Understanding the Elements of Graphic Design: A Guide for Beginners

Understanding the Elements of Graphic Design

Thinking of building a career in graphic design or just building a handy new skill? This article outlines the elements of graphic design.

Graphic design is a $15 billion industry in the United States.

As the industry grows, so does the demand for skilled graphic designers. Whether you’re experienced or not, knowing the basics and practicing can give you the edge you need to begin an enriching career in graphic design.

If you’re interested or need a refresher, keep reading to find out a few of the elements of graphic design.

Lines

Lines are the most basic element of graphic design. They can be used as a guide for finding symmetry. They can bend, curve, connect, guide, even disrupt a viewer from the story you’re trying to tell.

Lines are needed to create anything in graphic design. Lines are needed to create any art. Even the words you’re reading right now.

Shapes

Shapes are just a stepping stone away from lines. You need lines to create shapes. The two go hand in hand.

If they’re used the right way, they can help you achieve balance in any piece. They can also make a piece unbalanced in chaotic (though this is sometimes the intent). Shapes aren’t to be feared; in fact, you couldn’t create anything without them.

Color and Texture

Understanding colors and the ways they work together is crucial for graphic design. Familiarize yourself with complementary colors, triadic color schemes, even analogous and tetradic colors.

Colors also work with texture. A color can bring out the texture in an element, and texture can bring out the color in another. They work together, but can also clash very quickly.

Having software in which you can crop your images for free can also be important for creating a graphic design piece.

Text

Do you know what padding is? The importance of white space? How about what kerning and leading does to text blocks?

Text is the next building block for graphic design. After all, it helps convey information and messages in a more specific way than images do.

Typography and Hierarchy

Typography is just a fancy word for fonts. Just like there are different fonts, there are different font styles like serif and sans serif. Font styles can convey a message too, and add an element of whatever mood you’re trying to set.

Hierarchy places emphasis on the elements you want to stand out in a piece. It draws the viewer’s attention to where you want it to go.

Think of it this way. You probably wouldn’t use Comic Sans in an ad for a luxury spa, and then make the largest element in that a sandwich, would you?

Use the Elements of Graphic Design Wisely

Yes, the elements of graphic design are important to learn and use, but that doesn’t mean you should shove them all into one piece and call yourself a graphic designer. It takes practice and repetition.

You may be gifted with natural talent or education in graphic design, but using these elements to build a career is far more than just creating. It takes finesse and building a brand, building rapport with clients, and making a name for yourself as a graphic designer.

You should never doubt your ability to do so, but remember to take your time when learning a new skill. Be sure to check out the rest of our blog for tips, tricks, and other technology info.

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