Entry-Level Visual Design Tips for Students
Irrespectively of what you major in, what college you attend and what courses you take, the ability and skill to use numerous visual tools available to students today can end up doing you a great service. Of course, knowing how to work with them is a must for students of visual arts, but even if you study something that doesn’t directly deal with drawing, photography or something else along these lines, knowing your way around the most important design tools can make dealing with certain tasks much easier.
Let’s say you have to prepare a PowerPoint presentation or handouts you are going to spread in the audience during a conference. Even when you’ve mastered the technical aspects of the relevant software tools, if you don’t have at least basic knowledge of visual design you won’t make a good job of it.
So, here are a few things knowing which can make your job on your design projects much easier.
1. Pick Appropriate Colors
Humans are predominantly visually oriented creatures – which means that they perceive a lot of information solely by evaluating the colors, even before they decipher the image or start reading what is written. For example, warm colors such as red, yellow or orange are associated with warmth, passion or happiness, while cool colors transfer the meaning of trust, solidity and professionalism (that is why so many law firms and governmental institutions choose them when building their websites). Other colors also have concepts associated with them, so when you choose a color gamut for your project make sure it goes along with its contents.
2. Choose Fonts Wisely
Using a thematically appropriate font can greatly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of any document or project that uses them – professional designers go as far as saying that selecting a font is akin to choosing an outfit to wear. It may not change the core of your work, but people are going to unwillingly make assumptions about it based on their first impression of fonts you use. Different occasions require different fonts – the analogy can be taken a long way. What it all boils down to, you should approach the choice of font carefully. There are many top-notch free fonts that aren’t in any way inferior to the ones available commercially.
3. Choose the Right Tools
Although there are plenty of professional design tools like Photoshop and Sketch, if you deal with visual design only from time to time and don’t intend to dedicate your entire life to a career in this field, you can easily do with free software. There are many examples of publicly available tools that have more than enough functionality to do the jobs at a level you need them in college.
4. Keep Things Simple
Students trying to make their projects look a little bit more impressive with the help of visual design are often dumbfounded by all the options and possibilities that open up in front of them, ending up using everything that even remotely fits. The result is all too often a jumbled mess of colors, effects, figures, pictures and whatnot that don’t carry any unifying idea and do nothing but confuse the viewer. So study from expert designers and keep things as simple as possible – in the long run, good taste and professionalism show themselves not in the skill to use all the options but in the ability to refuse using most of them and settling only on those that are completely right for this particular case.
5. Use Whitespace
Again, all too often newbie designers try hard to fill every inch of space with something. It is, however, often much more powerful to do the exact opposite, offsetting the few important elements you do have.
Even if you are not a design student, knowing a few tricks can be helpful now and then – to help you complete your project without extra help, to make it stand out from the crowd, to give your work that little bit of special quality.
David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.
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