Growing Your Visual Brand: Graphic Design for the Absolute Beginner | Carmel Kundai Makaya | Skillshare

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Growing Your Visual Brand: Graphic Design for the Absolute Beginner

teacher avatar Carmel Kundai Makaya, Writer|Graphic Designer|Smiler

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Defining Your Project

    • 3. Choosing a Design Program

    • 4. What is Branding?

    • 5. Types of Fonts & Choosing a Font

    • 6. Colour Associations & Colour Theory

    • 7. Design Inspiration & Design Rules

    • 8. Conclusion

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About This Class

Whether you're growing a personal brand or selling a product, more than ever before, it is important that you have a strong online presence. Growing your reach online can be difficult, but establishing a strong foundation for your visual brand doesn't have to be.

This course is for anyone looking to start their graphic design journey. We will cover the basics of font and colour theory, how to find inspiration, and more. Everything you need to know to start designing is in this course.

Meet Your Teacher

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Carmel Kundai Makaya

Writer|Graphic Designer|Smiler


Hi! My name is Carmel Kundai Makaya. I am a writer, graphic designer, Youtuber, smile-r, and a host of other things.

Ever since I was little, I've loved to create and grow. From writing short stories, to blog posts, to YouTube videos, and now Skillshare courses! Thank you so much for stopping by, I'd love to connect with you more via my courses and social media.

