How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus | FREE tutorial for complete beginners

How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus… ( updated 2024 )

To those who have never drawn anything on a computer, it can feel overwhelming to know where to start.

Before investing my time and money in using a professional Wacom tablet, I first started out with a basic roller ball computer mouse and MS Paint. Yes, it was that long ago!

This method of drawing on a computer with a Wacom tablet predates how I learned how to draw commercially on a computer. Before attending design college and building a design career.

When drawing on a computer, the mouse is the first obvious tool to use. As you invest your energy and education into drawing on a computer, you will want to seek out better hardware and software to support your digital drawing journey.

The mouse should be your first step, but don’t stop there!

This post is a great introduction if you are considering using a tablet to draw on your computer.

How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus - Title graphics - picture of purple vector Wacom tablet overlaid onto dark background

Drawing with a tablet | overview – why use one?

One of the best ways to draw on a computer is by using a Stylus & Graphics Tablet in conjunction with a powerful art creation program. Using a tablet will afford you a greater degree of artistic freedom and finesse once you have become accustomed to the nuances and sensations of using one. However, This is also assuming that you can draw to a certain degree in the first place.

How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus- Blue ball raster graphics
How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet – blue vexel ball example

How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet – Quickfire answer

In terms of how to use a stylus and tablet ( or ‘drawing tablet’ ) from a technical standpoint, it is typically a case of plugging your tablet into your computer, downloading and installing the latest drivers and software, and then calibrating your drawing tablet.

Once this core set-up is completed, you can then set about installing drawing in programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.

The technical setup is not that complicated when comes to how to work with a drawing tablet.

How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet with regards to technique.

Treat the tablet as you would a sketchpad and pencil. Apply light strokes and heavy strokes, bold strokes, and small strokes. Get used to the pressure and sensitivity of your tablet. Learn to ‘feel’ the tablet ( cringe ). And give it time.

The video below is me drawing a blue ball using a Wacom Tablet and Photoshop.

*If you have applications installed on your computer.

This is a hyper-lapse of myself creating the blue ball above – ‘vexel’ a combination of Vexel and Pixel.

For more information on how to create digital artwork on the computer, read on!

“you will need to practice, practice and then more practice.”

Wacom tablet and stylus example
Tablet & Stylus – Wacom
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How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet | Managing expectations

Not wanting to lead any readers or budding designers astray, I feel one of the first things I should touch upon when learning how to draw on a computer with a drawing tablet such as a Wacom, is managing expectations.

Although knowing the technicalities of how to draw with a stylus and drawing a tablet on a computer sounds like a golden bullet. The technicalities are only the first part of the journey when it comes to drawing on a computer.

The real knack for making your own artwork comes with practice – not the tools. A piece of high-tech equipment won’t provide you with the soulless magic results like an AI generator.

That is not how it works if you want to create your ‘own’ artwork.

To get your digital artwork or design to the place you want it, you will need to practice, practice, and then more practice.

If however, you are of an arty-illustrator vein. Then ignore what I have said above. You may take to drawing or designing on a computer like a duck to water if you are already a proficient artist or illustrator! Let your flair flourish and shine!

Here are a few examples of what I have illustrated ( drawn ) on a computer with my Wacom Tablet. Followed by some simple steps.

What I have drawn ( illustrated) with a Wacom Tablet on a computer

Character illustrations I have created with my Wacom tablet
Characters illustrated for a board game.
Board artwork illustartion - How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet
Illustration of a stylus
Drawn a wacom - illustartion of stylues base / well

Step ‘0’ ) How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet – Be able to draw

As a pre-step, I can’t assume too much.

You will need to make sure you can draw to a certain degree with a pencil or pen before you can expect to draw on a computer with Wacom or a digital tablet. No matter what hardware you own.

If you want to create your own artwork away from AI art generators, you will need to be able to draw to some degree.

The technology and hardware, will not magic your hand and eye into creating what you want.

Even if you can only sketch, this will be a huge advantage when drawing with a stylus on a computer. This is a pre-step warning!

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Step 1 ) The required equipment to draw on a computer

To draw on a computer with a tablet … you will need to own the required equipment. Or borrow. This should be a given. I have used the following bits of equipment in the past ( aside from a mouse ):

  • Wacom Bamboo and pen – a more entry-level drawing tablet at the time ( now legacy)
  • Or a Wacom Intuos Pro & Pen ( medium ), this is what I’m using at the moment.
  • * Or a Cintiq ( I’m jealous )
  • A working keyboard
  • A computer that is compatible with a tablet
  • An operating system that is compatible with your drawing tablet
  • *Your computer will also need to be able to run both the drivers, the tablet, and the software
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Step 2 ) Understanding the type of digital art you want to create ( not genre )

When considering how to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet, you may wish to consider the type of artwork you want to create.

This can steer the type of software required to draw on your computer. I have attached an example here.

Vector Art and raster art example - How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet

style examples, Photoshop Vs Illustrator

You will notice the different styles above I have created using certain software with my drawing tablet. You can create certain types of finishes in varying programs.

Vector Illustration ( left blue ball )

Imagine drawing with cut-out shapes, knives, sprays and pieces and pieces. With the types of programs that allow you to draw and create vector artwork, you can create a range of slick illustrations.

With vector artwork, the appearance can appear clean and tidy. You can also scale the work up and down without loss of quality. Vector artwork lends itself well to commercial logos, large format graphics, icons, and UI’s.

Here is an example of some of my other vector artwork.

Token vector illustartions for board games - drawn in Adobe Illustrator

Bitmap based artwork – Raster ( right blue ball above )

You may notice the ball on the right has a more painterly feel ( refer to the illustration above). For this more textured appearance, I digitally painted this in Photoshop. Some may find this approach more akin to drawing or painting using traditional methods.

Bitmap format or digital painting in particular lends itself well to a more painterly, textured, or grainy appearance. If you have painted in acrylics for example, you may prefer this approach. But it doesn’t always lend itself so well to all circumstances in print.

Blue ball painted in Adobe Photoshop

Is creating digital art easy?

Yes and no, getting started with creating digital art can be very easy and low cost. Getting to a stage where you could call yourself a professional artist takes time and years of practice. The best way of getting started with creating digital art is by downloading graphics software and practicing to improve your digital drawing techniques.

I wish I could find my very first digital drawing, it was created on a Windows 3.2 in the era of the awesome floppy disk – you can read a bit about me here.

This is perhaps a topic I would like to dive into again in another post.

Digital art can be accessible with the right tools and equipment. Working with the Wacom Tablet for example can streamline the process further.

Step 3 ) What digital art software should ‘I’ use?

There are so many to pick from, but for the sake of just creating something you can call ‘digital art’, as a hobbyist begin with something you may already have, MS Paint In Windows.

Gimp Icon
Gimp Logo

There are other art programs out there that are also free such as Gimp and Krita. I have personally never used Krita but the results on the website show what it is capable of and it has also been given a recommendation from a reputable digital art magazine IFX. This magazine is dedicated to creating fantasy, digital, and traditional artwork.

Advanced digital artwork software ( what I use )

As both a designer and digital artist, I use 2 main programs to create my art and design work, these programs being: Abobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator often gives a very clean-cut appearance that you may see in books, posters, lifestyle magazines etc – this is called ‘vector art’.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a versatile piece of software that behaves like a drawing and painting tool and offers an intuitive workflow.

It should be noted that these programs can both be tricky to master and you may be more drawn to one than the other. You can get a free trial or purchase a subscription to use the software by going to Adobe Creative Cloud.

If you are just starting out on your journey to becoming a digital artist or illustrator, I would test a free program first.

Use the images above as a reference if you are just starting out or if this is part of a hobby. For me, it works like so.

Simple differences in what type of artwork Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator creates.

  • Clean cut, modern vector artwork = Adobe Illustrator
  • Grainly, textures, and painterly = Adobe Photoshop

How to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet | Deciding on software

As a budding digital artist, designer, or illustrator you will want to consider how you want to draw with a Wacom Tablet. What sort of outcomes are you looking to achieve?

If you are unsure and just trying your hand at creating digital art on a computer, you may want to consider the selection like so.

Adobe Illustrator may suit you more if you want to become a designer or a clean-cut vector artist. The way a vector drawing behaves inside a program is quite different from a raster art program such as Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop is great If you want to work as a traditionally styled illustrator, digital painter, game artist etc.

There are thousands of examples of digital artists on social media with websites and professional blogs.

Here are some examples here of my vector artwork.

