Design skills are never acquired overnight. Even individuals with high talent in design were amateurs at one point and perfected their skills by applying and practicing over and over. Design skills are perishable meaning that if you do not practice them, they rust away. If you are just starting out or you are already a designer in need of improving skills, there are some tips that can help you along.
Study design theory and works
This is the first step of your profession. If you are a beginner, you could opt to go the self-teaching route with the use of tutorials and design eBooks. You could also enroll with an online or long-distance program like Udemy. This will help you get the basics like color theory, grid theory, and topography.
As an experienced designer, you can benefit by studying the works of other masters and seeing how they have applied these theories in their works.
A good thing with learning is that it will help you identify good design. From this, you can see what makes it separate from the others and how you can emulate it.
Start a project
If you are learning a new thing, the only way to apply the new skills is by doing. If you are starting on 3D, start a video game project and work on it no matter how badly the first designs come out.
Do not be afraid to experiment with new ideas or tools. The true designer is versatile in using many tools as different tools produce different results for the same task. If you’ve been using a pencil, try out a ball point, or switch over to Illustrator instead of Corel. The experimentation will help you identify what works best with your mode of operation.
As a designer, you should always accept criticism. Some of it will be unhelpful but you will find loads of constructive criticism too. Do not be afraid to share your designs with other designers. Put them up on Dribble or Facebook and ask for opinions. Do not let positive feedback carry you away into sticking with monotony.
Work at it
The good thing with design is that you can ditch as many sketches as possible. Work on different projects stockpiling away whatever you don’t like for a later date. You will have positive inspiration to work on it later.
Teach what you know
Teaching and demonstrating is a good way of applying your design skills. It will help you discover areas you need to polish on.