Design Exercises to Get Your Creativity Ripped


How does an athlete become an Olympian? Years of training helps to develop their form as grueling workouts build strength and endurance. They also educate themselves on their sport, taking advantage of tactics they'll need in order to win. Lastly, they keep motivated by learning from every loss and blunder. Implementing the lessons they've learned creates a remarkable athlete whose success is a reflection of their hard work. As a designer, you can train your creativity to become just as ripped as the next athlete. Learn these quick exercises to develop your creativity and form.

Why Designers Should Exercise

Learning how to optimize your time is one of the best assets any new designer can learn. Taking advantage of free time to develop your craft is essential to your improvement in design. Traditional art professors often have their students draw subjects in timed intervals to improve time management, skill, and problem solving. Designers can easily do the same.

The following are the potential benefits for keeping up a routine of design exercises:

  1. Learn how to come up with creative ideas faster.
  2. Learn how to weed out which ideas are wrong for a design project.
  3. Learn how to pace your time effectively before a project's deadline.
  4. Discover your common design habits.
  5. Reduce or eliminate bad design habits.

Design Exercises

Here are three twenty-minute exercises to get your creative juices flowing. Each may require some prep time like traditional exercises. If you need to stop after an exercise, engage the left side of the brain with a non-creative activity like spelling your name backwards as a refresher. Do these separately at your pace or all together to set yourself up with a designer's sixty minute total workout!

Logo Design

Logo design is one of those areas of the design industry that becomes a fundamental part of your learning experience. By creating your client's identity, you are making a significant impact on their future marketing and promotional strategies. Therefore, it's important that you are fully aware of your creativity's influence upon your client.

Preparation & Exercise

Visit a popular crowdsourcing site for logo design. Don't worry, you won't be supporting spec work. It is, however, beneficial to practice with exercises that simulate actual client situations. Choose a logo design inquiry at random or briefly scan the list to find one you like. These sites often supply information on the client's company background, industry, logo desires, and expectations.

Once you've decided on the design inquiry of your choice and read the appropriate information, briefly take notes for reference. Now that you have a basic understanding of your faux client's expectations, you can begin the exercise.

Create as many logo concepts as you can in the allotted twenty-minute time frame based on the client's needs. Roughly sketch all the ideas that are first coming to mind in relation to the original design inquiry. Keep in mind that you are developing a professional identity for your client, however, allow yourself to embrace the creativity that's naturally coming to you.


Typography is a beautiful world of writing that truly allows text to come to life. Arranging words creatively leaves a distinct impression on its viewer.

Preparation & Exercise

Go online and research a list of famous quotes. You can always just make one up, but opening your mind to unfamiliar quotes will help to broaden your creativity. Once you've found a quote, open up Photoshop to begin the exercise on a single large document.

Using the quote you picked, see how many different ways you can arrange the words creatively in the allotted time. Utilize different font types, colors, as well as layer styles to make each combination unique. Attempt to communicate the message of the quote through the arrangement of its letters and words.

Photo Effects/Manipulation

With photo manipulation you can let your imagination run wild by changing the emotions of your piece through the skillful use of Photoshop.

Preparation & Exercise

Of all the exercises, this one may take the most prep time. Go on a free stock photography website such as Look for a photo (with the theme of your choice) that has either a clear foreground, middle ground, and background or a single subject you can work on. Once you've found the photo of your choice, download and open it in Photoshop.

For this twenty-minute exercise, see how much you can manipulate the original photo two different times. Feel free to use any tool available in Photoshop, but since this is only an exercise try using just the image you selected. Manipulate its general composition, omit sections, change the color, or apply photo effects as you see fit.

Feel The Burn? Post Workout Questions

Now that you're all sweaty from your design workout you can step back and admire your creative efforts. Here is a list of questions to follow up your exercises:

  • How many ideas was I able to come up with in twenty-minutes?
  • Was I distracted at all? By what? How did it affect me?
  • Which ideas are the best/worst?
  • Which ideas best communicate a message?
  • Do I have any distinct habits when designing? Which?
  • Which skills could I visibly improve upon to help my designs?

You can attempt these exercises once a month to track your progression. These exercises test the quality of the creative ideas that pop into your mind when designing. Discover what's stifling your creativity and you'll ultimately be able to produce better work. How did you do? Are there any design exercises you can think of?

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