Top “graphic design 101” tips for bloggers who aspire towards learning about graphic design and applying those tips to their blogs!
One of the biggest reasons I love blogging is that is combines three things I have always loved: photography, writing and graphic design. These are three essential skills to blogging but they’re not always naturally loved by all bloggers.
I get asked questions about graphic design all the time, so I thought it would be a perfect start to a new mini series I wanted to do! I will cover the basics of different thing that I love for the next four weeks: graphic design, photography, cooking and blogging. Each post will hopefully answer some lingering questions you may have about each subject! If you have specific things you’d like me to address, please email me!
Let’s get started, shall we?
Graphic design for blogging is an interesting beast. There are so many little things that are a part of doing graphic design for blogs. Unfortunately, you won’t be done with graphic design even if you hire someone to make a logo/header design for your blog or even a full blog design. You need to know basic graphic design in order to make graphics for your posts, design your own ads/buttons and make giveaway graphics as well.
Here are a few of the questions I’ve heard over the last few months:
What programs do you use?
I personally rely on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is my go to program and Photoshop I use for quick graphics for giveaways or for photo editing. Price? For the photography bundle which includes Photoshop and Lightroom it is $9.99 a month! A single app plan (for example if you wanted to get Illustrator) would be $19.99.
The main reason I use Illustrator over Photoshop is because Illustrator works in vectors. That basically means that no matter what size I want to blow up or size down my graphics, they’re going to be the same quality. With Photoshop, the program and your designs are based in pixels, which is why things can get blurry or pixelated. Even though lots of things are web based in blogging, I always like to have vector files that I know can be print quality, too. This is the reason that Photoshop is primarily used for photos and Illustrator is primarily used for graphics and illustrations.
If you are only doing design work for blogging, a fancy program like those may not be necessary. Instead you can use a free program like PicMonkey or Canva. Both have free and paid options within the apps. These are great apps for creating things like blog graphics!
Getting started on a custom design
Whether you want to design your own button or even your own header, you have to start with a concept. This is sometimes done by coming up with a mood board for the brand itself. Especially when designing a new logo for your blog or business, you should start off by collecting images that inspire you and come together to be a part of your brand. In a recent logo design I did, I did the same thing to pull together all of the elements of the design.
Knowing what you want out of a design is essential to it being successful. Custom designs are not as simple as pulling together some fonts you love and calling it a logo. There’s always a reason for each font chosen within a logo or any sort of custom design work.
All About Those Fonts…
I’ve had a few questions asked regarding fonts. Where do you get them? How do you use them? What is your favorite?
Well… since you asked. My favorite places to buy fonts are MyFonts.com and Creative Market (affiliate links used). I have always loved combining script and print fonts together in a design (which you can tell from almost all of my design work). You can also download free fonts from dafont.com.
Combining fonts is great, but as a rule of thumb your graphics or even your entire blog design should never have more than 3-5 fonts. It just gets overwhelming. You’ll notice I have two main fonts within most of my graphics in my posts and on my blog design. Simple and clean are always preferred in graphic design.
Commercial vs. Personal Use
When you download a font for free, you have to be very careful to pay attention to how the font is listed. On dafont specifically, you’ll see either “free for personal use” or “100% free” normally. Free for personal use means you can use it for anything that you’re not making money off of. For example, if you design your Christmas cards, you can use a free font. However, if you’re designing a blog for someone, you should probably only use fonts you have a complete license for. I’m not an expert, so I usually just try to use my fonts I’ve purchased, better safe than sorry.
Installing fonts is super easy and with apps like PicMonkey you can even use the fonts you have installed to your computer! Check out this FAQ section from dafont on how to install them on your computer, either on a PC or Apple.
Creative Market: Gracyn
DaFont: KG Eyes Wide Open, Clair Hand, Lobster, Caviar Dreams, Champagne & Limousines, Cheddar Jack, NEOU
Pixel- a pixel is the smallest amount of “date” an image can hold. It is one block of color and all of the pixels make up the image we see. So when you see something that requires 400×300 pixels, that’s what it’s talking about.
Resolution- another catchphrase in the design world is resolution. You may also hear things like “pixels per inch” or “dots per inch.” These things take into effect how many dots or pixels are used per inch. Cheat sheet: Anything on the internet is 72dpi, always. For print, 300dpi is best. With programs like PicMonkey and Canva, you are not able to set your resolution as anything but 72dpi.
Button– a button is basically an ad (whether paid or a swap) that is placed on someone else’s blog to direct people to your blog. This is also referred to as an ad or banner.
There are lots of different ways to learn the various programs you might need for graphic design. You can look at YouTube tutorials, take a SkillShare or Lynda class, or even a class in person. There are lots of ways to learn basic graphic design if you’re willing to take the time to do it.
Adding text to images
In PicMonkey, this is super easy to do. Go to picmonkey.com, click “design.” At the top click “open” and then choose a file from your computer or other location. On the right hand side, click the Tt icon to add text. Scroll through the fonts and find something you like! Then click “Add Text” and you’re on your way!
One of the most frustrating things to see is a stretched or distorted image. It may seem like a difficult thing to resize an image but I promise, it’s pretty easy! Go through the same steps as above to open your image. Then click the first icon which is a crop symbol. Click resize. Notice the check box that says “keep proportions”? Do not uncheck that. That is what makes an image distorted. Resize your image to whatever specifications you need. If your image is horizontal and you need it square, go to the crop tool instead and enter in the size you need.
If you find that your image doesn’t completely fit, then create a new document (clicking design on the homepage), go to resize again and enter in the dimensions you need. Since this is a white background, it won’t distort it, so you can uncheck “keep proportions” to be able to make whatever size canvas you need. Then go to the overlay icon which is the butterfly. Where it says “Your Own” click that and insert a photo from your computer or other location. You can now use the corner tools to make your icon bigger or move it around the fit within the size you need. You may have to play with it to get a design you like, but this will ensure your beautiful graphics won’t become ugly and distorted.
And if you don’t want to do the design work yourself, you can always hire someone, like me! Take 10% off all design orders through the end of February 2015 with the code WSID.
Make sure you check out the other parts of this series:
What other questions do you have about graphic design? Comment below and I may add them to this list for others!
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