Looking to go pro in graphic design, or are you already experienced but just trying to refresh your skills? I’ve compiled a list of free graphic design courses for you to get you going.
If you’re reading this, you’ve already got the first step right; determination. Stay the course and you’ll learn so much more than you think you can. The great thing about online courses is you can take your time. Regardless of how busy you are you can spare an hour a day for your personal growth. All the courses in this list can fit within your schedule and are simple and well structured, so you’re head won’t implode if you go through some lessons at the end of a long day. And it’s free! Remember that word? No one says it anymore it’s almost taboo. Thankfully a few online legends have made some of their courses free and they definitely give the paid ones a run for their money.
Here are the 10 best free graphic design courses I found for you.
Before you dive into the software and tools, every designer needs to have a grasp of the principles of visual design. The guiding rules that make a design good and functional. This beginner-level course was created by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, co-directors of the Graphic Design MFA Program at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). The course, based on their book Graphic Design: The New Basics, will teach you the core principles of all great design layouts;
- Symmetry vs. asymmetry.
With these principles, you’ll be able to apply them in everything design (logos, illustration, magazines, websites, you name it) because they are truly universal. Trust me, these principles are not as straightforward as they seem, and even a designer already familiar with these principles, applying them in practical design needs a solid understanding. This course gives you that, and with practice and adherence, it becomes intuitive and you’ll find yourself implementing the principles in your work almost unconsciously. Like baking a cake, an experienced baker never needs to take a peek at the recipe! The course is available for free on Skillshare.
Probably the most popular type of work graphic designers do is logo design. Going in blind, messing around with the shape tools in illustrator and photoshop will cost you a lot of man-hours and frustration. Save yourself the stress with this elaborate course on logo design in Adobe Illustrator by Rawson Uddin. This free course on Udemy is great for both beginners and experienced designers who need to refine their processes. It’s a lengthy 7 hours but you’ll be sure to get the full logo design experience by the time you’re done. From experience, It’s hard to find a course that guides you as clearly and simply as this one does, even among the paid ones. In this course you’ll learn how to:
- design a professional logo.
- Make your logo stand out from the crowd.
- Fine-tune and make changes to the design according to client feedback.
- Use efficient techniques in creating your logo.
- Apply new techniques
The course has taught an impressive 200,000 students and counting and has great reviews and ratings. The guide employs modern design styles and new trends to keep you up-to-date with the industry.
If you’ve never used Indesign before, you know it’s quite daunting at first and many designers ditch it the moment they try to find out how to number pages. It’s like the excel of the adobe suite. Its layout is a bit different from photoshop and illustrator many designers are used to. However, it has some powerful features for document design and really nothing else compares to it. Once you get a handle of it, it’s like riding a bike. Easy peasy. To help you get on your saddle, the free Indesign for Beginners course on YouTube by Envato’s Daniel Walter Scott is an easy-to-follow tutorial, packed with everything you need to know about Indesign. Daniel eloquently takes you right from the beginning through the basics, teaching you;
- Creating documents and using color as well as basic navigation.
- Adding and manipulating text and fonts. What’s a document without these.
- 3. Find and using free and paid images in Indesign.
- Long text, column and linking text boxes, paragraph styles and some tips and tricks.
- Exporting your documents.
- Sharing your files and collaboration.
- And using templates.
The course is just shy of 2 hours and 30 minutes long. Just the perfect length and saves you days and headaches from trying to learn it on your own through trial and ctrl+z. The guide is well-structured, audible, and easy to follow.
By the end, you’ll be able to design a full brochure and ready to compete with the pros. Quit struggling with photoshop and illustrator and use Indesign to create beautiful editable magazines, brochures, books, and other documents with the industry-standard program. And it’s on YouTube, so it’s probably going to be free forever!
This is another free course by Envato on youtube. Virtually every professional designer on the planet uses Adobe Illustrator regularly. It’s a vector designing program, meaning you can create scalable graphics like logos and illustrations that don’t lose resolution when displayed or printed in larger sizes. Sounds complicated?
Dan explains all this and more perfectly. He takes you through all the necessary tools you’ll need to master your craft, whether you need to do logo design, illustration, business cards, posters, and other documents. The course involves:
- How to set up your document.
- Creating and manipulating shapes.
- Using the pen, brush and pencil tools.
- Working with color and gradient.
- Adding Type and fonts.
- Using effects and patterns, and warping shapes.
- Exporting for print and web.