This person here is a terrific vector artist and designer – Vicky Doodles

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Step 4 ) Grab Your stylus, and your Wacom Tablet and start drawing

Assuming that you have now decided on the type of artwork you want to experiment with, now is the time to start using the equipment.

To continue with an overview of how to draw on the computer with a stylus & tablet. Make sure you have plugged in and installed your tablet correctly.

If you have started with Adobe Illustrator as your application of choice. I would recommend starting the tool that is in tune with the Wacom Tablet, eg the brush or pencil. My first port of call would either be the Pencil or the Brush tool.

Start making small strokes with the stylus on your Wacom and see how the stroke behaves.

Or if you prefer, start working with some of the most basic shapes first and move these around your artboard as you would with a mouse.

Short overview of how to draw with a tablet in Adobe Illustrator

  • 1 ) Firstly you will want to start up Adobe Illustrator.
  • 2 ) Create a new document of your choosing. You can start with A4 for the sake of experimentation.
  • 3 ) Select the brush tool “B” and start making some marks and feel how the tablet responds to you and Adobe Illustrator. You can always undo it if you make a mess.
  • 4 ) If you prefer, you can also try to create an image with shapes first if you are familiar with working with vector graphics.

Illustrations – working in Adobe Illustrator and making marks.

Short overview of how to draw with a tablet in Adobe Illustrator - demonstration
(M) for rectangle tool in Adobe Illustrator

If you read on, I have also created some short exercises to play with – for free! Hopefully, these will get the juices and familiarity working when using your Wacom Tablet.

How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus - method fro drawing in adobe illustrator

Short overview of how to draw with a tablet in Adobe Photoshop

If you have decided you would prefer to create artwork in Photoshop on your computer then this is the paragraph for you.

How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus - using adobe photoshop for practice
  1. ) Goes without saying, but open up Adobe Photoshop – and create a new document.
  2. ) Select a brush tool and start painting/ drawing onto your blank document. Remember, this is only to get used to using your Wacom Tablet and Stylus. I used black.
  3. ) Press ‘F5’ to open your “brush settings”, select a tip you like and tick “transfer”.
  4. ) Now start painting and building a feel for your Wacom tablet. Another tip, play around with the opacity to help build your brush strokes on top of one another.

When learning how to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus, the snappy overview above will hopefully get you started. But, I have also created some exercises for you in the next step, to really give yourself some time when drawing with a Wacom Tablet.

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5 ) How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus | Exercises

To further develop and play with your Wacom tablet. I invite to to take part in these exercises I have created for you for free. The illustrations below should guide you on what you need to do when drawing on a computer with your Wacom.

Exercise for drawing in Adobe Illustrator with your Wacom & Stylus

How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus - Exercises and practice, adobe illustrator
When practicing drawing with a Wacom Tablet, it may be easy to save and download the reference exercise above. If you want to use this for learning feel free to take it and save it to your computer. Although it cannot be used for commercial purposes. Feel free to credit and link back to this page – How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus

Exercise for drawing in Adobe Photoshop with your Wacom & Stylus

How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus | exercise, drawing in photoshop

How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus | Concludes Steps

That concludes the step and general over of how to draw on the computer with a Wacom tablet & stylus. By all means, feel free to revisit the steps and stages above. Or if you feel this was a lot to remember, why not save this page as a favourite or bookmark. ( thanks )

But hey, I am not yet finished, I have also noted some key differences when drawing on a computer.

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Wacom & stylus vs drawing with a mouse

Very old computer mouse for drawing on a computer!
If you are actually drawing on a computer with these legendary relics… Kudos to you. Image Source – Wikpedia

If you are still wavering as to whether you want to draw with a Wacom. I have gone into a little bit of additional depth. A bonus section that is a supplement to the ‘how-to’.

A computer mouse in action

This example shows the end result of some digital artwork created using a mouse in Photoshop. It’s a bit trickier to use although it’s not bad for straight lines!

Drawing with a mouse! Visual example
Drawing with a mouse! (An Apple Smart Mouse)

I would advise moving on from a computer mouse at some stage if you are thinking of getting serious with drawing on a computer, be it for graphic design, illustration, or your own sanity.

If you are thinking of spending many hours drawing and creating digital artwork, using a different input will save on potential wrist aches.

The day I plugged in a Wacom graphics tablet, was the day I changed the way I created digital artwork on a computer. Using a drawing or graphics tablet can make the experience of creating artwork on a computer much more organic.

A Wacom & stylus in action

Below is an example of me sketching something in Photoshop using a stylus + tablet. It’s a quicker, smoother, and much more human way of creating a drawing.

Drawing with Stylus and Tablet example
Drawing with Stylus and Tablet. Handles, curves and waves, and is much easier to flow with

After using a Wacom Tablet for a few years now, I would struggle to return to drawing with a mouse. Outside the less control, the amount of RSI I used to get from drawing with a mouse, would be enough to put some off the profession.

Give a drawing tablet a try. I love them.

Summary | How to draw on the computer with a Wacom Tablet & Stylus

And that should conclude the basic overview in steps of how to draw on the computer with a Wacom tablet & stylus. As an overview, here is what we can do.

  1. Buy a stylus and drawing tablet of your choice.
  2. Install the hardware on your computer.
  3. Check the drivers are up to date – calibrate the software to your computer
  4. Download a graphics program such as Photoshop or one of free applications mentioned previously.
  5. Open the software.
  6. Start creating digital art!

Aside from the technicalities of the hardware, the real skill comes from lots of practice. Make sure to follow the short tutorial/exercises above to get you started with drawing your Wacom tablet.

Credits – All the best with your digital art journey and creating digital awesomeness on your computer

Thank you for reading, hopefully, this post has given you some insight into how to create digital artwork with a Wacom Tablet and an idea of tools you can use to draw on a computer.

If you would like any professional assistance please feel free to contact me on my website.

You may be also interested in reading this :
Handling black in print
Creating artwork for game
Reducing Banding in Photoshop
How to reduce banding on Photoshop
Editing text on your playing cards in Indesign

Case study | graphic design and making a game
Home » Design Tutorial

How to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign – No fuss

How to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign! This short tutorial shows you how to make some quick and easy edits to the text in your card artwork in Indesign. This post also covers some general text frame editing.

Editing your playing cards should not be difficult if you know how, and have the right tools.

It should be noted that this article focuses purely on the card editing stages, and not the whole card creation process.

This is a general help article to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign. You don’t need to be an Indesign guru or know your way around data merge to follow this.

How to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign – No fuss

In addition to editing text frames in your cards, this post will also help if you cannot edit text in Indesign.

This tutorial is ideal for those that just want to jump and edit the text quickly and hit save. It’s short and sweet, quick and dirty – no fuss. Or however else you want to describe quick text edits for game cards. The same applies to editing text too.

Troubleshooting tips are at the end of this article if you are having difficulties selecting the text box for example.

Common Question | Ways of editing the card text in Adobe Indesign

It is quite common for me to hear “how do I edit text on the cards” after I have created the initial prototype for a client.

With the card artwork, it is often in my client’s interest to know how to edit the text themselves or assign somebody else to edit the text. This is especially true in the late stages of production or mass production for various reasons.

One being, I’m not a copywriter profession!

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How to edit text in Indesign on your card artwork – put simply

In order to edit the text easily, open the document in Indesign ( if you’ve not done so already). Select the card face you want to edit, ( use the pages panel ) and change the text. You will then need to save your work or export it if you are intending on sending the work to print.

That is the simplified and short answer to editing the game card text in Indesign.

How to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign – No fuss

I cannot edit text in Indesign!

If you are finding that you cannot edit text in Indesign or you cannot edit the text on the cards. A few of the reasons could be either the text frame is locked, the layer is locked, or you need to override the master page template.

You can read more on editing your text frames in Indesign at the bottom of this post.

6 Steps to editing text in your card artwork In Adobe Indesign

1 ) Open up Indesign

Assuming that you already have Adobe Indesign installed, in order to edit the text you will need to have Adobe Indesign open.

If you don’t already have Adobe Indesign, you can download it. ( make sure to download from Adobe – DO NOT BUY OR DOWNLOAD from an unknown source )

Make sure that you have permission to install the software and that your computer has the technical requirements to run Adobe Indesign.

*Friendly Disclaimer | Adobe Indesign is not run or owned by myself. Indesign is part of the Adobe Creative Suite. I cannot take any responsibility for any loss or damage incurred should you download any 3rd party software or Adobe Indesign. Please take precautions!

