Get Inspired! Top ten websites to improve your graphic skills for school!

Get Inspired! Top ten websites to improve your graphic skills for school!


March 10, 2019 

By Felipe Canavera – Twitter: @afcanavera

You are writing a report, creating some slides, doing a map, a 3D model or even designing your resume or portfolio for that summer job, you know the drill. You try to do something pretty but snapchat doesn’t have any filters in Google Docs to help you get out of your misery, yet. You don’t know how to make things visually appealing because you are a social scientist who is supposed to be good with words, maybe memes, but layouts, illustrations, diagrams, infographics, or renderings? Save us all Jane Jacobs! But say no more, lucky you I have experience in architecture and graphic design (remember PLACE 18?), to guide you through these dark times. Remember, these are skills anyone can learn putting the time and effort.

Here are my top ten websites to help you get inspiration, get you out of your Times-New-Roman comfort zone and start improving those graphic skills! Summer is coming!

For the architect wannabe

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You know what is sad? That the UofA doesn’t have an architecture program, yet. You know what is even sadder? Hearing the stories of planning and geography students who aspire to be architects, but had no other option than what the UofA offers. I heard you! For those interested in sketching, rendering, laying out portfolios or just fulfilling those architectural cravings go to Visualizing Architecture by Alex Hogrefe and go through his tutorials! They are one of the best free resources to learn those rendering and diagramming skills that are great for planners and geographers alike!

For the tourist-maps collector

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We all been there, we see a downtown map we take it. We only go to Disney’s theme parks for their maps. That’s the live of the planner and geographer. But you have to step up, those tourist maps will get boring fast and you know they won’t get you further in your journey to become a GIS wizard. Gladly @dennyshess put out a tumblr just for you! It is called Beautiful Maps for a good reason. Go take a look.

For the comic sans connoisseur

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I’ve seen that each student becomes addicted to a font at some point in their undergrads. High schoolers have their Comic Sans phase, graphic designers have their Futura/Helvetica phase, architects have their Century Gothic phase, and planners/geographers have their “Insert your PC/Mac default font” phase all the time. So, if you want to improve those headlines in your report or slides go check Google Fonts, they are free and their website has an intuitive user interface for searching the font that you need. You might want to avoid Monofett though.

For the white-and-black-are-still-colors-amiright believer

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Sometimes academic assignments can feel like they don’t have any soul at all. When things are looking pale and boring try to apply a color scheme that can bring life to your projects. Adobe Color is a great resource to find those colors that work together to improve the tone of your assignments. That doesn’t mean that you will be getting straight As, just remember, content will always be the king and presentation will help you in your way to be listened.

For the Instagram lovers and haters

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We all have a camera, for better or worse, I don’t care if you take selfies, portraits, landscapes, objects, or cats. What I care though, is for you to never stop shooting photos. The art of photography is not as easy as it looks, it requires consistency, cunningness, and visual culture. In this era of oversaturated content consuming the best photography you can get is one way to increase your standards. I recommend 500px if you want to get inspired for that next report or photo journey.

For the “give me a job I am a starving student”

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Nobody is going to hire you if nobody knows who you are. Even worst, nobody is going to hire you if you don’t know who you are. The first step to any marketing strategy is to figure out exactly that. Go and build your own personal brand and think in ways you can start shamelessly self-promoting yourself as designer Kyle Robertson did with his personal brand. 

For the I-can-draw-maps-in-Google-Slides rebel

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Hopefully in the future ESRI will give students free copies of ArcGIS for our education, in the meantime we have QGIS, a great open-source software that will allow you to practice your GIS skills without the need of spending a dollar. Klas Karlsson put out a great beginners course in his YouTube channel if you are interested.

For the template addict

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Templates are reliable, convenient, and timesavers. Unfortunately, they can become mind-numbing once you realize another group is using your same Google slides template. What if you try to create your own layouts? Would you need to learn new software? Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that if you want to design your own documents you need to understand the principles of composition. Canva wrote out a great article about composition principles that you need to check out. 

For the information-clutter specialist

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Infographics are everywhere but how come all look the same? Yes they are simple and clean, and sometimes fun, but they all seem generic. Good infographics go further and tell a story that’s only possible in that medium, they are not just eye candy. I wish infographics had a godfather, oh wait, yes they have one and his name is John Grimwade, go check his website and realize what an infographic really is.

For the school-should’ve-taught-us-this-stuff grump

Join a GAPSS committee here and do something about it.

That’s all for me! Thanks for reading this blog post!

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