If you’re a graphic designer, then you know that there are always new things to learn. The good news is that many of these skills can be mastered with a little bit of practice. In this blog post, we will discuss some graphic design hacks that every pro should know! These tips and tricks will help you work more efficiently and produce better results. So read on, and see how you can improve your graphic design skills today!
Why Use Graphic Design Hacks?
Are you ready to take notes? You have your pen. You have your paper. Ready to make an impact? Well, today I have seven tricks that are going to help you save time. These are things that I wish I knew when I was a beginning graphic designer. If you’re a new graphic designer, I’m going to share seven things with you that are going to be super impactful. They’re going to give you a lot of your time back and give you more freedom to do the things that you really want to do. Many graphic designers encounter various difficulties when they first start out, but the biggest is the loss of time to inefficiency. So if you want some freedom back, this is a good article for you!
Graphic Design Hacks Save Time
First, I want to get into a couple of things that you need to know just as a foundation before we get started. Time is not money. I hear this all the time–people say time is money, time is money; time is not money. If I were to give you a million dollars but you couldn’t wake up in the morning, would you take it? No, who would take that? What good are a million dollars in the bank if you can’t use them? Money is really not that important in the grand scheme of life and being able to buy time is so key to being able to buy your time back and become more efficient.
With the things that I’m going to teach you in this article, you will be able to get more time to do more of the things that you love. You will become more productive, which is going to make you more money and give you a better turnaround with your clients – meaning happier clients. As a result, you will get more freedom, better turnarounds, and be able to get your jobs done quicker. This means you can do more work and make more money, all while enjoying freedom and happiness because you’re able to be more productive. So, that is what I want to give you in this article.
1. Keyboard Shortcuts Are Graphic Design Hacks
Tip number one: learn keyboard shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts are something that I learned at the very beginning of my career. You can print out these charts to learn all of the keyboard shortcuts that are available in Photoshop. I use keyboard shortcuts about 80-90% of the time for most of the commands and things that I do in Photoshop. This includes saving my work (command + S or control + S). There are all different keyboard shortcuts that you can use in Photoshop, so make sure you learn them!
Take the time to spend the time now, early in your career, and invest in yourself; it’s going to speed up your work long term. I’m sure I cut my work – my workflow and the time I spent on a project – perhaps by 30 or 40 percent, by using these keyboard shortcuts. Not only do you have a chart printed out and hanging on your wall in front of your desk, or maybe taped to your desk – you can also look at the list inside of the toolbar, so you can see the little shortcuts at the end of the bar. That’s a really big one for you that is going to help you cut down a lot of time.
2. Setup Your Workspace Layout
Number two is you want to set up your workspace layout. This is a common thing I see in a lot of graphic designers. They do not do it. However, you can not only set it up the way that you want, but you can save that workspace so every time something gets messed up, you can reset it. I just change the workspace to essentials if you’re using essentials, or to automation, or all the different layouts and designs. You may need to create your own.
Maybe you like one of those, but you want to modify it a little bit. You can save the workspace and if it gets messed up for some reason, you can switch to essentials. Then switch back to your saved workspace. This is a way that I’ve saved a lot of time and I’ve been really efficient with having all of the different tools and the different windows on the right-hand side of my screen that I need – and that I don’t need. There’s it’s very easy for me to find, and as time has gone on, I’ve become more and more familiar with the icons for each of those windows.
I have been able to scale my layout, giving myself more screen space; and that’s something I want you to be able to do as well. So make sure you set up your own workspace inside Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign – all of these programs – you can create your own workspaces. This is a really good hack, and you should consider implementing it.
3. Combine Common Graphics into One Document
The third trick that I want you guys to implement into your business is to combine all of the elements from past designs into one document. Again, combining common graphics that you use – if you’re using little starbursts for call outs, or if you’re using little banners, or if you’re using certain things all the time – create a document where you can have a lot of these common things all in one document. You can open it up and just quickly drag and drop it into your new document.
This will save you a lot of time. This is something I did a while back. There are certain elements that I use over and over again, and there’s no point in recreating the wheel. I just want to take these existing graphics – especially if they’re branded for a specific client – and create a template document of all the elements that I use for that specific brand. In one document, so that if I’m ever creating something else for them, I can just quickly drag it in. This is a way to save you time and it’s going to help you become a lot more efficient.
4. Create Reusable Files or Templates for Graphic Design Hacks
The fourth trick I want to give you guys is creating templates of your existing designs, so maybe it’s a business card template or maybe like this channel, maybe it’s your thumbnail. Using a specific layout for your thumbnails and for all the thumbnails that you design will help you save time. Then copy it and change all the information over, especially if it’s a beautifully designed piece – there’s no point in recreating the wheel, it’s not efficient to do that. You don’t have to feel bad! Time is more important than money, and you need to speed up your workflow in order to speed up a process.
