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  • New to design and wondering what software is best and ways to learn about new trends

    Hey guys,

    So, I am just starting out studying in the design field, so I am after a bit of advice from those a bit wiser.

    Firstly, as a part of my course, I am using Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, however, I was wondering if anyone out there used any other programs that may help in graphic design.

    Secondly, what does everybody find the best way to follow trends is; is there magazines worth buying (keeping in mind, I live in Australia, which may make it a bit more difficult to come into contact with some magazines), or websites, or any other methods? Or do people just follow trends they pick up from day-to-day life?

    Thanks for bearing with me guys, I haven't been studying for that long, so I am very new to the field, so I'm sure some of my questions may reflect my lack of knowledge.

  • #2
    Focus on the mainstay Adobewares and become super proficient in those before worrying about incidental programs that assist you with any particular job at hand. I do wide format work and there are a lot of plug-ins and peripheral programs that make my life easier but not necessarily yours.

    As for ways to ''follow trends'' note that word ''follow''. You don't want to be following anything. Sure, stay tuned to the current marketing buzz, but don't let trends dictate your design. The one thing for sure about Trends? They End. Don't pigeonhole your client into a dead end.

    Lots of magazines are online now. Sad for the publishing industry, but helpful to you in Australia.
    Which ones you look at depends on what niche of design you intend to focus on.


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    • #3
      Hi Jacintamlh and welcome to GDF.

      We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
      Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jacintamlh View Post
        Secondly, what does everybody find the best way to follow trends is...
        As a designer you should be setting trends, not following them.

        Making your work look current (as in belonging to the current decade) is great, but basing a career on imitating a bunch of trendy nonsense that's here today and gone tomorrow is one of the most counterproductive things an aspiring designer can do.

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        • #5
          Forget "following trends" and focus on producing the desired reaction in the particular market at which a project is aimed. The targeted research that is (or should be) part of every design project may or may not reveal trends of varying relevance. More often than not, accomplishing the objectives of a design requires differentiating it from the tenets of one or more relevant trends. Then, when the market's trend followers recognize that it's not more of the same, they deem it "fresh" and congratulations; you're a trendsetter.
          I'd rather be killed than come to your party, but if you don't invite me, I'll kill myself.

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          • #6
            Thanks so much for these answers, I had never considered "following trends" would leave the product outdated before, but thinking about it now, I can see that designs I have seen in day-to-day life don't really "follow" the trends, otherwise I'm sure they would look a lot more similar, which doesn't give a company an identity.

            Just a follow up question regarding the Adobe suite, what's a good way to get proficient in using these? Any websites, or are tutorial hard-copy books better at learning how to use these well? I understand the basics of how to use photoshop (how to open/close/save documents, how to check and alter histographs, changing bightness, colour channels, etc.), but I'm not to good with the "fancy" ways of using these, such as creating brushes in photoshop.

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            • #7
              There are so many websites and tutorials out there, you should narrow down to what you exactly want to learn. Either way starting out with the fundamentals of design like composition, symmetry etc is always a good choice (if you already haven't done that).

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              • #8
                Originally posted by jacintamlh View Post
                ...what's a good way to get proficient in using these? Any websites, or are tutorial hard-copy books better at learning how to use these well?
                Everyone learns differently, so I don't think there's any one best way. I seem to learn best by just jumping in and wrestling my way through problems. Video tutorials or classroom instructions are nearly useless for me, and I mostly just search for written instructions when I get stuck. That's just me, though.

                Some people learn best by working their way through exercises from books and others learn best by viewing the video tutorials from Adobe, Lynda.com or Pluralsight.com. Both Lynda.com and Pluralsight cost money, though. If you're looking for free, there's always YouTube, but quality on the amateur videos there is hit and (mostly) miss.

                In the end, I don't think there are any substitutes for long hours of practice.

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                • #9
                  Gotta ask the question. Are you a student in a graphic design program?
                  You can learn all you want about the programs and follow the current trends and do all of the things the most up to date sig artist can do with photoshop, but none of that will make you a professional graphic designer. Software is just a tool.

                  I'm sort of like B when it comes to learning to make software do something I want it to do. Photoshop is still largely a mystery to me. I can do quite a number of things with it, but if it won't do what I want, I'm out there looking for a step-by-step online to get me through it. Then most likely, I'll promptly forget what I did, simply because it was something I needed for one specific job on one specific day.

                  The whole thing about software is not to let it limit you. That's why sketching is so important. Sketching not only gets you beyond the bad ideas quickly, you aren't hampered by your lack of knowledge of the software tool when coming up with your designs. Sketch first. Then make the machine do what you want it to do. Don't sit with the software and be like, ''I know how to make a square. And I can use this font in a straight line. And these Adobe colors are right here in the color palette.'' That doesn't work. Potential students always ask if they need drawing skills to be designers, and my answer is always ''yes.'' You need to be able to quickly and relatively accurately sketch your ideas as they come to you. Other drawing skills are later put to use in layout and photoshop work. You can't do image composites if you don't understand scale, lighting and perspective.

                  Try to use the layers available in the software. If you organize your work into layers, and you have a logical stacking order to them, it all makes more sense. A lot of beginners ignore the layers. It's sort of a 3D visualization of a flat page though and I find a lot of Graphic Designers have trouble thinking beyond just the flatness of the page.

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                  • #10
                    Hi PrintDriver,

                    I am currently studying Graphic Prepress, which will lead into Graphic Design.

                    The course I'm doing is teaching me a lot about the basics of design, such as scale, expressing emotions or feelings through font and shapes, etc, I'm just very keen to learn the skills needed to succeed in Graphic Design, and I figure the earlier on in my education (and hopefully one day career) I can learn these, the more refined I can make them by the time I finish my education. That's what concerned me regarding my (lack of) knowledge about the Adobe Creative Suite, I was concerned that not knowing the ins and outs of photoshop and the like would hamper my ability to work in graphic design, but I had never given any thought to the fact I could find tutorials online if I was stuck on how to design a particular idea I had.

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                    • #11
                      The Adobe Classroom in a Book series is used as a starting point in a lot of classes. There are separate books for each program.

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