Are you ready to launch your career in graphic design? The good news is that in 2021, you no longer have to spend an arm and a leg in tuition fees, nor dedicate four years at design school to learn design or become a professional graphic designer.
Learning graphic design doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can certainly do it on your own time thanks to a few high-quality, free online courses. In this post, we’re sharing the best free graphic design courses online to jumpstart your career the self-taught way. Ready? Let’s go!
1. CalArts Graphic Design Specialization
The California Institute of the Arts offers an extensive graphic design specialization program for free through Coursera. These five beginner-level courses are each led by a faculty member at CalArts and are packed with insights from industry professionals.
Through this graphic design specialization, you’ll learn the fundamental skills needed to begin a career as a professional designer, how to master visual communication, and gain a solid understanding of how graphic design plays into other areas like interface design, motion graphics, and editorial design.
2. Canva Design School: Graphic Design Basics
Get a solid foundation of graphic design in this quick, jam-packed course offered by the folks Canva. Canva’s Graphic Design Basics class is comprised of twelve bite-sized lessons, each covering a foundational element of graphic design along with an activity that puts your new knowledge into practice.
You’ll get a taste of invaluable design know-how from defining your intended message, crafting moodboards, color wheel and typography essentials, and plenty more. This course is perfect if you don’t have a lot of time to invest in learning a new skill, or just want to dip your toes in the water to get a better understanding of how to think as graphic designers do.
3. Logo Design Fundamentals
Branding is one of the most fundamental aspects of graphic design, and a specialty many designers choose to focus on. In this course comprised of fifteen lectures, learn what makes for a successful logo design, understand your client’s needs, and build out a brand identity system that can effectively be used across many types of different applications. In this branding crash-course, you’ll learn everything you need to know to be able to craft a successful logo design from start to finish.
4. Introduction to Graphic Design History
What better place to start your graphic design learning journey than where it all began? In Kadenze’s Introduction to Graphic Design History, learn all about how design has touched nearly everything in our lives—from our society, our politics, to our ideologies. Dive deep into design history and gain a deeper understanding of the role Graphic Design plays in our world, its evolving styles, and revolutionary techniques.
You’ll come away equipped with a solid understanding of what defines successful graphic design and view the profession through a whole new lens.
5. Adobe Illustrator for Beginners
Learning the principles of graphic design should be the foundation of your education. But what use is it if you can’t put these principles into practice? To actually produce and create great design work, you also need a few hard skills under your belt—for example, knowledge of certain design softwares.
Adobe Illustrator is many designers’ software of choice, and in this three-hour Adobe Illustrator crash course presented by Envato Tuts, instructor Dan Scott explains everything you need to know about the program to start bringing your ideas to life.
Learn the basics of designing custom shapes, lines, and brushes, and also learn how to use and manipulate text, and work through creating custom logomarks and icons. You’ll also learn sneaky secrets for creating beautiful color palettes, gradients, and patterns. Plus, the video will take you through essentials like saving and exporting your work for both print and web. There’s plenty of exercises throughout the course so you can apply what you’ve learned right away.
6. Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design
Skillshare also offers a completely free class that covers the five basic principles of Graphic Design in only 35 minutes. This course is for anyone who wants to explore and experiment with images and text to communicate a message. Learn ideas and principles that can be applied to any visual layout from a book, magazine spread, web page, poster, etc.
7. Adobe’s Discover Graphic Design
Last but not least, if you’re looking to simply dip your toes into the world of Graphic Design, Adobe’s Discover Graphic Design resources are the perfect primer before diving into higher-level concepts.
While this isn’t a full-fledged course, the blog posts Adobe shares are great for exploring different areas of graphic design to see what really jives with you. From picking between serif and sans-serif fonts, gathering visual inspiration, or covering essential info like what a vector file is, there are plenty of insights to be learned here!
8. Applying Design Principles
Whether you’re completely new to graphic design or simply want to brush up on your existing skills, this extremely useful course taught through Alison will equip you with the tools you need to start putting basic graphic design principles and design theory into practice.
Studying some of the most successful designs in recent history, you’ll not only master fundamentals like composition, balance, contrast, and hierarchy, but you’ll also learn how to apply these to both print and digital projects—whether you’re working on editorial assets, web design, social media graphics, and everything in between.
The class is completely free, but if you want to earn a certificate to feature on your resume or design portfolio, you’ll need to purchase a subscription to Alison.
Learn graphic design without breaking the bank
Thanks to the internet, you can become a graphic designer at your own leisure and at no cost at all. Take advantage of all of these incredibly useful design classes, resources, and tutorials to start your learning journey today. And remember, just like any other field, mastering design will take some time, effort, and lots of self-discipline. But if you’re truly committed to getting a job in this exciting field, know that it’s possible and affordable.