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The Best Free Online Graphic Design Courses

If you are interested in learning about graphic design, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices and material on the internet. On Amazon, you can find thousands (even tens of thousands) of books on graphic design. You may also face some frustration in learning how and where to start. One or two YouTube videos on graphic design may be helpful, but there is virtually no structure if you are trying to learn and master the fundamentals of graphic design.

It is easy to get stuck and frustrated.

Having said all of this, there is one solution out there that can address these problems. Graphic design can provide a wealth of information in a structured, organized form. Luckily for you, there are many designing courses that can teach you the fundamentals. And because these graphic design courses are online, you can access them at any time and at any location. Some courses even provide you with a certificate proving you've learned the material (and it may be really helpful for finding employment).

After searching the internet, we have curated a list of the best free online graphic design courses. This list is not ranked in order of preference or favorability. In addition, some of the courses below may require some prior familiarity with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. That said, using any of the courses below will give you an excellent head start in learning about graphic design.

The Best Graphic Design Classes Online

Ideas from the History of Graphic Design

Ideas from the History of Graphic Design is a digital design course that focuses on key themes and periods from the history of design. Some of those key themes and periods include early mass marketing, modernism in America, and graphic design radicalism. The instructors for the course are faculty in the program of graphic design at the California Institute of the Arts (“CalArts”). CalArts has a great reputation and doesn’t disappoint, as students have given the course 4.6 stars out of five on Coursera. The course is also one component of CalArts’ graphic design specialization on Coursera.

Teach Yourself Graphic Design: A Self-Study Course Outline

Teach Yourself Graphic Design is a different option in that there is not a professor explaining graphic design in videos or other electronic media. Rather, this digital design course is a self-study outline that you can use to master the material. Sean Hodge, the author of the outline, has collected a wide range of books and articles that can help you master the material. Hodge pulls together resources on many areas, like the principles and theory of graphic design, how to develop your intuition and flow, and even how to plan your career in graphic design.

Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design

Graphic Design Basics is a course on Skillshare that focuses on core principles of design. Your instructors for the course are the co-directors of the Graphic Design MFA Program at the Maryland Institute College of Art, so it may be deemed one of the best graphic design classes online. As they state on the course page, students will learn how to identify and define five basic design principles, critique your work for effectiveness and balance, and apply each core concept in future illustrations. The course is for beginners and contains 36 minutes of video content.

Introduction to Graphic Design

Introduction to Graphic Design is fairly self-explanatory. As its title describes, it introduces students to the concepts and software they need to know to become graphic designers. The course contains a little more than four hours of video. Your instructor for the course is Tony Harmer, an Adobe Certified Expert and Instructor who has worked in the creative industry for over 30 years. Students in the course learn basic concepts in both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. The course can be found on Lynda. You can take these free online graphic design classes if you have a LinkedIn Learning subscription.

Learn Adobe Photoshop From Scratch

A course offered on Udemy, Learn Adobe Photoshop From Scratch is self-described as a course for the “complete beginner” to learn Photoshop. The course offers eight hours of on-demand video on critical Photoshop skills and techniques like manipulation and creation tools, Master Photo correction techniques, and workflow tools. The only requirement for this course is a copy of Photoshop on your computer and your willingness to learn. The creator of the courses is Eduonix Solutions, which has published over 200 courses and taught over one million students throughout the world.

Fundamentals of Graphic Design

Another Coursera course offered by CalArts, Fundamentals of Graphic Design is the first course in CalArts’ graphic design specialization. The course teaches students concepts like imagemaking, typography, composition, and working with color and shape. Your instructor is Michael Worthington, a faculty member in the program in graphic design at CalArts. The course takes approximately 14 hours to complete.

Logo Design From Concept to Finish

Logo Design From Concept to Finish is unlike many other courses in that it specifically focuses on one task—how to design logos. In the course, you will learn concepts like the grid system, font types, ideation and concept creation, refining designs, and presenting your work to a client. The creator of the course is Lindsay Marsh, an instructor and freelance designer who has over 13 years of experience. The course can be found on Skillshare.

Professional Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator

Another logo design course, Professional Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator focuses on teaching logo design skills in Illustrator. By enrolling in the course, you will learn how to choose the right typeface, how to design a logo with simple shapes, how to choose logo colors, and how to design with negative space. With all of that said, there is an important caveat to this course: students must have prior training with Adobe Illustrator, as the content is somewhat advanced.

Introduction to Typography

Introduction to Typography is another Coursera course offered by CalArts. The course takes about eight hours to complete. Taught by Anther Kiley, a CalArts faculty member, students will study the characteristics of letterforms, best practices in setting type, and the meaning-making potential of type. To complete the course, you will need access to and knowledge of Adobe InDesign or other page layout software. The course is well-respected, as it is rated 4.8 stars out of 5.

Improve Your Graphic Design Skills

Whether you are a total beginner at graphic design or if you have some experience, you are lucky because some of the best graphic design classes are online. You are able to learn from some of the best graphic design instructors, all on your own terms.

Ultimately, we know that this collection of best online graphic design courses will help you sharpen your graphic design skills. If you put in the time and effort, the odds are good that you will become a better and more comfortable graphic designer.

As you are watching some of the above graphic design courses, there may be moments where you will want to save certain lectures (or even entire courses) on your computer for rewatching. If that is the case, you may want to consider using Screen Capture Studio. Created by Movavi, Screen Capture Studio allows you to capture online videos that are being played on your computer screen. You can also record your own audio over the video and can use Screen Capture Studio’s built-in editor to create clips and remove unwanted footage. To learn more about how Screen Capture Studio can help, click here.

By Drusilla Thornsson
November 7, 2018

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