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Basic Graphic Design Assignment

With spring here, you may have no problem thinking of ideas for your next creative endeavor.

After all, that overnight summer camp that you’ll be attending in a few months may have you overflowing with ideas on how you’ll create your own graphic design pieces, model and 3D print your own creation or make your own iPhone games.

On the other hand, maybe you’re so excited you don’t know where to begin. It’s times when you may feel a bit of creative block that doing some simple creative exercises can help get you loosen up, take your mind off the making the perfect project (because who are you kidding, in the end it will be) and allow your imagination to let loose.

The best part about each of these mini, right-brain creative exercises is that they only take about 15-20 minutes and don’t require the skills of Picasso. In fact, each activity is designed to be done quickly and without reservation-and are great for beginners-so that you can just be yourself and get creative. Plus in that short amount of time, you’ll have sharpened your skills, which will in turn help you out in future projects that you create.

Mini Design Exercise #1: Graphic Quotation

In this mini-exercise, first find a quote that you may have heard or that you like. Using just a sentence or two from the quote, design a graphic that conveys the feeling of your quote. You can use anything to design your graphic; paper, pens, markers, Photoshop, Illustrator. It’s entirely up to you.

Here’s the quote I choose:

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” –Langston Hughes.

Then using my imagination, I went into Photoshop and created a graphic using some vector bird images, gradients and a bit of texture.

Mini Design Exercise #2: Monster Doodles

This mini-exercise requires the company of at least two other friends. Together, the three (or more if you want) of you will be collaborating to create a monster. The trick is that you won’t see what each of you will draw until the very end.

First, fold three pieces of paper into three linear sections. On each folded section write a number 1, 2 or 3. Each person gets a piece of paper and starts to doodle a monster head on the top section. Get creative! It can have 20 eyes, three mouths, a Mario Bros. hat on, whatever you want to draw is perfectly fine.


Download our 2018 brochure to learn more about getting your child started in design! Or, continue reading below for more exercises! 


After each person is done, pass the paper to another person in your group. Now everyone begins to draw a monster mid-section on the #2 panel of your piece of paper.

Once again, pass the paper around and then have everyone draw the legs and feet (or slime blob if your creature has no legs or feet). After everyone is done drawing, open up your papers and see the finished monster creation that you have drawn together with friends.

Here’s what three of my co-workers/friends at the iD office came up with today when we tried this exercise:

Mini Design Exercise #3: Photo Story

Grab some sort of camera that you have around. It can be something as simple as a phone camera or as high-tech as a Sony SLR that we use in our photography camps at iD. Now without thinking about it for very long (say 20 seconds) find something in the area that you’re in that will make a good photo story and take about 10 photos (try not to take too many more or you’ll be sifting through tons of photos to find that perfect one.) The key here is to do it quickly; otherwise you’ll get caught up in the details, which might hinder your creative “looseness”. Don’t worry about your subject being silly or odd. That’s the beauty of this exercise…you can take anything and make it into a mini-story.

If you have Photoshop or another photo organizing software, choose only 3-5 photos out of the 10 and arrange them to tell your story. Add any elements that you find will enhance your story, but if you can try to refrain from writing sentences or multiple words. You want the photos to tell the story. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can also print out your photos and add elements using markers, pens, crayons, buttons or anything else you have around the house.

For my photo story, I looked around at my desk and didn’t think I could make a story with anything. Then I saw some of the little figurines I have and took a few photos. I brought my images into Photoshop. Quickly arranged them into the order I wanted them to be, and then added some doodles and elements that I created right in Photoshop. This is what I came up with…pretty simple…but it got my right brain working.

Mini Design Exercise #4: The Many Faces of Your Imagination

This exercise is pure fun. All you have to do grab a pencil, download the face template and begin drawing! The template has nine areas for you do draw different types of faces. Don’t concentrate too hard, just quickly draw nine different faces and see what you come up with. Sketching is always a great way to sharpen your creative skills. Who knows, maybe one of the faces you draw will be a starting point for a great,  3D animated character in the future.

Here’s the template to download:

Face Sketches Template

And to prove that you don’t need to be an professional designer to begin sketching, I grabbed the talents of Roque and from iD Client Services and this is what he came up with. Nice job Roque!


Download our 2018 brochure to learn more about getting your child started in design! Or, continue reading below for more exercises! 


Mini Design Exercise #5: Photo Thumbnail Collage

Pick any subject that comes to mind. Now scour the internet and find a good amount of images of photos that go together with the subject you picked. If you want, you can take a few photos yourself too. This mini-exercise is similar to the photo story that we did earlier, but it also differs because you’re not telling a linear story, so your photos don’t necessarily need to go in any certain order.

Since I grew up in Minnesota, and the Twins baseball team just had their opening ceremonies yesterday for the brand new Target Field. I’ve been thinking a lot about my home state. So the subject that I choose was the MN Twins. (By the way, you can check out the new field if you head on over to one of our Minnesota Summer Camps.)

