Graphic design techniques to apply in 2022

July 11, 22

Complex design techniques can be very intimidating for newbie designers but can also prove to be a struggle for those seasoned in the field. Advanced design effects have the advantage of adding depth to various designs, and yet misplaced can often distract from the intention of the messaging. Simple effects and techniques are the starting blocks of what is considered good design in this current day and age. For example, what good does stellar lighting technique do if a designer can’t decide which colours to use or which text-based effects to apply in conjunction with the effect? Here are 10 simple design techniques that can improve the appearance and appeal of your designs.

Create Moodboards

A graphic designer can be compared to a nineteenth-century painter or sculptor; it is important to get a clear vision of the design you want to create before you actually begin the design process. Make a mood board with inspirational boards that capture the look and feel of the design you want to create. This might include anything from fonts, colour palettes, imagery and illustration styles, and most importantly, any layout references that deal with a similar design. There’s no rule of thumb on the number you ought to create; the key point is to have many different sources of inspiration for your design project. Platforms like Pinterest are great resources for creating digital mood boards and finding inspiration. The great thing about Pinterest is the fact that the algorithm will aid you in finding similar styles.

Plan Your design

Before reaching for your computer, it’s important to be clear on your design objective and what you want the viewer to see and experience. Draw a few rough sketches to plan the page and where all the content will go while keeping your mood board inspiration at the back of your mind.

Play With Fonts

Many designers make the mistake of sacrificing legibility for aesthetics. When in doubt, consider simplifying your typography. There are over 900 free fonts from Google, which can make choosing a font a daunting task. With so many options, a good rule of thumb might be to limit yourself to pairing two font styles. You might even opt to use fonts from one family with variations in weight and styles, so they complement each other.

Fonts are an important part of how you communicate with your target audience.

Serif fonts: These show an older style, preferably roman typefaces and graphic glyphs, which portray a sharp point and angle. The serif fonts are all roman inspired, with a curved or flat end at the end of each glyph. The method was crafted in the 18th century when it was printed on books in that time.

Script fonts: These were created to imitate popular handwriting styles from different eras. Although script fonts have undergone a lot of change, they still maintain a clean and modern look- perfect for coffee houses and companies with a hipster vibe. A formal script, for instance, has a more italic angle and looks curvy and neat.

Helvetica: This font is used almost everywhere; it’s actually known as the world’s most famous typeface because of its perfect geometrical angles and how simple it looks on everything. Helvetica is used for writing documents, designs, websites, posters, and even on road signs.

Use contrast

Though powerful, graphic designers often overlook and underutilize the use of contrast. For example, thin, high-contrast lines make it easier for the user to distinguish between different sections on a page. On the other hand, sites like word press utilise colour for its popular “download” function. The red colour used for the “download” isn’t so bright as to hurt the eyes, and yet still bright enough to stand out. The red on the site stands in stark contrast to its mostly minimalist design with calm palettes of blues and grays.

When in doubt about whether to add more contrast, consider the analogy of makeup. The idea isn’t to get people to stare at you but rather to enhance an already attractive face. In plain English, people shouldn’t see your use of contrast like “Hey, look at this contrast!”; instead, you want to draw their attention naturally to important items on the page and highlight the features that are already there.

Apply Letter Spacing

The difference letter spacing or kerning makes cannot be overemphasised. The spacing added in headlines, paragraphs, logos, and anything else that involves text has the effect of enhancing or detracting from a design. This involves nothing more than the distance between each pair of letters. Most websites’ image-based text reduces letter spacing to make statements more concise and attention-grabbing. Small or non-anti-aliased text presents the most difficulty in reading and can have a negative effect on designs.

Switch Case

Switching between upper and lower case makes a huge difference in a design’s final look, yet few designers take advantage of this technique. Bold upper case lettering is often used to draw attention to important information on a website. A casual look at new websites such as BBC, CNN, and MSNBC reveals how case draws attention, communicates minor details, or encourages further navigation across the website.

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is a Latin text commonly used as a testing/ dummy text to preview what your designs will look like when creating websites, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. It’s a text used to line up graphic designs and visualize your project with test text so you can see your design in its totality.

