Great graphic design is essential when it comes to successfully communicating your brand or business values, mission, and product/service with your audience.
So, here are 13 of the best free online graphic design courses (or low-cost) that you can use to hone your skills if you’re unable to onboard additional support from graphic designers (like us).
Without the need for design school!
1. Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design
- Identify and define 5 basic design principles
- Critique your work for effectiveness and balance
- Apply each core concept in future projects
At less than $10 per month on an annual plan, you have access to thousands of courses on design with Skillshare.
Hosted by designers Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, co-director of the Graphic Design MFA Program at MICA, this course is a jam-packed 35-minute crash lesson in graphic design best practices.
2. Professional Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator
- Designing a professional logo
- Techniques in logo creation
- Fine-tuning your design
This free online graphic design course, with instructor Rawson Uddin, walks you through the fundamentals of quality logo design.
With 7.5 hours of self-paced educational content, you’ll look at some of the world’s most iconic logos and deconstruct them to understand the many elements that go into a successful logo design.
3. Airbnb, Uber and Mailchimp: Inside the web design style guides of 10 brands we love
Source: Canva Design School
- A look into the web design style guides of successful brands
- What a web design style guide is
- Apps to help you achieve yours
Canva has become a go-to for DIY designers worldwide, and their free library of resources is a great place for inspiration and advice on all things design.
In this article, they look at web design style guides, sharing information on why they are important and how the big players have created theirs. Your website is the home of your brand, so understanding the principles that make that space impactful is vital.
4. The Design Recipe for a Great User Experience
Source: Design Force Insights
- What UX is and why it’s important
- How to design with UX in mind
- 5 tips on user-focussed design
With 88% of users claiming to leave a website if they’ve had a bad user experience, designing with UX in mind is undeniably one of the most important elements of successful design.
In this article written by our own team of experts, we dive into 5 ways you can improve the overall user journey through the design of your website and digital touchpoints.
5. Fundamentals of Graphic Design
- Implement the fundamentals of color
- Use scale, weight, direction, texture, and space in a composition
- Typeset text and experiment with letter forms
This flexible, hands-on 4-week course is a deep dive into the fundamentals of quality graphic design.
Taught by Michael Worthington, Faculty in Graphic Design from the California Institute of the Arts, this course provides actionable briefs for you to complete as you go.
6. Digital Typography
- The history of typography
- How typography has transitioned into the Digital Age
- Manipulation of type
This course from MIT OpenCourseWare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology introduces studies in “the algorithmic manipulation of type”.
You’ll discover the history of typography through weekly assignments, and learn new ways of manipulating type to achieve the results you’re after.
7. Introduction to Graphic Illustration
- Translation, production and distribution of visual ideas
- What good illustration looks like
- Integration of design principles
During this 5-part course from Kadenze, you’ll look at achieving originality within your designs, and learn ways to communicate your business effectively to your audience.
Plus, you’ll get tutorials for basic and advanced techniques using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.
8. Graphic Design Foundations: Ideas, Concepts and Form
Source: LinkedIn Learning
- Iconography and typography design
- Symbols and their meaning in design
- How to harness design ideas and inspiration for your own design techniques
Through LinkedIn’s Learning platform, this free online graphic design course (with a month trial) from Sean Adams explores ways to source design inspiration and build on concepts.
You’ll also delve into “how humor in graphics can impact audiences” as well as taking things off-screen with non-digital media such as painting, drawing, and felting to boost your creative brain.
9. Graphic Design – Visual and Graphic Design
- Design elements and principles
- Applying design principles
- The production process
Covering the basics from composition to balance and hierarchy within graphic and visual design, this course helps you communicate your ideas in the best (and most effective) way possible, looking at line, shape, form, and texture.
The online free graphic design course comes with optional certificates (for an additional fee) if you achieve 80% or higher on completion.
10. Adobe Illustrator for Beginners
- A complete beginners guide to Adobe Illustrator
- How to draw in Illustrator
- Effects, type and shape using the different tools
With over 3.5 million views so far (since 2020!), this YouTube-based course by Envato Tuts+ is a one-stop guide for Adobe Illustrator.
Made for complete beginners, the video covers the basics of the programme. You’ll learn the tools practically, to create effects, patterns and more.
11. How to Design Banner Ads that Get Clicks
Source: Design Force Insights
- How to design banner ads that get the right attention
- Framing, composition and hierarchy
- Tips to make your banner ads more click-worthy
In another article from our experts, we dive into the fundamentals of designing banner ads that your ideal audience will want to click on.
From animation to color principles, it’s a quick how-to to reference when you need a helping hand.
12. Introduction To Graphic Design
Source: Appypie Academy
- How to make designs using Canva
- How to create motion graphics
- Designing for social media and other marketing materials
Divided into 16 lectures, this free course takes you from the basics of designing in a drag-and-drop tool like Canva, through to designing marketing material with your target audience, with case studies and applied projects for you to practice what you learn.
13. Basics of Adobe CC: Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign
Source: Creative Live
- When and why to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
- Manipulating image and basic color correction
- Designing multiple pages and layouts
Learn along with Adobe Certified Expert and Adobe Certified Instructor, Jason Hoppe, in this 23-lesson course hosted by Creative Live.
One of their most popular courses, this masterclass will guide you through best practices for the key players in Adobe’s Creative Cloud, along with 13 in-depth quick reference guides to come back to.
Ready to design with the best online graphic design courses?
With these courses under your belt, you’ll be off to a great start.
But if you find yourself lacking the time to commit to learning this essential skill, speak to Design Force to see how we can do the leg work for you, and bring your brand vision to life with professional, expert design.