GeneralUltimate Guide | Intro to Design.Posted:

  • Graphics King
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Joined: Jul 29, 20109 Year Member
Posts: 5,637
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VOL. 1

So, I get messages every day asking how i make my art and artists asking me where to start to leave the 'GFX' scene and make art. So i have decided to post the basic steps to getting you on the right foot (note this is not a quick or easy process, not for the faint of heart), please read this post took a long time (5+ hours) to mock up.

Thank you iLuSioNz for the sticky!

1. What kind of art do I want to make?

2D Graphics
(posters, wallpapers, general flat design category, ect.)
3D Modeling
(building models of buildings, items, ect.)
(taking multiple stocks and mixing them together often to create surreal scenes)
(using the pentool normally in illustrator to create characters or pentooled scenes)
(logo creation, business card creation, any designs to help brand or advertise)
Digital Painting
(using photoshop to paint as if they were using a canvas)
Web Designing
(coding up web designs/creates concepts in photoshop)
Photo Editing
(can range from touching up faces, to restoring old photos, and color correction edits)

2. How do I know I want to make this type of art for sure?

Well people come to me all the time saying they love this type of art and they want to make it, when they start they dont really know what that type of art is. So to make sure you are starting in the right direction i suggest to make an account on deviantArt (NOTE TO STAFF: I am not trying to advertise, only sharing a good resource) then go through the following links provided per category and favorite the things that really stick out to you or are a style in which you want to design yourself. I recomend using the search style 'Whats Hot' untill you know you like that category then use the search style 'Newest' the search styles are located Here but if you know the style feel free to search as pleased.

2D Graphics
This category has many styles and probably is the most open to style differences, for this I would go to this Link and go through each sub category (Here from abstract through to surreal) then favorite the ones you like (feel free to explore other sections) and not not everything in here is 2D but the majority is.

3D Modeling
This catagory has a few styles but many variations, here you will see where 'GFX' 3D text is irrelevant and the programs true potential is shown (programs commonly used are Cinema 4D and 3DS Max) so click this Link and go through each subcategory (Here and look through abstract to vehicles) there is other 3D on this site so feel free to look around.

This category is massively vast and there are loads of styles so click thisLink and go through the sub categories (Here from Abstract through surreal) photomanipulations take a long time to master but i have started a few legends (Inkz for example) on manipulation and hes a pro now.

Illustrating is big businesses I have a few good friends in the business who are awesome designers in their field its not easy and it takes a lot of practice but click this Link and browse through the subcategories located (Here from Illustrations through Technical) do note there are some digipaintings in here but from the examples i have provided im sure you can figure the difference.

This is where the word 'Professional' is thrown around a lot, and for good reason most of the time, for example Daemon-Inkz is a fantastic logo designer and an up comer in the scene on this site is IMAGINENATIVE, logo design is not easy and you have to be creative and innovative. If you follow this Link there are some good examples for logos, also if you are looking for inspiration check out this Link and go through the logo series. On deviantArt do not be afraid to browse other categories such as advertising and packaging (located on the side in the sub categories). It's not an easy place to be but it is where a lot of money is made, also not for the faint of heart.

Digital Painting
Digipainting is something I have never tried myself but I still know the basics of it, if you need more detailed help I can direct you to a more experienced guide. Note, a graphics tablet is almost necessary for this style of work so if you are looking for one I will have a buying guide at the bottom of this post. But if you go to this Link you can browse the paintings to get inspiration, but this field is open to all ideas (and these designers often use reference images so dont be shy) and feel free to browse the sub categories (Here from Abstract to Surreal short of illustrations).

Web Designing
There are two types of web designing (saying this because MattMiller would smack me if i dont) there is concept creation such as This and there is actually coding a website. If you code a website thats where you will make money, for that i can not help you but i can send you to someone who can. If you want to create a concept to sell to a coder or to eventually code yourself then look at this Link and browse through.

Photo Editing
This is mostly tool editing such as touching up faces and clearing up old photo residue. For this the only thing i can do for you teaching wise is learning how to use essential tools, if you look up any retouch tutorial that will do just fine. If yo want to use and master color correction i recomend my basic tutorial on how to add realistic color correction (note too much is too much try to limit a max of 3 gradient maps)Here if you need more help i can direct you to a few members that will assist.

There are other sites like deviantArt arguable even better for graphic designers.
We encourage you do the same thing
(instructions listed above) on the following sites:

3. Where do I start?

Well what I recommend doing is practice the techniques used in the style you have chosen, because you cant tackle the big projects if you don't have a foundation to build off of, so depending on your style you want to pick out certain aspects of the images you like and set your mind on how to do them. First i want you to really try and i mean really try, not look at it overwhelmed and quit, try every thing you can think of to achieve the effect and if you have no idea what you are doing then you can ask me or one of the people i have listed for help (if they can not help they may redirect you). Keep trying to figure out various styles and do not be afraid to post them for feedback just mention that its a trial to attempt to figure out an effect (post original image as well). Once you have figured out the building blocks then we can move on to step 2.

