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12 Graphic Design Practice Exercises

5-28-2020 (updated) - By August van de Ven

As a beginning graphic designer, it can be hard to find the motivation or resources to practice your graphic design skills. There are, however, lots of places to train your design skills and get some practice before working for bigger clients. Getting as much practice as possible is essential when you’re a beginning graphic designer.

The more time you put into practicing graphic design, the easier the design process will get for you. You not only will learn to think like a graphic designer but you’ll also get better used to using keyboard shortcuts and other tricks that will make you more efficient as a graphic designer. See graphic design practice exercises as an investment for your graphic design career. Right now you’ll spend some time on it but in the end, it will all pay off in the amount of experience and practice you’ll get doing graphic design exercises.

Design something for an imaginary client

Graphic design brief generators like let you easily create briefs from fake businesses as if they were real. This makes it easy to use them as practice exercises because they are a lot like clients you would get in the real world. If you use services like a few times per week to design some logos or graphic design work, you automatically get more comfortable working for clients and build up a portfolio in the meantime. A downside to these fake clients is, of course, that they aren’t as realistic as real-life clients that would contact you for design work.

If you really want to challenge yourself to get better at graphic design as quickly as possible, you can start a daily design challenge. FakeClients is a great tool to use for a daily design challenge like that. Simply set yourself to a specific timeline, like 2 months, and every day, you’ll use the FakeClients generator to generate a new graphic design exercise for you. This will get you used to the whole design process of coming up with an idea, working it out and finishing it. It isn’t really like working for a real client but at least you’ll get better used to the design process. Another great outcome of a challenge like this is that in the end, you’ll have tons of work you can showcase on your portfolio. You’ll probably have some lesser work that you wouldn’t want to put in your portfolio but the great thing about a challenge like this is that you have more than enough good work to create a beautiful portfolio.

Redesign an existing brand

Just like designing for fake clients, redesigning an existing brand is a great way to get more experienced with design. Redesigning existing brands can be especially useful if it's a small brand for which branding can be improved on. If you have done a redesign of such a brand, for example, you can always contact them offering them your redesign. Many brands will be happy to work with you in the future because you helped them out before and it’s a great case to show on your portfolio. You also don’t necessarily have to redesign something related to the brand, but you can also design something entirely new. For example, if a brand doesn’t have an app yet, you can try to imagine what a design of an app for them would look like. Brands will often be happy to see the time and work you’ve put into creating something new for them and might even use it. When you’re redesigning something for an existing brand, it’s often easy to get caught up into the visual side of the design and forget about functionality. Be sure to keep that in mind when designing something for an existing brand. The functionality of a design is often almost as important as the way it looks.

Create a logo for yourself

If you just started out designing, you often don’t have your own branding yet. It can be very helpful to start with your own brand, before designing for others. Design a logo for your name, a business card, a website, and stuff like that. You will be your first client so you know what to ask for yourself and what you’ll need. It teaches you how to deal with those needs and how to fit in with the market around you. Don’t start out designing immediately though. Go through the entire process like you would with a high paying client. Firstly, go through your mission, your needs, and who you want to target with, for example, your website design and after all that start with the design itself.

Drawing and sketching

Most experienced logo and graphic designers will tell you that sketching out a design is one of the most important stages of the design process. You start out sketching to bring an idea onto paper. Drawing exercises can help you get into the habit of sketching and drawing your designs before getting on the computer. Draw some icons of logos and see how you can improve them. You can also take things from the real world and try to create a simplistic version of it, like a logo. Take a leaf for example and simplify it so it could be used as a logo.

Offer graphic design work to family and friends

Another great, and easy way to get some practice in graphic design is to ask around, with friends and family if there is anyone that needs a design for something. Most people don’t know they need it so you can always offer to make them, for example, a flyer for an event, a business card, or anything like that. Start out creating them for free. This way, your graphic design services will spread quickly. People will tell their friends about the amazing designs you created for them and if you’re lucky, someone else will want your design too.

Other design exercise games

Sometimes it can become a bit tiring to keep practicing graphic design by working on creating new designs. You can also try to work on your skills more individually to try and perfect them. Lately, a lot of graphic design exercise games have come up and gained popularity. These games are a fun exercise for graphic designers and meanwhile will keep your design skills sharp.

Pixel guessing game for graphic designers

Pixel Guesser - Test your sense of pixels

If you have been a designer for some time, you probably have quite a good understanding of the pixel sizes of different objects. This is because most graphic designers, especially ones that deal with digital designs, likely have had to use pixels as a type of measurement. How good is your sense of pixel sizes? Test this in this game by drawing boxes and try to get the lowest possible score by getting as close to the given size as possible.

Pixel Guesser Font quiz game for graphic designers

Font Quiz - Guess the right font

Just as the other graphic design games and exercises, this font quiz will likely be easiest for the designers with the most experience. Most graphic designers deal with fonts every day but do you remember the name of each of them? This font quiz contains over 450 of the most popular fonts from Google Fonts and every time you play the quiz, different font names are given. Try to get the highest score by correctly matching the font name to the right font.

Font Quiz HEX color guessing game for graphic designers

HEX Guess - Guess the right color from the HEX code

HEX codes are specific 6-character-long codes assigned to colors that you can recognize by the "#". Most designers have probably used HEX codes and probably have some sense of the way these codes are made up. Play this HEX guess exercise to test your sense of the colors that belong to these codes.

HEX Guess Hue line-up game and exercise for graphic designers

Hue Test - Test your ability to differentiate colors by lining them up correctly

As color obviously is a vital element in any design, it is crucial for a graphic designer to have a keen eye for color. While small changes in color can greatly affect a design as a whole, being able to spot these small differences in color becomes very important. You, for example, will have to be able to tell which shade of green works best with the other colors you're working with. This exercise will help you test yourself and will give you the opportunity to train yourself in becoming better at spotting these slight differences in color.

Hue Test

Kern Type

Good kerning is incredibly important when you are designing something that involves text. Kerning is the spacing between letters or characters in a piece of text. If a design has bad kerning, a design can quickly look awkward. If you already are an experienced designer, you’ll likely already have a good eye for kerning but if you just started out, it can’t hurt to get some more practice. ‘Kern Type’ is the perfect exercise for practicing kerning, it’s a beautifully designed online exercise where you have to align the letters in a word as good as possible.

The Bezier Game

The pen tool is probably one of the most important and most used tools by any designer. It is also a tricky tool to learn and master. You gradually get better at using it when you use it in your work but it can also cause some problems when you want to work on more complex designs. That’s why practice with the pen tool is crucial and often overlooked. You can do this in Illustrator or your program of choice, but there’s also a fun game for it that can help you. In the Bezier Game, you try to follow certain predefined shapes with the pen tool so you can try to get better at it.

Munsell Hue Test

Lastly, this is a fun and simple game to test your color acuity. You simply try to get the colors in the right order. When you think you’re finished, you fill in your gender and age and you get to see how you compare against others.