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Is there an instruction for learning non-technical design theory that I should follow?

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I already know how to use design software, but I don't know how to design.

Bottom line:
Is there a specific sequence for adequate training in the soft skills of design (theory, concepts, process, etc.)?

I'll start with a little background about myself to show the motivation for the question is not really necessary to answer the question.

I am 23 years old and am finishing my degree in engineering informatics. At the age of 14 I am learning HTML / CSS. I can use a lot of Adobe Suite software to create a lot of things (PS, AI, Pr etc). Then, over time, I started to learn some computer science-oriented things. I can build a website very quickly, etc. But my problem is that I'm not into any kind of "design thinking". I like design (if I hadn't been studying engineering, I probably would have been studying design).

I am very fond of design and I would like to learn more about design. I would like to make "pretty things" myself, like a designer does. But I can't go to college to get a degree in design because of my list of priorities (I want to achieve other goals more in this moment of my life) but I really want to learn some design myself.

Is there some way to emulate a design degree / program with books and other static resources? In my 6 years of study, I took everything out of books. My teachers made everything faster, but I don't think it was really necessary to study computer science: books + internet + practice told me almost 95% of what I learned there.

However, as you can see in this question, there is one problem: the definitive C ++ book manual and list. There are good books and bad books. And, frankly, a lot of bad books. I haven't found a reliable list of design books. There are many "List of Books to Learn Things" blogs out there, but most of them are really just a list from somewhere else ...

For example, I could read this list. 10 graphic design books every designer should read, but okay I have to go starting with the basics. For that, I could take graphic design courses like this: RISD Graphic Design (or any other program, it's just an example) and try to learn from the subjects the program shows, but it's still unclear what to learn because For example, there is no course in "Color Theory". They're more like "Design I", "Design II", "Design III". I think I have to look for the curriculum for a particular course.

I really want to improve my design skills, but I don't want to graduate. I have been self-taught my whole life (see background) and at this point I ask:

I did a bit of research on this and there are a lot of questions here on StackExchange that are close together but don't get to the heart of the problem.

What should I learn to become a web design expert? Coming from engineering 'Duplicate': the answer is just a "look at these websites" (and okay, that might help a bit, but I don't think you will get a degree level just looking at a few websites , or is it?).

Tips and resources for novice designer: 2 or 3 books to learn design, as above. This might help a bit, but doesn't get me to the same level (I'm more looking for computer science courses that have their own book on the subject. Is there anything like that in graphic design?).

Suggestion for introductory books on graphic design: this could be the same question I have, but the answer did not satisfy me. I need a lot more details (for example, more books or instructions will follow).

Is the design school a requirement for graphic design? does not answer this question. It's the first question that needs to be answered before you get to that question.

  • So if you are not ready to do some design research (by looking at websites or reading books) or graduate, what are you ready to do? I don't think I see how we could propose a "flow" that is not about doing these things. Design has to be learned somehow.
  • @Johannes: I'll be researching and reading books, but by a flow I mean, where do I start ?, Color Theory ?, Semiotics ?, UI / UX ?, What are the keywords for design ?, I need a book for everyone ? ... I said on the third link. "I Need A Lot More", 2.3 Books To Learn What A Degree Will Teach You? I think that is not enough.
  • @Scoot is not a duplicate, I don't ask if it's a requirement, I ask how to get to the level of graphic designer without going to design school.
  • @lcjury Thanks for the question. I've edited your question a bit to fix the English errors. Please feel free to edit it again if you think I have misrepresented your thoughts anywhere
  • ... and then I edited a few more (^ -) I'm not sure there is a real answer, but I think it's worth a try.

I disagree with Bryan. I have a B. Des and in 4 school years most of the courses were not technical, but not at all.

It's hard to make a list. I think the best you can do is look at a good design school's curriculum to know what to read about and in what order.

I can recommend a few topics and an order, but in the end the best way to learn is to practice and consult with a professional (I'll try to cover from vague to specific):

Art history, history of design, typography, grid systems, color theories, composition, typography, design and visualization theories (such as Ryan Gestalt theory and more mentioned) UX, illustration techniques, shapes and formats, logo design, packaging, book editing, binding, web design, design for alternative platforms (like TV apps etc.), visual communication and much more.

  • He didn't ask for a list to read about, he asked for an ORDERED list. I agree with your subjects, but there is no specific ORDER in which to go through this.
  • Maybe I wasn't clear enough, but that's why I recommended looking at a degree's curriculum to see what comes first, what comes after, etc.
  • So you think it's important to learn these topics in a specific order?
  • Yes, of course, as an obvious example, you shouldn't start reading about web design before reading about grids, and you shouldn't start reading about grids before reading about composition ...
  • Anyway, thanks @Ryan, I noticed I wasn't clear enough and edited my answer.

The graphic design program I attended started off with a solid art history foundation. I know some may be boring, but knowing how and why the design went can help you make aesthetic choices and explain and stand up for your work.

We also had color theory, we usually had to mix our own colors from primary colors and submit them as painted blocks, mostly when we were learning about compliments, triadic other kinds of color combinations on the wheel. We also learned how to use the tone or the Perception changes with color and without color. Along with the cultural meaning of colors and in which applications.

