Who better to do a newbie’s guide to graphic design for marketing than a graphic design newbie? I’m a words dude. Always have been.
But it’s foolish in this digital age to have a narrow skillset. No one makes a middle-class living anymore simply by knowing how to use a typewriter. You’re limiting career potential if you’re not educating yourself toward becoming a Jack-of-all-Trades. Or if you’re building an inbound marketing strategy for your business, failing to use all the tools at your fingertips will limit your campaign’s effectiveness.
Oodles of online resources exist to usher you through pretty much anything. That’s the great thing about living in this century. You could be pathetically clueless and inexperienced. But you can become decent at stuff after:
- Perusing a few blogs and ebooks
- Watching a handful of video tutorials
When you think of multimedia, the obvious elements come to mind:
- Graphic design
- Audio/visual editing
Being an expert at none of those, I’ll spare you (and myself) fumbling through a bumbling explanation. Rather, I’ll lead you to inspiration. A lot of the graphical appeal you see in the digital realm may look complicated. No worries, much of it is easier than you think.
The Newbie’s Guide to Not Sucking at Graphic Design for Marketing
1. Learn a Few Photo Editing Tricks
No one’s telling you to become certified in the Adobe Creative Suite. But a few tricks up your sleeve could go a long way. Even learning how to resize a photo helps.
Is Photoshop on the pricey end for you? No worries. GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is free to download. You'll have the tools for high-quality image altering and creation.
No matter your platform, familiarize yourself with some simple options:
- And more
Here are just a few of the thousands of video tutorials out there:
(Courtesy Spoon Graphics)
(Courtesy Photoshop Tutorials)
2. Master the Snipping Tool
“Master” sounds scary, but this is really simple. Your device’s snipping tool allows you to grab a screenshot of any size and save the image.
Here's how to do it in Windows:
Here's how you do it on a Mac:
Suppose you need to sample a small section from a picture or from a data spreadsheet for your blog:
- Snip it
- Insert it
- Publish it
Was snipped from this:
In 3 seconds, you can have a perfectly duplicated graphical element. Yay! Holy crap!
3. Find Your Inspiration
Take a good look at:
- TV commercials
- Magazines and tabloids in the grocery store checkout aisle
- Billboards along the highway
They catch eyes for a reason. The graphic elements of social media ads and news media publications are also designed to catch eyes. Save the graphics that catch your eye.
4. Analyze What You’ve Saved
Once you’ve stockpiled a good collection of creative genius, analyze what makes them great. Like this ad for Powers Whiskey:
I really like the dark-light contrast and the natural scenery infused into the highball glasses.
Or this one from Nike:
Right here, the king of branding expertly crafts its Nike Liquid shoe into an artistic expression of the name.
5. Practice By Duplication
Take what you see and the lessons you’ve learned and practice, practice, practice. Look at a great graphic and break down what it likely took to make it.
Try it yourself. Did it work? If not, return to the drawing board. Or you may have just stumbled upon a terrific graphic method you didn’t think possible.