Graphic Design Secrets Revealed

Sharpen your design skills and start designing like a pro instantly by learning these simple principles and techniques.
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  • Lectures 55
  • Length 6 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 9/2012 English

Course Description

Course Description:

Want to explore a career as a graphic designer or improve your current design skills?

Here is a great opportunity to start with the basics and learn directly from an award-winning experienced designer!  
Design with confidence as you master techniques that can be immediately applied to creating: print media, presentations, web pages, pitch pages, mobile apps, eBook covers, and more...

What are the requirements?

  • No requirements

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Learn where to get ideas for your projects
  • Learn the importance of having a strong message before you begin designing
  • Leran how to design for your target audience
  • Learn to design and organize layouts that demand attention
  • Learn the basic design principles and rules of visual organization
  • Learn the secret of designing with shapes
  • Learn solutions to common design problems
  • Learn an easy way to design logos quickly
  • Learn the steps in the design process
  • Learn the importance of establishing a visual hierarchy with your content.
  • Learn how to effectively design images with type.

Who is the target audience?

  • Anyone who wants to improve their graphic design skills and/or level of understanding visual design concepts.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Welcome!
In this course, you will learn the basic principles and techniques of graphic design that will have you designing like a pro.  It includes techniques for  designing all types of printed media, based on the practical application of graphic design principles. Written in concise, "easy-to understand" t…
Section 2: Getting Started
In this lesson, you will learn the definition of graphic design and review some of the visual components that make up a graphic design layout. Graphic design is a process of creating and organizing information in a visually appealing way that also communicates a message to the viewer. It is the arra…
Section 3: Visual Language of Design - The Elements
In each culture, visual art and design is defined by a specific set of standards. The primary design components of these standards in the Western culture are the Formal Elements of Design and Principles of Design.  The Elements of Design are the visual tools a designer uses to communicate in a speci…
A shape is any area defined by a clear boundary such as a line, color, and/or texture.By selecting visual components with attractive shapes you can create very dynamic designs and layouts.  Types of shapes: ·  Geometric – squares, rectangles, and circles, regular basics shapes ·  Organic – fluid sha…

Being selective about the photographs you use in a layout can also provide interesting shapes. For instance look for photographs that have large areas of negative shapes and/or empty spaces. 


In this lesson you learn and review how to effectively use shapes in a design layout. Knowing how to design with shapes is one important design skills to master and will have you designing like a pro instantly.  Especially having the ability to design both positive and negative shapes simultaneously. 


Illustrations or photos with blank backgrounds, referred to as cutouts, also create nice positive and negative shapes within a design layout because of their contour edges, as seen in this example. 


Recognizing shapes in typography that can be integrated with other visual components can create very interesting designs. Here are examples of logos using shapes and typography.

The path of a moving point. Characteristics of line: Measure - describes the length and width Type - describes the path the point takes, nature of the line            * Curved, wavy, loopy = graceful, unstable            * Angular, abrupt change in direction, creates excitement and/or confusion Dire…

In this lesson you will learn how line can be effectively used in your design layouts to create movement and direction to centers of interest.

Value defines the lightness or darkness in an area or visual element. Value is important to have in a layout because it provides visual interest and can be used to guide the movement of the viewer through the composition. Strong contrasts in values can also help draw attention to important informati…

Use value to draw attention to important information, add spatial depth, and establish a mood.


This design example shows a full range of values which include black, white, and gray.


One way to test whether a design or layout has enough value contrast is to squint your eyes when viewing a composition. Doing so will blur and simplify the design into areas of values. 

Texture defines the surface quality of a two-dimensional shape or a three-dimensional object. Visual texture on printed media is simulated, not an actual texture which is created using multiple shapes or lines. Tactile textures are experienced by printing publications on textured materials. Design s…

In this lesson you will see how texture can be used in graphic design layouts to add special effects that help get your designs noticed. 

Space gives the eyes a visual rest by placing distance between and around visual elements in the composition. Design strategies using space: • Makes type easier to read. • Put white space around important information to attract attention to it. • Use margins, padding around text, images, paragraph s…

In this lesson, you will learn how space can be used in a graphic design layout.

Space keeps the design from looking overcrowded by the visual components. It makes type easier to read and it helps guide the viewer through the design.

Type's role in print design, is to communicate a message. The type should: • make headers visually appealing and attract attention • stimulate interest • match the message and/or theme • lead the viewer through the message in order of importance •must be easy to read DESIGN STRATEGIES USING TYPE: • …

The type should be utilized to emphasize the important content and subordinate the less important parts of the text in order of importance.

Color is one of the strongest elements you can use to attract attention in a layout. When making color choices it is necessary to also consider their physical and psychological effects on the viewer, their symbolic meaning, and the principles governing their effective combination. Design strategies…
Section 4: Visual Language of Design - The Principles
The Principles of Design are used to organize the elements of design and give them direction. They are: * Balance * Rhythm * Unity * Emphasis / Contrast * Alignment * Closure * Continuity * Similarity * Figure/Ground * Proximity
Balance Balance is sometimes difficult to define. It is a principle that is often understood on an intuitive level rather than an intellectual one. When all the contrasting elements are working together in balance it just feels right. It is also just as easy to tell/feel when the elements are out of…

The basis for a formal design is the placing all of the visual components in an absolutely centrally balanced arrangement within the layout. 


Asymmetrical (informal) layout are achieved by randomly placing the formal elements in the composition until there is a sense of balance. 


The Rule of Thirds is a compositional formula which places the focal point “out of center” to create a more asymmetrical design.