Please check all the requirements from their official website before downloading. ( Adobe Creative Suite ) And make sure that you download the software from a safe source. Do not use any unauthorized 3rd party platforms when downloading InDesign. ( also based on past experience )

2 ) Open up the card artwork

You can either ‘Open’ the artwork from the ‘File’ drop-down menu in Indesign ( File, Open – Select artwork ) or you can open the artwork by ‘dragging and dropping’ the artwork onto the application icon from your desktop.

Or if you have your recent items window on view when you start up Indesign, open your document this way.

Tip – Don’t overwrite your original card artwork!

As a tip, I would strongly advise that you create 2 versions of your artwork and leave the original intact. If you edit the text, change something and save over the original artwork ( ruin it by accident ) you won’t have a way of back-stepping from this mistake.

Create another version! And avoid editing the original version. A piece of advice from past experience.

3 ) Navigating the card artwork for your game

Theoretically, you now have your card document open in Adobe Indesign. It will look something like this.

If you have used a template or a file such as the one shown in this article, then you should be able to scroll up and down through the cards. As you scroll up and down, you should see the back and front of your cards.

How to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign – No fuss

Or, as an alternative way of finding the card you need, go to window > pages. If this tool panel is not already open.

How to open and close Window/pages panel ( Adobe )

4 ) Select the card you wish to edit

You can either scroll up and down to go through the cards, which is okay for smaller decks, but not as efficient if you have a larger deck. Or if you have your ‘pages’ window open, you can double-click on these to jump to the card you want to edit. This is a faster and more effective method of navigating through your cards.

( Handy tip! Did you know you can see which page you are on at in the bottom of InDesign interface when you are editing the card you want to edit? The illustration above has a close-up of ’19’ to show this. )

5 ) Find the text box ( interacting with an Indesign text frame )

Assuming that you have now selected the card you wish to edit. Go to the text box ( as shown below ) click on it, and edit your text!

Tools you should only need!

If something has gone awry, here are some simple steps to follow.

How to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign – No fuss
  1. ) Make sure that you have the ‘selection tool’ active.
  2. ) Go to the box or area you wish to edit.
  3. ) Double-click the text box.
  4. ) Find the word or sentence you wish to edit.

If you are having trouble being able to edit the text or some of the text, this bit of troubleshooting may help. Cannot edit text in indesign – help!

6 ) After you have edited the text

Now that you know how to edit one text box and all has gone smoothly, you can edit any basic text box in these card files.

Once you are happy with your work and your edits just make sure to save your work. You can save your work by going to file ‘Save’ or ‘Save As’. Or by pressing CTRL+S ( Apple + S ).

7 Bonus Step ) Exporting your file for print

It should be noted that this process is a bit more nuanced and may require more experience and skill in saving your work correctly. It can be easy for somebody inexperienced ( or with experience! ) to run into difficulties when setting files up for print.

Remember, when doing this that you are shouldering the responsibility for all the print production for your cards. If you would like somebody to share the burden feel free to get in touch or read more here. Card game design.

  • ‘Export’ your file as a PDF’
  • Remember to Select all pages if you wish to save/export all pages for print.
  • Double-check that the images are above 300 DPI when exporting ( otherwise you will get a low-res file )
  • Check that it is in CMYK
  • Hit ‘Export’ and select a location

This is a simplified version of how to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign. The added end step also instructs how to save your work and export it for print.

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Troubleshooting Game Card Editing in Indesign – cannot edit text in indesign!

When looking at how to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign, sometimes it is not as straightforward. There can be issues such as locked layers, master pages being selected, or even limitations with hardware.

Here are some troubleshooting steps for editing the text on your cards.

How to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign – No fuss

Why can’t I select the text box? I can’t edit my text frame!

This could be down to a couple of reasons as to why you can’t edit the text box in your file. Here are some of the potentially straightforward and obscure reasons as to why you may not be able to edit your text :-

You don’t have enough ram/processing power on your computer

If your computer is struggling to run Indesign properly, an odd quirk that can show up is an inability to edit or select text boxes.

Possible solutions:

1 ) Turn off other programs such as Outlook, Your Web Browser, and other non-essential applications to see if this loosens up some grunt for Indesign. Remember to only close nonessential programs

2 ) Change the view to low-res draft mode. This can also make InDesign less taxing on your computer.

3 ) If you have tried all of the above. With a minimal amount of applications still running to allow more resources to go to indesign, close Indesign and re-open it to see if this does the trick.

The object is accidentally locked

There could be a couple of reasons as to why you can’t edit the text in your Indesign document. And, fortunately, the fix for this can be as simple as unlocking your text frame to get it working again.

Here are a couple of ways to check if you have a locked object. Unlocking text frame solutions in Indesign:

– The Object has been manually locked! This is a simple case of unlocking the object. To make sure the object isn’t locked go to > top menu > and check the drop-down for the Object – Unlock all on spread. Here is an image showing the menu option.

( Here is some more accurate information from Adobe on where to find this exactly – unlocking objects )

– Your text frame is on a locked layer. Alternatively, your text frame could be on a ‘Locked Layer’. On your ‘layers tab’ in the interface window, check to make sure the editable text layer ‘is not locked’. ( With a padlock on )

You want it ‘unlocked’ – you may also need to open the ‘layers’ window open.

– You are editing the wrong layer. If you cannot edit your text, it can be as easy as having the wrong layer selected. And, having the layer you want edit locked. Make sure you have your correct layer selected and that you are unlocking the correct layer!

You are trying to edit a master template

Another potential reason that you may not be able to edit the text is that you are trying edit from A, or the Master Page. A way to check is to:-

  • Select the card ( page )
  • Right click
  • And “Override Master Page Properties”

*Just remember not to override and edit the Actual Master template. This may otherwise change the text or design on ‘all of the cards’ or pages. ( remember what I said about keeping a backup? Always, keep a back up file!)

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Thank you for reading and editing the text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign

That is a share of my experience on how to both easily edit the text on any card artwork or card artwork template for your board game. And, how to edit the text in Indesign – when you cannot edit text in Indesign.

Hopefully, this post has saved some time, money, and headache. Feel free to share this post if you feel it is helpful.

If you would like help in designing a card game or creating some illustrations for your game please get in touch.

Freelance Card Design

Final bit of advice on how to edit text on your card artwork in Adobe Indesign

My final bit of advice on editing your text on your card artwork would be to hire a professional if you are doing this as a DIY thing for your business. Or at least find somebody that knows their way around Adobe Indesign, how to save it etc.

Although I appreciate that budgets can’t always make this a viable option it is still potentially the better option.

Getting somebody that is experienced can save headaches later on.

Other helpful design posts

External Websites Around Creating games

Freelance Design services for cards games – Copyright Jimmsdesign.co.uk

How to design a kiosk in steps

How to design a kiosk. Designing a kiosk for retail, be it for a mall or a shopping centre is challenging.

The quick-fire answer to how to design a kiosk is to look at the environment, get the plans, and dimensions and draw up your intent in a document.

“create a detailed plan drawing that illustrates the intent and clearly shows key information about its construction.”

To draw and up a plan for your kiosk you, will either need to draw it in 2D or create a 3D model. Or both.

Designing a kiosk that is suitable for retail and will sell your product as best as possible, is not a small undertaking.

I am going to share my experience of how to design a kiosk for a shopping centre – broken down into bite-size steps.

how to design a kiosk - diagram

Get your tape measure ready!

Actionable steps on how to design a kiosk

If you are looking to design your kiosk, these core stages will help you to pick through the design process.

It will also guide you on what you should do and what those behind the licensing of the kiosk may expect from your plan.

It should be noted here, as I am a designer that many of the steps and stages focus on concept, design, and planning stages.

Although I have an understanding of stand construction (even with a very distant background as a builders’ labourer).

My professional focus is in the design field, rather than implementation.

Below is a guide of what to use to design a retail kiosk.

Core stages on how to design a retail kiosk ( 1,2,3 )

1 ) Get the plan and technical information for the available space

2 ) Enquire about any limitations with regards to the kiosk design – what you can and can’t do

3 ) See the environment if you can, size up the competition

5 ) Conceptualise the design and try to stand out from the crowd (send a proof)

6 ) Consider the customer experience when they use the kiosk or stand

7 ) Polish up the rough drawings and design ready submitted to the mall

8 ) Amend design if needed (make sure you have factored in safety)

9 ) Make sure your design is easy to understand for the stand builder

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Kiosk Design | Get a plan and information for your retail space

Before opening up any design packages or generally getting too carried away the experience, make sure to get the space information.

Eg, the floor plan and dimensions.

