1) Learn the basics
When you don’t know how to use the basic tools of photoshop, you’re severely limited in your workflow. A good understanding of these tools is essential to creating beautiful designs. Fortunately, you’ll find plenty of websites/blogs that explain every photoshop tool there is. If you’re new to photoshop, you should take a look at this article.
2) Follow some tutorials
Tutorials can be a great source of inspiration. Not only do they give you insight into the work flow of other designers, but they you can also learn some new techniques out of them. You’ll learn how the author achieved a certain effect or how they tackled a problem. The internet is filled with quality tutorials for photoshop, illustrator, flash… Some of the best sites for tutorials are PSDtuts, Tutorial9 and PSDfan.
3) Collect some resources
The third tip is actually twofold. First of all, you should collect useful design resources such as brushes, textures, fonts and patterns. The internet is packed with quality freebies. Sometimes you’ll have to invest some money in these assets, but it will probably be worth it in the long run.
By collecting resources I also mean collecting inspiration. Save inspiration from other artist by either bookmarking it (delicious, stumble…) or by saving it on your computer. A little bit of inspiration is often enough to jump-start your know creation.
Try to do you own thing. Don’t try to copy other artists’ work but create something original. I know this is actually much harder than it sounds. Challenge yourself by thinking outside the box. Do some personal projects where you are free to do whatever you want.
Don’t hide your designs from the world, but share them. Criticism is often one of the best motivators to becoming a better designer. This means that you have to find a way to share your artwork with the general public. You could create your own portfolio, or you could post your designs on Flickr, DeviantART or Behance. By listening to the feedback of other people you can sometimes take your design to the next level.
That’s why it’ so important to network. Get in touch with fellow designers, they can often give you great feedback and tips. Networking has never been easier, thanks to services like Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Flickr….
6) Read some literature
Catch up with the latest trends by reading design books/magazines or design related blogs. These books and websites are filled with useful tips and tutorials. If you’re looking for a good design-related book, I suggest reading The Smashing Book. And to forget to read this article if you’re more interested in logo design books.
But if you prefer to read some design related blogs you should check out Six Revisions, Hongkiat, Noupe and Webdesigner Depot. There are a lot more quality blogs out there but it would take me ages to post them all here.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have an organized work environment. Too much stuff on your desk will act as a distraction. And don’t forget to organize the files on your PC/Mac. We talked about collecting resources in one of our first tips, but they won’t do you any good if you can’t find them. Organize them in different folders so they can be accessed quickly. For example: you could sub-divide your fonts by type (serif, sans-serif, grunge, handwritten…
Do you have more tips on how to become a better designer? Please share them with us, and post a comment!