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Resources for the Beginner: Graphic Design

What is “Resources for the Beginner”?

Resources for the Beginner is the first of many series I plan to create on AwfulMedia. The series will contain posts on helpful resources depending on the field you are interested in. I will help guide you in the proper direction with links to tutorials, classes, software, and so on.

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design obviously refers to the designing of graphics. In this context, what are the graphics? When I think of a graphic designer, I think of a designer that creates graphical web elements, prepares graphics for print, or perhaps designs specific game elements. Obviously I could fill this post with a graphical designer’s duties, though you get the point.

Typically a designer would choose a specific field and work at progressing their skills in that field. A designer that focuses on the branding portion would practice with portraying a specific message using graphical elements.

What does this mean, though? Well, they would take the companies current image and message and translate that into a logo or box art or whatever the job calls for. This may be a play on the companies name, such as this.

In that example the designer took the companies name and straightforwardly drew it out. The logo consists of the infinity symbol ( ∞ ) and what I am assuming is a mask (probably referring to a hero or masked criminal). Beyond all software, you will require imagination and creativity.

Where do I start?

The best place to start with graphic design is your tool belt. You will require a hefty piece of software, if not 4 or 5 applications. Already sounds scary, right? Good for you though, companies offer free software to help get your feet off the ground.

Many jobs and personal applications will require the use of vector based images. Vector graphics are perfect for most applications due to their scalability and crispness. A vector image works by not drawing pixels to display geometry, but by displaying graphics through points, lines, and polygons.

What’s the difference? A vector graphic is created by mathematical expressions meaning your image is not set in stone. You can simply change a value and your software recalculates the equation to display the updated image. You didn’t move a single pixel.

Corel offers vector software, as well as Adobe. Although superior, you should not spend $600 until you feel more comfortable in the field. A free alternative to the above software would be Inkscape.


http://www.inkscape.org | FeaturesScreenshots | Showcase

Inkscape is an open source drawing tool that uses the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) scalable vector graphics format (SVG). Some supported SVG features include basic shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, and grouping. In addition, Inkscape supports Creative Commons’ metadata, node-editing, layers, complex path operations, text-on-path, text-in-shape, and SVG XML editing. It also imports several formats like EPS, PostScript, JPEG, PNG, BMP, and TIFF and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats. (source)

Inkscape Tutorials

You have the software, but how do you get started?

Not every job can be done using vector imaging software and that is where raster images come into play. The market for these applications is dominated by both Adobe and Corel. Both companies offer a very powerful lineup of graphic editing software (Corel’s Suite, Adobe’s Suite). While those are the expected sets of software, they do not come cheap. Once again, luckily for you, we have an alternative.


http://www.gimp.org | FeaturesScreenshots

GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is freely distributed software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. (source)


Gimp Tutorials

You have the software, but how do you get started?


How to Design Cool Stuff

Before & After: How to Design Cool Stuff

Reviews | Buy From Amazon
John McWade illustrates practical, real world design accompanied by both instructive and inspirational words. Since you are just starting in the design field, you should really pick this book up. This book should be a tool on your belt for years to come.



Design block is a real thing. This will make it less painful.

What are some applications and resources that have helped you as a beginner? Share your experiences in the comments.

One Comment

  • html web

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation however I in finding this topic to be really one thing which I feel I’d by no means understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m taking a look forward on your next put up, I will try to get the hang of it!

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