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How can I improve my graphic design skills as a beginner?

Answer by A Quora admin: Martin Velchevski

  1. Understand Perspective – learn how to draw in perspective, learn about 1-point, 2-point, 3-point perspective and practice your technique both on paper and in Illustrator / Photoshop.
  2. Be on top of your color theory – never underestimate the massive impact of a carefully crafted color scheme. Also don’t forget that clashing colors kill design.
  3. Thoroughly learn a 3D Package, start doing this early on – Cinema 4D is my weapon of choice when it comes to 3D modeling, lighting, and texturing (I use maxwell render / vray for rendering). It gives you a fresh perspective new angles to explore in your designs, shows you how different materials behave in different settings and most importantly – provides you with a solid base to build upon further in your design process. It’s especially useful for icon design.
  4. Know your tools – if you’re working in Photoshop and Illustrator, make sure your have deep understanding of what is possible with this combination. Draw your vectors in illustrator, polish and shade in Photoshop. Learn all the shortcuts, create your own, stay in touch with all the awesome scripts and extensions that come out and make sure you use them. This will give you competitive edge in the long run.
  5. Generate asset libraries early on in your career – have templates for iOS / Android icon design, device dimensions, UI elements, often used layer styles, design patterns, etc.
  6. Look up designs that you love and try to recreate them – for the sake of practice. Don’t download PSDs and just look at how it’s done. Go ahead and reverse engineer your own way until you get something you like, then repeat the process. That would help you develop your own techniques, which later on you would use in your own designs.
  7. Don’t get caught up in trends – design should be timeless and so what we often call “design trends” are actually temporary “design aesthetics”. Design should always follow function and it should be as subtle and unobtrusive as humanly possible. If you get your information architecture and overall user experience right, great aesthetic would follow naturally.
  8. Skeumorphism gives AWESOME boost to your technique and Photoshop / Illustrator Chops – learn to create your own textures, learn to shade flat surfaces so that they look deep and tangible, learn about color temperature and how it affects different materials, learn how to create glass, metal, leather, fur… Explore the world of skeumorphism as a designer, but don’t design skeumoprphic interfaces 😀 I surely became more adept at my tools while trying to figure out how to achieve certain effects! You can reign in and use this knowledge later in your career. Why search for resolution independent, tilable textures for example, when you can just create your own? Why use stock vectors / graphics when you can churn them out in no time? Generating all of you asets (except fonts maybe… they are completely different artform) will add tremendous perceived value for your clients and allow you to grow consistently.

If you are interested in icon design, feel free to check my answer to the question – How can I learn to become a  professional brand designer and I have learned software? or just hit me up with a question, I’d be glad to help with as much as my competences allow.


How can I improve my graphic design skills as a beginner?

Cover image courtesy – Flickr user Pol Ubeda Hervas

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