Graphic Design Tips for Beginners

Trying to grow your business without hiring professional help? Here are some great graphic design tips for beginners. Learn basics on photo handling, choosing a product size, and printer.

Web Photos and Print Photos are Different

Website photos are saved at a smaller pixel per inch so they will load faster on your website. This is because, a faster load time = happier users and potential customers. Never use your website photos (72ppi) for a print project (300ppi needed). They will be too small and fuzzy. Instead, take or purchase photos with print in mind (LARGE) and save at 72ppi for fast web-loading use.

Stretching Photos = Wonky

No matter how one stretches a photo to fit a larger space than it can cover, the results will be wonky. Never force a smaller photo to work by stretching it to meet the needs of a larger space. Instead, crop a larger image to fit a smaller space. Something will always look strange and wonky if you change the aspect ratio of the original image. (This applies for both print and website pages.)

Choosing the Right Photo: What Does an Image Communicate?

Judge your photo choice with scrutiny. What does the image communicate? What are the subtleties it communicates? Is the photo’s messaging consistent with your brand? Does its overall color compliment or clash with your logo and branding? Look closely for pleasing or displeasing elements by judging a photo on its lighting, how the subject matter sits in the frame, how the subject is cropped, the colors, and facial expressions.

Stock Photography

If you don’t have the perfect photo match for the dimensions or your messaging intent, you may want to purchase a stock photo to meet the need. Pricing on stock photos vary depending on size and the rights to the photo. Yet, purchasing is always safer than scraping something off of the internet and risking a lawsuit for improper use.

Hiring a Professional Photographer

Are the stock photos you’re finding dull or not specific enough? Level up with the even better option of hiring a professional photographer to take photos of you, your employees, the factory, the shop, the product, or the work you do. This creates some authenticity that stock (purchased) photography may not be able to provide.

When choosing a photographer, scour their portfolio closely. Do they have work that is similar to what you would be asking them to do? Is it of good quality? Good lighting? What is their pricing? Does the final fee include photo editing? How many photos are guaranteed? Are the rights solely yours in the end?

Picking a Print Product Size:

When picking the size of your print piece, pick one large enough to provide for some empty or “negative space” around text and pictures. This “white space” will give your piece margin, a sense of calm, and clarity to your messaging.

An over-sized postcard can double as a brochure with its added size, but also have the added function of a mailer. These are good for trade shows as well. Pick a size that will get noticed in the mailbox; something bigger than the typical 5×7”.

Picking an Online Printer:

There are a lot of great online printers. They vary in paper and print quality, products offered, sizes, and—of course—pricing. Superior print companies will send paper samples and examples of their work by request. Usually these requests are made via a simple online form. Be sure to opt into your online printer’s mailing list and reap the benefits of their coupons and discounts.

Working with a Local Printer

If you are going to print often and want more in-person advice, build a solid relationship with a local printer. They can give advice for future products, sizes, etc. They usually have a greater selection of paper-types to choose from and may be more willing to produce custom orders.