Are you looking to learn graphic design online or start a career in graphic design?
One of the amazing things that the internet can offer is online courses. Whether you want to learn about graphic design, learn a new language, or learn how to start lettering, chances are there is a resource out there for you to learn how. In this article, we’ve compiled the best free graphic design courses online!
I know what you’re thinking though – that you don’t have the time. You have a full-time job and a house and kids to take care of and on top of that, you don’t have extra money laying around to spend on books or materials or to pay for classes, and you do not want to take another student loan to pay for them.
I get all of that and let me say that those excuses are just that. Excuses. Yes, we’re all busy and have other responsibilities. However, here is the wonderful news you have been waiting for…
These graphic design courses are 100% free.
Yes, free. I know it’s not a word we use much anymore in our culture. But if you are interested in taking a course in graphic design, whether you’re a beginner or have 25 years in the field, free is good.
With that in mind, we wanted to highlight some of the best free graphic design courses that you can find online in 2021 and beyond. That way, you can table the excuses, start learning and either add a new skill or sharpen an old one. Let’s get started!
This page contains affiliate links and I will earn a small fee if you choose to purchase using my links, at no additional cost to you.
How to Teach Yourself Graphic Design?
Becoming a graphic designer does not have to be done at school. In fact, if you follow the below steps and enroll in a free graphic design course, you will be well on your way to becoming a professional graphic designer.
- Understand the core principles of graphic design (see courses below)
- Ground yourself with the history of graphic design (this book is essential)
- Familiarize yourself with the graphic design process & solving problems creatively
- Consider advanced study & development (either online or at school)
- Learn from professional graphic designers
- Develop your proficiency, intuition, and flow (your process)
- Put together a portfolio and blog
- Participate in professional graphic design communities
- Diversify your skillset (enroll in more courses)
- Find work as a freelance graphic designer
How to Choose the Best Graphic Design Course for You?
Choosing to take an online course to learn a new skill, try a new path, or even as a refresher for the skills you already have is a very honorable thing to do. Like you, I understand that time, money and many other factors can keep you from picking one course to take over another.
We hope that the free design courses showcased here can give you some idea of some of the best free graphic design courses available online today.
10+ Best Free Graphic Design Courses Online
Below we’ve shared the top 10 reputable online graphic design course providers and their recommended courses to start teaching yourself graphic design.
- Skillshare (Two-week free trial then $10/month)
- Coursera (more in-depth)
- Shaw Academy
- Creative Live
- Graphic Design School
- Interaction Design Foundation
Free Software to Learn Graphic Design
If you’re learning graphic design, you should know that Adobe provides the industry-standard graphic design software for creative professionals and that they offer free trials as well as some generous student discounts allowing you to save up to 65%.
Adobe offers a subscription service called ‘Creative Cloud’ which gives you access to several powerful design applications including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and more. See the full Adobe software list here.
- Download a free Photoshop trial for PC, Mac, or iPad now
- Download a free trial of Illustrator for PC, Mac or iPad now
Free Graphic Design Classes on Skillshare
Skillshare offers prospective students lots of short but in-depth courses centered around graphic design. Many of these are available for free or, with a paid subscription, you can access them all. To help beginners, we wanted to highlight a few beneficial and free-courses.
The best part about Skillshare is that you can get Skillshare Premium free for 2 weeks!
Lectures: 9 | Length: 36 minutes | By: Ellen Lupton
Whether you’re new to graphic design or an old pro, everyone has to start somewhere. Generally, that means starting with the basics which is the focus of the Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design. This 36-minute class will walk you through 5 basic principles of graphic design.
Another class taught by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips will show you how to use those basic principles in projects that range from creative design, marketing, and even photography. Through the course, you’ll learn:
- How to identify and define the 5 basic principles of design
- How to critique your own work looking for balance and effectiveness
- How you can apply each concept to your future projects
Lectures: 7 | Length: 18 minutes | By: Mike Ski + Jessie Jay
Taught by Mike Ski and Jesse Jay, designers from True Hand, the Creating Brand Systems course asks students to consider how a great logo or brand system comes to be. Through the six video courses, Ski and Jay describe the collaborative process they used to create the logo for Kensington Quarters, an eatery in Philadelphia.
A shorter class than most, the Creating Brand Systems course is designed with designers, illustrators, enthusiasts, and creatives in mind. Those looking for a high-quality walkthrough of what it takes to create a dynamic logo that can be used across many different channels and applications will want to check this course out.
Lectures: 10| Length: 36 minutes | By: Ellen Lupton
When you’re starting as a graphic designer, you may spend a lot of time perfecting the logo that portrays your brand to prospective clients, but what about the typography on your website or business card? What is that telling your clients about not only your business but about you as well?
