Graphic Designer Roadmap 2023

Graphic Designers are visual storytellers. By combining images, words, and graphics, they communicate information and engage audiences. Graphic Designers use design elements, such as shapes, colors, lines, and textures, to produce a range of work. They create everything from posters and product packaging to logos and animations. Graphic design is an essential part of the marketing and advertising efforts of a brand or company. Graphic Designers, also known as Communication Designers, build visually appealing designs that support the brand’s message and evoke emotion from consumers.

To work as a graphic designer, you’ll need to develop marketable abilities that employers and clients value, such as good sketching skills, software expertise, and a thorough understanding of design principles and concepts. You must be able to complete projects from start to finish, including generating ideas, designing thorough drawings, tracking projects through delivery and asset installation, and more.

The best way to become a graphic designer – whether on your own or in pursuit of a degree – is to build a strong foundation of essential skills, learn through practice and experimentation, and create a large body of your own creative work. To help you get started, we’ve created a step-by-step guide that explores two different paths: earning a degree in graphic design or learning graphic design on your own through self-paced online courses.

Let’s Get Started

Step 1: Learn Graphic Design Principles

To become a Graphic Designer, you must first have a thorough understanding of graphic design principles. Design is meticulously made. It necessitates a great deal of preparation and knowledge of design theory and principles. Lines, color, shape, space, texture, typography, scale, dominance and emphasis, and harmony are all characteristics that graphic designers must consider. All of these factors have an impact on a design and can influence how a viewer feels.

Step 2: Enroll In a Graphic Design Course

A graphic design course teaches you the principles of design while also allowing you to practice your talents through project work. Graphic design classes will also introduce you to mentors and peers who will be extremely helpful as you expand your network. Color theory, typography, layout, and graphic design tools and software are all covered in most graphic design courses. Some courses will also teach you about graphic design history, user experience (UX), and website design principles, depending on their depth.

There are a variety of options available, from structured academic courses to online courses that offer more flexibility. Find one that works with your schedule and learning preferences.

Step 3: Master the Software

Learning the basics of graphic design is only the beginning. Graphic designers are constantly working to maintain their proficiency, update their abilities, stay up-to-date on industry developments, and utilize new tools in the creative world. To be successful, you need a high degree of skill in the industry’s standard software programs.

Any graphic designer should know how to use Adobe Creative Cloud software as a bare minimum, but you should also learn how to use other industry-specific software packages. The degree of inventiveness available to graphic designers is closely related to how rapidly they can develop things and how well they know the tools.

1. Learn Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is the program to use if you need to edit or change an image. Photoshop operates with rasterized images, which allow for pixel modification. Photoshop is suitable for photography imagery but not for website design, logos, fonts, or any other form of graphic design work due to this capability. Photoshop can be used to exchange elements of photographs, such as a face, or to insert a backdrop or fix defects in a photograph.

From healing brushes, lasso tools, feathering, and burning, you need to understand and be able to use the numerous editing tools that Photoshop offers to edit images at a true professional level for your client. A good designer will not rely on stock images, since they are often generic and do not promote the brand.

2. Learn Adobe Illustrator

When a client needs a logo or an illustration, you will likely use Illustrator to complete the project. Illustrator works with vector graphics, which means that each line and curve is a mathematically precise point. Vector images can be scaled to any size, unlike raster images, which you can only scale up. Illustrator is a good fit for website design and for any graphic work that requires clean lines and shapes.

Illustrator includes a number of advanced lines, gradient, and coloring tools that enable users to create complex graphics that can subsequently be modified, scaled, and colored to match any need. For example, a logo made in Illustrator may be used on a business card as well as a billboard without sacrificing resolution or clarity.

3. Learn Adobe InDesign

InDesign is a cross-platform desktop publishing program – meaning it can be used on Windows or Mac computers – that allows the user to plan for print output from the beginning of a project. While you can do basic page layout and design with Photoshop and Illustrator, InDesign allows for complete control over the text and graphics of a publication.

To build each page, InDesign combines controls such as specifying the bleed area (the edges where color bleeds off the page), positioning photos, setting up columns of text, inserting special layouts like cross-heads or callouts, and adding interactive components like links and buttons.