1. The Inspiration Duplicator

This title does not sound very good but its a good step to knowing what your doing. So though as much as i stand for making original art some people just cant pick it up as easily as others so this will help you get started. SO find a piece you really like and i want you to duplicate the style as best you can (do not copy it but use the same guidelines just make sure it looks different) and MAKE SURE YOU POST THE INSPIRATION IMAGE! if you want to reference this post that is probably a good thing to do. And make sure you tell them (when you post it) that this is your attempt at creating the style, also do not post this or claim this as an original. This will be the step i regret saying, so please don't make me regret it, i have faith that you guys will respect the art.

2. The Assistance Stage

This is the stage where you can PM or Skype one of the selected people or an artist you may know (for truth purposes i recommend one of the selected helpers) this is where you star a design in the style you wish (make it as original as you can) then when you make a monumental change to the image message one of the advisers (ask them first if they will advise you on the piece) screenshot it via Gyazo or LightShot (any other screencap programs) and send them various updates and get their real time (taking into consideration we have lives and may not be on at that exact moment) responses and advice on weather to change or not to change what you sent them. Please do not ask them what to add where to add it how to add it, because if they tell you everything step by step then it defeats the purpose, the point of this is just to make sure your doing well with your design and you don't make monumental flaws that can ruin the design. Feel free to ask questions but please do not annoy the Advisers because if you are being too clingy or needy they will tell you they will no longer work with you on the project. All of our advisers will work their best when thy have time to assist in your designs of most skill levels. (NOTE: if you are too basic they may send you to tutorials until you are skilled enough)

3. The Final Cut

One you feel you have moved past The Assistance Stage start this step. This stage is very simple, but should not be skipped. So make a piece (save as PSD or a project file) then before you post this anywhere, send the final cut that you have to one of the helpers/advisers listed and have them write you a personal feedback then change what they said (if you wish to take their advice) and then post it for judgement but make sure you post the before and after of the feedback, also give your adviser a shout out for their assistance (give credit where credit is due) then accept the communities feedback.
There are a few artists on this site who actually know what they are talking about when it comes to graphics, and art for that matter, and a lot who do not. My advice is to take it from the people who do know what they are talking about. No body like to see their work go unliked but, a lot of people dont post to hurt your feelings or to put you down. So you have to read their feedback not is the assumed tone that they are being negative but the helpful tone (I know some of our members here joke around so don't take it too heavily). Listen to what people tell you and ignore the 10/10ers or the 'I dont know much about GFX but i like it 9/10 (:' people, they normally just try to get their post count up without saying much. Always respect feedback, you may not agree but you have to respect opinions. Im not saying be submissive and change your design because someone told you to, its okay to defend your work but being rude and over defensive is not tolerable if your asking for feedback.
When you hear the word C.R.A.P it sounds bad, but in the design world it is actually a good word. What C.R.A.P breaks down to are 4 things to keep in mind when designing.
  • C. - Contrast: Contrast refers to any difference of size, shape, color, or weight. This is the element of design that sets parts of your image apart.
  • R. - Repetition: This refers not to the copying of text or renders but the continuous use of a theme or element throughout your design.
  • A. - Alignment: The alignment refers to the way parts of your design are laid out and the subliminal line-work that only your subconscious notices (unless you've trained your conscious to see it), that is the subtle but important key element.
  • P. - Proximity: This refers to the pieces of information that are meant to complement each other should be near each other. This is where you change the layout to make sense to with the message you are trying to get across.
Note, the people here are doing this on their own free time for noting in return so please treat them with the upmost respect and credit them as its needed.
(they will not tollerate any crap)

I would recommend Wacom's Bamboo tablets, I use a Bamboo Splash and I love mine (80$) these are not something you upgrade often so if you plan on using it get a decent one i personally think the splash is the best for the money but dont buy one unless you are sure your willing to put 50-100$ into your graphics learning, they are not required for most graphics.

I have a fairly nice computer outfitted for graphic design, but as long as your system can run the programs your good, here are something i recommend having if you plan on doing graphics long term or just see yourself putting money into it. (NOTE: most Mac's can run PS CS6 well)

AMD Quadcore or better / Intel i5 or better
6+ gb of ram
A decent video/graphics card (1gb+) [non integrated if possible]
A powersupply to match your equipment
An external HDD (optional)
1080p HD Moniter (recommended)
(By Matt Miller)
Art-history is a very important part of designing, painting or anything creation on the art side of things. What is art-history I hear you asking well that is a simple one it is the history of art and the artists. When creating art you really want to look into famous previous artists and extract from them, look at their skills and the work they have done and who for! When looking into designing figures it is important to see who they work with and there style of art. I will give you a list of many artist to go and look at in the art history world and you can really extract a lot from art history knowledge, a lot of designers seem to skip over this part and it makes me sad.

