Prepare for a dynamic career in Graphic Design by mastering essential industry tools like Adobe's Creative Suite and honing vital soft skills. Explore the multifaceted roles of a Graphic Designer and learn about the software they utilize daily to create visually appealing and impactful designs.

Key Insights

  • A Graphic Designer is a creative professional who combines text and visually appealing imagery to share a message. They must demonstrate proficiency in design principles and software such as Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as possess strong collaboration and time management skills.
  • The most commonly used graphic design software for Graphic Designers are applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud. These include Adobe Photoshop for raster graphics manipulation, Adobe Illustrator for vector graphics design, and Adobe InDesign for designing page layouts and wireframe prototypes.
  • Noble Desktop offers comprehensive, targeted training in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. These classes provide hands-on training with the applications and work on exercises that replicate professional projects.
  • It is recommendable to receive live instruction in either an in-person or online classroom for the most immersive and effective learning of graphic design software applications. Feedback from expert instructors is vital for improving design skills.
  • Graphic Designers need to develop more than just technical software skills. They must have a creative eye for building unique and vibrant designs, be able to respond to feedback effectively, and possess deadline and time management skills, especially if working as a freelancer.
  • Noble Desktop offers graphic design classes that provide foundational design skills. They also offer a Graphic Design Certificate program for those ready for in-depth training, which includes individual career mentorship.

An important part of preparing to be a Graphic Designer is learning how to use the tools of the profession. While the tools that designers use will vary from position to position, there are a few consistent tools that most Graphic Designers will need to have a basic understanding of. The most common of these tools are the ones that comprise the Adobe Creative Cloud’s design suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. In addition, you should be prepared to demonstrate proficiency in a few specific soft skills.

What is a Graphic Designer?

A Graphic Designer is a creative professional who combines text and visually appealing imagery to share a message with an audience. This could be through advertising, social media, or product packaging, to name a few. They are well-versed in design principles like color and typography and are committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends. Whether they work for an agency or freelancer, they collaborate with clients and other team members to create high-quality designs that appeal to new and existing customers. 

In addition to proficiency in professional design programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, a successful Graphic Designer must also work well with others. Graphic Designers rarely work alone, and since their job is to create a product that matches a client's vision, they must be willing to accept feedback and suggestions from others. Time management skills are also crucial for a Graphic Designer; since most of them work freelance, they often work on multiple projects for many clients simultaneously. 

Read more about what a Graphic Designer does

What Software Do Graphic Designers Use?

The most commonly used graphic design software applications for Graphic Designers are the creative design programs in the Adobe Creative Cloud. These programs are heavily integrated with one another and are used in various situations, meaning that no matter what industry you plan to work in, you will likely use one or more of these programs.

Adobe Photoshop

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Adobe Photoshop is the most commonly used raster graphics manipulation application on the market. While it is primarily associated with photo manipulation, you can use Photoshop for any project that requires very fine digital editing of a pixel-based image. This makes it a versatile tool to learn to use if you are looking to manipulate images, remove background, touch-up photos, or subtly alter the lighting or color of an image. Photoshop is one of the more versatile graphic design tools available. Anyone working in the print industry, web design industry, or a field that regularly works with digital photography is likely to benefit from learning how to use the application. 

Noble Desktop offers comprehensive, targeted Photoshop training in their Adobe Photoshop Bootcamp. In this class, students will get hands-on training with the application and work on exercises that replicate the kinds of projects they will be expected to work on professionally.

Adobe Illustrator

Complimenting Photoshop’s raster graphics features, Adobe Illustrator is the most commonly used vector graphics design tool on the commercial market. While Photoshop is used to subtly manipulate pixels, Illustrator builds images out of lines, points, and arcs, which makes them infinitely resizable. Owing to this resizability, Illustrator is primarily used on design projects that will need to look good on any number of different surfaces and mediums, ranging from billboards to business cards. It is most frequently used to build things like logos, product packaging, and branded merchandise, meaning it is a tool that can be used in almost any design project, regardless of industry.

Students wanting to learn more about how to use Adobe Illustrator should consider enrolling in Noble’s Adobe Illustrator Bootcamp. This class is an ideal place to get professional experience working with Illustrator on sample projects that include practical experience building logos and product packaging.

Adobe InDesign

The final commonly used Adobe Creative Cloud tool is Adobe InDesign. This tool is used for designing page layouts and other wireframe prototypes for traditional print mediums and digital canvases. InDesign allows users to create vibrant, easily modified page layouts for any number of print projects and it is heavily integrated with Photoshop and Illustrator, which makes it easy to take assets from either of those programs and place them into an InDesign design. InDesign is the most narrow of the three major programs, so it is the one that you are least likely to need to use if your industry doesn’t make regular use of the tool but it is still useful to learn if only for its important integration with the other major Creative Cloud programs.