Step 4: Work On Your Own Projects to Develop Your Graphic Design Skills

It’s time to put your newfound knowledge of graphic design ideas and tools to use. Working on your own design projects is the best approach to improve your talents and grasp graphic design tools. Create mock adverts and logos for actual or made-up businesses to get started. You can also attempt generating a new design using a company’s existing designs, which is good practice for identifying and designing for target audiences. Another possibility is to

volunteer with local non-profits or brands. Offer your design skills to these organizations so you get more practice, as well as gain real-world experience.

Step 5: Develop a Portfolio to Showcase Your Graphic Design Work

Any Graphic Designer should have a solid portfolio. Projects completed for a course, as well as personal or job projects, can be included in your portfolio. Prioritize quantity over quality. Select work that showcases your design talents and interests because your portfolio is the first impression that potential employers or clients will see.

What Are Different Types of Graphic Designers? 

Graphic Designers can work in-house, where they create designs for one company or brand; at an agency, where they work with a range of clients and brands; or as a freelancer, where they run their own design business.

In-House Graphic Designers

An established brand or firm uses in-house graphic designers. They usually have a wide variety of general design talents to meet a company’s diverse needs. Their responsibilities will range from creating new marketing strategies to drafting annual reports. In-House Graphic Designers may work with a team of other designers or be the sole designer within a company, depending on the size of the creative department.

With in-house graphic design, there is usually a more traditional work environment, with steady paychecks and a regular work schedule. In-House Graphic Designers need an in-depth understanding of the company and brand they work for, including the company’s style and audience. Because they work to build the brand, In-House Graphic Designers think about long-term design ideas and strategies. They continually build and improve upon their previous work.

Agency Graphic Designers

Agency Graphic Designers work with a range of brands and clients. Because agencies are hired by outside clients, the needs of those clients will vary. In general, Agency Graphic Designers work on short-term projects geared toward specific campaigns. Agency work tends to be more fast-paced, and Agency Graphic Designers may be designing for several brands at once.

In most agencies, there are numerous Graphic Designers on staff. Each may have a different area of knowledge or focus. Agency Graphic Designers work with colleagues that are very knowledgeable with and competent in design, therefore there will be a lot of pressure to produce excellent work.

Agencies are a great opportunity to work alongside other designers and get a first-hand look into their design processes. This can be particularly useful for new Designers who are eager to learn from established Designers.

Freelance Graphic Designers

Freelance Graphic Designers are self-employed and run every aspect of their business, from the actual design work to managing clients and issuing invoices. They work with a variety of clients, on a range of projects. Successful Freelance Graphic Designers are self-motivated and business-savvy.

Working as a freelancer gives you a lot of freedom. Freelance graphic designers can work and live wherever they want, and they set their own hours. They have more freedom in terms of the job they accept, yet it is critical to have a strong client base when starting a freelancing firm.

In addition to graphic design work, Freelance Graphic Designers need to devote time to marketing themselves and handling administrative tasks. Freelancers always need to seek out new clients and opportunities. At times, they will be competing with other Designers to land projects. The pay can also vary greatly depending on the type and amount of work.

How Do I Become a Freelance Graphic Designer?

To become a Freelance Graphic Designer, you will need to find clients, market yourself and grow your network. You will need strong design skills, as well as an understanding of how to run a business.

1. Learn and practice graphic design

To get started, you’ll need some graphic design expertise and practice using your abilities. Taking a design course and working on personal projects are two ways to learn graphic design.

2. Brand and market yourself

Come up with a name for your business, which could simply be your name. Create a web presence for yourself and build a portfolio that highlights your best work. Make it easy for potential clients to find and contact you.

3. Find clients

It’s critical to get your initial clientele as quickly as possible. This will help you get your company off the ground and gain confidence and momentum. You can look for clients on freelance job websites or through your personal network. If you have friends, peers, or relatives that are looking for a Graphic Designer, ask them.

4. Overdeliver on your first projects

The first project you complete for a client should be exceptional. Overdeliver and impress them with your skills. They will then be more likely to hire you again or refer other contacts to you.

5. Learn the business of design

As a Freelance Graphic Designer, you run every aspect of your business. You will need to perform essential tasks like marketing, sending proposals, and writing invoices.

