While reading a lot of design blogs and notable designers, I keep seeing the joke/statement come up over and over again that using Photoshop does not entitle one to the name Designer (or one who can do Graphic Design). As an experienced designer or one who has gone through the process:

How would you approach using Photoshop in such a way that sooner or later one can go try the road of the designer?

  • 1
    -1 I don't really see how the title of your question relates to the body of the question.
    – ixtmixilix
    Jan 5, 2011 at 16:39
  • @ixtmixilix cool :) I am not very good at titles :) Can you suggest a better one for me ?
    – phwd
    Jan 5, 2011 at 17:06
  • How about "I want to be a graphic designer. How should I approach learning PS?"
    – e100
    Jan 6, 2011 at 13:10
  • 1
    @e100 I changed the title ^.^
    – phwd
    Jan 11, 2011 at 22:58
  • Drawing painting coloring catchy phrases are my life it's literally all I do now and I found this document very thought pervoking on how I should approach it
    – user7158
    Oct 9, 2012 at 21:18

6 Answers 6


For a skilled designer the tools being used don't make so much of a difference. It's the line between the tools using you and vice versa. A "real" graphic designer has a clear concept and plan in mind and then chooses the tools that will best accomplish that goal.

So, approach photoshop as a toolset, and determine what it can do to get you where you need to go.

The comments you have seen are trying to point out that the tool is just that, a tool. So someone who has a typewriter sitting on their table is not necessarily a novelist, and the guy who spent a small fortune on a fancy chess set and routinely beats his 12 year old nephew at the game is not necessarily a chess master.

  • 1
    Very well put! Love the analogies you used there.
    – Kaji
    Jan 5, 2011 at 5:01
  • 1
    -1 The question being asked isn't as general as your answer.
    – ixtmixilix
    Jan 5, 2011 at 15:11
  • 1
    sometimes what you can imagine depends on what you know about what can be done.
    – user8795
    Jan 7, 2013 at 18:57

From my personal experience, most good designers (at least all the ones that I know) started off as artists, who then got into design as a way to make a career out of visual arts.

The relationship between art and design should be pretty clear. To be an effective designer, you need to know the basics of visual composition, color theory, and so on. So it makes sense that good designers are also good artists.

It also makes sense that someone who learned how to draw on paper first is more likely to be a good designer. That's because good designers are generally the creative type, and people with creative personalities usually start expressing themselves creatively very early on in childhood. A 7- or 8-year-old doesn't know what graphic design is, much less Photoshop; they just know that they like to draw or paint. Therefore, few good designers learn Photoshop before they learn how to draw with pencil and paper.

There may be exceptions to these rules, but they're rare. I think someone who's never been creative or interested in art and decides in their mid-20s to learn Photoshop is more likely to be in it purely for the money than because they like graphic design—and that's not a good way to become a good anything.


Ultimately, if you want to be a graphic designer, you should disregard Photoshop and pickup a book on composition and color like, http://www.amazon.com/Power-Center-Composition-Visual-Anniversary/dp/0520261267/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294806138&sr=8-1

Photoshop will not prepare you to become a graphic designer, theory and practice will. Expose yourself to design and read some design magazines like ID, How, and Communication Arts, etc.


For every trade, there are the "How" and "Why" aspects. Photoshop, as others have mentioned here is merely a tool. But to answer your question, start learning Photoshop now. http://psd.tutsplus.com/ has some top quality tutorials ranging from beginner to advanced. I also recommend Photoshop WOW books. They've been great since PS v2.0.

In fact, if you plan to do more design for the web, it may be a good idea to learn Illustrator as well. More web graphics these days were created as vectors. There's a WOW Book for it too, also see http://vector.tutsplus.com

It's important that you learn the design fundamentals, but you should also learn how to use the tools too. Both can be done at the same time. I want to stress BOTH. If you only know the "why" then you're just a design pundit and if you only know "how" then you're just a pixel pusher. If your eventual goal is to become a full fledged designer, then you need to be able to execute your vision well.


While I agree with the previous answers, my honest answer is to play with Illustrator or another vector-based application before Photoshop. Far better at playing with scale and alignment of text and design elements, and you can import images too.


Just learning Photoshop wont make you a designer. But you gotta start somewhere. Like if you dont know how to make anything in Photoshop you wont be able to practice nothing of what you may learn. So yea learn both together. It would take half year for a complete noob, like if you know how to use paint. Once that is done it will take a lot longer to produce good stuff. Learn about color and it's effect on us, color's interaction, composition, pattern, shape, lines and their effect, repetition, perspective, focus, etc.

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