If you have a web website mockup, use the same mockup but just open it up and create it. Save it as a new name. Then change that existing mockup. There’s no reason to start from scratch and relay out all the page layouts and all the content sections. Just use your existing layout and maybe change one or two things here and there to make it original. Change the colors. You’re going to change the content. You’re going to change the images. It’s going to look like a completely different design by the time you’re done with it.
By creating templates for your thumbnails, you will save time and money. This is something I’ve automated and been doing in my business since 2007, way back when I was doing a lot of print design. I use the same templates for door hangers, business cards, and other layouts that I like. This is a way to save you time and give you more freedom.
5. Record Tasks in Photoshop to Use Later
The fifth trick I want to share with you and this is more related to Photoshop is creating and recording a specific task or a series of tasks that you can do: layer effects, blending effects, color modes, and all different types of settings. You can record these tasks and just apply them to your design to save you a lot of time. Now I am going to do an article on this, but this is a really cool way to actually speed up your process a lot and put more time back in your pocket.
6. Organize Your Layers
The sixth trick that I use is something that I’ve been doing almost since the very beginning: organizing your layers. You can take your layers and group them not only can you group them, but then you can name them. Once you name them, you can color code them to make your layers palette look super clean. They say cleanliness is next to godliness, and the cleaner and easier it is to navigate through these layers, the better.
I usually have a folder specifically for my background, then I have a folder specifically for my logos, then I have a folder for the photography, then I have a photo for the content. I group them into layers, then I can organize those layers and put them above or below depending on where I want them to be. Obviously, the background layer is going to be at the very bottom, but organizing and naming your layers makes it easier for other people on your team or for your clients that are sending off the work to other designers to be able to use in the future.
It’s going to save you time, and it’s going to create less hassle. You can just click and drag an entire folder over to another design, and you won’t have to try to figure out which specific layer it is in the file. Unnamed layers will kill your productivity and kill your time, so make sure you name your layers, make sure you group your layers into folders, and even color those folders so you know which one is which. This is a really big deal – I know this is going to be a big tip for you!
7. Use Stock Graphics and Images
The seventh hack is to use stock imagery. This is an epic trick – something that you probably already do. You may not know this, but using stock elements in a design is becoming more and more popular. That’s not to say you’re going to take an entire design from Adobe Stock or Shutterstock and just change the content. You want to use elements of an existing design to recreate your own masterpiece.
So if I’m creating a flyer for a plumbing business, there may be a picture of a tool or there may be a graphic of a plumbing photo that I need. I’m going to use that photo from Adobe Stock rather than trying to recreate the image or go to that client’s office. This is where I see a lot of people recreate the wheel and they don’t use existing stock graphics getting a license to Adobe Stock or any of the many different marketplaces out there: Shutterstock, iStock, the list goes on and on.
Using stock graphics can save you a lot of time, give you a lot of freedom, and speed up your design process. You don’t need to create everything from scratch; that doesn’t make you less of a graphic designer. You’re providing a better end result to your clients, getting more time back, making more money, and giving the client the result they need faster. So don’t be afraid to use stock graphics!
Buy Your Time Back with Graphic Design Hacks
These are the seven tips that I wanted to give you seven tricks to help make you a better graphic designer so that you can speed up your process and just have better productivity overall. By saving all this time on these projects, you’re going to increase your turnaround time and increase your profits – which I would consider a win-win. Now take into consideration it’s going to take some time to learn some of these tricks, like the keyboard shortcuts, you’re going to need to take some time to learn and practice them over time.
However, you’re going to be making an investment in yourself, and that investment is going to bear some big dividends. The dividends will pay day by day, week by week, month by month, and even year over year, and they’re going to continue to become bigger and bigger. Then you’re going to get to the point where you know these so well that you can go teach other people as I have on how to do these things in your team or even outside here on YouTube or in other places. You can actually help our industry get better too and help your company get better. So this is a really good area to invest your time in increasing your productivity and speeding up your design time, giving the clients a better result in a quicker amount of time.
Final Thoughts on Graphic Design Hacks
So, that’s what I have for you guys today. If you haven’t already, make sure you go check out the Instagraphics Pro Network on Facebook. It’s a community of creatives like yourself who are doing web, motion, and graphic design. We’re leveling up our lives and businesses and I would love to see you there. Make sure you fill out all the questions and I’ll see you guys in the group. I’m Adrian Boysel, and as always, keep looking up!