target consumers, the better logos they can create to resonate:

  • Audience demographics – Age, income, geography, gender, education level, occupation, family status
  • Psychographics – Attitudes, values, interests, hobbies, desires, preferences
  • Nearest competitors – Detail brands your audience also engages to inform design choices

Share Brand Style Preferences

Ideally, compile 3-5 logo examples you like and explain why, detailing:

  • Colour palette – Which hues appeal? Should the logo use brand colours or a new palette?
  • Symbolism – Does abstract imagery or representative symbols better suit you?
  • Typography – What fonts or font styles synchronise well with your brand personality?
  • Style adjectives – Sophisticated? Minimalist? Vintage? Masculine? Feminine? Fun? Modern? Rustic?

Also, indicate styles and visuals to avoid.

Specify Technical Needs

Clarify any functional requirements, so your logo excels across applications:

  • File formats – Do you need files like .JPG, .PNG, .EPS, .SVG? At what resolutions?
  • Applications – Where will the logo appear? Web, print, signage, merchandise, video, etc?
  • Size/scaling – Does the logo need to scale up for building signage and down to the mobile icon?
  • Future uses – Are there any expected new market or product expansions to consider?

Following this formula for your logo design brief sets up informed designers for the best chance at striking visual gold!

How to Write a Website Design Brief

Web Design Brief Example

You only get one chance to make a first impression online. An amateurish or outdated website handicaps conversion hurts credibility, and damages brand perception .

Invest in a professional site makeover guided by a robust creative brief capturing these details:

Start with Strategy

Articulate the business objectives a website redesign aims to serve:

  • Attract new customers and leads?
  • Drive more ecommerce purchases?
  • Improve client retention/loyalty?
  • Enhance brand awareness ?
  • Communicate recent growth or capabilities.
  • Spark engagement on new products or content?

Establishing strategy spotlights which elements designers should emphasise and metrics to gauge success.

Introduce Your Digital Real Estate

Orient designers on specifics of your current web presence:

  • Site architecture – How is existing information structured? What works well/poorly?
  • Hosting details – Where is a site hosted? CMS used? Restrictions?
  • Analytics data – Share traffic volumes, popular pages, conversions, engagement levels
  • SEO elements – Detail optimisation practices and search visibility
  • Pain points – What problems need solving? Slow load times? Bad mobile experience? Declining subscribers? High bounce rates?

Providing this landscape overview identifies the best upgrade opportunities.

Profile Your Audience Personas

Detail target visitor segments with these descriptors to personalise design choices:

  • Basic demographics – Gender, age brackets, income ranges, geography, interests
  • Motivations – Why does each segment visit your site? What value do they expect?
  • Common objections – What barriers or concerns stop each group from converting?
  • Stage – Are groups new visitors or repeat customers? Are you informed or just exploring?
  • Goals – What actions should each complete on-site? Purchase? Sign up? Request quote?

Outline 2-3 primary visitor personas at minimum. The more authentic your targets feel to designers, the better the experience gets tailored to convert them.

Set Functional Requirements

Clarify must-have technical elements, capabilities and components expected in the new website:

  • Compatibility – Browser, mobile, accessibility standards needed
  • Capability – Custom forms? File uploads? Videos? Animations? What complexity?
  • SEO – What usage levels are needed for metadata, alt text, headings, site speed, etc.?
  • CMS – Preferred platform if using one? Existing licenses or budget constraints?
  • Architecture – Information hierarchy and navigation schemas
  • Interactivity – Live chat? Activity feed? User accounts/logins?
  • Integrations – With CRM, marketing automation , payment systems, etc

Any absolute musts or prohibitions? Clarifying the technical scope upfront prevents cost overruns or missing essential functions down the road.

Share Style Preferences

Just like crafting a brand style guide , share aesthetics and experience inspiration to jumpstart designers:

  • Brand attitude – What feeling do you want site visitors to have? Welcomed? Impressed? Intrigued?
  • Adjectives – Buzzwords that characterise your brand identity and desired visitor emotions
  • Example sites – Provide links to 1-3 sites exemplifying visual style, layout or functionality you like
  • Brand assets – Supply logos, font guidelines, graphical elements, iconography, photography and required copy
  • Mockups – For a home page or essential templates to illustrate layout preferences

Pictures speak louder than words, so images and prototypes convey aesthetic vision fastest.