Also taught by Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, this course teaches you the difference between good typography (which can be very beneficial for you or your client) and bad typography (which can have adverse effects). In this course you’ll learn:
- Sans + Structure – Learn what gives the sans serif typeface its special character
- Serif + Details – Exploit the details of the full-bodied serif type family
- Slab + Customization – Learn what to do with slab faces, described as heavy furniture by the syllabus
Free Graphic Design Courses on Coursera
While not every course on their site is free, Coursera offers online courses from some top universities such as Stanford and Yale. At first glance, the site pushes you towards paying for classes but there is the option to “audit” the class.
This means that while you can take the class, none of your work will be marked and you won’t be able to earn a certificate at the end of the course. To take the classes for free, follow this guide here and get started right away. Here are some free courses you may want to consider:
Lectures: 4 modules |Length: approx. 27 hours | By: David Underwood
Taught by David Underwood, this Graphic Design course is structured to provide you with the tools to generate professional looking reports, resumes, presentations, and PowerPoints using techniques and practices that have been refined through years of practical use.
Through 4 modules of this course, you’ll learn –
Module 1: How to make your work look inspired and fresh.
Module 2: Discuss the importance of working with a grid, recognizing negative space, and applying suitable margins. You will also look at the element palette, font, color, images, and graphic components such as borders, bars, and backdrops.
Module 3: You will learn how applying simple design “tricks” can give your project an air of confident professionalism.
Module 4: Finally, learn how to respond to criticism and use it to make your project go from good to great.
Length: 4 weeks, approx. 15 hours | By: Michael Worthington
Led by Michael Worthington, a member of the faculty at the California Institute of Arts, the course will teach you how to implement visual, rhythm, and pattern in the design. You’ll also learn techniques of image-making, how to create your own series of images as well as how to use scale, direction, texture, weight, and space in your project.
The Fundamentals of Graphic Design course does this by breaking down the topics into four one-week segments that cover a different topic each week:
Week 1 – Fundamentals of Image-Making – The lesson shows how an image functions to convey connotative and denotative messages in the first class.
Week 2 – Fundamentals of Typography – This week’s class looks at typographical terminology and the basic rules for typography creation.
Week 3 – Fundamentals of Shape and Color – Graphic designers use shapes and colors as the fundamental building blocks of their work. In this week’s class, you will take a closer look at how they do this.
Week 4 – Fundamentals of Composition – How graphic designers use visual contrasts, cropping, direction and hierarchy with complex compositions and single images is the focus of this week’s lesson.
Length: 4 weeks, 8 hours | By: Anther Kiley
Anther Kiley, an LA-based graphic designer, teaches anyone who already has a basic working knowledge of and access to Adobe InDesign how to get the most out of the program’s features and tools.
The Introduction to Typography course goes in-depth into the different areas of typography and is broken down into 4 weekly lesson plans:
Week 1 – Talking type – In this week’s lesson, the course looks at typefaces, as physical artifacts as well as works of design.
Week 2 – Typefaces and their Stories – Exploring how a typeface can express connotative meaning, otherwise known as how they can tell stories, is the lesson’s focus this week.
Week 3 – Putting Type to Work – Learning to engage visual principles and the conventions of typesetting is the focus of this week’s class. A look at how the spaces between letters, lines, and blocks of type can be manipulated to refine their appearance is included as well.
Week 4 – Making Meaningful Type – In the course’s final week, the class will look at how typography can dramatically shape the meaning of written language.
BONUS: Coursera Plus – Get the ‘Graphic Design Specialization’ Course and 3000+ more courses
You can learn graphic design online with Coursera and you can get it for free for 7 days as a trial. Or for $49/month OR for $499 a year, join Coursera Plus, where the true value is.
With Coursera Plus, you can access the Graphic Design Specialization and 3,000+ other courses in various domains including business, computer science, health, personal development, humanities, and more.
- See our related post: Best 9 Coursera Courses for Creatives
Coursera Plus will save you money if you are planning on taking multiple courses over the year.
A ‘specialization’ such as this 5 part graphic design course takes an average of three months to complete, so that would save you approximately $130 over three months or $520 over the year.
Free Graphic Designing Tutorials on Domestika
Domestika is a relatively new player in the graphic design course market but they are growing quickly due to their professional teachers & high quality production.
Domestika has a whole blog post highlighting their 73+ free graphic design classes with special mention to their 10 free graphic design classes post as well as their 10 online classes for improving your illustrations.
