Tips for the beginner Pt 1

Creative desk

We all start somewhere when we want to become a designer. Here are some tips for the beginner. Some do’s and don’ts and why the hell not.

For years non-designers have been creating their own posters, leaflets and adverts using software such as Powerpoint, the dreaded Word (I used to shudder when I would receive someones artwork in Word format) and the more modern Canva.

Over the years I have seen so many mistakes and ‘design ideas’ that it has almost made me seek out a priest. It’s been a frenzy of fonts and stolen images from Google. So many colours that Pantone could create a new colour book from them all.

So I have put together a few tips to help you create something usable.

1. Fonts-a-go-go

When choosing a font for your documents, try to choose something that is firstly readable. A good sans-serif typeface brings a modern feel to designs. Try to avoid novelty fonts unless they unavoidable (i.e. nursery and primary schools) and definitely avoid fonts like Comic Sans and Kidsprint. If you are making a presentation to the board and you whip either of those, trust me, they will not take it seriously.

Try to limit the number of fonts you use. I would ideally stick to one in different weights. I have a bank of fonts I use regularly and I know they work. Find your font and stick with it across all your materials. Consistency is key!

Here are a few fonts that I use quite often and work well in ay scenario.

Montserrat Font
Open Sans Font
Open Sans Font

2. Less is more

Take a look at the advert below.

Bad advert

This advert was found on the internet. Would you take the time to read this essay of an advert? It is chaos.

Good advert

The above example was a flyer created for a weekend retreat. They originally wanted a lot of text but managed to get it shortened. It is still not perfect but I was able to create a lot of air around the text. Bold imagery, an eye-catching headline, and easy to read text is the key. So the age-old phrase “less is more” is king when designing.

Also, don’t be pinching images from Google which 9 times out of 10 are low resolution and not suitable for print. (See next point about imagery)

3. Imagery

Good stock imagery can be expensive. Sites like Shutterstock and Depositphotos have great photos but a monthly subscription cost that is not for everyone.

What are the options? Well, don’t go stealing from Google or other search engines. More often than not the images either have a copyright or a such bad quality they are not suitable for print.

But, there are quite a few sites that you can use completely for free and have great quality imagery to use in your projects.

Here are some sites that you may want to bookmark for future use.

Pexels – Excellent quality, good variety and no credit needed
Unsplash – Excellent quality, good variety and no credit needed
Pixabay – Excellent quality, good variety of photos, vectors and video. Some may need credit.

4. A splash of colour

Pantone colour books

Try to choose a couple of primary colours and a couple of colours to support them. What you want is for the colours to compliment as well as contrast each other. Using shades of a colour is great way to create contrast between elements.

If you struggle to create colour palettes, there some resources on the web that have pre-defined palettes by their users. They are arranged into categories and themes.

colourlovers.com – By far the best resource out there. This website has everything!

color-hex.com – This site has thousands of palettes. Click on a thumbnail and it will give you the hex code and RGB code. Awesome resource!

Come back for Pt 2

Next time, I will be looking at alignment, white space, research and keeping a notebook.

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