This stage is essential. If you leave getting all of the specifics about your space and information to the end of the project, you run the risk of hitting delays.

Worse still, having to redesign entire sections of your kiosk.

Get the information first, or at least! As early on as possible.

If you are considering designing your own kiosk, these tips will save you a lot of trouble later on.

With this still in the back of your mind, if you have any questions you can request my kiosk design services here.

The kiosk planning stage – get a floor plan

Get the dimensions for your space and see what you need to work with.

Often malls and retail centres will have a top-down view or plan and layout of the area. It is better still if they have the written dimensions of your allocated space.

This will save you the trouble of having to go to the shopping centre to take measurements.

In addition to the floor plan to help you design a kiosk. Any diagrams with notification of electrical points, fire exits, ventilation, and sprinklers will be important to know about and should be factored into your design.

plan

How to design a kiosk | what you can and can’t do with the design

Knowing your limitations with the kiosk and retail space is just as important as to know what you can do with space.

All malls and retail centres are different.

You will find some retail centres are stricter, and others have basic requirements with the visual design.

It is also good to know the limitations and rules on what type of lighting you can and can’t use.

Knowing these rules and limitations for your kiosk design will help you with your design and save headaches further down the line when it comes to the final design and implementation.

Ignoring the rules is a likely way of delaying getting your kiosk or booth open to the public.

When it comes to kiosk design for a retail centre. *You can’t do anything that will pose a fire or safety risk to others.

You can’t build outside of your allocated area and you shouldn’t block items such as sprinklers and ventilation.

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How to design a kiosk | Visit The Shopping Centre

If at all possible, I would recommend going to the shopping mall where your kiosk will be situated.

For myself, I find this a key stage in the creative process.

I want create the best customer experience possible. I want to put myself in their shoes!

how to design a kiosk illustration of crowd flow


By going to the environment where your kiosk will be built, it will potentially help you with the design concept.

It covers you for the unexpected.

It helps you to size up what the competition and lastly, you can observe the shoppers behaviour. Not to mention helping to see what is really going on with other shops and stalls.

When it comes to kiosk design, this is an ideal that I can come to the centre, but sometimes this isn’t always possible.

If you can’t visit in person, you can always get somebody at the company commissioning the kiosk design to take pictures. Or a member of the team to go.

How to design ‘your’ kiosk – perks of visiting your area

As already mentioned before, and especially if you are designing your kiosk in-house. I would strongly advise that you visit the space where you intend to build.

This is important for both the kiosk concept and the practicalities.

This is a small list of why it will benefit you in designing your kiosk :

  • Allows you to put yourself in your customers’ shoes
  • Helps you to spot things and anomalies not on your plan supplied by the license givers
  • Shows how you will compare to other kiosk and shops
  • You will be able to see where people come and go in the mall
  • It will allow you to take your own pictures
  • And you can make additional measurements if required

To list a few.

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Kiosk Design | How to conceptualise and draw ideas

When considering how to design a kiosk, it is important to consider how the whole concept will work.

Gather as many facts and inspiration as necessary to create a kiosk that is practical and engaging. For inspiration, you may wish to look at websites such as Pinterest or go to shopping malls for ideas.

When I am engaged in a kiosk design project, I use those approaches as needed.

The concept stage of myself is the stage where permit the chance to jump in with both feet!

And if you have followed this guide so far…

You can too.

how to design a kiosk rough drawing

As a reminder to help you with how to conceptualise your kiosk make a note of the following:

  • How can I design a kiosk that stands out based on the limitations?
  • What are the business goals of the company?
  • Who is the target demographic?
  • How does the kiosk design plan need to be submitted?
  • To what capacity do you need have plan, eg 2 pages, 5 pages 10 pages.

Many of my past kiosk design projects have focused on creating a retail experience that makes the customer say –

“WHOA! What’s that!”

– Imaginary customer

In hopes to pull the customer toward the stand engage with the brand and product. Or at least that is what I aim for.

How “you” can conceptualise and design a kiosk

I would advise all of what I mentioned above if you are designing your own kiosk. Get the facts, get the plan, get the measurements, find out about health and safety.

And then –

Design your kiosk.

When conceptualising your kiosk, you should consider how the user will engage with the stand. Make good use of design to help sell the product to reinforce the brand image.

Also, on a practical note.

The kiosk design needs to work for all parties – including the staff. And storing the product after hours.

If you are also on a budget, you should also consider how this will affect the cost of the build. The plan and concept is just one stage.

Kiosk Concept Design Services

As part of my commercial design services, I can draft up a concept design for you to pitch. These services cover kiosk illustration, plan drawings, thoughts abstracts, and ideas.

All of which can be compiled together into a single PDF at the end of the project.

Freelance kiosk and retail design services UK >

A good customer experience and making a sale

When creating a kiosk, I take into account how the kiosk will be used by both the brand and the consumer.

In addition to designing a retail kiosk that resonates with the audience, you should also strive to make it profitable for your business.

And In order to help make the kiosk as profitable as it can be. I have asked what products the client sells.

With regards to making a good sale, you should also think about what product you would like to sell first.

Keep your kiosk easy to use, fun, and easy to sell from.

With the kiosk design, consider consumer psychology

As much as I personally dislike the manipulation to get people to spend more than they need in the supermarkets. You cannot deny that the tactics used are clever.

how to design a kiosk brain

You may believe that buying a product is a logical / considered thing. It is and it isn’t. Many customers make purchases on emotion and impulse too.

An inate need that they need more than they actually do – “just in case”

Examples of visual persuasion and tactical positioning in retail :-

  • Placing low-cost sweets at a checkout.
  • Putting big red signs saying “deal to be had”.
  • Placing items in areas where people loiter or come and go.

None of these tactics are new. And none are by accident.

But they do offer an interesting lesson that can be taken away. This all steers a sale. it ties in with positioning

Notes for steering a sale with your retail booth *kiosk

As part of my design process, these are just some of the factors and questions I will use when designing a new kiosk, including the all-important signage!

– Who are the products for?

– How can I make the best of the product space?

– Does the theme and visual design tie together with the brand story?

– Are there signs showing the customer where to look?

– Where can you can put important products?

– Create an area for low, medium, and high-end products (adopt the rule of second crappest
Post on another website, (love this post)

– Are there spaces where the customer may linger?

– Is it easy to move around and browse?

– Will lighting illuminate the products?

These are some of the questions I will ask the client or myself in the “design thinking’ stage of the project.

diagram

If you are designing your own kiosk and would like help with the concept or thinking stage. You can read more about my Freelance Creative Direction services here.

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How to design a kiosk | Come to an agreement and speed up the process

By this stage ( or if earlier ), I would have illustrated a 2D visual – a mock-up of the kiosk.

To create this render, mock or illustration I would have used the processes above.

The kiosk concept is important, as is the information you supply about it’s design to the landlords and those granting a license.

You will need to come to an agreement with the design.

After all, the ones granting permission to use their space typically have the final say on the design.

One of my biggest tips I can give you if you are designing your kiosk in-house. Is to create some rough ideas and renders first.

Once you have created some of these polished illustrations or renders of the kiosk. Send them off for initial approval.

If this initial design is approved.

Then add the details ‘after’ this stage of the kiosk design process

kiosk

If you send a 100% polished final design of your kiosk draft of your design and it needs to be changed – as design often does. then you may have to go over the entire design document and make those changed throughout.

Instead of having to change just a couple of items on your plan.

Don’t be cheeky either.

Remember what I said about who gets the last say? The chances are, if you are the stand designers who have been granted permission/lease for space – it isn’t you!

Getting your design accepted and then changing your build that deviates too far from the design plan is a huge no-no.

Don’t do it.

This will most likely cause you kiosk delays in the opening if you worry or annoy the landlords.

Do what you agreed in the plan. As much as you can!

Important in kiosk creation – “DO NOT” do this with your kiosk

“Do stick to the agreement.”

The plan – the kiosk concept -once finished and signed off by those granting the lease, should be adhered to. This is a mutual agreement between both you the stand builder on the mall offering the lease for you to place or build a kiosk.

The design plan is in place for you to stipulate your intent and for those granting the lease to see what you intend to do.

This the opportunity for both parties to land on the same page and be happy to go ahead.

Do not do anything that deviates too far from the design plan.

A ‘qualified; stand builder should be allowed room to execute their knowledge. The stand builders should know their craft and will flag when something is a bit off with your idea, it is a good idea to do this during the design process, if possible.

But even with the best intentions, things may arise were ‘minor changes’ need to occur.

be straight
Don’t be a geezer! – be straight an open with the design.