We’ve also compiled our own top design course lists including:
- Top 10 Branding & Logo Design classes on Domestika
- Top 12 Most Popular Courses on Domestika
- Top 10 Illustration Classes on Domestika
- Top 10 UX/UI (Web Design) Courses on Domestika
Domestika Coupon Code – Save 10%
Get an exclusive 10% off with the discount coupon promo code: “JACOB_6-JUST”.
Free Graphic Design Courses on Udemy
Founded in 2009, Udemy is an online learning platform created to help people learn new skills. Many of the courses on Udemy can be perfect for someone looking to learn graphic design. We decided to highlight a few of these that we think you may find helpful, plus our list of the Top 10 Udemy courses.
Update 2021: This course is no longer free and is available for $116.
Lectures: 27 lectures | Length: 2 hours 24 minutes| By: Anthony Isaac
This Introduction to Graphic Design class is the perfect way to learn graphic designing online. Also, it is your way into the graphic design world with practical real-world examples. You don’t need any special software or hardware to take the course. As stated by the overview, the only thing required is “an open mind and thirst for knowledge”. You will use the web-based Canva to create designs.
Designed to be a practical application course, the Introduction to Graphic Design helps provide beginners with information about the graphic design field what is and isn’t considered a design, and the process that goes into designs. If you’ve ever had an interest in graphic design, but aren’t sure if you’re ready to take a practical class, this is a good first step.
This course is suitable for beginners or professionals. There are 27 lectures and over an hour of free content. You’ll learn all about Canva & many different graphic design skills that will prove useful in real-world projects like Logo Design or Business Card Design.
Update 2021: This course is no longer free and is available for $17.
Lectures: 37 lectures | Length: 8 hours 2 minutes| By: Eduonix Learning Solutions + Eduonix-Tech.
Created by Eduonix Learning Solutions, this program provides students with eight hours of on-demand video. It doesn’t have any specific requirements to take the class other than already having Photoshop installed on your computer. It’s a comprehensive course that introduces beginners and experienced users alike to professional Photoshop principles.
The course is structured to provide you with hands-on software training while sharing tips and tricks that pros use. It does this by using task-based lectures and discussions about the Photoshop tools. Techniques and effects are taught through detailed process lectures. The Learn Adobe Photoshop from Scratch is a great class for anyone looking to get the most out of Adobe Photoshop.
Lectures: 45 lectures | Length: 2 hours 22 minutes| By: Rawson Uddin
In Professional Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator, created by Rawson Uddin, students are given lifetime access to over seven hours of on-demand video courses, and a certificate of completion at the end of the course. The only recommended requirement is to have a basic knowledge of Adobe Illustrator as the course is an advanced lesson.
Throughout the course, you will learn about a plethora of topics that can help you design your own logo or maybe even start a logo design business on the side. These topics include:
- How to choose the right typeface
- Using simple shapes in a design
- Designing with negative space
- Choosing colors for the logo
- Adding other effects to your logo design
As part of course, you can download a working file to practice with as you go through the course. All in all, the Professional Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator provides a robust class for those looking to start designing logos.
Any list we create would be incomplete without Alison Online on it. Taking the Visual and Graphic Design (2 modules of 1.5 to 3 hours) course on the site will earn you a test-based certificate upon completion, which can be great for anyone already studying graphic design.
If you’ve been working in graphic design for some time, you may not see the value in the completion certificate. However, if you are just starting as a graphic designer a certification in a subject can help establish credibility when trying to secure a new job or freelance project.
Founded by Mike Feerick, Alison Online offers completely free classes, but they are uncredited. This means that your current or prospective employers may not recognize the certificate of completion or diploma. Self-described as a “new world of free certified learning” Alison Online offers not only classes in graphic design but also in so many different subjects, that it’s worth checking out regardless.
Canva Graphic Design School
Canva has grown to include a design school for those who may not have that much experience with graphic design to learn the basics and helpful hints.
The Design School area of their website provides students with several resources that can benefit beginners, those with a little bit of experience, or anyone working in graphic design for quite some time. There is a great starter course for anyone looking to learn the basics of design.
The Design School from Canva is broken down into different modules for easy learning.
Shaw Academy – Adobe Certified Online Graphic Design Course
Shaw Academy has several graphic design courses available including a thorough Graphic Design course, a budget graphic design course, and courses on Photoshop, Illustrator and Web Design. The course is free for 4 weeks and then goes to $70/m, including access to all other courses in their catalog.
*Attn* – Some consumers have notified us that it is difficult to cancel the subscription after 4 weeks but I have contacted Shaw Academy and they have told us that they are upgrading their system at present to keep up with the increased demand.