Rhythm involves the repetition of a motif or shape, but with variations among them, that helps create movement in a composition. DESIGN STRATEGIES: • Repeat similar elements in various areas of a layout • Create progressive rhythm with a series of progressively large to small elements • Alternate ty…
Emphasis establishes a focal point and centers of interest to make an element stand out as being most important and should be looked at first. DESIGN STRATEGIES: • Use sidebars • Bold, colored, and/or reversed type • Create interesting shapes with text blocks and/or images • Use proportion to make i…
Unity Unity is the relationship of all the parts working together to create harmony to the whole.
Understanding and using these principles is what separates the senior level designers from the rest. * Alignment * Continuity * Proximity * Closure * Similarity * Figure Ground Alignment Is lining up visual components to organize them into logical groups. • Works best with components that have strai…
Section 5: Projects
I want to make your first design project a simple one. Description: Design a business card for a fictitious company based on your favorite hobby or interest. Post an image of your design in the Q&A area or send it to me privately for feedback. Content: Size: 3.5” x 2” Format: Landscape or Portrait I…
Section 6: Graphic Design Resources
Design Resources Toolbox
17.2 kB
Professional Designers List
17.0 kB
David Carson - Design and Discovery
Section 7: Demos
Hi Class,

Here is one easy way to simplify a photographic image in Photoshop or any image manipulation program. The image can then be converted to vector art in Illustrator if it is needed to complete a project. 

NOTE: You do not have to place the tones into separate layers, but I have found it is an easier way to edit the image. - TZ


Hi Class,

Here is another method for simplifying an image for vector art, using "Adjustment Levels" in Photoshop. Using levels will give you more contol over tha amount of detail you maintain in the image. My image actually ended up being 4 values instead of three. I can easily make adjustments on the individual layers, but I like the way it turned out. I hope this is helpful to you. - TZ

This demo show how to manage your design projects with layers and folder groups.
Hi Class,
There are so many approaches to creating logos because each project is different. But I feel the more skilled you are in using your design programs the more options you have for trying a variety of visual effects.  Of course it is always good to have a plan before your start. Brainstorming, researching other designs for inspiration, and thumbnails sketches are good ways to formulate ideas.

This video demonstrates a few of my favorite approaches to creating logos. I'm sure it will give you a few tricks to try if you are new to logo design or need a new direction. 

You will also find the "Managing Your Design Projects with Layers" demo (Lecture #36) useful.


Section 8: Critiques / Reviews
Student Work - Logo Design
Hi Class,
Here is a nice conservative logo design. 

When designing logos it is good practice to always test its readability at a variety of sizes for different media. A right amount of visual weight is important for typefaces/fonts when reducing the logo's size to fit a business card or address label. The content will be more difficult to read at a smaller size if the visual weight is too light or "wimpy". 
Every design project has its own challenges and approaches when it comes to working with typography. Below is an article which provides a basic guideline to selecting typefaces for logos, titles, etc.
This video review explains the importance of having a well thought out plan before starting a design project. - TZ
Establishing a strong visual hierarchy in a design layout helps guide the viewer through the information/content in order of importance. - TZ
When organizing content in a design layout, you want to help the viewer find the information they are looking for easily. Using edge alignments and enough value contrast between background and foreground components helps make the content easier to read. - TZ
We have a tendency to want things organized equally to feel a sense of balance. But in a graphic design layout. organizing content asymmetrically will help add more visual interest and engage the viewer longer.
This lesson explains the importance of having a visual hierarchy which organizes the information in order of importance.  TZ
Hi Class,
Adding contrast and variety to your type design will provide more visual interest than simply typing text like a typewriter. Experiment with ways to make the text more interesting (design).


  • Use a variety of character attributes such as bold, ilalics, CAPS, underline, color, etc.
  • Avoid covering important images and photos with text. Look for images that will also create interesting negative shapes to design type in.
Lectures #20 and #38 demonstrate some approaches to designing type. TZ

Logo Design - Designing visual elements that flow
Business Card - Dan's Review
Wolf Graphic Design - Business Card - Zoe's Review - part 1
Wolf Graphic Design - Business Card - Zoe's Review - part 2
Tanks-a-lot - Bus.Card - Jeff's Review - Part 1
Tanks-a-lot - Bus.Card - Jeff's Review - Part 2
Spikes - Bus Card - Katrina's review

It's always good to know what went wrong in a design when you are a beginner, but you can also learn just as much from deconstructing a design that works well. This review points out what is good in the design and why it works.


Being innovative with your design work is important, but keep your audience in mind and anticipate how they will connect with the product and information. This review gives you some pointers, and more discussion about the importance of establishing a visual hierarchy in the design.

Lighten Up! Business Card Design - Rebecca's Review

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Instructor Biography

TZ Art & Design Academy, Graphic Designer, Visual Artist, and Educator

My name is TZ. I am an art director, publisher, professional artist, graphic designer, web designer, and educator. My professional design career spans 30 years and started in New York City where I worked as a freelancer and senior designer for several design studios, ad agencies, and publishers. My design experience and skills include illustration; print design; web design; interactive media; computer animation and creative design and art direction for major corporations (AT&T, Merrill Lynch) State government, design studios, higher/adult education programs, and the private sector. I have advanced skills using Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, and several other design and publishing applications.

I look forward to introducing you to the basic graphic design fundamentals and will do all I can to ensure your success in the course, by providing feedback, guidance, and sharing my diverse experience in the field of graphic design. Feel free to ask me questions at anytime, I am always willing to share what I know.

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