Minor changes…

If you decide to build custom shutters, new fixtures, wacky lights, things that block or stop ventilation and this is not shown on the original plan – which was agreed.

The solicitors or those granting the lease will either tell you to change it, amend the plan or they will stop you from opening the kiosk.

“that was not was agreed!”

Making substantial changes like this without consulting the landlords / those offering you space is a pointless risk in which you are the only one likely to lose.

Don’t be sketchy.

If you need to make substantial changes, later on, tell everybody involved and amend the design plan.

How to design your kiosk | amend the design if required

By this stage, you should be moving toward the completion of the kiosk design.

If you followed the previous steps, then you will have already shown an illustrated or 3D mock-up of your design.

Working on the design of your retail kiosk in incremental stages is better and saves time in releasing a big 15-page document in 1 go.

Imagine drawing the kiosk 10 or 15 times only to be told you need to change it across all 10 pages of the design document?

That adds a lot of bloat and time to get your design plan completed for your kiosk and may delay in the kiosk installation.

As preferred method, and when possible. I like to submit early design visuals before tightening up on the details.

If you are very lucky, you may not need to amend you design information. And, if this is the case. You can submit your design document and mark it as complete.

Get the sign off from the parties involved in running the mall. And you are getting closer to building your kiosk.

Preparing the PDF document of your booth concept for the landlord

If you are a qualified designer, you will be familiar with the different programs you can use to wrap up all of the documents into one neat and tidy plan.

As a general guide, if you are not using a standardised piece of software that creates documents. You can either go to a ‘Save As’ under file > menu or more often than not “export’ which will give similar document saving options.

If you are a Graphic Designer, then you can either use Adobe Indesign, Illustrator of Adobe Acrobat to compile together the images and artwork into a single PDF plan.

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How to design your kiosk | getting it ready kiosk/stand builder

By this point, you will have most likely had your design signed off and be ready for the visualisation to be turned into something tangible for retail.

You may or may not have had the stand builders involved for consultation in the early stages.

The communication with the stand builders is an important step. When working with stand builders on the installation of the kiosk, make sure the document is easy to read and follow.

Clearly write the measurements, the materials, the functionality, lighting information on the design plan.

Make it easy to read and understand as much as possible.

Example of the project for Bluewater (inspiration)

As part of a project for a new retail unit that was to be put into Bluewater shopping centre – I was heavily involved in the kiosk design.

These visuals I am sharing are from that kiosk design. You may be interested In looking at these for inspiration on your kiosk design.

The design followed many of the core processes and principle mention throughout.

Branding, modular design and methods for easy storage and stacking to name a few.

Along with the team I worked with at the time, we also visited the retail centre before creating the design.

Have a look at the images for your own reference and inspiration.

Project for Bluewater

how to design a kiosk
panel design
crate faces for kiosk
crate faces 2 - how to design a kiosk

These are just some of the artboards that contributed to the project.

how to illustrate a kiosk
Rough Mock Up

The image of the concept above is another example of a booth or kiosk concept that would be presented to a landlord.

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How to save money on your kiosk design

To save money on your kiosk design you should consider “modular design”. Modular design, or designing your kiosk in a way that it can easily be taken down and assembled elsewhere is a strong money-saving tactic.

Another simple way to save money on your kiosk design.

Present your rough ideas sooner rather than later. Don’t wait to show your best-polished work to the very end of the near building stage. Time is money. Show your design intent sooner rather than later to those offering a lease.

Last tip for reducing cost on kiosk design – look and ready-made solutions.

The more ‘bespoke’ your kiosk design is. The more likely you are to need to spend money on custom installation and building.

The design above is an example of a kiosk design that uses the modular method. This is so it can be assembled and taken down more easily and potentially moved to another shopping centre in the future.

sourcing for your booth!

You can also consider what resources are available to you. Such as this crate!

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How to design your retail booth (in-house)

By following the steps above you should design your own kiosk in stages and by following the limitations set in the plan.

Consider the materials, branding, cost, and work hours to build and install the kiosk also.

Designing a kiosk is not a small undertaking. You should seek advice from those that know how to build kiosk and from the owners.

IF you would like any help with your kiosk design I would be more than happy to get involved.

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How to design a kiosk for retail – the conclusion

In order to design a kiosk that is suitable for a retail environment, your need to create a detailed plan drawing that illustrates the intent and clearly shows key information about its construction.

With regards to useful information to include on the construction plan, you should consider adding the following pieces of information:-

  • Kiosk size and floor plan with measurements
  • An illustration or render of the kiosk
  • Detailed pull-outs of what is happening with the construction
  • Notes on materials
  • Where electrical points will need to be added.
  • How and where customers can pay
  • Storage
  • How the Kiosk can be made secure overnight.

There are many factors that you may need to be included in your kiosk design plan. And to what degree and detail you need to create your proposal,l is down to your and the owners of the mall that are leasing you space.

Help with ‘designing’ your kiosk

If you have found this article helpful and over you, some step by step guidelines follow you may also be interested in contacting me or looking at my freelance kiosk design services.

Feel free to share this article to any budding kiosk or retail designers.

Below are some other helpful links

Retail and kiosk design-related posts

Packaging design samples

How to design a stem product

product design ideas

Creating a USB flash drive

The Design Journey

How to pitch and game and make money

How to draw on a computer with a stylus and tablet

External Design Services

Kiosk Design UK

Freelance board game design

Kickstarter campaign designer

*The kiosk design is copyright copyrighted to the respective business. Do not use. – Thank you for reading – jimmsdesign. Steps on how to design a kiosk.

How to create a Stem product
Press to read this!

Packaging Examples

Press image to see these!

30 tips for creating a graphic design portfolio

Tips for creating a graphic design portfolio. Getting noticed can be difficult in the design field. Whether you are a freelancer, junior or somebody that is looking at changing their career. This post is a list of 30 portfolio ideas that will help you with your design journey. – tips for Graphic Design portfolio

tips graphic design portfolio

This will (hopefully) offer some ideas to create an interview-ready graphic design portfolio.

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”

– Milton Glaser

Tips for a graphic design portfolio that may get you noticed

I will answer quickly the question that I was asked recently before going into the detailed list of tips on making a compelling graphic design portfolio. But before going further into these tips for graduate graphic designers, I want to share some of my knowledge and experience when recruiting for graphic design internsships.

Please bear in mind that I am not a recruiter. I’m a designer with over 14 years of experience. I was also a Senior Designer and Head of Department when I used to recruit somebody to help me and the company.

I was a Senior Designer, who hired graduates for junior ‘traditional design roles’, 3 month internships, and freelance positions. And when I say traditional graphic design – mostly print.

Myself and my former colleague, looked through a range of portfolios when trying to find a good fit for the company. Sometimes a job posting would get 100’s of applications in less than a week.

Another interesting piece of information you may like to know – I used to look at portfolios before looking at CV’s. I could write a post about the process but that is something for another day.

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How can I make my Graphic Design portfolio stand out? tips

To get employers, agencies, and or anyone to hire you for a project or job. You need to have a portfolio that helps you shine, resonates with the employer and potentially be on brand with the person hiring. Look at who is hiring and ask yourself whether your portfolio is a match. What benefit can you and the portfolio bring to the role?

Take note, you, the designer will need to put your best foot forward if you want to win that job. You need to show that you can do what is asked of you and that you can offer value to the next role.

What you did yesterday is nice – what you are going to do tomorrow will be what gets you the job.

Not everyone will love you or your portfolio, but you want to give it your best shot until something eventually sticks.

Onwards for 30 tips for creating a graphic design portfolio – list of ideas

1 ) Have a portfolio

In short, yes you need a portfolio to get graphic design roles. Be it in digital or print form. People, designer managers, and recruiters need to see what you can do. This is the first tip. Without a design portfolio, there is no way of ‘showing’ what you can do. Without any examples of work, you are relying on an employer, agency or client to just take your word for it. I cannot emphasise this enough.

Yes, you need to show that you are a graphic designer and you at least have some idea of what you can do. Don’t tell them – show them.

2) Include your best, finished pieces

This is not as common as you might think. Graduates, in particular, tend to can put much process stages and fluff into their portfolios. Although this offers a good insight into how you work, too much can be counter-productive. This can be better shown in asked.

Many employers are in a hurry and want to see ‘results’ but not all.

And, I may burst a bubble here and go as far as to say that you may be working as a creative junior artwork / designer if this is your first role – even if the position is sold differently on the jobs board.

