If you want get your graphic design to the next level, you need to broaden your range of skills.

In this article, we give you 5 actionable steps to improve your graphic design skills, starting from typography and ending with colour usage. If you are still hungry for more information to improve your graphic design skills, we recommend asking someone from a branding agency like Zurek Designs.

  1. Learn to kern

First, lets explain what letter kerning is. According to Wikipedia – Kerning, “kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result.”. In other words, kerning is a perfectionist’s favourite as you can adjust letters for hours to make them pixel perfect. And you don’t need to be a designer to test your skill. There is an online web browser game where you are given a bunch of words that need your manual spacing. Here is the Kerning Game.

So why is kerning important? Well, it is especially useful when you want another skill in your arsenal as a designer. This way, when you create logo design, you can use this skill to complement the logo.

This is also important as not all fonts are well kerned – especially free fonts. So be aware of free fonts to avoid bad readability.

  1. Geometry and ‘perfection’ don’t always have to be followed

If you want to get your graphic design skills to the next level, you must break the rules. It is time to get your creative juices going and start obliterating the rules of what they taught you in maths class. Illusions and optical spacing is a great way to experiment with your creativity and understand graphic design on a deeper level. A great resource can be found at an optical illusions in graphic design article to really grasp the depth of the matter.

Design goes much deeper than most people think.

  1. Use consistent fonts and readable layout

While this is a common mistake, it is very easy to fix. The best actionable advice would be to pick 2 fonts that go well together and use them throughout your branding. If fonts have light, regular and bold types to them, it is great to utilise these as it adds more depth to the hierarchy of your visuals while remaining consistent with the brand.

Since we mentioned hierarchy, we might as well get into graphic design layout. Very simply put, the most important information or visuals should be the biggest or most visible. Depending on a medium, it is not too important to have everything in chronological order. For example, poster design can have the title in the middle of the page. On the other hand, an invoice design should be in order as shown in the example above.

The correct and consistent font selection coupled with layout hierarchy, you are guaranteed to keep your materials readable and easy to follow.

  1. Smooth out your gradient

When you are using two complementary colours (see colour theory) in a gradient, you will always get a dull and ugly grey transition area.

To combat this, you must manually add colours that should go in between the two to make the transition smooth and interesting.

If you noticed, this has also been a rising trend in 2020, where gradients are used more frequently, so it is important that your gradients look appealing.

  1. Use elements that contrast with your main message

‍Once you master contrasting, all your work will be ultra readable and user friendly. Quite frankly, this is the easiest tip to master as there is a very actionable and easy step to make sure your colours are contrasting enough.

So, what you must do to see if your colours are contrasting, is turn your graphic into a neutral black and white with a filter. The bigger the contrast between the greys, the more successful your graphic.

While simple, this still has its intricacies. For example, red will contrast with black much better than black and blue for example.

If you noticed, this is also why black and white branding is so common these days. Contrast makes everything appealing.

Quick tip to save money:

  • Graphic design is expensive. However, you don’t always have to get a graphic designer for simple tasks. For example, Canva.com or GetStencil.com is a fantastic tool to create your marketing materials while keeping it cost-effective.

For more tips like this, go to our article about 4 graphic design basics anyone can master.