What is graphic design? 

The variety of logos, brochures, billboards, posters, and all that you see every day are all part of graphic design. Here, symbols, images, and texts are combined to form visual representations of the message or idea that you want to convey to your audience.

Graphic design is used to shape the user experience visually. It strikes a chord with the users and speaks to them. Big companies like Nike, Apple, McDonald’s, Starbucks have credited a huge impact on the audience due to their appealing graphic designs. 

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, graphic design can be defined as the art or profession of using design elements such as typography and images to convey information or create an effect.

Close-Up Photo of White and Red Starbucks Disposable Cup

It is not just limited to logos, magazine ads or fixing up images in photoshops. It is much more than that Graphic design is everywhere we look around. There are a lot of careers in graphic design. Using graphic design can enhance the visibility of your content. It is an art that brings your imagination into reality. It is an ever-growing industry that impacts almost every organization today and has become an essential part of every company.

Want to learn graphic design? Don’t worry! You don’t have to go to a design school. Sit back and read our comprehensive guide about it. Let us first get started with some basic elements and principles of graphic design.

Understanding Graphic Design

To create a good graphic design we have to understand that there are a few elements and principles of design that can help to create aesthetically pleasing visuals. 

Elements are the parts of the design that represent the base of graphic design. It describes the visual, the tools and components, and how a person can use that to create an appealing composition. On the other hand, principles of graphic design refer to how these elements are used to create a visual that conveys a message. Let’s discuss this in detail so that you can create beautiful designs in the future. 

Person Using Macbook Pro on Table

Graphic design Elements 

Elements of graphic design – there are a total of six elements in graphic design that you need to know about, we call them our ‘ super six’ because they are really important while creating a design.

1. Line

Lines can be defined as linear marks that define a space or outline it. Undoubtedly the most basic elements, they are responsible for creating a clear perspective and conveying a certain feeling. These are primarily used for delimitation between different sections of a design. 

Lines have the capacity to create a visual impact, for instance, a dark line is easier to notice than a light, pale coloured line. The lines can be of any colour, straight, curved, bold, light, thick, thin, dashed, long, short etc.

Recently, a minimalistic approach became really popular which uses less solid lines, more curved and dotted lines. This style is powerful yet personal and renders fluidity to the design. Lines help you to create infographics, flows, routings, mind maps and can be used as separators and connectors. 

2. Shape

This is the second most used element of web design. Multiple lines are integrated to form shapes. Shapes can be referred to as elements that are enclosed by lines. They can be geometric shapes such as squares, circles, triangles, abstract shapes (icons) or realistic ones (animals) etc. 

Shapes are used in almost all designs and they are deeply linked to the human mind in terms of movements.

A correct shape is capable of changing the viewer’s perception of the design. 

White and Brown Striped Textile

3. Texture

Texture may be defined as the surface quality of design and have become very popular in recent years. They have taken the place of single coloured backgrounds. In the process of creating a memorable design, you can use textures to highlight specific regions of your visual. They tend to bring a different impact on the design. 

Selective Photograph of a Wall With Grafitti

4. Colour

Pierre Bonnard very correctly said, “Colour does not add a pleasant quality to design, it reinforces it”. This is how much powerful colour is for design. Just a single glance and you will surely remember the colour of the design.  As a matter of fact, colours seem to have a profound effect on your mind. Such as the colour red is associated with passion, love and anger, green is considered natural and peaceful. In addition to this, there are three properties of colour:

  • Hue – colour name  
  • Saturation – Intensity of hue and
  • Value  – Lightness and darkness of the hue. 

In addition to this others include tint, tone, chroma. Using colour correctly can bring a spark to your design. 

5. Value

We have discussed earlier what value is and it is very much essential in bringing out the right emotions in design. Noticing the minute details in the lighter and darker ones and revolving your ideas around it can make a perfect design. 

6. Space

Space is essentially the white space or negative space that is present between or around objects. By strategically using space you can create eye-catching designs. This makes it easy for the reader to consume the design.

These days the new minimalistic trend uses a lot of negative spaces because people don’t like cluttered design anymore. Therefore a clear understanding of space can give you the best layout. Google is by far the perfect example on how to minimise negative space and turn your design into an art.

Graphic design principles

Moving on, to the principles of graphic design. These design principles can assist many people who are looking to be a self-taught designer. 