Hopefully, this won’t be forever. But be prepared to see a lot of this when applying for work – especially in the early stages.

Many artworking roles are dressed as creative design work when in fact a manager or client may be telling you what to do, and… you may be pushing pixels around to begin with as a junior designer.

When you also include you best pieces of work, consider making your portfolio like a sandwich. Really great stuff at the start. Less good stuff in the middle, great stuff again at the end.

3 ) Show your technical proficiency

If you have managed to find a job that is more ‘art and design’ or ‘illustrative’ then great! But if you are looking for more mainstream graphic design roles you will need to show that you can create the artwork in common industry standards. Programs such as, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Indesign are common at the time of writing this.

I would no longer assume that all design graduates come out with these software skills as a standard – not after recruiting interns and junior graphic designers for creative positions. I was surprised some establishments were churning out graduates without any software skills mentioned above at all, and I felt truly sorry for the graduates who sold these design ‘courses’. If that is what you can call them.

4 ) Design notes & annotations in the portfolio

Believe it or not, whether you are going to a meeting as a freelancer, junior or senior designer. People will read your notes and they will want to understand more of what is going on in your project.

You may know what your project is about but others will not, it is often best to spell it out in short sentences. It doesn’t have to be an essay. Just a paragraph with some annotations saying what is going on in a few words.

5 ) Make it relevant and appealing

This is one of the most important points in this list so make sure to pay attention. Make sure whatever is in your portfolio – is as relevant to the job as possible if you want the position.

Employers will want to see what you have done and also what you will do for them should they hire you for the role.

For example, if you are going for a packaging role at gifting company, try to emulate that you can do packaging and that you have past experience in the relevant market. If you have no commercial experience in this and you want to work in packaging and print, create some of your own initiated projects and show what you can do!

6 ) Your portfolio says one thing, your CV says another

Saying that you have x y z is one thing. But if your portfolio tells a very different story to what comes out of your mouth or what is written on your CV it will be evident by the end of the meeting.

Don’t bluff too much as you will waste your time and hiring managers’ time. And managers and directors really don’t have a lot of time to waste.

7 ) Woefully terrible portfolio

Subjective but…

I recall reading a CV and thinking to myself how epic a candidate was. I jumped over to their portfolio and they had just 2 pieces of dubious graphic design work in their portfolio. There was a dinky little piece of advertorial tucked up into a corner of the page promoting a grave-digging business, the other I cannot recall. But it made an impression..!

It was pretty evident that this individual was not a trained graphic designer and that some people in the industry may have been outraged by what was trying to be passed off as a portfolio. In a word – they were bluffing it and their portfolio showed it.

Perhaps they wanted to change their career.

If you are looking at changing career then study design, or at the very least have a portfolio with work that shows you are capable.

Don’t tell hiring managers how good you are, show them!

Also, don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to be the best designer in the universe but you know… come on. I was hiring! My reputation is on the line and anyone who would put even a basic new fresh out of university or course graduate next to this would probably giggle.

So what to do with your graphic design portfolio – Let other eyes see

So, make your portfolio as awesome as you can! Do your best, look at other designers, and ask yourself some frank and critical questions. This would be a strong tip on how to create a design portfolio. Make it as best as you can! even this will get some brutal remarks most likely. Trust me, I both seen it and felt it.

8 ) Varied but relevant

The closer you can keep your portfolio to the job match, the better. If you have any relevant or applicable pieces that you believe can help land you the desired position – include them.

You want to show projects that are transferable to the position and present you in a good light.

9 ) Not enough work

It can be frustrating even as a senior designer to hear, “Have you worked for anyone else?” or when I was a graduate “is that all?” from a recruiter. As a graduate, the chances are you may only have a few good pieces of work and a final major project that takes up a large portion of your portfolio.

Don’t be disheartened.

Create more work that will draw attention. Sounds easy, but the fact is, your portfolio shouldn’t stop once you leave university or college. If you can try to keep your work up to date and keep adding new and exciting pieces, this will carry you in good stead in the future.

tips graphic design portfolio - encouragement

tips Graphic Design portfolio

10 ) Personal projects

As long as they are good, polished, and relevant, include a couple of these projects in your portfolio. It shows that you are continuously trying to develop and some of these projects are on occasion, more interesting than your commercial projects.

11 ) ‘Discuss’ projects

With your printed portfolio, be ready to discuss not just what you did in the project, but for what purpose. For example, if your aim was to sell a product, mention this in notes and be prepared to elaborate if you are asked questions.

Keep the notes small and to the point but, try to write it in a way that will invite questions and open discussion.

12 ) Real-life examples

If you have created any real-life examples of your work be it packaging, stationery, or retail displays take photos of these and add them to your portfolio too.

Aside from breaking up your portfolio and keeping it interesting, having real-life examples adds a tangible authenticity to the project that a render of a flat image cannot replace.

tips graphic design portfolio - packaging example
tips graphic design portfolio - real life examples
More packaging this way

13 ) If you don’t have real examples

If you don’t have photos or real-life examples then create your own renders and visual mock-ups to show your work in action! And if you can’t create visualisations, you could always consider using a website such as Graphic Burger for freebie mockups.

Websites, such as Graphic Burger have a ton of free mockup kits.

tips graphic design portfolio way of displaying your website design work
UI design

14 ) Have real products and samples for your meeting

Another thing to accompany your graphic design portfolio is to have physical samples of what you have made. So, for example, if you have created a piece of packaging and you have the box – take it with you to the meeting.

People like to touch things – we are tactile creatures.

You can always show some of the work in progress in your portfolio too and then pull out a “Here is one I made earlier”. It can also help to shake up dull meetings.

15 ) A ‘bit’ of the design process

Showing some of how you work can offer a little extra insight into you as a designer, as mentioned before. For me, I will often keep completed visuals alongside some of the rough drawings and processes.

It holds true for both print and digital design.

I have a link here visualising my creative journey

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Tips for a graphic design portfolio – Section 2

This is a small break in the list! 30 Tips Graphic Design portfolio.

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas on how to create an interview-ready portfolio. As a designer, your portfolio is important at any stage of your career, whether you are a graduate or a senior designer.

If you are a graphic design graduate, I have written a post that may help you out.

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16 ) Type of physical portfolio

It should be noted right here and now, that a nice display book for your portfolio is never a replacement for good work and eye-catching design. It is just tidy a professional vessel to show your best pieces.

Since University, I have used a tidy A3 mapac portfolio to display my work.

Your portfolio needs to look professional. No stickers, No A-level ring binders with cloudy sleeves… slick and professional.

tips graphic design portfolio A3 portfolio book.
A3 Mapac

My personal favourite that is affordable is the A3 design book or if you have some cash for the sleeves too, archival cases.

Don’t use the cheaper-looking A2 ring binder portfolio that you probably went to a college interview with. You are a design professional now and you need to look the part, I would also like to remind you that you are in competition with other designers – with slick portfolios.

17 ) Art vs Design

I’m going to say something controversial to some – art & design, in most commercial settings, are not the same…

So, by all means, feel free to include some of your ‘artwork’ if it is relevant to the job.

But most agencies, unless you are an illustrator, are looking for a Graphic Designer – not an artist, and there is a difference, and more so in real commercial settings.

If you look too much like an artist as opposed to a design professional when you are applying for a professional graphic design role, this can work against you in a couple of ways:

  • Secretly, you want to be an artist and your portfolio shows this. Therefore do you have intentions to make this dream a reality? (leave the role in 5 minutes)
  • They are not hiring an artist (unless they are) they are looking for a graphic design professional for the position. You have sold yourself as more artist than a graphic designer
  • You will be frustrated as you probably won’t get to paint. (Who doesn’t love to paint!)

Make sure your skills and portfolio are in line with the job requirements. What you have in your portfolio will reveal more than you realise. Sell yourself to the position.

Then create all CVs and portfolio and reflect this.

tips graphic design portfolio

18 ) ‘Artwork’ in your graphic design portfolio

As lovely as some artwork can be, these more often than not offer an irrelevant distraction sadly. They may look beautiful, but unless relevant to a job or project it is best left out.

Or added to an alternative dedicated artwork portfolio.

If you have provided artwork for ad campaigns, an app, or something similar, include it if you feel it offers something to the job. But only if it offers something to the role. Make your portfolio about the job and what you can offer to the job that will be applicable.

19 ) How much work should I include in my design portfolio?

This question has been around for years and for as long as I have been designing – and in truth. I would struggle to say how much is too little for your printed design portfolio.