- With a smile, Carmel

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1. Introduction: Hello, my name is Carmel and welcome to my Skillshare course about graphic design basics. Now more than ever, it's important to have a strong online presence and expanding your reach online can be really difficult. But having a strong foundation doesn't have to be. In this course, we're going to go over everything you need to know to get your journey started. And there is so much to learn out there in the world of graphic design. Don't worry about that for now. This is just to get you started throughout the course. There'll be worksheets for you to fill out. That way at the end for your class project, you can upload these documents to the Class Projects tab so that we can all learn from one another. And if you want to take those worksheets a step further, you can turn them into your very own graphic design projects. Either way, I would love to see what you come up with. And if you have any questions for me about anything that I say in this course or other questions relating to graphic design. I would love to hear them and you can leave those for me and other students in the discussions tab. 2. Defining Your Project: Before you even start looking at potential design programs or picking out colors and fonts is really important for you to clearly define what your project is. Are you creating a flyer or an Instagram post? Is this something that's going to live on the internet or are you going to print it out and put it somewhere? You also want to figure out what makes this project important and what the purposes of this project are you creating something that is supposed to entertain people, is supposed to inform them. Your answers to each of these questions will influence the tools and techniques that you use. You may even find that certain colors work better in print format and certain colors work better on the Internet. And for example, if you're designing an Instagram post, you're going to need to remember that you're designing for a square. Whereas if you're designing a flyer, you are designing probably in a letter or A4 size. So you're going to want to make sure that you take your time right now. Just figure out what type of project you're creating, why it's important and what your purposes in creating this graphic design project. If you go to the Projects tab, you will see a questionnaire there for you to fill out your answers to each one of these questions. Take some time to work on that worksheet before moving on to the next section. 3. Choosing a Design Program: If you do a simple Google search for a graphic design program, you're going to find a wide range of options. There are online programs, desktop programs, mobile our programs, really expensive ones and really cheap ones or completely free programs. And so when you are going in to do your research, you want to make sure that you keep in mind your answers to the previous set of questions. What exactly do you need this design program to do? Different programs are great for different things, which makes a lot of sense intuitively, but we can get pretty caught up in other people's reviews and other people suggestions when we are in the research phase. So say a really well-known graphic designer or recommends that you try program a. Program a might be the most amazing program for online graphic design. But if you are wanting to create for print, maybe Program B or C or D, It might be better. So you wanna make sure that you keep in mind what you need and also what they need. What is their context? Why does this program work so great for them? And are you similar to them with this program be great for you for the same reasons? Or do you need to keep looking? And there is no problem with trying out a program and deciding you don't really like it. If the program isn't free, it likely has a free trial that you can try out for seven days, 14 days, whatever they offer. And after that trial period, you can decide if this program is worth the investment to you personally, I use a combination of Lightroom, Photoshop and Canva. I use Lightroom to edit my photos and Photoshop to bring my designs together. When I need a lot of customization, then can vote when I just need something really quick. Or if I've created a template in Photoshop, sometimes I'll bring it in to Canvas. That way I can share it with clients and other people who might not have the Adobe suite or don't feel comfortable using it. If you need a great deal of customization and you're willing to put in the hours to learn the programs and the investment to purchase the subscriptions, I would recommend looking into the Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom package. If you're a student, and for other cases, you might be able to get a discount on the full package or different packages in the Adobe suite. So be sure to look into those if you're just starting out or don't need a whole lot of customization, I would recommend looking into Canva. Canva is a free design tool that has a premium version, but I've personally found that the free version suits me just fine. Canva is great if you're looking for an intuitive drag-and-drop system, or if you're looking for a place that has templates, if you need any help with Canva, I do have a Skillshare course all about Canva. If you often work with logos and other projects which require elements to be able to be scaled infinitely, then you should definitely look into Illustrator and there are tons of free resources online to help you learn the program. Now that you know what to keep in mind when looking for a graphic design program. Go ahead and do some research. I would look into at least three programs in depth. And from there, you can start to experiment and decide what works best for you. 4. What is Branding?: Now let's talk about branding. Every company, every person, every project has a brand. Think of brands like the personality of your company project or even yourself. What do you want people to think of when they look at your project or thank you for your company. What three words would you want them to use to describe you? How would you describe yourself as you think about this? Take some time to write your answers down that way you can reference them in the future. Many years ago I started a blog and when people visited this bug, I wanted them to feel strong and I wanted them to feel valued. I wanted the blog to be encouraging and loving and easy to understand. So once I learned more about graphic design, I was able to create a website that reflects these intentions. For example, I said that I wanted people to feel strong and valued. So I went with a red color scheme. For most people, when they think of the color red, they think of something that is strong-willed and they think of love. I also said that I wanted the blog to be encouraging and easy to understand. So when it came to the graphics, I made sure that anything I created was really simple and easy to view. And then for anything that I wrote, any copy that I wrote, I made sure to use easy to understand language that people would use in their everyday lives. Maybe your brand is very elegant, or you want people to think of something that is fun. Maybe you want people to view your brand as serious or very academic. In that case, you won't want to use the same language that I use for my blog, which was meant to be fairly relaxed and easy to understand. The same goes for your color scheme, which we'll talk about in future lessons. So in this course, we're only going to be talking about the font and color elements of brand. And so that's where we will be going next. Before we move on, make sure that you fill out the branding section of the worksheet provided in the class projects tab. 5. Types of Fonts & Choosing a Font: In the same way, every company, person and project each have their own personality. Fonts also have their own personalities. Let's go over the four main fonts that you will find in the graphic design world. You have Serif, sans-serif, handwriting, and calligraphy fonts. A serif font is a font that has serifs. Serifs are the little embellishments that you'll see at the end of letters Times New Roman, Garamond and lower are all examples of serif fonts. Censor fonts, on the other hand, are fonts that do not have serifs. So they do not have those extra embellishments that you'll see. Serif fonts, arial, Open Sans, and Calibri are all examples of san-serif fonts. Next up, we have script fonts. Script fonts can be broken down into calligraphy in hand-written fonts. So starting with calligraphy funds, calligraphy fonts can be labeled differently depending on which font search tool you're using. But generally speaking, a calligraphy font is a cursive style font. Consider script, amoeba, and Vivaldi are all examples of calligraphy fonts. And the last main type of fonts that you'll see are hand-written fonts. Handwritten fonts are fonts that are made to look like somebody's handwriting. There are a lot of handwriting styles out there. If you just ask anybody on the street to write you something on a piece paper, you're going to get a different handwriting every time. And so there are a lot of hand-written fonts out there. These fonts are designed to be more organic looking. Comic Sans, pseudo script, and Riley Beck are all examples of hand-written fonts. Something to keep in mind while you look at different fonts is that serif fonts tend to look more put together and more serious. While san-serif fonts tend to look more relaxed, calligraphy and hand-written fonts both tend to be hard to read. And so there are great for headers or for logos because they're really pretty. But you won't want to use them. But for large bodies of texts, as you look into more fonts, you'll learn about other categories and subcategories of fonts. And depending on the search tool you're using, they might categorize each of these fonts slightly differently. You should also keep in mind that fonts can fall into more than one category. For example, Comic Sans is a San Serif font and also a handwritten font. Computers and different design programs usually come with a whole list of preloaded fonts. But if you want to go out and find more fonts to download, you can use Google Fonts. If you have an Adobe subscription, you can use Adobe fonts. There are also other platforms out there like 11001 fonts and font. As you visit these different programs, you're going to want to look into the licenses that you have to use, each one of these fonts. You might have a personal license or you might have a commercial license, or some combination of the two. And personal license you'll only be able to use on personal projects. Whereas a commercial license allows you to use your projects in a way that will help you make money. So you want to be sure that you're very clear about what you can and cannot do with the font that you download. Be sure that you respect the rules that the different front or creators put up there because they've put a lot of work into creating these bonds. 