4 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Design Skills

Graphic by Sam Sanchez
Graphic by Sam Sanchez

Design and public relations have more in common than you may think. They both have the same end result: delivering clients’ key messages in the best possible way. The look and key message should be one in the same. Here are a few helpful hints to enhance your design skills:

Play Around
The most useful advice I can give anyone when it comes to enhancing your design skills is practice, practice, practice! Just like any great athlete would practice daily, we must sharpen our skills as well. Take 10–20 minutes a day to play around in Adobe Creative Suite. I guarantee your skills will improve.

To enhance your design skills, the easiest thing you can do is re-create ads, promotional material, flyers…anything. I’ve done this countless times, and it has helped to keep my design skills fresh and up-to-date with current trends.

Below is an ad that I saw on Southeast Missouri State University’s campus that I thought was different but eye-catching. So, I decided to make a similar design for my thank-you letters.


Use Shortcuts
It’s all about saving time. The most common shortcuts that the creative department at my internship uses are:

  • command + c (Copy)
  • command + v (Paste)
  • command + z (Undo)
  • a (Direct Selection Tool)
  • v (Selection Tool)
  • m (Square or Place Box)
  • command + s (Save)
  • command + 7 (Clipping Mask in Illustrator)
  • command + 2 (Lock in Illustrator)
  • command + 3 (Hide in Illustrator and InDesign)
  • command + D (Duplicate in Illustrator, Place in InDesign)
  • command + g (Group in Illustrator and InDesign)

Visit http://www.nobledesktop.com/shortcuts/ for shortcuts in any versions of InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Final Cut Pro 7.

Take Advantage of Resources
I know it sometimes may be hard to find those resources to further your learning abilities, but there are more options out there than you think. Bookmark the websites All-free-download.com or dafont.com—they’re two useful and free resources that I use. Join your student-run firm and take on a design project. Once you feel comfortable enough in design, start doing freelance. This was probably the best thing that I could do. Freelancing taught me self-discipline, time management, how to be your own account executive, and it kept me up-to-date with the most current design trends.

Have design questions or tips on how to further improve your design skills? Write them in the comments below. 

Sam Sanchez is a senior at Southeast Missouri State University majoring in public relations with a minor in graphic communication technology. He is currently president of the Southeast Chapter of PRSSA and public relations director of Southeast’s student-run firm, Riverfront Public Relations. He is also working on his fifth internship and doing freelance graphic design on the side. You can follow him at @thesamsanchez and connect with him via LinkedIn. If you’re interested in checking out Sam’s work, you can view his online portfolio here.

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