Noble Desktop regularly offers an Adobe InDesign Bootcamp that will teach students how to use the tool in a variety of professional situations. You’ll get hands-on experience using the program to design magazine pages, posters, and even books and book covers.

How to Learn Graphic Design Software

Most Graphics Designers will need training in these tools in order to master them. While particularly dedicated students may be able to attempt to learn the programs without guidance, it will take substantially longer and isn’t recommended. Students looking to learn graphic design tools in a professional setting will have a few different options available to them.

The most immersive and effective way for most students to learn new graphic design software applications is to receive live instruction in either an in-person or an online classroom. These courses put students in direct contact with expert instructors who can guide them through the process of learning a given software application and can provide them with practical feedback on their work. Receiving feedback is one of the most important parts of learning a creative design tool, so having an instructor to tell you what elements of your project work and which elements don’t work can be tremendously helpful.

Some students may find that they don’t have the time or flexibility in their schedule to attend a regular classroom course. These students may want to consider enrolling in an on-demand training course. These courses will give students guided instruction in using tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, but will do so without pairing them with a live instructor. This means that students will have to find alternate ways to receive feedback on their work and guidance if they run into problems, but these courses still provide students with more assistance than they would receive trying to learn on their own. These classes aren’t going to be as immersive as a live training option, but they are certainly preferable to trying to self-teach or abandoning your desires to learn graphic design software.

Other Skills Needed to Become a Graphic Designer

It is important to remember that being a Graphic Designer is about more than just learning how to use the software. If you only perfect your skills using Photoshop or Illustrator, you won’t be well-positioned to get a job, since the process is more about what you do with the tool than the technical process of using it. Thus, if you want to become a professional Graphic Designer, there are other skills you’ll need to hone.

The most important skill for a Graphic Designer to have is a creative eye and a knack for building unique and vibrant designs. Knowing how to use a design tool is only half the process, so Graphic Designers will need to have a familiarity with current graphic design trends and theories of composition and design. It is one thing to use Photoshop's tools to alter the lighting and color of an image and it is another thing to know why it is that a professional designer is making those decisions. Learning these skills can take time and this is why receiving feedback on your work is so vital to learning how to use tools like Photoshop. Guidance from an experienced designer can go a long way to helping you understand the logic behind certain design decisions.

In addition, professional Graphic Designers will need to learn how to respond to feedback in actionable and effective ways. Most entry-level Graphic Designers will be tasked with making their designs meet a client or a team’s specifications and they may require revisions on fairly specific aspects of the design. Professional Graphic Designers need to know how to hear feedback on their work and take action to correct the issues in a timely and effective manner, particularly when it is coming from a client. This can be challenging, especially when that feedback is vague, which it often can be. Learning how to respond to generalized comments and feedback is another skill that is made significantly easier to learn when you are actively receiving feedback as a part of your professional training.

Finally, Graphic Designers will often be working on a wide range of different projects on fairly tight deadlines, especially if they are freelance designers. Thus, deadline management and time management skills are important to master as a prospective Graphic Designer. Not only will you need to be able to handle and manage a wide variety of different deadlines, but you will also need to make sure you don’t fall behind on a project from the onset. Thus, you’ll want to practice building design assets at a reasonable pace, figuring out how to avoid taking too long to get started and how to avoid creative blocks. Unlike many of the other soft skills, this can only really be developed with practice and persistence.

Learn the Skills to Become a Graphic Designer at Noble Desktop

If you want to start a career in graphic design, the graphic design classes offered by Noble Desktop are an excellent place to start. Students can take all their classes remotely or in-person at their Manhattan campus. For students who want to start slow by just learning one popular design program, Noble offers an Adobe Photoshop Bootcamp, an Adobe InDesign Bootcamp, and an Adobe Illustrator Bootcamp. These beginner-friendly courses take just a few days to complete and will provide students with foundational design skills.

For those who feel ready to dive into a more comprehensive program, Noble Desktop’s Graphic Design Certificate might be a better fit. Students will complete hands-on assignments using popular design programs, including Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. This program is ideal for those hoping to start a career as a Graphic Designer. Certificate students at Noble Desktop receive individual career mentorship, where experts in the design industry help craft resumes and portfolios and provide helpful tips for finding lucrative employment. 

If a class isn’t feasible for your current schedule, Noble Desktop has a host of resources on its website to help start your graphic design career. You can browse their collection of articles about Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign if you’re curious about how each program works. You can also review information about other design tools to see if another field might interest you more.