Design 1 was mostly about coordinating the eye hand to get what you see onto the canvas or paper. We'd draw a lot (that's the only way to get really good) 1 min sketches, 2 min sketches, quick gesture drawings, still life props everywhere. From there you can take electives, life drawing (nudes of course), illustration 1, 3D design, furniture design ... you name it.

Graphic design I mainly dealt with the principles of Balance, Rhythm, Harmany and their application. You also learn not to be sloppy. Your cutting, gluing, everything you give off has to look like a machine that made it. This is the beginning of building your portfolio. You have projects a freelance designer would get, and the teacher is the client.

You then learn design programs, you have a quarter in Photoshop, a quarter in Vector Drawing / Illustrator, it used to be Quark. I'm sure it is now InDesign that you use to turn a book into a learning binding, etc. A bit of HTML, but Web, earlier it was called Interactive Design, that's another focus. Each project usually has something new to learn as part of its execution and you usually explain it to the class. As you study more and more art history, this includes advertising history, etc. Also, any electives you have left are usually related to your major. Or you can go for something like Philosophy of The Blues (it was great).

Graphic design II, III You deal with bookbinding, printing techniques; More layout design, publication design, advertising design.

Typography I, II, III Great class, that's very important. I remember a book, The Elements of Style by Robert Binghurst.

Production I (I think that's what it was called), you will learn about printing and packaging processes, such as B. Types of punching and folding inks, offset / digital

In the last year, you will receive projects that take longer but combine different disciplines to prepare you and your work for an interview. Any project that you present as if presenting to a client / boss etc.

I hope it helps,

Andy Stone SCAD, BFA Graphic Design


It is very difficult teach someone to be an artist. You are or you are not. You either have a flair, talent, eye for aesthetics, or you don't. What you can Teachings are the restrictions that an artist must adhere to for certain methods of reproduction. For this reason, many "design" books actually focus on the technical aspect, since that is the teachable part.

Realize that the aesthetic is part of the design purely subjective. It is possible to provide "tips" on composition, perspective, lighting, line vocabulary, positioning, and so on. But such a "tip" is really just an opinion. So everything that covers the topic of aesthetics will only be that of the author opinion and not cold, hard facts.

If you want to improve your aesthetic skills, you may need to forget the word "design" and focus on more art-oriented topics - lighting and shading, depth, balance, composition, color theory, foreshortening, etc. All of these can seem to be independent, but it is not. Most "design" books focus on how to reproduce what you have created. There are some who focus on color theory, balance, or typography - and these are valuable. But they will be far more technical than aesthetic.

Where design school programs help is in the fact that you are surrounded in an atmosphere of creation and then limitation. I'd venture to guess most people starting out with a design degree have something Talent for art and they want to turn it into a career. So you start with a base of creativity and all you need to do is learn the limitations required to commercialize those talents. (And I suppose in today's world they have to learn software too.) But I've never seen a single design course anyone was taught How Be an artist or be creative. It's just not easy to teach.

Most of the "arts" courses I took in college were just "practice" courses. That is, the instructor would say ... draw this ... or create something with it ... etc. Furthermore, they provided it technically Knowledge, not aesthetic knowledge. For example, color theory to help you learn to choose colors correctly, or balance to teach you how to correct poor composition. Or lighting to teach you how to properly shade objects. You can find "art" books that cover these things (I love Burne Hogarth books), but they won't be "design" books.

Many art history courses simply examine how the masters created and how they used composition, color, perspective, etc. in their work. In addition, they can cover the work of famous designers - Bass, Glazer, Rand, etc. To show the same aspects from a "design" point of view. Being surrounded by it on a daily basis essentially anchors some aspects and simply helps a designer to trust his instincts more.

The design school is ultimately like any physical training - you train and train and train. When it comes to actually "doing" you just react more than you think about it. It is the repetitive creation of things that creates quality work. It helps to just recreate over and over and over and over and then repeat a dozen times. This is where schools help too - they force you to recreate under different circumstances and help you "tune in" when you need to, rather than "when you feel like it". Which is often the difference between success and failure.

When you want to learn the intangible, aesthetic side of design without For formal training, you need at least a good starting point and the ability to draw or create something from scratch. From there, for books, you'll have to dig more into drawing / art, art history, or even photo books that aren't design related to get the perspectives creation rather than reproduction.

Of course, this assumes that I read your question correctly. There is a lot and I may have skimmed part of it. :) :)

  • 1 I like it when you approach here: make your answer as lengthy as the question ... it's like a repayment (# _ #)

You ask for an instruction to study not technical Things. There is nothing there. You can start with basic design principles like gestalt theory to see what balance, grouping, etc. are. But it is not necessary. I've never heard of these things until I've been designing for years.

When you know the tools, as they say, designing is not like programming. You don't need to learn color before you can learn balance, nor do you need to learn balance before you can learn color. You create. It all happens at the same time to find a solution to a particular design problem or idea. You will improve through iteration, repetition, criticism, and confidence.

But to answer your question, you can't find a list of design topics to learn because there is no order. You must necessarily learn them all at the same time.

  • Ryan, and what would this list of subjects I need to learn at the same time be? Is something?