Creating clean,crisp,loud yet subtle designs from absolute scratch.
I began design as an exercise in productivity during the Summer of 2015.As the vacations in the schools rolled,I was left with but homework,cricket and design.Being the only child of Indian parents-and being a little proactive in the matters of everything digital myself-I was enrolled in a design workshop that would last 3 weeks,where they taught us the basics of Autodesk’s 3DS Max,Adobe Premiere Pro and of course,Adobe Photoshop.However,over the summer,I learnt more of how to operate a tool,rather than solve a problem with it-to state it otherwise:I was a painter with a brush,but no eyes.Summers rolled after that,Photoshop remained a skill I could brag about for about a year or so,and as sophomore year of High School came by,I dropped out of touch with Photoshop and all the nuances of practical,digital world-I would focus more on theoretical concepts in Mathematics and Physical sciences-and don’t get me wrong,I loved them and would deem it essential.Friends and strangers alike ask me nowadays-”Where do I begin design,Abhinav?”-And I’ll be honest,I have no answer!
My entry into this field was gradual,and I am yet on the foundation steps to truly become a good designer,I have no answer catered for them.But as time passed,I realized that more and more people would love to be introduced to this field-primarily for three reasons-Low entry barrier,Visual and pleasing results and the increased demand in the industry for designers-and hence I decided to put together this whole article-where I discuss tools,resources and ideas to use when designing.
Let’s tackle the elephant in the room first-
Adobe Photoshop & Image Processing
Yes,hardly is there anyone unaware of this beast.No competitor,not Gimp,not nothing has been fabricated to combat this giant-and if you’re wondering if Linux-based mobile devices could compete with Photoshop-the answer is no,get off your Androids (or iOS/Windows phone for that matter).
So where do you begin to learn Photoshop?
Before I answer that,I would differentiate between Graphic design and Photo Manipulation.Graphic design is the creation of visuals from absolute scratch,while photo manipulation works on existing images to form visually stunning results.Graphic designs use Vectors,often and Photo Manipulation uses Rasters.
“What is that?”
Rasters are made up of pixels,it is a dot matrix data structure (Technical blu-bla-uah).Vectors are,at its simplest,formed of Mathematical functions (Not much better of an explaination than that of Rasters.)
What this means for you,aspiring designers-is that if you are forming graphic illustrations et al.,you need vectors-because Vectors do not pixelate when you zoom in,and Rasters do.
You might be wondering why did I upload a snapshot of a wikipedia article and not the actual wikimedia image (titled: Vector Graphics).
Simple-The image uploaded was a vector in SVG formats (One of the famous formats for Vector publishing-in union with EPS and PDF),and Medium.com does not support SVG,so instead of converting it to JPEG (Classic Raster) and risking quality,I took a snap of it as PNG which provides loseless,compressed images-basically,the optimal for web.
Now,all of this wall of text will be used to highlight the difference between two adobe products-Illustrator and Photoshop.
You might have had heard of Illustrator from several places,and in the simplest terms,it is used to form vector graphics from scratch.It can also convert Raster to Vector-but only for certain range of colors,like you cannot convert a picture clicked from a camera to vector in Illustrator,however you can convert a logo you made in Photoshop to vector in Illustrator.While Photshop is mainly raster-based,the text and shapes in Photoshop arerendered in vectors (till you actually Rasterize it).
So which one should you learn first?
It’s ok,if your designs pixelate-to resolve that,choose huge canvas sizes,or vectorize your designs later on,but start with Photoshop.It is more marketable (or recognizable by non-designers),quick,multi-purpose,and not annoying.Then once you’re three months into PS,switch to using both,PS and Illustrator.All that jazz about tools is useless,you need something more than these tools-Vision,and we’ll talk about that later.
Meh,don’t waste too much time over here.
I know,sounds counterproductive-but trust me,once they throw you in shallow waters,you’ll learn to swim,and then build courage to swim in deeper ends.Obviously,you need tutors for the first few months,but yes,if you’re not practicing,you’re losing.
Here are some places you could learn Photoshop from (Note:I have not used any of them,but they are critically acclaimed):
Photoshop tutorials | Learn how to use Photoshop CC
Browse the latest Adobe Photoshop CC tutorials, video tutorials, hands-on projects, and more. Ranging from beginner to…
Graphic Design Stack Exchange
Q&A for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts
Learn Photoshop - From Beginner to Master in Our #1 Tutorial Series
Not sure where to start? Ever wanted to create beautiful images, but learning how to master Photoshop seems daunting…
Learning Image Processing
Basically,it doesn’t get better than this:
Digital Image Processing, 3/e (Old Edition)
Digital Image Processing, 3/e starts off by introducing the area of digital image processing, and outlining x-ray and…
Learning Color Theory
“Having small touches of color makes it more colorful than having the whole thing in color”
Color theory is of ultimate essence,unless you are a hipster Instagram user hellbent on the ways of Greyscale.
