12 Best Free Online Graphic Design Courses in 2021

12 Best Free Online Graphic Design Courses in 2021

If you are interested in finding free online graphic design courses to start your graphic design career path or to learn about novelties, going for free material is OK.

In some cases, you will receive an introductory course and will be asked to pay for the next lessons, or you will get a lot of useless and irrelevant information. That’s why, you need to be as accurate with free courses as with paid ones, because you spend your most precious resource – time, while using them.

12 Free Online Graphic Design Courses to Watch

The high quality of these courses makes them an ideal way to learn graphic design and acquire a visual experience that is highly valued and demanded by individual employers, companies and collaborating organizations.

If you aspire to join the league of the best graphic design experts, but are unsure of how to choose the best online design courses for you, don’t worry – I’ve done it for you.

1. Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design — by Skillshare Design

skillshare free online graphic design course

Course moderators, Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, explain in a friendly manner that understanding design requires learning the basics. They suggest cracking the code of a great design using a solid knowledge of the basic principles of graphic design. Join these designers to understand 5 key principles that can be applied to all visual art projects.

The authors of this free graphic design course believe that it is enough to understand the basic principles of design in order to become a successful designer, create efficient marketing materials and even use your knowledge and skills in the photography sphere. I recommend you study the course along with Ellen Lupton's books and web resources.

2. Fundamentals of Graphic Design by Coursera

fundamentals of graphic design course

Fundamentals of Graphic Design by Michael Worthington is part of five courses that cover the basic skills required to create complex graphic design projects.

Michael Worthington, a faculty member of California Institute of the Arts, has created a course that is different from analog learning materials. The first part of the lesson is devoted to the topic of creating images with your own hands. It will help you learn about many unique imaging techniques that can compete with clip art and stock photography.

In the third part of the course, the author teaches students how to apply rhythm and drawing, how to use scale, direction, texture, weight and space in your project.

In my opinion, the difference from other online design courses is that the author explains complex topics in a fun and simple way. Michael touches on such an interesting topic, namely metaphors in images and how the literal meaning of images differs from the metaphorical one. I advise both beginners and advanced designers to take this course.

3. Design School by Canva

canva free online graphic design course

This free graphic design course consists of 12 video lessons where designers of this service dwell on different topics. The main course topics are a mood board, fonts, color, alignment, etc. Each lesson of the course contains a video tutorial and exercises to remember the material better.

All tasks require using Canva editor. Canva is a cross-platform web service for creating graphic design. The service is a collection of editable templates, millions of stock images, fonts and illustrations. The editor built into the service allows you to create a new design or edit ready-made templates.

The lessons can be useful for absolute beginners and those with little experience. A good starter course for anyone, who wants to grasp the basics of design.

4. Introduction to Graphic Design by Brockett Horne and Ellen Lupton

kadenze free online graphic design course

Brockett Horne and Ellen Lupton, reputable lecturers at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and famous authors, have developed this free graphics design course and turned it into interesting gatherings of like-minded people, who know much about design and are ready to share their experience with all interested.

They start with the roots of graphics design and offers their suggestion on how it will develop in the future. This is an informative description of the graphic design timeline, which is actually the first part of the program called Graphic Design History and Methods.

With the help of this course, you can understand how fonts and letterforms are created and then move further to designing posters and brand logos. The authors and their guests also talk about the importance of all kinds of info that is available in free access and how visual systems affect graphic design tendencies.

If you want to learn graphic design online and also extend your knowledge of the neighboring spheres, this is a great course to choose. You can find out aspiring info about avant-garde artists, poets, and other cultural figures, who facilitated the evolvement of mass media, dive into the world of global trends and learn about the severe fight of subcultures against culture uniformity. This way you can work out a more tolerant attitude to a diversity of practices.

Once you are done watching videos, you can get down to short quizzes to test your knowledge.

5. Introduction to Typography by Anther Kiley

anther kiley free online graphic design course

Anther Kiley believes that typography is the art of manipulating the visual form of a language. Typography is an important area of skill and knowledge for graphic designers. It appeared ling before modern graphic design, and contains rules, terms, practical and historical aspects that are reflected in modern trends.

The video lectures are complemented by a series of three assignments that are graded by peers. Finally, the author suggests creating a full-scale poster based on typographic rules.

To complete assignments, you need access to a laptop for web design and page layout software, e.g. InDesign. The first lectures of this free graphics design course have been translated into Russian, the rest of the lectures are available in English. There are bloopers in translation, but in general, this doesn’t interfere with the understanding of a complex topic.

6. Graphic Design Bootcamp by Derrick Mitchell

graphic design bootcamp free online course

Derrick Mitchell presents confusing notions in a very simple way. He explains what the elements of Graphic Design are, what is the main scope of activity of professional graphic designers, what attributes a good project consists of and how Art and Design differ.

To take advantage of this course and level up your skills, you just need a good computer for graphic design and access to Adobe Creative Suite. While watching videos, you’ll learn the secrets of using Adobe Photoshop, what instruments may help achieve the desired result, and what the key five principles of a successful work are. Since this is one of the free graphics design courses, you can watch several episodes and decide whether it corresponds to your requirements.