  1. Alignment – It is a key principle of graphic design that works to give an organised appearance to the design. All the elements are aligned properly to create a clean layout. It is necessary to design properly and eliminate messiness that gives an unconvincing look. Proper alignment ensures all the elements have a connection with each other.
  2. Hierarchy – The next principle is hierarchy. This is a way of determining which elements hold more priority than others and they are arranged accordingly. Important elements can be put in larger sizes, bold fonts and different colours. This establishes a visual focal point and makes the main message pop out. Then you can include your secondary message in that order. This can be done when you decide what message you want to convey first and what is your primary goal, then based on that form a hierarchy. Yellow and and Blue Colored Pencils
  3. Contrast- This is a term most of you must be familiar with. Contrast is a principle in designing that helps you to emphasize key elements in your design and grabs people’s attention towards it. Forms of contrast can include dark vs light, large vs small or thick vs thin. All these forms significantly increase legibility and readability. This guides your viewer’s eyes to the parts which are important.
  4. Proportion – Proportion represents the relationship of two or more elements present in a composition and their relative comparison to each other with respect to size, degree, colour, quantity etc. Larger elements usually tend to have a greater impact than the smaller ones.
  5. Repetition – This is the principle of reusing similar elements many times in a design to create a sense of unity. This helps to strengthen the total design. Repetition should not be monotonous but adding variations to it can change the overall look.
  6. Proximity – Proximity refers to the principle of grouping similar or related elements to create a relationship between them. This can be done by connecting them visually through similar colours, fonts, size, type etc.Aerial Photo of Black Spiral Staircase
  7. Balance – For the design to achieve an overall structure and stability, balance is an essential principle. It is the distribution of elements evenly throughout the design to make it attractive and professional. This can be either symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial; the right balance gives a clear layout to the viewer and the viewer can’t take his eyes off the design.
  8. Rhythm – Just as the right tempo or beat in music likewise rhythm in design is the visual tempo. It can be defined as the principle that is responsible for the flow of the user’s eye across the design to see all the elements. This differs from person to person.
  9. Harmony and Unity – This might sound pretty simple, but it is actually a difficult principle to follow. All the elements that you have used for your design should be linked properly and should also complement each other. That is when you can give your users a memorable experience. 

How do beginners learn graphic design? 

In terms of choosing graphic design as a career, there is no traditional way of learning graphic design. You don’t have to acquire any formal degree to be qualified as a graphic designer. All over the world many self taught graphic designers have ruled the web.

Over the recent years with the surge in the content sharing culture, there are ways where you can teach yourself about graphic design. So, if you are reading this and you are a non-designer, here we have got you some tips to follow and get started to create breathtaking designs. 

The right strategy

Without a plan, it is like going along an unknown road without a map. That is why you should plan your designs and work accordingly to achieve your goals faster. Having the plan and the design skills, anybody can learn how to be a graphic designer. 

Interesting Fonts

Selecting the correct fonts improves your design. Avoid using regular fonts instead try to experiment with new fonts and stick to something which will be exclusively used for your project. 

Color Shade Samples

Fresh colour scheme

Any design that you have liked has always had a great colour palette. This is applicable to everyone who is interested in becoming a graphic designer. One of the main reasons your design could fail is probably the selection of dull and boring colours. Using colour pop technique can put a really good impression on your viewers.

Close-up of Camera over Black Background

Space it up

By space it up we mean to encourage you to use blank white space as it makes your design minimalistic which is quite a rage now among graphic designers. Take inspiration from Apple where most of their marketing images utilise white space to the best.

Thoughtful use of Image

Imagine people looking at your design and not being able to relate to it. This sounds really disappointing, isn’t it? That is when the use of consistent high-quality images comes into play. From the quality of images to the framing, style, proportions and lighting should be considered while adding images.

Run over a scan

Whenever you create a design it is advisable to scan it on your PC or use a smartphone to scan it and transfer it to photoshop, illustrator which will guide you through the process.

Silver Imac Displaying Collage PhotosDraw inspiration

Just like you set a playlist for your workout for some motivation, your design also needs a bit of inspiration. There is no harm in saving design examples that you like and creating your own out of it. To learn graphic design you need to get some inspiration but take care not to rip off someone else’s ideas entirely.

Proper alignment

A good presentation is very necessary for your success as a graphic designer. The correct alignment always gives your elements a professional look.

Get the icons rolling

Icons are a real enforcement strategy for your design. They add that extra spice to your design and support your message. But do not overuse them. Just the right amount can do wonders.

Build attractive contrasts

Using contrasting colours, fonts or even space can help some elements stand out. This catches the eye and makes your design remarkable. 

Simplicity is key

Never overdo and complicate your design that makes people wonder what is actually going on. The main motive of your design should be to convey the message and too many elements and effects will not be aesthetically pleasing as well as convincing. 


So, are you ready to explore the fun and creativity? Give OFFEO a try and go to the following link https://offeo.com/discover/features-shapesandlines/ and embark on your designing journey, where our user-friendly and easy interface will give you the best experience.

Be it choosing your favourite shape, background our colours we have it all to address your needs. You can design and publish according to your choice. OFFEO is not sophisticated and can be used by beginners who are starting out for the first time. We have thousands of free templates that can be customized to make awe-inspiring, professional designs. This saves you a lot of time and gives you exactly what you wanted.

Make a design that is a surefire hit by using OFFEO where you focus on your work without having to worry about the money. Less time, free of cost, and creative independence make it different from others. Good luck on creating your very own design. 

Chao Quan Choo

Chao Quan Choo

UI Designer at OFFEO