A 10 year old child shows skill in art both on paper as well as with MS Paint, and can follow through speed paints done on YouTube very well. How could we help them improve their design skills, in addition to encouragement? I could teach them drawing in Krita/ArtRage or perhaps image editing in Photoshop/GIMP?

So far they have only used a mouse, but has recently got a Huion H610 Pro drawing tablet. They have taken part in traditional painting and drawing classes as well.

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  • 14
    Graphic design to me has very little to do with drawing and painting. Don't get me wrong... they help a lot, and there is overlap, but they aren't themselves graphic design; that would be a graphic artist. Design, to me, is more about layout and typography and communication, not art.
    – Cai
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 14:27
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    An important question: Does said child have an actual interest in the subject, or are you sort of forcing this on them? Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 14:56
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    Exposure, support and art is a key part of design - I dont know how you could be a designer with no understanding of history and the creative process. But, for all this, everyone is single minded. I built my son a library/ captain's bed @ 18 months, gave him an (old) Mac at 5, he won a poster comp at 7, was published at 11 but despite getting an A for Art at O level and being more than capable he has no intention of being a designer - wants to be a professional musician (smile). As long as he remains positive and creative in his life I'm OK. Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 9:37

7 Answers 7


A tablet is nice. But my answer is a bit different:

  • Take him or her to exhibitions
  • Let him or her touch sculptures
  • Let your kid draw (with pen and pencil) or ok, at the computer too, a real life-object he or she knows very well. Start with unorganic items, take pauses with organic items like a leaf
  • Show him or her Fonts
  • Show and explain the color contrasts

Try this one drawing with mischief Or this al.chemy al.chemy is for empowering creativity but it's useful to play around a bit too. It's a lot of fun without being too searious but it's a great tool for professionals too. Have a look at this one. He uses Alchemy live in realtime: Alchemy live

  • 1
    +1 for the Fonts tip! The history of typography can be very interesting, especially since kids these days often know little about 'the old ways'.
    – Summer
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 14:42
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    I feel like this answer doesn't really answer the question - of how to get kids interested in graphic design - very well Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 21:38
  • What do you mean by unorganic items?
    – localhost
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 9:47
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    Unorganic: something like a Pencil Sharpener, a pencil itself, pliers for example.
    – AndyWizz
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 9:56

My experience is the exact opposite of Lucian I guess, myself starting with (web)design related things at the age of 8. (Now 24)

My neighbour gifted me a copy of Paint Shop Pro, and without tutorials I managed to make drawings, photo manipulations etc within a couple of months. I started coding HTML/CSS at the age of 9 and created my own websites the same year. Children learn extremely fast and today we have so many tutorials available.

I don't know what your personal skills are, but maybe try to find out what his/her interests are. Does he/she want to make a blog about her hobby's and use tools like Photoshop, Sketch etc to make a layout, banners and images?

Or does he/she want to get more involved in drawing and illustrating?

Look for tutorials that match his/her interests and make a bookmark folder or something alike with pages he/she can go to, to learn new things.

My last tip would be to introduce him/her to art communities. Although I don't know about any children's specific art communities, DeviantArt, Dribbble and Behance have a wide selection of users. dA even has a 'no nudity' filter. It was seeing all possibilities and other's creativity that sparked my interest most.


The short answer.....

You don't. Graphic design is about balance, proximity, white space, interaction, etc. These are things a child is still developing a sense for. You can't push a child to interpret their world around them faster than they can develop.

The longer answer....

While painting and drawing is one aspect of some designer toolboxes, it is not the be-all-end-all. There are and have been very successful designers that have never "drawn" any representational objects. Design isn't about a tree looking like a tree. It's about where that tree is and how it relates to other objects around it. The flow of the eye across a page/piece. The inherent balance conveyed when looking at a design. All things children are still learning well into their teenage years. It's entirely possible to paint/draw like a wizard with miraculous skills, and yet, never be able to design. Just as the inverse is true -- have a great eye for design, but not be able to draw/paint.

Painting/drawing techniques can certainly aide in removing limitations when creating a design. If you can draw a tree, you don't need to go find that specific angle of a tree as a stock image to use. And through painting/drawing children can start to get a handle on things like proportion, scale, and placement. So there is benefit to those skills.

In terms of tools... you can paint and draw in Photoshop or Illustrator. If the child has an interest, let them use professional level tools to explore their art. Adobe comes with a hefty price tag.... so you can at least use software which is relatable to design, such as Inkscape or The Gimp. That way they'll be a leg up on the tools when they do gain a better grasp of design concepts. Be aware though having the tools is not encouragement to "design". Software is software. Design has a rich and lustrous history long before any software entered anyone's mind. Focusing on tools will do nothing more than foster an interest in the tools, not design. Design is not Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe, Gimp, etc. In fact design has nothing to do with the tools. The tools are about production.

I, personally, don't think you can "get a child interested" in anything. They either are interested or not. And you can't force an interest. If they like to paint and draw, support that all you can. If they continue to improve and do things such as start adding text or creating more "layout" style artwork, then you can explore topics such as letterforms and typefaces or balance and whitespace.