Outline Deliverables & Timelines

Finally, detail the required phases and final website components so all stay aligned on scope:

  • Content strategy – Audit and recommendations for copy, photography, videos, graphics
  • Sitemaps and wireframes – Blueprint of site architecture and page content/layouts
  • Creative concepts – Homepage and secondary template visual designs
  • Site build – Programming fully functioning, tested site compliant to standards stipulated
  • Launch plan – Migration, testing, redirects, analytics implementation, marketing rollout

Build project milestones into your schedule to ensure satisfactory progress and stay on time and budget.

By instructing website design empowered with such detailed criteria and considerations upfront, you’ll land an engaging digital presence positioned to thrive across functions from branding to conversions.

How to Write a Brand Style Guide Brief

Brand Style Guide Netflix

Your brand identity extends beyond visuals to encompass every touchpoint, conveying your company’s essence consistently and compellingly to audiences. Brand style guides centrally codify all brand identity and design system elements so any content, communications or assets faithfully represent core values and personality.

Here’s what to cover in a creative brief when hiring a branding agency or graphic designer to produce your style guide:

Establish Purpose

Define why you're investing in formally documenting brand identity now. Is it to:

  • Unify disparate aesthetics – Pull together conflicting brand applications like retail storefronts, web properties, and sales collateral under one harmonised system.
  • Fuel growth – Facilitate logo extensions, sub-brands and cohesive use across new global regions, products and campaigns at scale.
  • Enable partners – Supply external agencies, channel sellers, integrators and other third-party visuals to work on-brand.
  • Guide internal usage – Equip all employees to stay on-message with brand-compliant templates for decks, emails, signage, swag and more.

Whatever the case, spotlight your “why”, so stylistic choices directly support desired outcomes.

Clarify Audience

Whose design decisions and content creation will the style guide influence?

  • Internal team members – Marketing, Sales, Product Managers, Executives, Support Agents, Graphic Designers…
  • External partners – Ad/PR Agencies, Freelancers, Resellers, Developers, VARs, Distributors…

Understanding all intended users' shapes guides content for maximum adoption and impact.

Set Specifics

Detail key elements you require in your finished style guide:

  • Logo – Logo files – colour/black versions, file formats (.EPS, PNG, etc.), approval to alter for contexts
  • Colours – Primary/secondary palettes, codes (#FFF, RGB), appropriate usage guidance
  • Typography – Font alternatives/hierarchy for headlines vs. body text vs. buttons, letter spacing , line height
  • Voice and tone – Guidelines and examples bringing brand personality into content
  • Photography – Composition, editing, filter, and subject matter guidance to harmonise visual media
  • Illustration style – Characteristic vector, animation, or infographic style
  • Iconography – Symbolic visual motifs that represent your brand
  • Graphical elements – Signature shapes, background textures, decorative dividers, etc.
  • Editorial – Boilerplate language about the company, products, and culture for consistent messaging
  • Imagery – Photo library of people, environments, and products depicting idealised brand

Clarify any must-have or prohibited items given strategic objectives, and provide examples, if possible, for each category.

Expectations

Close your creative brief by detailing:

  • Deliverable(s) – Will the style guide be a slide deck, online web pages, printable document, or other format?
  • Guidelines guide – Do you expect the designer to educate internal teams on using the guide effectively via training materials, videos or documentation?
  • Deployment plan – Where and how will the guide be distributed internally and externally for adoption?
  • Updates – Over what period does pricing/contract cover making revisions as the brand evolves?

Getting clear on expectations up front sets the stage for smooth guide development and company alignment, benefiting your brand immediately and for years to come.

We’ve just explored design briefs, why they matter, key sections to include, and specifics to cover for everyday projects like logos, websites, and brand style guides to optimise creative outcomes.

The core takeaway? Thoughtful design briefs set clients and creative partners up for success by replacing guesswork with clarity on the audience, strategy, mandatories, technical needs and success metrics.

You should invest substantial time upfront in research, stakeholder discussions, audits of existing properties, analytics analysis, and competitive benchmarking to produce an insightful, creative brief. But consider the significant return on investment down the road by:

  • Guiding designers efficiently so no effort gets wasted exploring worthless directions
  • Building consensus internally around goals to prevent scattered, ineffective efforts
  • Delivering creative work precisely tailored to business objectives and audience needs

In closing, resist the temptation to short-change the brief as a meaningless formality. Treat your brief as the blueprint for design excellence and a portal to deeply engage your most strategic partner in expressing your brand's full potential.

Graphic Design Brief FAQs

Do you still have questions about maximising design briefs? Review these frequently asked topics:

What exactly goes into a design brief?