Piktochart – Free Fundamentals of Visual Storytelling
Lessons: 7 lessons | Length: 1 hour 30 minutes| By: Sarah Kim
While this course focuses mainly on visual storytelling, Piktochart is a useful online application that can help you create beautiful infographics, reports, presentation slides, posters, flyers, and much more.Whether you want to create striking visuals to make your communication more efficient or reach out to the audience to grow brand awareness, this simple and complete course by Sarah Kim will definitely help.
This free course is divided into 7 lessons. An experienced instructor will show you how to use Piktochart to create and deliver a delightful visual presentation. Through the course, you’ll learn:
- How to design the content structure and create a typography poster
- How to create a color scheme in Piktochart
- How to choose and use the right icons
- How to visualize data in Piktochart
- How to choose photos and modify layout orientation
More Paid & Free Graphic Design Courses Online
There are so many different sites out there that can help you learn more about graphic design, but I didn’t have the room to list them all. But to give you the best information to start your journey, here are a few more! If you have any other graphic design courses to add, let me know!
- Lynda / LinkedIn Learning
- Creative Live
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- General Assembly
- The Graphic Design School
- Springboard (UX Design / Business / Marketing) Get $500 off with code ‘CASSCREATIVE500’
- Interaction Design Foundation – Get 3 months off your first year!
Top 3 Premium Graphic Design Courses on Udemy
Special Offer! 70-95% off All Udemy Graphic Design Courses
Get 70-95% off any online course from Udemy, making most classes just $10-$15.
1. The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course (approx. 8.5hrs)
Lectures: 73 lectures | Length: 8 hours 28 minutes| By: Lindsay Marsh + Jeremy Deighan
As the name of the course suggests, The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course tackles basic color and layout principles, visual disciplines, and typography lessons. Led by brand experience experts Lindsay Marsh and Jeremy Deighan, this Udemy offering packs 10 downloadable resources, full lifetime access, and a certificate of completion. Prepare to upgrade your approach to design and become a more critical storyteller after finishing this course.
2. Graphic Design Masterclass: Learn Graphic Design in Projects (approx. 4hrs)
Length: 45 lectures, 3 hours 55 minutes| By: Chad Neuman, Ph.D.
There’s a lot to unpack in design, and Good Creative Academy founder, Chad Neuman, understands this. Join his Graphic Design Masterclass and immediately learn how to apply graphic design strategies, create stunning gig posters, and develop captivating online ads. With four hours of on-demand video and easy access to mobile and TV, you’re sure to become a wiser designer at the end of this Udemy favorite.
This is a fairly short but succinct course that covers the essentials.
- Produce effective designs in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
- Apply color theory and typography practices
- Design an online ad, infographic, poster and postcard.
3. The Brand Design Masterclass – The Brand Design Process (approx. 9hr)
Length: 56 lectures, 8 hours 30 minutes| By: Lindsay Marsh
The brand design process isn’t quick or easy. Take the cue from Lindsay Marsh, Udemy’s instructor for this Brand Design Masterclass course. Like her first course on this list, the brand expert is shedding valuable insight into the complex world of design and all it entails to succeed in the industry. But unlike her first offering, she explains sketching, brand voice, portfolio creation, and more tips and tricks.
Learn Graphic Design Online: Top Paid Graphic Design Courses
Looking for the best paid graphic design courses online? Here are a few 4 more options to consider:
Business Branding (4.5 hours)
- Build a strategic brand from the ground up with Stephen on Udemy.
- Create a brand that sparks interest, connects through emotion and nurtures long-lasting and loyal relationships.
- Learn how to build a strategic brand from the ground up.
Graphic Design Fundamentals (3.5 hours)
Designed for beginner and intermediate graphic designers as well as more experienced designers looking for a brush-up on design principles.
- Identify and apply fundamental graphic design elements
- Add essential design skills to your toolkit
- Approach and manage the creative process through varied projects
You’ll learn how to make a living doing what you love—graphic design.
- Create a meaningful philosophy that will guide your career
- Present yourself in meetings and interviews
- Network and standout from your competition
- Find discipline in your approach to work
- Sell yourself with more confidence
10 Best Free Graphic Design Courses Reviewed
Watch our video to see a summary and review of the best free graphic design courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I learn graphic design?
Can you teach yourself graphic design?
Yes. With time, dedication, efforts, and a plethora of free graphic design crash courses, you can teach yourself fairly well.
Is graphic design a promising career?
Yes, it is. With a graphic design certification in your hands and your skillset, you can nail down a great job for sure.
How do I get into graphic design with no experience?
As newbie graphic designers seeking to gain experience in the industry, you can have an online presence, show off your work, get an internship, start your own project, or become a freelancer.
What software do graphic designers use?
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