List of artists:
Vaughan Oliver
Otl Aicher
Josef Albers
A M Cassandre
Paul Rand
Milton Glaser
Bob Gill
Jan Tschishcold (typographer, book designer and educator)
E McKnight Kauffer,
Abram Games
Franco Grignani
Armin Hoffmann,
Wolfgang Weingart
Phillippe Apeloig,
Stephan Sagmeister,
Rick Poyner,
Why Not Associates
Designers Republic
Pentagram : Paula Scher (New York Office - Creative Director)
Alan Fletcher
Saul Bass (film titles: Alfred Hitchcock)
Paul Schuitema
Max Huber
Piet Zwart
Derek Birdsall, (book jackets)
Mayakovsky (Soviet Posters)
Alexandr Rodchenko
Jamie Reid (album covers for Sex Pistols amongst many others)
Peter Saville (music album covers)
Storm Thorgerson (music album covers)
Robert Brownjohn (music album covers)
Rod Steele (graphics for music, publishing and entertainment industry)
Tom Eckersley (posters and book jackets)
Derek Birdsall
April Grieman
Jonathon Barnbrook (Damien Hirst book-cover - amonst many others )
Niklaus Troxler
Zero (Hans Schleger)
Arthur Rackham
Kay Neilsen
Randolph Caldecott
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (posters)
William Morris
Aubrey Beardsley
William Heath Robinson
Edmund Dulac
Ivan Bilibin
Gustave Dore
David Gentleman
Norman Rockwell
David Foldvari,
Jasper Goodall,
Paul Slater
Gerald Scarfe
Ralph Steadman
Edward Wadsworth
Eric Ravilious
Edward Bawden
Robert Crumb, (underground comic-strip)
Edward Ardizzone,
Quintin Blake, (childrens books R Dahl etc)
John Worsley,
Michael Foreman,
John Burgerman,
Russ Mills ( expressive mark making)
Julie Verhoeven (fashion & popular culture)
Stina Persson (fashion watercolours, cut paper etc)
Erin Petson
Deane Cheuk
Nina Chakrabarti (decorative lettering and linear drawings)
Kerrie Jane Stritton (great urban landscapes)
Neil Duerden (Photoshop guru)
Alberto Seveso (Photoshop genius)
Yuko Shimizo (figurative with sensuous use of line)
Genevieve Gauckler (retro funky decorative patterns)
Sarah Fanelli (cut outs & quirky characters)
Michelle Thompson (collaged textures, patterns and quirky scanned & drawn images)
Fine Artists
Pablo Picasso
Alexander Rodchenko
C R W Nevinson
Andy Warhol
Roy Lichtenstein
Frank Brangwyn
Barbara Kruger
Hannah Hoch
John Heartfield
El Lisizsky
Paul Nash
Graham Sutherland
Frank Shepard Fairey
Paul Insect
Peter Blake
Simon Patterson
Eric Gill
Giambattista Bodoni
Neville Brody (the FACE, The times logo, Arena, research studios)
David Carson
Theo van Doesburg
Erik Spiekermann
Adrian Frutiger
Wem Crouwel
Giambattista Palatino
Si Scott (calligrapher)
Steven Bonner (calligrapher)
Sarah Colemen (calligrapher)

Thanks for reading I hope this helped,
and as always

Last edited by Zef ; edited 23 times in total

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#2. Posted:
  • TTG Senior
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Joined: Mar 18, 20119 Year Member
Posts: 1,464
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Wow brother.
This is so detailed.
I know you have spent two hours or even more because you was telling me about it.
But you really have put a lot of effort into this post.
Much love <3

Last edited by SpuddyTV ; edited 1 time in total
#3. Posted:
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Joined: Jul 25, 20136 Year Member
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Awesome topic Zef, this should help a lot of beginner graphic designers like me ;) <3
#4. Posted:
  • Graphics King
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If you have suggestions PM me and i will consider adding them!
#5. Posted:
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Thanks for this topic Zef,
and I agree, it's definitely sticky worthy
#6. Posted:
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Great informative post Zef...

Very nicely done.
#7. Posted:
  • Challenger
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This is a very helpful post for all graphics designers, keep up the great work!

P.S I think this should be a sticky;)
#8. Posted:
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Joined: Nov 06, 20118 Year Member
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Help me draw betters plz
#9. Posted:
  • TTG Senior
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Joined: Aug 14, 20118 Year Member
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Can we tell people to stop doing the clipping mask triangle thing? That would be great.
#10. Posted:
  • Summer 2019
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Joined: Jun 22, 20127 Year Member
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CortexDesigns wroteHelp me draw betters plz

oki but u has to pay me $1,000,000 Dollarz

Fantastic post Zef.
This should be very useful, and every beginner should glance over this at least.
I think it should be sticked, to be honest.

Although there is a spelling error.
"Step Three: Learning to Accept Good Feedback" Row 3. 33rd word to the right.
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