5 Graphic Design Exercises to Improve Skills and Confidence

graphic design

In this post, I would like to give you some actionable graphic design exercises that you can do to boost your own confidence and improve your skills. So that you don’t feel held back from being the designer that you were meant to be. So whenever I have felt backed off from saying that I’m a designer or maybe going and even finding clients.

I’ve noticed it came back to my own lack of confidence. That I could create designs that my clients would like to see. So self-criticism and feeling like I’m not good enough. Have been a really big part of what has held me back from taking on bigger and higher price clients earlier in my freelance business. As you may have heard me say many times design does not start in the computer.

When someone buys Photoshop and Illustrator they’re not automatically knighted as being a designer. It’s your actual design skills that define you and the programs are just tools to execute those designs. The best sources of inspiration and practice come from a pencil and paper and the world around us. So here are five graphic design exercises you can do on a daily weekly basis to improve your design skills.

The first exercise is to improve your ability to create logos. That is to look at objects or animals around you and find the simple shapes within them. How could you simplify them down into geometric shapes that could become a logo or an icon. This gets you to start seeing in silhouette forms, draw them down on a piece of paper. And if you’re looking to improve your logo design skills. You could do this for 30 minutes a day and see a great improvement in your skills.

The next exercise is to look at magazines, billboards or ads from big brands. Notice the layout they create and then duplicate that in a rough block sketch in your sketchbook. This helps you to learn new compositions and layouts that help you to expand your ideas of where things can be positioned on a page. I used to get so stagnant with the same layouts over and over. Until I started challenging myself with more difficult layouts. And seeing what looked good to the eye and what didn’t.

The third graphic design exercise is to draw color palettes from movies. I used to watch some of my favorite movies like Amelie and I would pause them and then I would draw. Movies are always very well composed in terms of color schemes. And you can find some gorgeous inspiration there. I was actually watching the new Steven Spielberg west side story last week. And the color palettes there are exceptionally done. They really show complementary colors in an extremely aesthetic way. So take some colored pencils or pastels and mark down the colors. That you see in those frames in little squares next to each other to create a palette.

The fourth graphic design exercise is to draw shapes and color palettes from nature. You could go outside with some colored pencils and just start blocking out the colors that you see. Also, look for patterns and negative shapes in nature. This helps to not only train you to see what colors look good together. But it actually also helps you to see what shapes look pleasing and what don’t.

The fifth graphic design exercise is about improving your actual observation skills. This is something that I used to fill sketchbooks and sketchbooks with. That is to actually follow an object with your eye and draw exactly what you see without looking at the paper.

At first, your drawing is going to look horrible. But as you continue to practice over and over your ability to duplicate. What is in front of you will improve and you will then be able to sketch your concepts better for your designs. And execute design concepts better in the computer to keep track of your design exercise. Practicing gets a wall calendar and mark off every day you practice with an ex. And have a game for yourself that you’re going to get rewarded if you do a five-day streak or a 30-day streak.

This can actually help to motivate you by applying these unique exercises. You’re not just going to draw inspiration from what other designers are designing. But you’re going to find and improve your ability to use nature. And the world around you to actually improve your skills.

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