Graphic Design Basics: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

If you're interested in learning graphic design, then you likely already know just how valuable the skill can be. Like any new skill, learning graphic design will take time, effort, continued education, and lots of practice to master. Continue reading to find out what steps you can take to get started and learn the basics of graphic design.

What is graphic design?

Graphic design is a creative skill and industry that combines graphics, typography, and illustration to communicate an idea or concept. It uses an assortment of design principles and techniques to uniquely convey a specific message through a highly visual medium.

Graphic design is often used in conjunction with marketing and advertising for various brands and businesses. Anytime you've seen a logo, flyer, or social media ad that's caught your eye and made you pause long enough to check out what the design is for, you've witnessed the powerful method of visual communication that graphic design can elicit.

Graphic design basics every beginner needs to know

If you're just getting started with graphic design, there are a number of ways you can begin learning and practicing the craft. Whether you opt to study graphic design through formal courses and certifications, or you prefer to teach yourself through readily available tutorials and resources, the basics that you'll need to know will be the same.

Start with the fundamentals

Before you can dive into fancy software and practicing your first designs, it's important to get a handle on the fundamentals. Graphic design utilizes some key principles and techniques that every designer needs to know. Starting with the basic knowledge of graphic design will create a base level for your new skill that you can build on with more advanced techniques over time.

The graphic design fundamentals that every beginner should familiarize themselves with includes the key principles of design, such as alignment, color, contrast, space, proximity, hierarchy, repetition, and balance. Basic color theory and typography are also key components of graphic design that are imperative for designers to learn. Study these fundamentals and familiarize yourself with common graphic design terminology, and you'll have a great framework of knowledge that will help you in every design or project you take on going forward.

Familiarize yourself with graphic design software

Every designer needs to be able to learn and navigate graphic design software to create their designs. But there are lots of options out there, with varying features, pricing, and ease of use. From the well-known Adobe programs like Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, to all-in-one programs like the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, or even free alternatives online with limited features, there are many graphic design software options out there for every skill level.

Compare a few different choices to make sure you're selecting one that has plenty of features, fits within your budget, and has ample resources available such as help pages and tutorials. Graphic design software can be overwhelming when you're getting started, so having access to FAQs, walkthroughs, or video tutorials to help you learn the ropes can be immensely useful while you're just getting started.

Continue learning about graphic design

Once you have the graphic design basics down and you've chosen software to use, it's time to practice — a lot. Consistent and frequent practice is one of the best ways you can improve your skill and personal style over time.

You can continue growing your graphic design knowledge through design-focused books, magazines, or blogs. If more interactive methods help you learn, you can also check out online tutorials, workshops, and courses. This can be a great way to learn from more advanced designers and to connect with others in your industry.


Graphic design is a valuable skill that takes lots of study and practice to master. Graphic design for beginners can seem overwhelming to start, but it doesn't have to be. It's best to start with the basics, choose a great software that suits your needs, continue your education over time, and most importantly — practice, practice, practice.

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