How to Get Kids Started in Graphic Design
Ask a graphic designer to describe what they do and you'll most likely get the response; "I design logos, cards, and posters." Ask them to go into more detail, and the topic can quickly become quite dry. So, when a child wants to know about graphic design, it can be a tricky subject to navigate without losing their interest.
Graphic design is everywhere, from traffic signs to the logo for the Olympic Games; software user interfaces to web site design; the logo on your child's favorite sneakers; or the cover title in their favorite comic.
As graphic design permeates through every part of modern life, it can be quite easy to take it for granted. It can also be quite difficult to explain exactly what it is, in the simplest of terms.
This article will give you a variety of resources to help you introduce graphic design to kids. It will also discuss some of the graphic design software you can try and some other additional web resources you can access, including any online courses, if your child wants to learn more.
Introducing Kids to Graphic Design
David Vipond is a branding and interaction design consultant. In his blog on medium.com, he discusses how he introduced graphic design to a reception class at his local primary school and provides some great tips on how you can describe this topic to your children.
Minecraft is one of the simplest ways you can introduce your children to graphic design software.
While it is not specifically for graphic design, it does introduce some simple design concepts, such as spatial awareness or building in three dimensions, and kids get the chance to build enormous structures using the appropriate tools and materials.
To find out more about using Minecraft in education, check out How Minecraft Can Be Used in Education.
Engaging your child in graphic design related activities is a good way to maintain their interest. Learningliftoff.com has suggested five activities for you to try with your kids, from taking a simple color test to designing a custom packaging label.
Graphic Design Software
Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are the top two image editing applications for graphic designers and aspiring graphic designers would do well to learn how these applications work.
However, despite being supported with a huge number of tutorials and video blogs, they are difficult to master and jumping straight in might discourage your kids.
If your child has never used any graphic design software, the following applications would be a good place to start:
Tux paint is a free paint application that features a cartoon mascot to guide your kids through the application and teach them how to use it. It has a child friendly user interface and uses sound effects to help make the experience fun.
After Tux paint, you could consider purchasing KidPix. It began as a simple drawing app for kids, and looked like a simplified version of photoshop. It has since evolved and now has a user interface that is very child friendly, which allows kids to create short video animations.
Canva is a modern online software application for graphics designers. It is uses a wide variety of templates to create the graphics you want and, while it doesn't have the advanced design features of software like Photoshop or Illustrator, it is simple to use and makes it easy for kids to design something they like. It is available on laptop, desktop, and mobile devices. It is also well supported with a range of tutorials and courses and would make a great intermediate step, before trying Photoshop or Illustrator.
Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator:
Pixlr is a web based image editing application which allows you to upload and edit images in a web browser. It is very similar to Photoshop and is worth trying out to see if your child is ready to step up to this type of software, before committing to purchasing.
GIMP is an open source graphics editing application which is free to use and includes some graphic design elements. This can be downloaded and installed on most operating systems.
Inkscape is another free design tool for creating vector based graphics. The website also has a community site with a design gallery where people can showcase their work.
Additional graphic design for kids resources include:
The KidsThinkDesign website is a useful resource which includes a section dedicated to graphic design, where it talks about graphic design and graphic designers. It also encourages your child to create and submit their own projects. Additionally, the site links to Wordle.net, which has a fun tool that allows you to type in a list of words to create your own word cloud.
The Design4LittleOnes Blog: while this site does not appear to be active anymore, it does have a variety of graphic design related activities that are designed to encourage kids to get involved. This include a number of photoshop based activities such as using photoshop to create a halloween mask.
The BBC Bitesize website has a resource for older kids who are studying for their exams. This includes a graphic design section with a series of definitions for revision, activities and tests to help kids prepare for their school exams.
There are a large number of online courses available, which anyone can undertake. If your child is ready to develop their graphic design skills further, these courses are worth looking into:
TechRocket has a small number of free online courses designed for kids who are interested in graphic design. This includes some basic 3D printing and Photoshop courses.
Alison.com has some more advanced courses in graphic design.
Lynda also offers a course in graphic design if your child is ready to try something more in depth.
Often people are introduced to graphic design later in life, for example when when they undertake a college course, or they need a logo created.
However, with a wealth of online resources, graphic design and the ideas that underpin it can be successfully introduced to a child, particularly if they love to draw.
The resources in this article will help to educate your child in graphic design in a fun and engaging way.