Though the author uses Mac while teaching, you won’t face difficulties if you own Windows computers or laptops for college students. Just be attentive and everything will work flawlessly.

In some countries, the course is distributed on a paid basis, but that is rather a rare practice. There are regular assignments you have to complete. Graphic Design Bootcamp is one of the online graphic design courses with certificates, so after you cope with all the tasks in a timely manner, you’ll get the Certificate of Completion.

7. Of Course You Can! The Ultimate Graphic and Web Design Course

ultimate graphic and web design course

One of the most information-packed online design courses you can currently find. It is suitable for any person interested in design and striving to give creativity a nudge and mastering different purpose-built tools.

If you are a beginner, you can safely choose this course. However, seasoned designers will also find something interesting here. It was created by Rudolph Pieterse, a web developer and graphics designer, who wanted to teach people the topic in an engaging and interactive manner.

In total, there are 15 lectures and you need a laptop or a computer to watch them and repeat what the trainer does. He shows students a multitude of graphic design software and encourages them to create a digital board called a “journey” using the knowledge they got.

After you watch all 15 videos and cope with all the tasks, you’ll have a clear understanding of the essence of graphic design and will know how to create logos, posters, banners, and more. Besides, you’ll get a certificate proving your competence.

8. Typography That Works: Typographic Composition and Fonts by Ellen Lupton

ellen lupton free online graphic design course

Clean, smart typography serves as proof of your (or your client’s) professionalism. Good typography is a pleasure to read. In this free graphics designing course, you will understand how to recognize and use elegant type and how to create intriguing, awesome compositions.

The author shows students how to create a business card using the typographic elements described in each tutorial. This online typography course will be useful for both novice designers and professionals, who want to improve their knowledge and skills.

I recommend this short course for its simplicity and well-chosen examples.

9. Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers Specialization by University of Colorado Boulder

coursera free online graphic design course

Developed by a reputable University of Colorado Boulder, this course lets you thoroughly study a Graphics Design Specialization, explore major design elements, learn the traits of color theory, publication design and master win-win methods of creating catchy layouts.

It can be deservedly called one of the best online graphic design courses because it describes the creative process from different facets. For example, you can learn brainstorming techniques, figure out how to present your graphic design ideas and provide feedback in a professional environment, how to organize your working routine and more. After you finish the course, you’ll get a certificate and will be able to create original brochures, cards, etc.

What deserves special praise about this course is that it highlights the importance of branding and user experience. You can share your ideas on the community discussion forums and get an objective opinion on your progress.

Beginner designers will especially like this course, as it doesn’t presuppose that students have prior designing experience. Anyone dreaming of conquering the graphic design heights can take full advantage of the lectures.

10. Introduction to Graphic Design by LinkedIn Learning

lynda free online graphic design course

Tony Harmer developed this course to shed light on the creative process precisely characterizing such concepts as layout, typography, and color. This is your chance to learn graphic design online, master Adobe Photoshop instruments necessary for preparing images for further use in graphic design projects.

If you want to know more about image retouching - check out the best free photo editing workshops for Lightroom and Photoshop.

The course is organized as a series of videos that last about 4 hours and covers such topics as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, layout and composition, typography, and color. Each module finishes with a quiz to access your knowledge.

Enrollment is included in the LinkedIn Learning monthly membership that costs 29 dollars. Non-subscribed users can enjoy a free trial for 1 month.

11. From Doodle to Logo by Udemy

udemy free online graphic design course

From Doodle to Logo is a wonderful graphic design online course that explains how a simple scribble can become a beautiful and meaningful logo with the help of Adobe Illustrator.

The course is mainly aimed at newbies and intermediates, who want to refresh their knowledge. It guides you through the process of turning a hand-drawn image into a polished logo, with the scanning and importing steps described in detail.

If you accurately repeat the instructions given by the author, you’ll easily create a logo with a unique flare. There are 3 main examples described in a 30-min video, and the developers of the course promise that you’ll be able to bring your boldest ideas to life if you master Adobe Illustrator and will be persistent enough.

12. Graphic Design – Visual and Graphic Design by ALISON

alison free online graphic design course

Over 80,000 students from all over the world have successfully completed different ALISON online graphic design courses, and given there are more than 300 offered courses, you are sure to find something to your liking. Each course finishes with a graduation project based on the knowledge you got.

Students receive completion certificates that are accepted by employers and companies. Though the website isn’t accredited, it fully adheres to industry standards. Courses on ALISON are free, but if you want to get a sharable certificate, you have to pay a small fee.

The Graphic Design – Visual and Graphic Design is a short introductory course created with the needs of newbie designers in mind. It explains the basics of visual and graphic design, covers contrast, hierarchy, composition, and balance.

Moreover, by choosing this course, you can extend your knowledge of textures, forms, shapes, and lines. All in all, it is one of the best online design courses with a straightforward overview of the fundamental concepts. However, note that you need to get at least 80 percent to pass.

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