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Ultimate Guide to Developing Visual Designer Skills for Beginners

visual designer skills

Developing visual designer skills is more like developing a habit than learning visual design principles or elements.

Principles serve as a guide and give you direction, however, when you develop a habit, it grows with you and lasts a lifetime.

In this blog post, you will learn how to develop visual designer skills the right way and become proficient in executing a diverse range of visual styles.

1. Know the top skills required of visual designers

To be a visual designer, it’s expected that you have various sets of skills in your arsenal.

Without them, you really cannot claim to be a visual designer.

Top skills a visual designer is expected to have;

  • Graphics design
  • Branding
  • Typography and layout
  • Color theory and its application
  • Vector illustration
  • UI/UX design
  • Visual communication

2. Learn the principles of visual design.

To develop visual designer skills, you should first understand the principles that would guide you in making clean visual designs.

  • Unity: This involves arranging various elements evenly within your design to create a visually appealing design.
  • Contrast: Contrast highlights the visual distinction between two design elements.
  • Proportion or scale: Allows users compare the size of a single element with other elements around it. This helps in creating a balance and unity among your design elements.
  • Hierarchy/emphasis: Hierarchy guides users to specific elements you want their attention drawn to in order of importance.
  • Balance: Balance ensures elements, space and shapes are evenly distributed in your design to make it less overwhelming.
  • Gestalt or Rhythm: The Gestalt principle describes the process of combining various elements to form a whole. The repetition of lines and shapes to form a unified element.
  • Variety/dominance – Aids in establishing a focal point among vairous elements in your design.

3. Tools to develop your visual designer skills

Once you get familiar with and understand the principles of visual design. The next course of action would be to learn how to use tools/software that help in developing your visual designer skills.

Some tools a visual designer uses are;

  • Figma
  • Sketch
  • Adobe Indesign
  • Adobe XD
  • InVision

4. Find resources that will help develop your visual designer skills 

If you choose to develop your visual design skills on your own, there are available resources that will help guide you through the journey.

For self-learners, I’d advise you to have a roadmap for learning. A roadmap provides a structured learning path, helps you track your progress, and makes it easy to achieve your learning goals.

roadmap to developing visual designer skills

Before you enrol in a course, ensure that it is practical and allows for project criticism amongst other designers.

List of resources you would find helpful.


  • The Future by Chris Do
  • The Design System Podcast
  • Design Better


  • Mizko 
  • Dann Petty 
  • DesignerUp

Blogs and articles 

  • Abduzeedo.com
  • Friendsoftype.com
  • Creativebloq.com


  • Designing visual interfaces by kevin Mullet
  • Visual Design Solutions: Principles and Creative Inspiration for Learning Professionals by Connie Malamed
  • The non designers design book by Robin Williams
  • How To by Michael Bierut

5. Enrol in a visual design course

Enrol in a design course or degree program to learn from a professional.

Learning from a professional allows you to learn a skill shorter than it’d take if you learned on your own.

A professional knows the roadmap to follow and which tools you should learn first.

If you want a degree in visual design you can consider universities like Full Sail University. They offer a certification and a bachelor’s degree in visual design. Elizabeth Lin’s Art of design course is a good one as well.

See other visual design courses you can enrol in.

6. Practice is the key to developing your visual designer skills

Image by freepik

3 ways to practice your visual design skills

  • 1. Replicate designs and tweak certain elements of the design as you get better.
  • 2. Join design challenges to help improve your visual design skills.
  • 3. Take design Knowledge tests to help you make smart design decisions faster.

Tips to help you stand out

Contrary to what you may be made to believe, developing visual designer skills is not something that you do in a short period.

A strategy that has worked for successful designers is to collect inspiration as they go.

You can stumble on something intriguing while casually browsing the web or on socials. When you do, save it somewhere you can easily reach. For example, add them to a folder in your gallery or notes.

This will help build a personal preference for designs. Over time your design will be unique compared to the regular designs on the net.


If you’ve read to this point, you have all the information you need to develop and improve your visual design skills. As mentioned earlier, developing a skill is done over time and not a one-time event.

Ensure you network with designers online and offline to stay updated on new styles and design systems. Practice new tools and software. And improve your knowledge with the resources you can find.


Can I develop visual designer skills in 6 months?

  • This has some truth in it. However, there’s no limit to the level of skills you can acquire as a visual designer. You have to keep developing and improving on your visual designer skills to stay relevant in the industry.

Can I learn visual design for free?

  • Yes you can. Check our article for free visual design courses you can start with.

Can I develop visual designer skills without a background in design?

  • Yes, this is possible with dedicated learning and practice. Ensure you’re knowledgeable of the principles of visual design.

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