Yearning for some learning?
The graphic design industry, like the body of professional creatives within it, is an ever-developing entity. Twenty years ago, designers made space for drafting tables in their offices; now, they conjure digital magic via pen and drawing tablets. Many designers would agree that one of the most freeing aspects of graphic design is the continual opportunity to learn. Graphics and photography software continues to advance year upon year, and to stay ahead of the curve, many professionals regularly plunder the internet for free online graphic design courses. With that in mind, here are ten of the very best courses you can access without handing over your credit card number.
If you want a quality learning experience, you won’t do much better than SkilledUp. This company caters to both individuals and corporations, so if you’re employed by someone else, you could suggest they get a company subscription. If you’re freelance, however, you will find a few freebies available on the SkilledUp site, including a delightfully comprehensive course called Visual and Graphic Design. Ideal for students and graphic design or CAD professionals, this course covers a host of design elements, including shape, form, texture, composition and balance.
Packed with design and illustration courses, Envato Tuts+ is the learning equivalent of a candy store—and you’re the kid with grabby hands. You can be that kid, too, because Envato Tuts+ regularly gives out freebies, including complementary courses, eBooks, graphics and design resources. If you like what you see, you can subscribe to the site for an inexpensive monthly fee and gain access to over 1,000 full comprehensive courses on demand. Need a creative solution rather than a mainstream design trend? Envato Tuts+ might just be your new best friend.
Part of the OpenLearning network, Canva Design School offers creatives a way to expand their skillsets without venturing into a physical classroom. Students from all over the world regularly engage with and inspire each other while watching the tutorials and fiddling with the design assets made available to them. If you’re feeling particularly clever, you can create your own course and teach other creatives what you know. If you’d rather brush up on your artistic prowess for free, however, check out the Introduction to Graphic Design course
Not everything on Udemy is free, but this course is—and it’s definitely worth your time. Created by design maven Sean Berg, Introduction to Graphic Design teaches students the basics of design theory, including the five main design principles, the design process, the difference between art and design and how to gain new inspiration when you’re feeling blocked. One of the nicest things about this course is that its participants don’t need to know anything whatsoever about design before getting started, making it a great learning tool for absolute beginners.
Belgian graphic designer Veerle is a very helpful and artistic lady who enjoys sharing the breadth of her knowledge with anyone interested in learning about graphic design. If that sounds like you, go ahead and visit her blog, where you’ll find a treasure chest full of techniques, smart tips and links to useful resources. Peruse tutorials on your lunch break or read Veerle’s insightful commentary on working with clients and building your portfolio over coffee in the evening.
In recent years, a number of well-known colleges have begun to offer particular courses online for free. One of the most prestigious universities involved in the distribution of opencourseware is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, otherwise known as MIT. MIT is notoriously expensive, but you won’t have to pay a dime to study the materials for its Graphic Design course. If you’re an enthusiastic self-initiated learner, you’ll benefit from MIT’s trustworthy database of resources as you hunt for ways to improve your craft.
Typography and the history of type design is a fascinating subject for many graphic designers. All creatives worth their salt possess a meaty selection of fonts to make their designs pop, and Enric Boix’s “A brief History of Typography” provides a roadmap to help new designers gather typefaces they can actually use. Read through a list of the top ten fonts and learn about their creators, muse over typeface classification and then use your new skills to identify humanist, garalde, didone and other font types in the wild.
If you like to show off your skills, Alison could be just the type of site you’ve been looking for. Self-ordained as a “new world of free certified learning,” Alison offers a plethora of different courses, many of which provide participants with certificates they can put on their resumes. Complete the certified Visual and Graphic Skills course or the Design Principles class, or get more specific with a Photoshop course. As well as courses related to graphic design, Alison offers general business-centric courses, which can help you become a better freelancer.
Essentially an online design magazine, Creative Pro also has a useful and thorough How To section. Written specifically for professionals, these tutorials expound upon creative ways to solve very particular problems. Learn about image optimization for web design, how best to compress video for online viewing, innovative Photoshop techniques and many other subjects. If you’re a beginner, you can use these tuts to gain inspiration or augment more general course materials found on other sites.
A great online resource for design pros, students and curious members of the public, CreativeLive offers per-class pricing on its premium courses and also hosts a selection of free and low-cost classes. Enhanced with a clean user interface, CreativeLive is easy to navigate and packed with helpful downloadable files. If you’ve gone through all the freebies and want more, check out the On Sale section to find great deals on premium courses.
Well-conceived and inspirational, these free online graphic design courses regularly provide their participants with a creative boost. You don’t have to take a sabbatical to complete them, either: simply carve out a little time in the evening (even a half hour will do) and allow yourself the luxury of learning. After all, there’s nothing more thrilling than the feeling you get when you master a new skill.