– For my printed portfolio, I try to hover around 14 pieces without it getting boring.

– I would say no more than 20 pieces in your portfolio. Recruiters would try to steer you toward around the 14 or 16 number.

Too much ‘okay’ work can dilute the great work. Be ruthless with what you include. it is a delicate balance of best foot forward and not selling yourself short. Or, if speaking to a recruiter for a role, ask them. Include work that will sing to the person hiring.

20 ) Stand out with your print portfolio

The tips and ideas listed in this post are elements of a much bigger goal – what can you do to make your portfolio stand out and get you a job?

Recruiters, HR, and businesses are busy and the chances are if you applied for a position at a company in a big city they will have received literally hundreds of applications. This is especially more likely if you are applying for work in the summer holidays.

How do I know this? Because I have been in the position of hiring for junior design roles.

So, this brings it back round to this point. What can you do to stand out in a roaring sea of busy inboxes?

Create real-world examples of how the project came out, If it is a piece of packaging then try to mock up the packaging. There are websites online that allow you to put together mock-ups if you can’t do this yourself.

If you have designed a kiosk, stand signage – take ‘in situ’ pictures that make a recruiter say “you actually made this”.

Other ‘wow’ factors for your graphic design portfolio

If it is digital design also, use web links to live websites if at all possible, however, it can be the case that website change – some make sure to take screen grabs.

If the website has changed and you only have a UI, create mock-ups of the design inside a computer screen or a Smartphone.

Assume that people will only spend around 60 seconds glancing at your portfolio. What can you do to hold their attention for longer? Also ‘show’ what something is as much as possible.

21 ) Make your design portfolio snappy

Did I mention that business owners are busy (or impatient)? Or both. I’m (and have been) guilty of this. I would advise making it so that your portfolio can be read easily and skimmed.

There may only be a couple of projects that actually catch the employers’ attention so make it easy for them to spot what they are looking for.

22 ) Compartmentalise and structure

Keep your portfolio in some sort of sensible order. Whether this is by project or by a medium such as print and then digital is down to you. Don’t jump between projects.

It will help any recruiter stay on track with what they are reading and make it look like you can apply some order to your projects. Being an organized designer is a huge plus too.

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Do I need a ‘digital’ portfolio?

Yes, in a very short answer. A quick step out here.

I have been asked “do I need a digital portfolio?” or specifically a PDF portfolio. 100% yes. You do need a digital portfolio saved as PDF. Get this sorted first as with the digital age, this will be your first port of call.

When I was recruiting for internships ( you can read tips here on getting an inhouse graphic design internship) and hiring for a junior role, I would also need to see a PDF of work along with a CV. And shall offer a little inside sub-tip right here, right now.

Subtip – After a time I stopped reading a design CV’s first

Think that is an odd thing to add?

It was not uncommon for me to read a great CV from top to bottom and say – “Wow this person sounds great! Let us hire them now.“

Then I would look a the portfolio…

I can recall looking at some of these portfolios and asking myself whether they were even Graphic Designers, it made me feel genuine pity for Graphic designers trying to struggle through and find work in the industry when these ‘have a goes’ were trying their luck.

Secondly. I had wasted 5 minutes of my time reading a CV of somebody who clearly wasn’t a Graphic Designer. From then on I took a portfolio-first approach.

Make both your CV and portfolio as good as it can be. It will help you secure the opportunity you want.

And to answer again – yes you will need a graphic design portfolio / PDF version. It is very important. Which leads to the next point.

23 ) Create PDF or online version of your portfolio

Moving on from physical hard copy of your print portfolio. I will now offer some ideas and insights on creating digital versions of your portfolio with this being the first digital tip.

Create a digital PDF version of your portfolio so that it can fit inside a recruiter’s inbox.

Make it eye-catching and don’t make the recruiter or the person having to hire need to work for it.

Make it as easy for them as humanly possible.

If you are struggling to know which program to use to create a digital PDF portfolio you can use Indesign and Adobe Acrobat and ‘save as’ or ‘export’ from there.

24 ) Keep the PDF small

Don’t send a MASSIVE portfolio to the recruiter’s inbox. This will either take too long to download or may even get caught in a firewall.

So with this I mind, and knowing that you should send a concise version of your PDF portfolio this will probably mean that you may have to trim the fat.

Cull the stuff that won’t help land you the job – next point!

25 ) Create A ‘light’ version of your PDF portfolio

One of the obvious ways of shrinking your portfolio is by losing some of the pages which makes it so bloated and heavy.

Lose projects and be brutal with what you want to include.

If needs be, strip it back to the bare essentials. And then decide what matters to you and what you should include. I can be worth doing this every year. We can call this maintenance.

26 ) Don’t bother sending Wetransfer links to download your WHOPPING great PDF

Please don’t.

Remember when I said ‘make it easy for them’ sending a link or a ‘Wetransfer’ isn’t making it easier for the recruiter to see your work. Don’t make ‘them’ (people hiring) have to wait to download your 2 GB portfolio as this takes time and invites more problems for you.

I tend to strive to try and keep my PDF portfolio under 3 / 4 MB tops so that I can attach it and get it inside an inbox.

From a recruitment standpoint making me have to download a PDF from 100 plus applications makes it time-consuming and more difficult than it needs to be.

So, don’t make a hiring manager download anything. Don’t waste their time.

It will be met with an inner groan. You don’t want to make the person hiring burst a blood vessel!

tips graphic design portfolio - dont do this...
Don’t cause this | tips graphic design portfolio

27 ) Make it easy for the hiring manager

Make it simple. Don’t send dozens of links to various locations. Have all of the big content in a single PDF or keep it all together as much as possible.

The more actions you ask the recruiter to take, the more likely they are to get bored or move on.

And you don’t want that. They are people behind the jobs, after all.

28 ) Links to online presence

In addition to your PDF portfolio, you should have some of your artwork online. And when I say online, I mean on platforms such as Behance, Creativepool, etc.

Putting additional work on websites such as Behance can be a great way of showing off additional work and sending follow-up links. The bits of the process you can’t fit into a portfolio or the bit of a project that didn’t quite make the final cut.

As a freelancer, it is especially important for you to have your work visible online but that is another topic for another day.

29 ) Deciding on ‘not’ having an online graphic design presence

Mixed opinions on this.

If this was for a job for a classic print house then I could let it go – maybe. But in this day and age with so much information, projects, and work being online I would have found it strange not to see any of your work online.

Even as a pure print designer. I would advise that you have your print work online also.

Here are a few reasons: It will most likely be the first thing people will look at when they want to see samples of your work – in particular as a freelancer.

Not having work online will age you – in a negative way (too much of a senior designer?). It may also be perceived that you may not have an interest in design trends etc.

I’m not mentioning that to be mean. Even a senior designer myself. I have found this to be an issue in the past.

30 ) Website Portfolio

You may not ‘need’ a dedicated online portfolio if you are just going to focus on print design. But, if you are gearing towards working in the digital fields then I would say yes – you should have some form of a website or at the very least an online presence as a bare minimum.

If you are thinking of creating a website I have written some tips here on how to start with some very affordable web creation options – keeping in mind, that the post mentioned is geared toward small business owners as opposed to how to create a killer graphic design portfolio.

A website allows you to sell yourself and sell yourself the way you want to.

Having online a Behance profile means that you are in a sea of designers and you have to structure portfolio according to their rules and format.

Don’t get me wrong, Behance is great. And I believe you should set up a profile today but not at the expense of a website – more true if you are a freelancer.

So… do you need a Website? Is it compulsory to have one?

No.

But having one may help you to stand out and possibly look more professional. You need to give yourself an edge.

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Summary | 30 tips for creating a graphic design portfolio

I hope these suggestions will help you in creating a graphic design portfolio that turns heads. If you also have tips for a graphic design portfolio feel free to share.

I have over 14+ years of commercial experience in graphic design – both digital design and print. I have also recruited quite a few graduate designers that I see falling at similar hurdles and I wanted to help you – as a graduate graphic designer (and maybe another professional designer) get to the design job you want.

Here are a couple of inspiring quotes:

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser

“No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist.” – Salvador Dalí

Graduate tips | graphic design portfolio
Graduate design tips

If you are a graduate looking for some design tips read this.

Additional Resources | tips for a graphic design portfolio

Getting a job in graphic design as a graduate – help me!

Ways to create a website for free … or very cheap

I want to make a party game

Photoshop – how to get the black you want in print!