6. Colour Associations & Colour Theory: Moving on now to colors. Every color has its own emotional and psychological association that goes along with it. And these associations might change depending on the culture and context that you're in. For example, if you see red during Valentine's Day season, you might think of love, but if you see red during a, an emergency, then maybe you'll think danger. Another association that you might have with a color is the color purple. Historically, The Color Purple has been associated with royalty, even within colors. You'll find that depending on how saturated the color is, it might hold a different association. For example, if you have dark green that might seem more deep and serious than a light pastel green. As you start to think about different associations that you have or your client has or your friends and community have with certain colors. You're going to want to pick one main color for your project. From there, you can start to pick two to three other colors that will go along with this color. But you're not going to want to stray outside of maybe the four color range. Just because then the project can feel a little bit disjointed or a little chaotic when you get to the point where you want to pick your two to three colors that support your main color. You can do this one of two ways. You can either use the color wheel and different color theories or you can use a website that will take all of that confusion out for you. Starting first with the color wheel. On the color wheel, you have six main colors. You have three primary colors and secondary colors. Your primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. And your secondary colors are orange, purple, and green. When you're looking at the color wheel, one really important thing to know and one really helpful thing to know is the fact that colors that are opposite each other. So complimentary colors tend to match really well. So you'll see a lot of designs are logos or sports teams where that yellow and purple. And that's because yellow and purple are complimentary colors. Yellow is your primary color, purple is your secondary color, and they are opposite each other on the color wheel, rather than using complimentary colors, you could also choose to use monochromatic palettes. That means that you have one main color. You use variations of that same color. So for example, pretend you had a plate, red paint. If you added black to it, you would end up with different shades of red on this side. And if you added white to it, you'd end up with different tints of red. So here you can create a monochromatic palette, which is made up of colors that will all match one another because they're all derived from the same central main color. If you'd like something simpler, you can use a website like coolers, dot co coolers, and websites like it used three different naming systems for colors. They use hexadecimal, CMYK and RGB. Using these naming systems allows you to identify the same color over and over again, no matter which program you're using. For example, if I asked you to create a graphic for me using the color red, you might not know exactly which, right? I would like to use. How dark of a shade of red do I want how light of a tint of red? What I like, you might not know that. But if I tell you that the hexadecimal code for the red that I want is D6, 32, 300. Then you can put that interior design program and this same color will come out on your computer. My computer, that of course, is assuming that our display settings are the same. Rgb is what you use if you're designing for a digital space, computer displays use a combination of red, green, and blue to display images on our screens. And so when you're creating for digital space, you want to make sure your project settings are set to RGB. If you're creating for a print space or if you're creating a flyer or a billboard that you're going to want to use CMYK, that is cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. It makes sense that if you're printing, you want to use CMYK because those are the different colors printers have in their cartridges. Now if you're using a program like Canva where there isn't a whole ton of customization, then you're not going to need to worry about all of these settings. But if you're using a more customizable program like Photoshop, you're going to want to make sure that your project settings are set to the correct color profile. Once you find colors that you like, make sure you write down the respective codes. That way you can keep your colors consistent even if you switch programs or if somebody else comes in to help you with your brand. 7. Design Inspiration & Design Rules: So now you know a little bit about branding colors and fonts, but maybe you're still unsure of how to bring all of these elements together into a cohesive project. What I would recommend is going out and looking for inspiration, see how other people have brought all these elements together to create their own designs. The easiest place to look for inspiration is around you look at food cartons and look at billboards, look at advertisements, and see what you like and don't like about each of these designs. If you still need inspiration after looking in the world around you, then feel free to go online. A great resource for design inspiration is Pinterest. You can search graphic design inspiration and a lot of suggestions will come up. But you can narrow that search down depending on what your specific project is. If you're working on Instagram templates, you can search Instagram tuplets, inspiration. Or if you're working on a flyer for a five K, or if you're working on a billboard, you can see all of these different types of designs on Pinterest. And It's been really helpful for me, especially when I get stuck and I need something to jog my creative mind. As you do this though, you want to be sure that you're not stealing other people's designs. You are not copying their designs, but rather you're using them for inspiration and using them in a way that they are more of a jumping off point for what you eventually want to do for your own projects. If after all of this you're still a little bit confused or unsure of what you want to do, then you can turn to the elements and principles of design. These are lists of specific design rules that will help you get started with your design process. The elements of design are dot, line, form, shape, space, texture, value, and color. The principles of design. Unity, balance, contrast, scale, proximity, rhythm, and emphasis. Rather than thinking of these design rules as very strict rules that you absolutely have to follow. Think of them like a recipe. If you're a beginner at cooking, you're going to want to follow the recipe to pity. You're going to want to follow the directions exactly as is and the measurements as well exactly as it is. But as you become more advanced then you can start to decide that maybe you don't like as much salt in your recipe or you went to add a bit more pepper. And as you become even more advanced, you won't even need the recipe altogether. All of the recipes and rules that you've learned from your experience from cooking or now ingrained in your cooking process. Since this is a general overview, any beginners course, we're not going to go into the meaning and the purpose of each of these elements and principles. But in a future class, we'll be going more in depth. 8. Conclusion: Each of these concepts could be broken down into even more detailed sections or their own courses altogether. But for now, I hope that this class has given you the foundation. You need to start experimenting with different fonts, colors, and brand identities overall. Don't forget if you have any questions about anything that I've said or anything else related to graphic design, feel free to leave them for me in the discussions tab. And once you've filled out the worksheet for this course, feel free to leave it in the Class Projects tab along again with any questions you might have regarding anything that you wrote or anything that you discovered. Like I said before, if you want to turn your worksheets into full blown graphic design projects, feel free to do that as well. I would love to see what you create. Thank you so much for watching and I will see you in my next course.