Photoshop ≠ Graphic Design Pro
I teach a lot of software skills and productivity tips, but that is to make you more efficient at your job. While productivity is important at any business that bills by the hour, the software skills you have don’t make you a graphic design pro. Let’s take a look at some of the things that do make you a graphic design pro.
Being a Graphic Design Pro
Graphic design takes so much more than simply creating a pretty image in Photoshop. You have to have text that flows well with your image, so that your message is properly communicated. You have to have a good structural hierarchy so that people that are scanning for information can easily find it. You have to have a good eye for color and be able to decide of a solid palette of colors that work well together. People have to be able to read your message and be able to understand it completely.
Communication is King
Something that bothers me is that I have noticed a trend in immaculate 3D typography lately, which is fantastic. The tutorials teach you how to create fantastic imagery and melt images and textures into the 3D letterforms. The problem is, that half of them are illegible when it is all said and done. I don’t care how beautiful you make a bunch of letters look, but if you can’t read what it even says, then why in the world would you even make it in the first place?
I have seen where they have made glossy, candy style 3D type, and it looks great, like the example shown above. It looks like candy and is full of color and is easily read, without any sort of strain to figure out what the message is. I have seen some that I still don’t know what it says, and more importantly, I don’t care. The important part to understand is that neither does the viewer. You lost them. It’s over. The message was lost in texture and form and became so abstract that no one knows what it even is anymore.
Great Design Has Legs
The point that I am trying to make with this is that it is great if you are trying to learn the different ways to create effects and styles inside of Photoshop, Illustrator, or any other design software. The thing that needs to be understood is that there are underlying principles that govern a great design. It is like knowing how to paint an old car to make it look beautiful, but not knowing how to get it running properly. You will never get anywhere with it. No one wants a car that you can’t drive. The same goes for design. No one wants a pretty design with no substance.
Conclusion: Set Yourself Apart As a Graphic Design Pro
It is great to make things look beautiful. That is our job, but not all of it. The rest of our job is to communicate a message and to effectively solve a problem for our clients. When we trade that in for fancy effects, we lose site of our purpose as graphic design pros. Remember your design principles and stick to them. A message should be clear, direct, and clever. Illustrator and Photoshop can’t do all of the work for you. You’re the one creating great design, you’re just using them as a tool.