11 Graphic Design Tips to Create Images Like a Pro

graphic design tips

From the colors and images you select, to the overall mood, creating images like a pro is a bit more involved than you might realize. There are many elements at play in a professional-looking graphic design. Luckily, it’s possible to learn the skills it takes to create sharp, eye-catching graphics.

In this post, we’re sharing some effective graphic design tips to help you get started on your journey of creating images that will revamp your online presence and snag your audience’s attention.

1. Be Intentional About Alignment

Being intentional with the alignment in your graphic design matters to viewers. You don’t want an element of your design to feel like it’s a bit off. Errors in spacing and placement will be noticeable to viewers, even if they’re minor.

When you align your graphic design elements, you don’t have to stack things right on top of each other. However, they need to be lined up correctly whenever possible.

Spacing your design elements evenly, and in an aesthetically pleasing way, will go a long way toward helping your images look pro-level. These rules apply whether you’re placing shapes, icons, or text blocks.

snappa canvas example

2. Include Icons & Logos to Get Your Point Across

Well-placed icons and logos can make a significant impact on your branded graphics. In addition to using your brand colors and fonts, strategically placing a familiar icon or your logo will bring even more of your brand’s flavor to an image.

When it comes to including logos or icons in your graphic design—be strategic. Don’t try to squeeze a logo into an image just to force it in there. You want it to be large enough to read at a glance, and have enough breathing room around it to not feel cluttered.

Logos can work well on quotes or branded graphics, as well as YouTube video thumbnails. The trick is to make sure they are readable, identifiable, and make sense within the overall design.

If you include a logo, they often work well in either the bottom corner or centered at the top or bottom of your image.

Icons can be leveraged well when included in tips, quotes, and infographics. Using a light bulb or lightning bolt to signify a great idea is a good example. Emojis can also help convey your message to your audience.

logo icon example

3. Leverage Contrasting Colors to Draw Focus

Using contrasting colors can help draw the viewer’s focus to where you want it. A properly contrasting palette can also ensure your designs are both aesthetically pleasing and accessible.

If you haven’t yet selected your brand colors, consider using a color wheel like Adobe’s free Adobe Color tool. You can use this tool to toggle between colors and choose a palette with the proper amount of contrast that is both true to your brand and attention-grabbing.

adobe color example

Adobe Color has recently incorporated a Contrast Checker feature that helps designers select accessible palettes that align with W3C®’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The tool also features a setting that can address three forms of color blindness for further accessibility.

4. Don’t Forget the Negative Space

When you design an image, you don’t want to cram it full of text, icons, logos, and a stock image until there’s no room left. That will make the design look too busy, and viewers won’t find it pleasing to look at.

The free space around graphic elements is considered negative space and it’s important because it allows you to create obvious groupings of information. For example, if two paragraphs of text were seen side by side without any negative space between them, it would be difficult to discern where one line of text ended and the other began.

negative space example

A cluttered design also has the potential to stress out your audience, which will make them less likely to seek out your brand online. So when creating your graphic designs, make sure they have plenty of negative space. That way, you’ll keep your visual aesthetic looking tidy and pleasant.

5. Minimize Font Selection

Minimizing your font selection is just as important as honoring the negative space in your image.

Use clean, easy-to-read fonts that show up well against the background you’ve chosen. (If you can’t read them against your background image, consider using a solid shape like a circle, square, or rectangle behind the text as a sort of container.)

font selection example

Refrain from using more than two fonts in your graphic design, excluding the logo or brand name you might include in the corner or at the bottom of the image. Even then, these fonts need to be in line with your brand style guidelines.

Don’t overuse formatting, such as bolding or italics. Font formatting applies to the two-font rule, as well. Otherwise, your image will be too busy and viewers might skip it, rather than read it through.

6. Consider Your Branded Colors & Aesthetic

When you’re creating graphics for your business, consider the branded colors and aesthetic you’ve chosen.

