7 step creative process for graphic designers

Design is solving a visual problem. This means you’ll benefit from research, design briefs and brainstorming.

The creative process: 

  1. Project brief
  2. Research and discovery
  3. Mind mapping, sketching, and conceptualizing
  4. Rough draft
  5. Presentation
  6. Revisions
  7. Final
seven steps creative process for graphic designers

Use this process on any creative project. These steps may or may not go in order every time.

Now lets talk about each step.

Step 1 – Project brief

A project brief is a document that outlines the following:

  • Description of the company
  • Goals and objectives
  • Target Audience(s)
  • Competitors
  • Tone
  • Final project format
project brief

Before beginning any design project for a client, you should always create a project brief. This allows you and your client to get on the same page about who you think they are and what you are working on together.

Step 2 – Research and Discovery

There are two types of research you should conduct during a creative project.

  1. Conceptual research
  2. Visual research

Conceptual research

Make a list of words/phrases that describe your client and helps determine their voice and tone

Some words might include:

  • high-end
  • casual
  • friendly
  • organic
  • formal
  • playful

Visual research

Look at design inspiration, get ideas for colors, gather photos and images, icons, and thumbnails. 

mood boards

I love to get design ideas from Pinterest, Behance, and dribble. 


Step 3 – mind mapping, sketching, and conceptualizing

Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping provides a structured way to generate ideas and information. Do a mind mapping activity to generate ideas for your design concept.


Generate quick idea sketches. These are just ideas that pop into your mind, you don’t need to be an artist to sketch.

Step 4 – Rough draft

Choose your best concepts from your sketches and thumbnail drawings and create rough drafts in a design program. Test fonts, colors, layout variations.

Once you have a few rough drafts that you like, take a step back and analyze your work so far. 

Step 5 – Present your work

Present the design to your client. If given the opportunity, show or talk about your research. Gauge your client’s reaction and take notes about feedback.

Step 6 – Revise your design

Take the feedback you receive and improve your design.

Once you’ve revised the design, prepare the final files for delivery. 

Step 7 – Send your finalized designs

Prepare your finalizes files and deliver them to your client.

Get familiar with the design process from start to finish, and work on getting faster and better at each stage of the process on each project you work on.

Remember the creative process in graphic design is iterative and may involve going back and forth between different steps in the creative process until the final design is ready for production.