10 Excellent Free Online Graphic Design Courses (2024)

Ready to launch your career in graphic design? The good news is that in 2023, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg in tuition fees or dedicate years at design school tolearn designor become a professional graphic designer.

Learning graphic design doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can certainly do it on your own time thanks to a few high-quality, free online courses. In this article, we’re sharing the best free online graphic design courses to jumpstart your career the self-taught way.

1.CalArts Graphic Design Specialization

The California Institute of the Arts offers an extensivegraphic design specialization programfor free through Coursera. These five beginner-level courses are each led by a faculty member at CalArts and are packed with insights from industry professionals.

Through this graphic design specialization, you’ll learn the fundamental skills needed to begin a career as a professional designer, how to master visual communication and gain a solid understanding of how graphic design plays into other areas like interface design, motion graphics, and editorial design. Here’s a quick rundown of each course:

  • Course 1:Fundamentals of Graphic Design
  • Course 2:Introduction to Typography
  • Course 3:Introduction to Imagemaking
  • Course 4:Ideas from the history of Graphic Design
  • Course 5:Brand New Brand

To get free access to the course material, simply choose toauditthe class viaCoursera.com.

2.Canva Design School: Graphic Design Basics

Get a solid foundation of graphic design in this quick, jam-packed course offered by the folks Canva. Canva’sGraphic Design Basicsclass is comprised of twelve bite-sized lessons, each covering a foundational element of graphic design along with an activity that puts your new knowledge into practice.

You’ll get a taste of invaluable design know-how from defining your intended message, crafting moodboards, color wheel and typography essentials, and plenty more. This course is perfect if you don’t have a lot of time to invest in learning a new skill, or just want to dip your toes in the water to get a better understanding of how to think as graphic designers do.

3.Logo Design Fundamentals

Branding is one of the most fundamental aspects of graphic design, and a specialty many designers choose to focus on. If you want to dive deep into the world of brand identity design,Udemy’s Logo Design Fundamentalsis a great place to start.

In this course comprised of fifteen lectures, learn what makes for a successful logo design, understand your client’s needs, and build out a brand identity system that can effectively be used across many types of different applications. In this branding crash course, you’ll learn everything you need to know to be able to craft a successful logo design from start to finish.

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Art by George alexandar

4.Introduction to Graphic Design History

What better place to start your graphic design learning journey than where it all began? In Kadenze’sIntroduction to Graphic Design History, learn all about how design has touched nearly everything in our lives—from our society, our politics, to our ideologies.

This history of Graphic Design crash course was adapted from the same class taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Dive deep into design history and gain a deeper understanding of the role Graphic Design plays in our world, its evolving styles, and revolutionary techniques.

You’ll come away equipped with a solid understanding of what defines successful graphic design and view the profession through a whole new lens.

5.Adobe Illustrator for Beginners

Learning the principles of graphic design should be the foundation of your education. But what use is it if you can’t put these principles into practice? To actually produce and create great design work, you also need a few hard skills under your belt—for example, knowledge of certain design softwares.

Adobe Illustrator is many designers’ software of choice, and in this three-hourAdobe Illustrator crash coursepresented by Envato Tuts, instructor Dan Scott explains everything you need to know about the program to start bringing your ideas to life.

Learn the basics of designing custom shapes, lines, and brushes, and also learn how to use and manipulate text, and work through creating custom logomarks and icons. You’ll also learn sneaky secrets for creating beautiful color palettes, gradients, and patterns. Plus, the video will take you through essentials like saving and exporting your work for both print and web. There’s plenty of exercises throughout the course so you can apply what you’ve learned right away.

Bonus:Take your graphic design expertise to the next level and add Adobe Photoshop to your list of tools through thisfree Envato Tuts class.

6.Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design

Skillshare also offers a completely free class that covers thefive basic principles of Graphic Designin only 35 minutes. This course is for anyone who wants to explore and experiment with images and text to communicate a message. Learn ideas and principles that can be applied to any visual layout from a book, magazine spread, web page, poster, etc.