Here are some good tools for getting the color right:
Adobe Color CC
Create color schemes with the color wheel or browse thousands of color combinations from the Color community.
Material Palette - Material Design Color Palette Generator
Choose your favorite colors and get your Material Design palette generated and downloadable.
Color psychology - Wikipedia
Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Color influences perceptions that are not…
(If you have better resources,do tell me so,I’d update the article.)
Learning Design Theory
Ah,the key to differentiate good designers from designers.I shall continually update this section as I remember or come across more ideas.
Links are in order of importance (Note:I have the first one pinned in my room,just so you know,and the rest are decent,but I haven’t tried them out as much) :
Good design | About Vitsœ | Vitsœ
Dieter Rams's ten principles for good design (sometimes referred to as the 'Ten commandments').
Build beautiful, usable products faster. Material Design is an adaptable system-backed by open-source code-that helps…
UI Design Do's and Don'ts - Apple Developer
iOS raises the bar for excellence in user interface design and offers great opportunities for you to deliver engaging…
At Google we say, "Focus on the user and all else will follow." With this in mind, we seek to design experiences that…
And the books:
Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Five years and more than 100,000 copies after it was first published, it's hard to imagine anyone working in Web design…
The Design of Everyday Things
The ultimate guide to human-centered design Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which…
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
The book, 'Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products' is an effective book for people who want to learn the art of…
And inspirations (One of the most effective ways of learning-imitate them,not copy,but imitate)-
Shots - Dribbble - Dribbble
Shots from popular and up and coming designers in the Dribbble community, your best resource to discover and connect…
Top Creative Work On Behance
Showcase and discover the latest work from top online portfolios by creative professionals across industries.
Designspiration - Design Inspiration
Designspiration is a tool for discovering great art, design, architecture, photography and web inspiration.
And add Pinterest and Canva to the list,and suggest me some more.
Your main motive as a designer is to make it work.
Between Amazon and Myntra (Indian e-commerce with a niche market in Fashion),Amazon has greater reach-despite being poorly designed.Why?
Well the international market and availability of wider range of product helps-but the design works.
It’s horrible-for a company that rolls out Kindle,one of the most beautiful devices to exist,but it works.
So does Reddit-horrible design,but it works.This article by WIRED is a great read,give it a shot.
The Inside Story of Reddit's Redesign
On a rainy day in San Francisco, a dozen or so designers sat crammed around a conference table inside Reddit's…
The only bad design that actually annoys me is Quora,the design is obstrusive,it doesn’t let me do what I want-So I don’t like it,some people may,some people may not-but I personally loath it.
Resources for design
Also use r/freedesignresources (it’s a subreddit,Google it up) on Reddit.
If you need any stock photos for free,Google “<Insert what you need> Free stock photo” or for vectors/logos/graphics “<insert need> free vectors”
I personally use this:
Free stock photos · Pexels
Free stock photos you can use everywhere. ✓ Free for commercial use ✓ No attribution required
Freepik - Free Graphic resources for everyone
More than a million free vectors, PSD, photos and free icons. Exclusive freebies and all graphic resources that you…
For Mockups,once your design is done:
All free Mockups | MockupWorld
Free PSD Mockups: iPhone, iPad, MacBook, iMac, Apple Watch, Billboards & Signs
FontSpace: We love FREE fonts
FAST and FREE downloads of over 35,000 fonts for personal or professional uses. Fonts for Pinterest projects, DIY…
And with that I wrap up.
There is nothing to conclude,no TLDRs-oh wait,I have one.
Don’t waste your time focusing too much on the tools on photoshop,pick up a project-do it.
Also,if you’re doing Product design-make unobstrusive,balanced and invisible design.
As D.Rams once said-”Less,but More”
If you’re making posters or logos,look up how to work on those,or comment below to tell me to write another one dedicated to that.It’s not all that different,but concepts differ by a margin.
Now,pick up a project,sit down,and do it.
Need a project idea?
Make your Portfolio/Resume in Photoshop.
Or a business card or anything.
That is a simple start,and if you have nothing to put on that resume,write what you want to be in the next few years.
Go for it!