I suppose you could encourage them to make signs, flier, posters, etc. Things that are more "design" oriented as opposed to painting/drawing.

I don't think a tablet is necessary by any means. In fact, in terms of "design" a tablet may be a hinderance, offering too much freedom to draw/paint as opposed to focusing on things like placement.Tablets are not a tool every designer likes or uses and is not really mandatory in any sense. (Disclosure, I use a tablet and haven't touched a mouse in over a decade, other than to install tablet drivers on a new system).

In the end, all you can really do is provide the resources and see if it catches on. As I'm sure you're aware, an interest at 10... may be a distant memory at 12.

  • This is the most realistic answer IMO Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:45
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    OP is not asking how to spark interest though. It seems as they already have an interest in it, he just wants to know how to feed this interest and teach them new things.
    – Summer
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 9:07
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    See, to me, the OP is confusing drawing and computers with an interest in design. Which is why I pointed out drawing/painting and software is not really design - it's drawing/painting and using computers. Children just aren't mentally equipped to understand the tenants of design. So, let them paint....
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 10:46
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    A child playing with building forts and tree houses is not necessarily interested in architecture or framing. They just want to build the fort. It's the adult that projects their interpretation of a matured development interest onto the child.
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 11:17

Graphic design is quite a technical and business orientated discipline so it is probably not ideal to push a young child into it to any great extent.

Better is to encourage general arts and creativity, the general way of thinking is common to all creative arts (and indeed many more technical areas) and a broad base of development will stand them in good stead for any field.

Equally while some technical rigour is useful to any artist what you don't want to do is set up a child to fail. One of the most difficult things for a child doing art is that they don't have the technical fluency to fully realise their ideas nor the experience to realise that this is not the real 'talent' but rather a learned skill which just takes time to develop.

My advice is to give them access to as broad a range of good art, design, architecture, cinema, music etc etc as you possibly can. In my experience many really good artists can point to one or two formative tings in their childhood which really inspired them throughout their careers. Often it starts out as thinking 'I want to makes something exactly like that' and then evolves into their own way of doing things.

Equally being exposed to a variety of styles beaks down the idea that there is one right way to do art and will help them feel better about the fact that they may not be able to emulate it exactly.


I got into the Adobe software by doing tutorials from magazines, but I guess online tutorials could work just as well. After that I loved doing posters (for parties and such) and t-shirts in my teens.

Personally, I didn't need external inspiration, because I was inspired and fascinated enough already, since almost everything you see around you somewhat designed.

So my suggestion would be to encourage that he learns Photoshop/Illustrator, and if he has a genuine interest, he will start doing it a lot by himself. Maybe give him a photoshop/illustrator magazine now and then. I always loved those, so inspiring and helpfull, and relaxing to page through.


This worked for me: visit Graphic Design events. If the child is meant to be a graphic designer, hanging around fellow designers should seed, if not, enhance his/her confidence as a designer.

Any of these ideas should be FREE for first time visitors:

  1. attend AIGA meetings with the child
  2. ask a graphic design professor to sit in during a college class
  3. visit your local newspaper's production department
  4. attend a "Meet Up" with the child

My brother and I often crashed AIA meetings when we were young. At the time, the AIA members thought it was "cute" that kids wanted to listen in on their meetings. Thirty years later - my brother is a Head of Design Architect while I am a Sr Interactive Designer.


At this age I would still try to keep the kids away from the computer, as they will have plenty of time for that when growing up. They can still be active however by working with pencils, paper, collage, etc. A lot of things they can learn without needing a computer just yet. They can also try calligraphy or even painting classes.

Go to a hobby & crafts shop and buy them tools they can play with like lettering templates, a compass, liner pens, plastic numbers and letters. Teach them how to build grids with these and place elements over the grid, words, shapes, etc. Give them a theme to play with, i.e. design their own party invitation or a poster with their name on it.

If you really must sit them infront of a computer for long hours watching tutorials and things like that, make sure they don't just get bored and switch to Youtube. Kids won't be too patient with these things and they can always find more fun stuff to do with a computer than just look at thousands of fonts :)

  • They have taken part in traditional painting and drawing classes as well.
    – salehgeek
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 14:30
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    @salehgeek: You may want to edit that information into the question.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 14:39
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    “Kids … can always find more fun stuff to do with a computer than just look at thousands of fonts” — When I was about 10, I literally spent hours on end just looking through font specimens (both on screen and on paper). Not even fonts in use, just lists of fonts. Don’t underestimate the ability of children to get lost in things they find interesting. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:26
  • Agreed, but what the parent assumes could be interesting is not always interesting to a child. I have kids too and they don't spend much time with what i tell them is interesting. They have their own interesting and its good for a parent to let them find their own interesting instead of pushing them into learning a job. Let them be active in whatever they want, they're only kids once. When i was 10 there were no computers and we used to kick the ball around all day long!! :)
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 21:37

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