6. Accept most incoming work

When you first start your business, you will want to take on the majority of the work that comes in. This is essential for building your client base. Once you have become more established, you can certainly be more selective about the work you choose.

7. Build your network

As a freelancer, your network—which includes current, previous, and potential clients, as well as peers, friends, and family—is an important element of your business. You should always be on the lookout for new customers. Because freelance employment is unpredictable, you may have an influx of tasks one month and no work the next. Dedicate time each week to reaching out to clients to boost your chances of having a constant stream of work. This could include cold contacting, networking, or marketing efforts like as SEO or social media ads.

8. Ask for referrals

One of the most effective strategies for Freelance Graphic Designers to obtain additional clients is through word-of-mouth marketing. Ask if they know someone who needs graphic design once you’ve completed a project and impressed a client. Referrals will most likely grow more spontaneous over time, but incorporate them into your initial workflow.

#Resources To Learn Graphic Designers

Courses you need to do: UX DesignThis is your path to a career in UX design. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready…

Softwares you need to learn:

Photoshop —

Adobe Illustrator —

After Effects for motion graphics —


Good to have (this will give you an edge over other designers):

AdobeXD —

InDesign —

Figma —

Canva —

Premier pro (video editing) —

Aseprite for pixel art —

Procreate (for iPad) —

Blender for animation —

Best Websites to learn:

For Portfolio and inspiration:

  • Behance
  • Dribble

Youtube channels to follow:

How to Get Clients with these Freelance Websites (never work for free):

1. Upwork

2. Freelancer

3. Fiverr

4. 99designs

5. Toptal

6. Guru

7. PeoplePerHour

8. Dribbble

9. LinkedIn

10. DesignHill

11. Twine

How much does a Graphic Designer make in the United States?

The average salary for a graphic designer is $19.87 per hour in the United States. 7.7k salaries reported, updated at May 10, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is graphic design and what does it include?

Graphic design is a design process that combines text and graphics in a way that is intended to communicate a specific message.

  • 2. Where is graphic design used?

Company logos, printed products such as brochures, posters, signage, greeting cards, postcards, business cards, billboards, and advertisements all use graphic design. Technology advancements have given us the digital environment, which includes websites, online ads, virtual brochures and presentations, and much more.

  • 3. What do graphic designers use to create these designs?

Thanks to a vast selection of software with practically unlimited digital design tools, graphic designers can employ both hand-illustrated and computer-aided designs. Software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop have become indispensable to graphic designers.

  • 4. What can a graphic designer do that I can’t do?

A graphic designer does more than merely use his or her imagination. Despite the fact that most graphic designers are naturally creative, they have spent time learning a variety of design principles. Understanding how to employ design elements to convey required messages and values, as well as generate a specific sensation in the viewer, is critical. Visual communicators, take advantage of these design components and employ principles like color, font, space, balance, shape, and lines to convey their message.

Some graphic designers may also comprehend the more technical components of design needed to develop digital assets for a business. A web designer, for example, may often construct wireframes, workflows, and sitemaps, as well as understand how to develop user-friendly navigation.

  • 5. What else does a graphic designer accomplish as part of the work they produce for a client?

As part of a graphic design project, a designer will perform a variety of special activities in addition to translating their client’s vision, brand image, and value proposition into a graphic display. Collaboration on the concept (usually with a team), attending project meetings, paying attention to what customers are clicking on, giving presentations that explain the various potential designs, revising designs, and preparing asset files for other team members and clients are all examples of specialty tasks.

  • 6. How can I work with a graphic designer and stay on budget?

Working with a graphic designer can be done in a variety of ways. Working with an agency, using a platform like 99designs, or hiring them directly are all choices. However, you should be prepared to express your needs to the graphic designer clearly and frequently. When filling out your request, the more descriptive you can be, the more likely the final product will mirror your vision. Keep your costs down by communicating properly and limiting modifications. The price of most graphic design projects includes one or two rounds of modifications.

If I missed any topics please comment them down and if you know any other resources please share them. It will be very helpful for others who want to learn. You can follow me on Instagram if you liked what you’ve read.

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