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Generation Techniques in Graphic Design


Generating new ideas is often challenging because they can come and then go just as quickly. The best ideas often come in moments of unexpected inspiration or from other ideas we may have had in the past. When working with clients, graphic designers have to constantly come up with new ideas if they want to give their clients the best results. As generating these ideas is often not easy, here are some powerful idea generation techniques you can start using today.

Mind Mapping

Because it is not new; mind mapping is a well-tested idea generation technique that has led to some of the best ideas in numerous industries. To get started, a fact or statement is written in the middle and then connected to new ideas using lines or curves. This helps establish a relationship between ideas. Mind mapping is very useful for both the initial stages of idea generation and the iteration stages where ideas are discussed and improved upon or discarded as the final design gets flushed out.

Although mind mapping used to be done on paper, it is now done using mindmap software and tools that make it easy to not only connect ideas, but share them with other contributors. This sort of collaboration can lead to better results than if a design was being worked on by one person.


Talking to other designers can help yield lots of useful ideas. Brainstorming can also involve the collection of ideas from various sources including past designs and the internet. When brainstorming, the aim is not to pick the best ideas or to discuss the merit of each, but to accept all ideas that come to mind so they can be filtered through later. In many cases, the ideas that come from individual or group brainstorming sessions are often combined to come up with a single result that is better than its constituent ideas.

Story boarding

Story boarding is a visual idea generation technique that uses visual stories to explore or explain new ideas. Story boarding has also been used to represent other ideas people have come up with when researching new ideas. All collected information, including earlier design iterations, user stories and other information is pinned on a board. All this information is used to understand the relationship between various ideas. As with mind mapping, there are lots of story boarding tools and software graphic designers can use to explore and discover new design ideas.

Forced Relationships

This technique is very common in the corporate world and it involves joining two completely different ideas together to come up with a unified idea. Even in cases where the two initial ideas were not original, the result is often original enough that it becomes useful for the client. An example is merging a pin and a fork to come up with a logo for a food delivery company that delivers to office locations.


SCAMPER is atechnique for generating ideas using action verbs as stimuli. Developed by Bob Eberie, it’s a well-known checklist type that helps people to come up with ideas for modifications for both new and existing products, or in this case, graphics. Each letter in this acronym stands for an action verb that prompts creative ideas:

S: Substitute the idea

C: Combine ideas

A: Adapt

M: Modify/magnify

P: Put to a different use

E: Eliminate

R: Reverse


Synectics is a creative problem-solving and idea generation technique designed to encourage thought processes that the subject might not be aware of. It is a rational way to approach both problem-solving and creativity. With Synectics research, there are three key assumptions made, which include: it is possible to describe and teach the creative process; group and individual creativity are analogous; and the invention processes in both the arts and sciences are triggered by the same ‘psychic’ processes.

Visual Prompts

Visualization involves thinking about challenges visually in order to get a better understanding of the issue. This is a process of illumination and incubation where participants take a break from the problem that they’re solving to concentrate on something completely different, while the mind continues to work on the idea subconsciously. Eventually, this leads to an illumination phase where the participant will be faced with a range of solutions that can be written down, leading to fresh lines of thought. When it comes to supporting the brain to establish new connections, picture prompts can be very helpful since they can encourage the surfacing of feelings, intuitions and emotions.

Reverse Thinking

Instead of adopting the normal and logical manner of viewing a design challenge, reversing it and considering opposite ideas can be a good way to generate new ideas during the process. Since this challenge is sometimes more fun compared to logical thinking, it’s often easier to come up with new ideas. Try to come up with around ten to fifteen wrong or ridiculous ideas per session, to help your brain think outside of the box.

Brain writing

Brain writing is another easy way to generate new ideas. Instead of speaking out loud in a meeting, write down your ideas on a sheet of paper and then pass them over to somebody else. They will then read the ideas they’ve been passed, and write down some new ones. Pass this around and continue the process for around fifteen minutes or so, then discuss all the ideas.

Although coming up with graphic design ideas is challenging, graphic designers have an assortment of tools and techniques to help them come up with unique ideas. Some of these are new, some are older and some are a combination of two or more techniques.


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