Lorem ipsum is Latin and fits into a wider statement that reads “eque porro quisquam est qui dolorem Ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit..” which roughly translates to “There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain..”

Used as it is by designers, this dummy text makes your mock-ups look believable and makes graphics and vectors stand out from each other—designers who want to create their own Lorem Ipsum text use a Lorem Ipsum generator.


Though complex, anti-aliasing is essential to creating genuinely gorgeous designs. Anti-aliasing is the process of smoothing out edges, which can be applied to all design aspects. Regarding web design, anti-aliasing is partially determined by whether the text will be in HTML or represented as an image. Although, as a general rule, HTML text has no anti-aliasing. Further complicating things, some web browsers and operating systems automatically smooth out HTML text slightly.

Negative and Positive Space

For designers to make certain elements stand out when designing logos, products, websites, and more, they use Gestalt or Negative space. Negative space allows a designer to use hidden space to make certain symbols and shapes stand out. Human brains then process the negative space to create forms and hidden messages. The actual term used for this technique is Gestalt theory and consists of different properties within graphic design.

Proximity: When all objects seem close together and crammed into one side in the graphic, the eye registers these different shapes and vectors as belonging to one huge group.

Similarity: This is where a shape turns into a pattern if it has other forms around the main structure, which creates excellent symmetry and illustrates another way through a series of multiple configurations.

Continuance: This is where we expect to view different smaller shapes and vectors to create a word or a different image. The IBM logo is an excellent example of continuance. This is also popular when creating logos for satellite or space agencies like NASA, ESA, etc.

Closure: Closure is negative space, as was mentioned earlier. For example, you could have three circles and cut off a pizza slice in those circles. What you’d have would appear to be a triangle between 3 different loops. Although the shape technically doesn’t exist, the human brain creates its own pattern and interprets this as a shape that does exist.

Figure & ground: With this medium, the viewer can distinguish between inverted backgrounds. For instance, with a grey background (HEX CODE: #2a2a2a — Dark grey) against a white background (HEX CODE: #ffffff — Institutional white), the human brain would register grey more than white since that would be the focus and vice versa.

Symmetry: This is where two similar objects are lined up perfectly and create an almost perfect reflection of each other. This is an excellent technique to apply if a designer wants to merge two logos, but one is mirrored, and they are combined to create an entirely new shape.

Rhythm: This is applied to show when a shape gets bigger or smaller or creates a pattern while visually maintaining the larger model. This can also show how big an object is, or it can be a circle of designs to show a rhythm of shapes in a radial style.

Create Imperfection

Initially, this technique might seem confusing because the general consensus is that perfection is the goal. However, perfection takes away from character, uniqueness, and memorability. When you apply the line tool in your favourite design software while set to the default settings, you get a perfectly straight line from point A to B, which can be unappealing. To give your work character, a simple trick is to make things look old, dirty, or otherwise imperfect. Successfully giving artefacts and imperfections to a design is a lot easier than you might think. Start by converting items to grayscale or sepia tones, and then add your unique touches as you go along.

Use The Blur Effect

A blurry effect is a great way to make something stand out or, alternately, hide something within a design. By using blurry objects in the foreground and background or even blurring the entire design, you can dramatically increase your project’s impact. Essentially, by blurring one object, you bring focus to the next. Another advantage of the blurring effect is the sense of depth or layering it adds to a design project.

Do More With Alignment

Playing with alignment can add something ‘extra’ to your design. Altering the alignment of design elements often makes them more memorable and effective. This technique is not limited to text alone and can be applied to different elements of the design. For example, most websites are 700 to 900 pixels wide, are centred vertically in the browser, and have straight edges down each side of the page, setting the boundaries of where content begins and ends. In most cases, this level of predictability is good but does little to differentiate one designer’s work from another.

Cut, Cut, Cut!

One of the most under-appreciated design techniques is cutting down the unnecessary elements of a design. Like most things in life, too much creates confusion and destroys a design’s entire visual appeal. After completing a design, it would be worthwhile for a designer to have a final look over and cut down whatever might be frivolous.

With these few techniques, even novice graphic designers can gain confidence as they take on more complex design ideas. With these basics in mind, even the simplest design can be elevated a notch higher, making it more interesting.