At a minimum, an effective graphic design brief clearly defines the target audience, objectives, specifications, timelines, budget and success metrics. Additional context about the background, priorities, aesthetic preferences and calls to action also prove helpful.

Why does a design brief matter if we provide examples of what we like?

While visual style examples can be helpful, they don't articulate the strategic rationale behind design choices. A brief fills this critical gap by defining target audience needs, emotions to elicit, brand alignment requirements and other imperatives that drive impactful design.

Who should be involved in creating the design brief?

Ideally, bring together company stakeholders who oversee strategy, marketing, product and budget. Designers can also provide input from their unique creative lens during brief creation.

When's the best time to put together a design brief?

The earliest phase of client-designer discussions presents the ideal window to align around shared objectives within a formal design brief. However, stepping back and creating alignment through brief development is never too late.

Can we use the same design brief for different projects?

While some background context and brand strategy can be reused, each project's unique objectives, audience, aesthetics, timelines and success metrics warrant tailoring specific details within the brief. Don't rely solely on outdated templates.

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Stuart Crawford

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3 Graphic Design Principles for Instructional Design Success

Because a large part of elearning involves the learner viewing the screen, it’s critical that the visual elements you choose enhance the learning experience.

Today, I’ll touch on three graphic design principles for instructional designers.  They will help you build visuals that support your design and help you build more effective courses.

Use layouts to convey meaning and relationships.

When you place text and graphics on a screen, you can’t assume that the learner automatically understands what it means.  Your job is to create relationships and guide the learner’s understanding.

Look at the image below.  Without explanation, you’re left to wonder what the relationship is between the characters.

Now, look at the next image.  Same characters, only they’re organized better.  Because of proximity and spacing, you’re able to imply relationships without even presenting other information.  This helps guide the learners with less explanation.

However, the reverse can also be true.  Through poor design, you can imply relationships between information on the screen that doesn’t exist.

Use patterns and repetition to organize your content.

Since you’re introducing new ideas, you can assist the learning process by using repetitive elements and patterns.  They help organize the content and bring a sense of unity to the course.

For example, there’s a lot of information in the image below.  However, it’s not easy to understand it because it’s all chunked together.  I get tired just looking at all of that text and I have no inclination to explore more.  In addition, because of the way it’s presented, I don’t know what the information is and what it means to me.

Give the learner visual cues so that they’re able to follow the course content and understand how it all fits together.  This is especially true for online courses because people have developed web surfing habits, where they quickly scan the screen for information.

If you look at the image below, you’ll notice that by using some repetitive elements the information is easier to process.  In this example, bold headline means title and underlined text represents sections.  As you can see, the learner can quickly scan the information and determine where it fits into the scheme of things.  By repeating something like the underlined text, the learner intuitively knows that those things are related.

You’re not limited to text.  You can also do the same thing with the graphic elements.  Whatever you design should help the learner sort the information and create a sense of comfort with knowing how the content on the screen is related to each other and the overall objective of the course.

Use just the right images.  No more.

Whether you use text or graphics, all of it needs to support the objectives of the course.  If it’s on the screen, then it should contribute and not detract from your course.  This includes the visual style, fonts, colors, and symbols.  They all contribute to the communication process.  Make sure that they’re contributing to your message in the right way.

Suppose you’re watching an elearning course on public parks and you see the image below on the screen.  What does that image tell you?  If you’re like me, you’re expecting something about the environment or litter in the park.

Without communicating anything else, the image is already starting to tell you something.  That’s how you want to use images, symbols, or any other graphics on your screen.  You want them to contribute to the course.

On the flip side, there’s a tendency to put decorative images on the screen to fill in blank spots.  Or sometimes, the client wants to “jazz things up a bit.”  Avoid that.  Don’t litter the screen with useless elements.  Some studies show that decorative graphics can negatively impact how learners process the information.  So you run the risk that you are actually impeding the learning process.  Not only that, but like the image above, if the image communicates information and it is not related to the course content, you end up confusing the learner.

You don’t need to be a Photoshop pro or a professional graphic designer.  However, to craft an effective elearning course it’s important to understand the principles of graphic design.  I touched on a few in this post, but there’s a lot more to learn.

If you’re looking for a good book to get started, I highly recommend The Non-Designer’s Design Book.  The book covers the basics of visual design.  It has great examples and is easy to get through.

An important part of instructional design is the use and layout of your visual elements. How you design your screen tells your learners where to look and what’s most important.  And you want the information on the screen to support the learning objectives of the course.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Feel free to share them by clicking on the comments link.

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