By the time you’re done with the 3-hour long course, you’ll be able to create a logo and pretty much anything you need. It’s a great way to learn about adobe Illustrator. The only limit is your own creativity, and that in itself comes with practice. There are many other free useful tutorials on the Envato tuts+ youtube channel to help you grow into a truly professional graphic designer.
Like a good poster? This ones for you; another brilliant free course by Ellen Lupton on Skillshare. In this course, she takes you through a one-hour class exploring posters and how they work. The virtual journey takes you through the New York City’s Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to take a look at modern poster graphic design. You’ll also get to design a film poster of your own!
In this course you’ll learn how to:
- to make a movie poster.
- to tell a story through poster design.
- to add motion to a poster with diagonal lines.
- to simplify forms.
- to create depth with overlap and transparency.
- focus the eye.
- transform your work into a physical artifact.
This course by Lori Poole is available on Coursera. In this course, you will focus on examining and exploring various types of images and graphic elements. Color is extremely crucial in any design and its use bears great importance in how the audience interprets your message. A designer without color theory is a rudderless ship. In this course, you’ll learn to distinguish between CMYK, Pantone and RGB color formats. This will save you a lot of fistfights with printers. The course also takes you through a bit of logo design and selecting the best images and graphic elements for branding. The syllabus includes:
- Understanding color theory.
- Classification of images and graphics.
- Combining images with type.
The course is great for beginners. All the topics are clearly explained and you are definitely going to learn a lot. Think you know everything about color? This course will prove you wrong
Imagine a course that teaches you all the core concepts and terminology you’ll need to create art all packed into a very fun hour. Impossible? That’s what Hardy Fowler, a professional illustrator has done for you. And it’s free! This skillshare course leans towards illustration but all the lessons are applicable to graphic designers. Every graphic designer will at some point need to create illustrations of some sort, especially when doing logo and poster design. You don’t want a client catching you off-guard drawing wonky mismatched eyes. Many designers also do both illustration and graphic design. Stay ahead of the game with this well-structured lesson in the fundamentals of art. In this course, you’ll learn how to paint a simple object on adobe photoshop and learn about lighting, shading, forms and much more. Dive on in!
Infographics are an increasingly popular way to summarize information and share it with the public. This free udemy course teaches you how to create stunning infographics to share your ideas and projects. You also get free templates and know websites where you can get free unlimited quality icons and images to use in your infographic designs. The course includes 30 minutes of on-demand video and over 27,000 students have enrolled. In this course you’ll learn:
- the easiest way to create stunning Infographics to share your ideas, projects, etc.
- how to access millions of Royalty Free Professional Photos and Images to use in your infographic, your website, your blog, or in any project you have.
- How to share your Infographics on Social Media
I reckon you’ve probably heard of the terms UI/UX and you’ve been curious to know what they mean or the difference between the two terms. Worry no more. The UI/UX Design Specialization course, available for free on Coursera, teaches you the ropes on Ui and UX through a design-centered approach. You’ll get practical instruction on the aspects of visual communication, rather than the usual marketing and programming route alone.
The course is split into four lessons where you’ll learn the processes and stages of UI/UX design. You’ll be able to do user research, defining a project’s strategy, scope, and information architecture, and developing sitemaps and wireframes. You’ll learn current best practices and conventions in UX design and apply them to create effective and compelling screen-based experiences for websites or apps. Sounds complicated, but don’t let this scare you.
It’s a smooth journey that’s well instructed. Imagine the perks of telling people you’re a UI/UX designer and no one knows what you do but it sounds fancy and techy!
There’s typography in almost every single document ever designed. Type is the main carrier of information in a design, the rest is there to compliment the writing. Anther Kiley’s intuitive course in typography is free on Coursera and definitely worth your time. Once you’re done you’ll feel like you’ve just pirated it cause it’s so good you feel like you should have paid something. The four-week course takes you through typefaces, their meaning, applying them appropriately, and designing a full-scale typographic poster. There are videos, reading, and quizzes to give you the full typography class experience. Try it out!
Can’t afford expensive graphic design software? Check out my list of the best free software for professional graphic design work.
Thanks for reading. Here is the full list of links to your free graphic design course.
- Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design
- Professional Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator
- Indesign for Beginners
- Adobe Illustrator for Beginners
- Demystifying Graphic Design: How Posters Work
- Graphic elements of design: color theory and image formats
- Art fundamentals in one hour
- Infographic design
- UI/UX design specialization course
- Introduction to typography
Good luck with your course!