For my collage, I found 6 images that directly depicted the MN Twins. Then I found 3 images that showcased the Twin Cities, and 3 images that were abstract baseball images. I arranged them together, added a graphic and my end result looked like this:

One thing to note: It’s crucial to remember to credit any person or company that you grabbed the photos from on the internet.  Also, if a site specifically says not to use the photos on the page without their written permission, just don’t use it. Even though you’re creating this entirely for your personal purpose and not to re-sell or re-distribute anywhere else, you always want to make sure you’re honoring the desires of other creative individuals out there.


Try all or just a few of these mini-creative exercises to flex the right side of your brain. The biggest thing to remember when doing these exercises it to not worry, do it quickly and see what you come up with. You don’t have to show anyone if you don’t like what you created, but I bet you’ll be surprised at what you can create when your don’t have any restrictions. And while you might not use any of the graphics you created in your projects you may find that what you’ve created will spark an idea that will help you down the road

So go out, do anything you can do be creative and know that you don’t always have to produce perfect work in all that you do or spend hours and hours of time on something…but you should always make sure you’re having fun! As always, feel free to submit any of your artwork to iD. In fact, if you like, check us out on Facebook and post a photo there of any of your creations. We’d love to see what the iD world is showcasing!

While many of us can create something that looks good in Photoshop or attractive when spliced into CSS, but do we actually understand the design theory behind what we create? 

Theory is the missing link for many un-trained but otherwise talented designers. Here are 50 excellent graphic design theory lessons to help you understand the 'Whys', not just the 'Hows'.

Pro Design and Web Resources

As your design skills improve you can sell graphic and web components yourself and earn a solid income! We have a number of professional resources available on Envato Elements. 

Browse through the thousands of beautifully designed graphic templates and web templates we have available. You can make unlimited downloads for a single low monthly subscription.

Now let's get into these free lessons!

Free Lessons on Graphic Design Theory

It's time to learn all about graphic design theory, from how to properly use typography, exploring the depths of color theory, setting up your grid, controlling the display and hierarchy of information, and more!


  • 2. Five simple steps to better typography

    "The kind of typography I'm talking about is not your typical "What font should I use" typography but rather your "knowing your hanging punctuation from your em-dash" typography."

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  • 3. Typography tips for graphic design students

    "What basic typographic advice would you give a third year graphic design student? I read the comments with great interest and here I’ve picked out a few of the most useful typography tips."

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  • 4. Typeface Terminology

    "An extensive collection of terms and definitions that relate to typography."

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  • 5. How do I choose paring fonts ?

    "It really does boil down to a judgment call. Usually, pairing type is done to create contrast, so, as DavidR points out, a good general rule is to not pick two fonts that are so similar they can be confused for each other at a glance."

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  • 6. Learning About Type

    "There are quite a few terms thrown around with regards to typography. Hopefully this article will help you understand more about the world of typography."

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  • 7. A Guide to Web Typography

    "Today we’re going to talk about web typography in terms of a recipe of four fundamental ingredients. If you’ve ever tried to cook a soufflé, you’ll know how important the recipe is. Follow this recipe and your typography will rise up like…that’s enough of the culinary metaphors, let’s cook."

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  • 8. On Choosing a Type

    "Fundamentally, the responsibility we bear is two-fold: first we owe it to the reader not to hinder their reading pleasure, but to aid it; second, we owe a responsibility to the typeface or typefaces we employ."

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  • 9. Who shot the serif?

    "Well, what you will discover, is that learning just a little about the terminology will help you to have a greater appreciation for type; it will also help you to identify different typefaces and fonts — and that in turn will help you make better, more informed choices about the fonts you use."

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  • 10. Master Web Typography: 8 Detailed Typography Tips for the Web

    "One of the most under–rated elements of beautiful Web design is the subtle art of typography. Part of this, I know, is a lack of a solid font support for Web sites. But never fear! Today I’ll show you some quick things you can do to appear to be a type master."

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Grid Based Design

  • 11. Designing With a Grid Based Approach

    "The main idea behind grid-based designs is a solid visual and structural balance of web-sites you can create with them."

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  • 12. Columns and Grids

    "One of the larger problems in working with grids in web pages is that you often can’t do much about vertical proportions. Often your content is dynamic, so the best you can do is approximate."

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  • 15. Grid Based Layouts

    "A grid is a technique that comes from print design but easily be applied to web design as well. In its strictest form a grid is literally a grid of X by Y pixels."

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  • 16. Five simple steps to designing grid systems

    "There are quite a few terms thrown around with regards to typography. Hopefully this article will help you understand more about the world of typography."

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  • 17. Grids: Order Out of Chaos

    "Many of the pages that you see everyday have a grid. You may not see it but it is there, holding up the design, establishing structure, guiding the page elements."