Your online presence should have a sense of consistency when it comes to your colors, aesthetic, and fonts. Graphics you create and share via social media should follow suit. You want to make sure the images you share align with your branding.

Take a look at Wordable.io. This brand uses cool, clean colors in its website design, so the color palette for its social media graphics would need to follow the overall aesthetic.

wordable color example

In contrast, see the Breadcrumbs.io color palette. Aesthetically, it’s extremely different from Wordable’s.

breadcrumbs color example

Using the bright yellow Breadcrumbs.io palette for Wordable’s social graphics wouldn’t work at all (and vice versa). It would present an aesthetic clash that’s inconsistent with the established brand palette.

7. Use Lines or Boxes to Keep the Image Organized

Using boxes, lines, or even shapes in your graphic designs works well to keep elements organized. Design elements like this help break up the text as well as elements of the overall image to draw the focus where you want it.

box design example

Adding lines or boxes is also a great way to create negative space as it keeps important information tucked away in one place. Just like with other design elements, you don’t want to overuse any of these approaches. Incorporate them sparingly and in a way that aligns with your brand design.

8. Test Different Styles of Alignment

While alignment is important in graphic design, not everything has to be perfectly centered. You can put logos in the corner of a graphic, or purposely break up text in an asymmetrical way.

left aligned example

The important thing here is to make sure that the graphics and visuals you choose look good and the information you have in your design is organized in a logical way. In the example above, the text is all left-aligned while the icon is aligned to the right. What makes this work is that all of the elements combined are centered within the boundaries of the graphic.

9. Adjust The Opacity of Elements

Adjusting the translucence or opacity of design elements can be very effective in graphic design.

For example, if the shape in the image below was completely opaque we wouldn’t see much of the subject in the photo behind it. Adjusting the opacity to at least a partial translucence gives you the contrast you need for your text to be readable but also allows for the background to come through. Striking this balance is crucial in creating a professional and high-quality graphic.

opacity design example

See more opacity tricks in our video below:

10. Remember Mobile

When designing images for your brand, don’t forget mobile.

As of 2021, more than 90% of the world’s internet users were on mobile. According to the same data from Statista, more than 56.89% of the world’s internet traffic is also running on mobile.

This means that optimizing your images for mobile users isn’t something you can ignore.

Are your images optimized for mobile viewing? Are they sized properly for different platforms in a way that will work on mobile, and is the text large enough to read on a mobile device?

mobile design example

Keep in mind that vertical images are more popular than horizontal on mobile. Left-aligned formatting may be the best option for readability, in a text-heavy post.

11. Keep It Simple

Finally, we saved the best tip for last: keep it simple.

Graphic designs are infinitely better when they’re kept simple, uncluttered, and clean. This gives the viewer a chance to skim information easily without feeling overwhelmed.

simple design example

If you’re in the beginning stages of becoming a graphic designer, remember to take your time, and keep things simple from the very start. When you take a bit more time than normal to create thoughtful and well-planned designs, your followers are more likely to enjoy your content. Rather than clicking away from a poorly designed image, they’re more likely to come back to your brand for more.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’re equipped with some great graphic design tips, it’s time to get to work. With a little practice and commitment to designing with simplicity, you’ll be on your way to boosting your online presence, one graphic at a time.

Want help creating gorgeous designs that look professional even if you have zero experience? You don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to create images like a pro—and you don’t have to invest time and money into expensive software with a steep learning curve. 

If you’re ready to start creating your own eye-catching graphics without a lot of fuss, take a look at Snappa. You can get started for free here

  • Wilson Hung March 29, 2016, 11:26 am

    Great post! Do you have a few “go to” fonts you usually use? If so, what are they? I’m tired of using Arial…

  • Christopher Gimmer March 29, 2016, 2:38 pm

    Glad you liked the post Wilson. Depends on the type of graphic since different fonts work well for different use cases. My personal favs are Aleo, Josefin Sans, Lato, League Gothic, Montserrat, Norwester, Open Sans, Quicksand, Raleway, Roboto and Yellowtail.

