You have recently begun teaching yourself church graphic design, so you've decided to try your hand at designing a flyer for the upcoming church picnic. After you're finished, you can't wait to show it to the leadership team. You are particularly excited about the five different fonts you used. You heard designers should stick to using a couple of fonts but you found a way to get five of them to totally mesh with each other. And the different shades of orange will be sure to grab people's attention. The youth pastor's wife shows up at your desk so you gleefully let her take a peek at your masterpiece. Her eyes open wide and she asks if your ten-year-old had somehow gotten a hold of your graphic design software.
Don't let this be you! If you are teaching yourself church graphic design, here's how to do it right.
Don't Be Afraid to Play
No matter what type of graphic design software you are using, it can be a bit overwhelming. Cropping photos, changing the colors of the font, adding layers, drawing different shapes - it's all enough to get your creative juices overflowing. While it can be hard to know where to even begin, don't be afraid to start playing around a bit. If the software you're using contains a tool bar, use your mouse to hover over each tool to find out what it's called, then go ahead and see what it does! If you have some graphic design experience, most likely there are many different functions and tools that you haven't even touched yet, so allow yourself to do some creative exploring. But remember, it's not just all about play, there are some things you'll have to learn as well.
Getting Back to the Basics
After you feel like you've played around with the software and are becoming a bit more familiar with it, it's time to get down to business. Learning the basics is essential when it comes to teaching yourself graphic design. As much as you want to, you can't possibly create an eye-popping piece without knowing the basics. Some of the beginning elements you'll need to learn that will help you maintain consistency include:
You'll also want to take time to learn about color and how RGB is used for web design and CMYK for print. Fonts are another key factor, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the different font families and typeface.
Learn to Love Your Software
Your software is going to make all this design and creation possible. Some programs are much more tedious and have a higher learning curve than others, and there are guaranteed to be times you can't stand the software you are using. If you feel you are limited by your software, you may want to try a different program. Finding software that you really do love will make the learning process much more enjoyable. There are many ways you can become an expert with your software. Some of them include:
- Take a class
- Find someone who is already an expert and who can answer your questions
- Use online tutorials
- Another good way to learn is to literally type the name of the command you're trying to learn about into YouTube. Many people have great channels full of free videos.
Of course, you won't be able to use any ol' software that suits your fancy. If your goal is website design, you should learn Adobe Photoshop. If it's brochures and books, InDesign or Microsoft Publisher will work best. Just remember, patience and persistence is key when it comes to learning new software.
Collect Inspirational Designs and Try to Replicate Them
No matter what stage of learning you're in, whether it's playing around with new software, getting a good hold of the basics, or you are mastering your software, be on the lookout for designs that inspire you. You can find these in magazines, print ads, newsletters, or even online. Maybe there is a flyer or a brochure that another church produced that you really like. Then when you think you're ready, try to reproduce them on your own. Chances are you will gain confidence as you begin to realize just how much you have learned. If you can't figure out how they put a picture in a round shape, simply ask your go-to design expert or Google "how to give an image a round shape."
Don't Be Afraid of Feedback
Getting feedback from others can be a bit scary, especially if you're not that confident in your abilities yet. However, getting constructive criticism is vital for your emerging church graphic design skills. Someone may point out a font that just doesn't look right, or ask you to use a more vibrant color. Sometimes it may be easier to take advice from someone you don't know. If this is the case for you, there are plenty of online communities where others can comment on your designs.