5114063505 ed3ea3602b b [This post is a part of the Technology in Youth Ministry series]

In youth ministry, there will be some element of design that needs to happen.  You might have to design a flyer for a summer retreat, a handout for your weekly message, or even a website for people to stay in touch with what's happening.  For some people the classic hand-drawn flyers that are photocopied a hundred times will work, but some of us want to use design tools to make flyers and images that stand apart.  Graphic design is a difficult thing that people dedicate their lives to learning and to getting paid very well to do.  At the same time graphic design, while not at the same level as the professionals, is approachable and can be done very well in your ministry.

Getting Started in Graphic Design for Your Ministry

1. Download some software.

Obviously if you are going to start designing graphics, you cannot do it without some software.  Choose the software you want to use and start playing with it.  Find some videos onine and make yourself familiar with the program and the tools it offers.  There will be a lot that you have no idea how to use, but if you can figure out some of the basic functionality (such as text editing, layers, shadows, etc) you will be off to a good start.

2. Play with somebody else's design.

One of the best ways to learn how to design is to try to copy somebody else's work.  One of the great ways you can do this is download some free artwork in the photoshop (.psd) file format.  Once you download the file you can get an idea of how the image was created.  What layers were used?  What effects were put on each layer?  Were there special fonts that were used?  Once you've manipulated these designs, consider finding something else that you like and re-creating it without downloading a pre-made file.

3. Get some cool fonts.

If you are going to design stuff, it is crucial to learn how to find good typography.  There might be a lot of fancy design elements you want to use as you get started, but don't skip the step of learning good typography and what effects will help or hurt a font.

  • Free Fonts: Dafont.com
  • Font never to use: Papyrus

4. Do some tutorials.

It may be a bit more difficult to find tutorials if you are using a photoshop alternative like Gimp or Pixelmator.  Photoshop is the standard, but if you are looking to save money these will certainly be some of the hurdles that you have to face.  The web is filled with great tutorials for all kinds of designs that you could be trying to create.  Finding a great site like PSDTuts+ can be a great help as you learn some of the techniques in doing design.

5. Learn from other people.

There are a lot of good designers and there are also a lot of people who don't design well. Unfortunately the church is often full of bad designers; make sure you find some other people who design well so that you can learn from them.  Find communities like Church Marketing Sucks and their Church Marketing Lab so you can learn from others through feedback and viewing other people's work.

Photo Credit: thinkdanijel