  • LV Farrow March 29, 2016, 2:54 pm

    What a helpful post! Thanks to Snappa I can create professional looking media for my church and other small non-profits that have limited money and resources. I attached a sample. Thank you Chris!

  • Christopher Gimmer March 29, 2016, 3:18 pm

    Awesome glad you liked the post 🙂

  • suruha March 31, 2016, 11:05 am

    A good read! These are all good ideas! Thank you!

  • Christopher Gimmer March 31, 2016, 12:42 pm

    Thanks, glad you liked it 🙂

  • Lê Tuấn Anh April 18, 2016, 9:06 pm

    Very informative! Thanks for sharing.

  • Chris Moore June 11, 2016, 5:11 pm

    Great post! Thanks so much for sharing these tips. Loving Snappa, too! 🙂

  • Checo July 21, 2016, 12:31 pm

    Nice post! Thanks a lot!

  • Christopher Gimmer July 29, 2016, 2:36 pm

    Glad you liked the tips Chris!

  • Christopher Gimmer July 29, 2016, 2:37 pm

    You’re very welcome! Glad you liked it 🙂

  • Christopher Gimmer July 29, 2016, 2:37 pm

    Glad you liked it!

  • Liz September 28, 2016, 5:27 am

    Great thoughts here Thanks for sharing!

  • Cooper March 9, 2017, 2:31 am

    In most of the available posts, people talk about giving suggestions to designers only and nobody much think about non-designers. I am glad you have shared some very important tips here only for the non-designers. Thank you.

  • annie May 26, 2018, 5:02 am

    Hi. I read the full blog, I am new in graphics designing, I am working in illustrator. You describe the little things, which have vital effects. I like “Think about who you’re
    designing for” this point the most. Recently I put a lot of effort to make
    an exclusive logo for my boss but he did not like it. I felt so hurt and make
    another simple logo for him and he like it so much. Then I feel this point.

  • Kim Lang July 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

    Really impressive information in regards to graphic design and I am going to improve my skills for sure. Thanks for the valuable information.

  • imilingo channel September 4, 2018, 12:13 am

    Hi I am happy with the information you provide.
    may I make this information to my blog in Indonesian?

  • Abdul Qadir December 13, 2018, 8:58 am

    thanks alot.
    believe me admin. I’ve read your blog complete and carefully.
    Great approach. Thank you once again

  • Frank borg March 7, 2019, 10:01 am

    i have just reviewed all mentioned points which are very informative and knowledgeable for us, thanks for sharing keep up the good work

  • Nick Le March 7, 2019, 10:53 am

    Glad you’re finding value out of the post, thanks for stopping by Frank!

  • Nick Le March 7, 2019, 10:53 am

    Awesome, thank you!

  • itunes sync error 54 April 8, 2019, 12:46 am

    This post is really amazing. I had more question and doubt how we can use graphics card but after reading this error my all doubt was clear. thanks foe this useful post.

  • Asif Ahmed Rakib April 9, 2019, 8:43 am

    Awesome, Thank you so much.

  • Nick Le April 23, 2019, 2:49 pm

    Hi Annie, that’s awesome! Thanks for sharing that and I’m glad the article helped!

  • Nick Le April 23, 2019, 2:49 pm

    That’s awesome, I’m glad you found value out of the post! Cheers.

  • Hebert Domine May 2, 2019, 9:43 am

    Muito Bom . Christopher adorei estas. 17 dicas de design gráfico.
    Excelentes.. Abraço HEBERT

  • Nick Le May 6, 2019, 2:29 pm

    Glad you found value from the post Hebert. Good luck in your designs!

  • Goswami Vanshita June 19, 2019, 7:04 am

    Thankyou for sharing such a nice article and your knowledge with us. informative post really appreciated.

  • Nick Le July 4, 2019, 11:00 am

    Glad you found value out of the article! Thanks for stopping by!