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  • 18. Grid Based Design 101

    "Designers of all types (web, print, etc.) are constantly facing issues involving the structure of their designs. Web designers are increasingly turning to grids to control the structure of web pages, and grids have long been used extensively in other design mediums."

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  • 19. Grid-Based Design: Six Creative Column Techniques

    "Grid systems bring visual structure and balance to site design. As a tool grids are useful for organizing and presenting information. Used properly, they can enhance the user experience by creating predictable patterns for users to follow."

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Color Theory

  • 1. Color Theory

    "Color theory encompasses a multitude of definitions, concepts and design applications. All the information would fill several encyclopedias. As an introduction, here are a few basic concepts."

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  • 22. Color Theory: Overview

    "If you are involved in the creation or design of visual documents, an understanding of color will help when incorporating it into your own designs."

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  • 24. Basic color schemes - Introduction to Color Theory

    "With colors you can set a mood, attract attention, or make a statement. You can use color to energize, or to cool down. By selecting the right color scheme, you can create an ambiance of elegance, warmth or tranquility, or you can convey an image of playful youthfulness."

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  • 25. Color Wheel Pro - See Color Theory in Action

    "Color Theory is a set of principles used to create harmonious color combinations. Color relationships can be visually represented with a color wheel — the color spectrum wrapped onto a circle."

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  • 26. Color Psychology

    "Colors often have different meanings in various cultures. And even in Western societies, the meanings of various colors have changed over the years. But today in the U.S., researchers have generally found the following to be accurate."

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  • 27. How Colors Impact Moods, Feelings, and Behaviors

    "While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning."

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  • 28. Information Applied To Graphic Design: Color Psychology

    "Applied to web design, color psychology could offer a thermal map; an informative alternative to featureless blog calendars of archived entries."

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  • 29. How does color effect us?

    "Color is light and light is energy. Scientists have found that actual physiological changes take place in human beings when they are exposed to certain colors. Colors can stimulate, excite, depress, tranquilize, increase appetite and create a feeling of warmth or coolness."

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  • 30. Color Psychology in Marketing

    "Colors not only enhance the appearance of the item -- they also influence our behavior. You will do well to consider the impact that the colors you use will have on your target audience."

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Design Theory

  • 31. Principles of Design

    "The principles of design suggest effective and pleasing ways to arrange text and graphics on the page as well as the arrangement of individual elements within illustration, logos, and the overall graphic design of a document."

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  • 32. Graphic Design Basics

    "Get a better understanding of the basics of graphic design by studying the elements and principles of graphic design that govern effective design and page layout."

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  • 34. Want to know how to design? Learn The Basics.

    "The basic elements of design include colour, line, shape, scale, space, texture and value and these are the fundamental pieces that make up any piece of work."

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  • 38. Graphic Fundamentals, 1. The Big Punch

    "Many of the underlying principles behind graphic design have been bypassed and the results are not as potent as they could be. In this short series, I want to help to fill-in some of those gaps and provide a better understanding of what it's all about."

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  • 39. The History of Graphic Design and Its Audiences

    "To insist that, or to prescribe how, the history of graphic design need be taught in any particular way is to unnecessarily limit the field in both methodology and pedagogy."

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  • 40. In Search of Ethics in Graphic Design

    "I envision this text as an addition to the AIGA’s existing publication on ethics, which currently includes sections concerning our responsibilities to the profession and our clients."

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UI & Usability

  • 41. Call to Action Buttons

    "The call-to-action button is an important tool in the user experience designer’s box of tricks. In this article I’ll give you a few pointers on providing effective ones."

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  • 42. Complete Beginner’s Guide to Information Architecture

    "The kind of typography I'm talking about is not your typical "What font should I use" typography but rather your "knowing your hanging punctuation from your em-dash" typography."

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  • 43. A Few Lessons From Real World Usability

    "We interact with so many objects during our day that we often don’t notice that someone actually stopped to thing about how we were going to use items."

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  • 44. 12 Useful Techniques For Good User Interface Design

    "Among other things, we highlighted embedded video blocks, specialized controls and context-sensitive navigation. We also encouraged designers to disable pressed buttons, use shadows around modal windows and link to the sign-up page from the log-in page."

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  • 45. 10 Useful Techniques To Improve Your User Interface Designs

    "Web design consists, for the most part, of interface design. There are many techniques involved in crafting beautiful and functional interfaces."

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  • 48. Evangelizing UX Across an Entire Organization

    "This edition of Ask UXmatters discusses how to communicate and sell the UX message across all levels of an organization. Our experts share what strategies and tactics for evangelizing UX have worked for them."

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  • 49. Closing the Usability Age Gap

    "In this post, we discuss some of the things the separate Generation Y from older generations, and how we can create a great user experience for both demographics."

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  • 50. Increasing Usability with User Feedback

    "This post suggests some ways to improve your site's usability based off of user feedback. These methods and programs will help you gather and act on user feedback."

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