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I'm sure it rings a bell when I say that you learn more about design when you actually try to do it, and then getting quality feedback (critiques) of your work. I'm trying to figure out what would be a good sequence of simple projects that can be completed in a few hours per week. For example:

  1. Design a basic logo
  2. Design a business card
  3. Design a letterhead
  4. ??
  5. ??
  6. ... X. Design your own personal website

This is just an idea to get the ball rolling, I'd love to read your own ideas on final deliverables from the most simple to the most complex. Sort of the equivalent of "from hello world to object oriented programming".

The best answer will be one that gives people a good grasp of where to start and how to advance on graphic design.

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6 Answers 6

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My list would be ranked less on the form factor or the intended outcome and more on the number of elements you need to create from scratch.

for example:

  1. photo from flickr with fancy text put on it.
  2. [...] n. design your own body-text font

Website designs will be in the '[...]' part multiple times depending on how much you borrow and how much you create. This is how I introduced myself to designing in photoshop. Note though; even this was already based on a couple of decades worth of 'learning' to design.

If you want to learn how to design, your list should probably start like this:

  1. Observe everything

Having an 'eye' for design is essential to producing good design.

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Observe everything! Everything! Seriously, take inspiration from whatever you find! Great advice Jaips! :) –  Kyle Sevenoaks Feb 21 '11 at 8:13
    
I second that also. Pretty much everything's been designed by somebody and what hasn't been is natural. Both are essentials to gathering a great 'vocabulary' for inspirations. –  Scott Brown Feb 21 '11 at 15:28
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according to me first of all i design my mind set for the particular task,as practicing we can do better. so first design your own personal website by which you'll come to know what things and what level u can design.. designing is step by step process first you have to know your requirement then you have to work on it,most of the time we have to change whole color combination of our layout according to logo. and if you go with "less time perfect work" u have to try very hard coz clients never accept things in one effort they keep scratching our head to the maximum.

Your list should be like this..

1 design personal website layout.

2 logo.(its prior and really hard, client need lots of work to explain in few) 3 business card 4 letterhead 5 ?? 6 ??

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Thanks for your answer! I'm thinking more of a hypothetical scenario where there's no client involved, and the objective is to learn. I wouldn't say that a personal website is the most easy or simple piece of graphic design you can produce. But a logo isn't either, the good thing is that it serves as a building block to produce more things (stationary, business cards, etc). –  Duopixel Feb 21 '11 at 7:31
    
it depends on you brother what attracts you the most whether its web layout or logo or cards,stationary design :) –  Jack Feb 21 '11 at 7:39
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You can always design a hypothetical business card around an existing brand –  Jaips Feb 21 '11 at 8:09
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From personal experience, web/print design seemed to be a lot easier than something like a logo! Logo design is by far the most difficult design niche I've encountered, simply because it's so client-specific and it packs the most design wallop for its size. They all look so simple and easy, until you try to make one from scratch yourself...

Years ago I took a bunch of introductory-level classes at Art Center College of Design, and I think their design-teaching trajectory works, because I learned a ton without feeling overwhelmed. You start just looking at shapes. One of the most interesting first-projects I did for a class was cropping out shapes out of particular fonts (we had a list we had to use, which included Clarendon, Garamond, and Helvetica). We'd choose a letter and crop it up close and see what shapes we could make. And yes, those shapes were critiqued!

Speaking of which, I probably learned the most about design just looking at typography. The more you look at different letters from different fonts, the more nuances you learn to notice - balance, curves, weight, spacing. It's easy to say "observe things" but it's different when you force yourself to actually see the disparities between two designs, especially something as subtle as typography.

Once we had done shapes, we moved on to things like posters and designing layouts for already-existing entities. That way, you already have an idea of what would look suitable. Design isn't just making something look good, you have to make it suitable for the client. In that vein, doing a personal project first will probably be easiest because you already know what would be suitable for you!

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From a web designer's viewpoint:

When I got started in web design (12 years ago.. scary..) I decided a good way to develop my skills was to look at other people's websites and redesign them using their corporate identity. My only aim was just do it a bit better (in my own personal view!) then they did.

This allowed me to look at other people's code, see how they did things, work out how they did it, do it myself, learn to tweak it and it gave me practice in designing to corporate identity.

The great thing about designing for web is that you can use pretty much any program you like, as long as you can save a jpg/gif/png out of it. I've designed for web using not just using Photoshop and Notepad but Flash, Illustrator, 3ds max and many more. This should give you a well-rounded skill set for anything visual and looking at the code and doing it yourself will allow you to make these designs 'work' for other people, either interactively or visually.

Just look at the kind of thing you would like to produce and work your way there, that's my advice. You'll definitely come up with some original ideas along the way.

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If you have the basics of design down, then the projects should be whatever you want to focus on. If you don't have the basics of design down, work on that.

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Just find something you like and try to duplicate it first. That will get you acquainted with the how without needlessly bothering you with the what. You'll know when you're ready to start making your own stuff once you've become acquainted with the "how" to the point that you begin to realize how awful most of the design that you see on a daily basis is. Then go crazy.

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