The graphic design journey – my process

External Resources

Behance – create an online portfolio

Creative Pool – Look for jobs and create an online portfolio

Design Quotes

Thank you for reading, if you felt that this article was helpful please share. All the best with your portfolio. tips graphic design portfolio

How to make a product for your business

Developing a product for your business isn’t a small undertaking… but it can be very rewarding if you do it right! This post has been written to share useful experiences for creating a product. In order to create a product, you should consider certain key aspects of its design.

So, how to make a product for your business :

  • Who is the product for?
  • Is there a market for your product?
  • Does the market need your product?
  • Would the market want your product? can you find out?
  • How much will it cost to create the product?
  • How will you market the product?
  • Where will you make your product?
  • Timeframe for product design

The questions above cover a couple strong questions when creating or launching a product.

Tips for creating or designing a product
Tips for creating or designing a product

Also, this post will cover what you shouldn’t do when developing a awesome new product. Enjoy!

My experience in creating physical products

In the early stages of my career I would never have imagined that I would have been involved in designing and launching physical products, it has been a journey that has both been challenging and exciting!

Speaking creatively, designing a product opens up a whole new road for innovative exploration – you just need to remember to put the breaks on every once in a while and assess why and what you are making.

My experience mostly covers designing products that are made from card and PET. I have also been involved in creating physical card/board games, developing learning products (STEM) and Flash Memory (injection moulding) and last but not least, the retail packaging that houses products.

Who is the product for? (It’s not you)

When you create a product, it shouldn’t be a product for you. This may sound counter intuitive but you need go beyond a gut-feeling if you really want to push the success of a product. One mistake I have often found is assuming that everybody else is a bit like me to a lesser and greater extent – this couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Not everyone is like you.

Do you represent a demographic that would buy your product?

It can be a good start if this is the case but try to get some idea who would buy your product through looking at information online with trends, forums, statistics and if you have the money and resources, surveys and product testing. These early stages will help to decipher whether there is viability in your product.

Don’t leave it to chance.

Make your product about your customer, make it something they would love, solve a problem, entertain. It will be them that buys the product in the end – not you. ( you may find this interesting, making a board game prototype )

How to make a product for your business | Product Validation

A very good way for a business to get a product validation is by testing the waters on a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter or IndieGogo. If you are going to do a Kickstarter, make sure you have a crowd and an audience ready on the launch day.

This is not a mandatory way to validate a product, but it does show if there could be a demand for your product.

If you would like help with your Kickstarter design you can read more on this post.

Is there a market for your product?

Assuming that you may or may not have gone down the crowdfunding root for your trailblazing new gadget or product do you have any evidence that the world ‘needs’ or would like your gadget or product?

A good way to check is to see whether other companies are selling something similar – I know, I know – you want to create something SO unique that you would have made Tesla shed a solitary tear but creating something without knowing if there will be demand can be a huge financial risk, and you could end up selling something that the world does not want or need.

It is a crushing feeling

if your product can’t get off the starter blocks when you have invested so much time and money into your passion. Make sure you do your homework first and maybe consider the – paragraph above “Product validation”.

Who knows, perhaps after creating your first few products you will be in place to show the world what you offer is better than what they want.

In time…

Show the world what you have to offer...
Show the world what you have to offer…

Great women inventors

Keep the cost down to create your product (*MVP)

If you are a creative or a student reading this post, you are probably going to hate this point. For your product to be commercially successful, somebody will need to be able to buy it! I know, who would have imagined!

Unless you are creating a product for wealthy people with large disposable incomes you will need to consider if the man or the woman on the street can afford what you are trying to sell them.

That will generally come back to keeping that initial manufacturing cost down.

Creating a Product As a business owner or Start-Up

This may sound like familiar territory to you. The lower the setup cost, the better the margin or the cheaper you can sell your product and it have a wider market appeal. A lower RRP will make your product more accessible to a larger buying market with shallower pockets.

The type of product, brand or business you want to be is down to you. It will come down to you how much you believe the customer is willing to pay for your product and be brutally honest with the prices.

This may influence whether you do mass production, batch or stay with smaller scale cottage industry production. The choice is yours – based on your research and expertise.

How much does it cost to make a product?

It can cost anything from 10p a unit to £1000’s of pounds for a large mass produced run, it comes down to the materials, where you have your product made, speed and many other smaller factors.

Costing and pricing is a crucial stage for the success of your product. Below are a few factors which you should take into consideration when pricing the development of your product:-

  1. How many units will you make

    Generally, the more units you manufacture, the lower the unit cost is in larger quantities.

  2. Where it is manufactured

    It is common to find products that are manufactured overseas. This is a common practice in manufacturing as it is generally cheaper to manufacture products in place such as China.

  3. Packaging

    Depending on the level and complexity of packaging this can affect the cost of your product per unit. Having too much packaging could be costly and frowned upon by a modern and more eco conscious market. – You can read more on packaging here >

  4. Transport and unit weight and size

    The weight and size of your product will affect the unit cost of your product.

  5. Other languages

    If you are intending on creating a product that will be sold globally, you may wish to consider having translations added to the retail box. It can be inexpensive for translations to be created and worth considering as it will open up a much larger audience to your product.

  6. Barcodes

    If you are intending to sell your product to high-street retailers you will need a product Barcode. I wasn’t involved in the process of creating product barcodes in the past, but as far as I am aware it is relatively cheap.

  7. Instructions

    Large retailers will expect instructions as a basic requirement for your product if it something like a piece of electrical equipment, a gadget, a game, a tool and items with moving parts. Instructions can be made cheaply, but they need to be made ‘properly’.

  8. Other Admin and legal areas

    Your product may need testing for chemicals and toxic substances to meet with trading standards. These requirements differ from country to country and isn’t something I can advise on. I can only mention that you should be aware of it is best to seek professional advise.

* it should also be noted that Brexit ‘may’ have an effect on goods being imported and exported in and out the EU.

Marketing Your Product – A very important step

This step should not be scrimped on but is often is. It is a waste of time and money putting all of your efforts into creating a product that the world cannot see. Don’t rely on blind faith and hope that consumers looking to buy a product will stumble of yours. You will need to be proactive and there are actions you can take with a short or non-existent budget.

Invest your time, energy and planning into some good marketing and if you cant invest money, research low-cost or free marketing ideas.

But remember, free is rarely free. Time is still a cost also and if you can avoid doing it all yourself I would advise looking for help.

https://www.shopify.co.uk/blog/how-to-market-a-product

Shout out Marketing
Shout out Marketing

The marketing of your product can cover a large area; from the branding to the packaging to the website. 1 idea for marketing your product could be to consider crowdfunding – if this fits your business model.

A method for getting your product out there

a) Make a good product
b) Create awesome packaging
c) Present the whole package.

Show your cool packaging to a buyer and let the large retailer do the heavy promotional lifting and display your product. I have seen this method work time and time again but you need to master your pitch.

Other Notes on creating your product

There isn’t a guarantee your product will succeed the first time.

I feel this should be added, not every single product you develop or make will rip it into success. Although, I hope that this article may guide you and help you steer clear of any pitfalls in the early stages.

I think many inventors make many products and prototypes before they blow it out of the water. Eventually, they find that eureka! And so will you if you if you have the right skills, knowledge, and attitude. I have written about the success of this party game >

IF you found this article helpful free to link to, share or show friend.

‘Do Not’ for developing a product.

– Don’t rely solely on your gut when creating a product. Try to do some research and understand your target demographic

– Developing products for the tech market can be volatile – especially if you are making products which are accessories for a model of (whichever product) Creating something for the latest release lasts as long as that model does. You either have to move quickly or end up with a warehouse full of products you cant sell.

– Don t assume that customers only look at pictures on the packaging, they do read the details on the back of the packaging, and if something is a little bit off – they will email you to let you know.

* Minimum Viable Product Quick Answer : What does it mean?

If your manager or boss has just mentioned the term MVP this stands for ‘minimum viable product’. A minimum viable product is just that, a product that is still worthy of being sold but is stripped back to the bare essentials.

E.g a car with 5 wheels, bike rack, a rearview camera, fine leather interior, sky television etc

MVP version = 4 wheels, plastic interior, simple functional car (Save money in other words)
That is the end of the post for How to make a product for your business. I have tried to share some of my past experiences and how they can be useful for you.

I hope this post was useful to you and give you insights on how to make a product for your business. This is all based on past experience which I have shared. if you feel that this was helpful please share!

Thank you for reading “How to make a product for your business”

Maybe you’d like to read: How to create a game in steps >
Or Develop packaging or how to design a gaming app

If you have any questions feel free to (opens in a new tab)”>contact me through my website >