The class is taught by directors of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art, so you’ll see plenty of examples of graphic design projects created by students at MICA. Get ready for a helpful crash-course in core design elements like symmetry, scale, framing, hierarchy, grids, and at the end of it all, put your new learnings to the test by creating a basic page layout in the design software of your choice.

7.Live Graphic Design Courses: Creative Live

Creative Live is a fantastic resource to learn Graphic Design from industry experts from all over the world. However, if you want to access these courses for free, you’ll have to do some planning ahead (free courses are conducted in real-time!). Simply scroll down to theFree and upcoming classessection to enroll in a live course of your interest and mark your calendar.

Each course is tailored to a specific aspect of design from portfolio building, how to think like a designer, to more niche areas of the industry such as book cover design, drawing basics, and plenty more.

8.Applying Design Principles

Whether you’re completely new to graphic design or simply want to brush up on your existing skills, this extremely usefulcourse taught through Alisonwill equip you with the tools you need to start putting basic graphic design principles and design theory into practice.

Studying some of the most successful designs in recent history, you’ll not only master fundamentals like composition, balance, contrast, and hierarchy, but you’ll also learn how to apply these to both print and digital projects—whether you’re working on editorial assets, web design, social media graphics, and everything in between.

The class is completely free, but if you want to earn a certificate to feature on your resume or design portfolio, you’ll need to purchase a subscription to Alison.

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Art by Jonathan Holt

9.Creating Brand Systems: An Overview of Combining Logos and Type.

In this twenty-minute free Skillshare course, the creative team at True Hand takes you through their step-by-step approach for navigating a client brand identity project. You’ll learn all about how to define a brand narrative for a client while diving into the design process and learning how to generate custom assets like illustrations and typography.

Rather than focusing on creating one logo, you’ll learn about the importance of creating a family of assets that can be used across a variety of applications—from business cards, signage, apparel, and more. This modern approach to building an all-encompassing brand identity system will also teach you how to effectively collaborate with clients and really give you a taste of what a successful branding process should look like.

10.Adobe’s Discover Graphic Design

Last but not least, if you’re looking to simply dip your toes into the world of Graphic Design,Adobe’s Discover Graphic Designresources are the perfect primer before diving into higher-level concepts.

While this isn’t a full-fledged course, the blog posts Adobe shares are great for exploring different areas of graphic design to see what really jives with you. From picking between serif and sans-serif fonts, gathering visual inspiration, or covering essential info like what a vector file is, there are plenty of insights to be learned here!

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Art by Alex Davis

Learn graphic design for free online

Thanks to the internet, you can become a graphic designer at your own leisure and at no cost at all. Take advantage of all of these useful design classes, resources, and tutorials to start your learning journey today. And remember, just like any other field, learning design will take some time, effort, and a lot of self-discipline. Not sure if graphic design is for you?

Interested in learning UI Design? Check out our list of the best Figma courses to get started in digital design.

10 Excellent Free Online Graphic Design Courses (2024)


Are online graphic design courses worth it? ›

Earning an online graphic design degree can prepare you for entry-level graphic design jobs and other digital media and web development careers. A typical program provides hands-on training in graphic design hardware and software and covers design fundamentals like typography, visual communication and web design.

What is the best course for graphic design? ›

In summary, here are 10 of our most popular graphic design courses
  • Graphic Design: California Institute of the Arts.
  • Fundamentals of Graphic Design: California Institute of the Arts.
  • Google UX Design: Google.
  • Graphic Design: University of Colorado Boulder.

How can I learn graphic design with no experience? ›

How Do I Become a Graphic Designer With No Experience?
  1. Intern or volunteer.
  2. Work on personal projects and build your portfolio.
  3. Contact design agencies.
  4. Network with other Designers.
  5. Develop your specialty.
  6. Gain a solid understanding of user experience.

How can I learn graphic design on my own? ›

How to learn graphic design
  1. Learn the basics. ...
  2. Build your skills with online courses. ...
  3. Master the ins and outs of design programs. ...
  4. Create a portfolio of projects. ...
  5. Grow your network. ...
  6. Get some work experience. ...
  7. Continue to learn and grow.
Nov 29, 2023

Which free app is best for graphic design? ›

Free Graphic Design Software for Beginners
  • Canva.
  • DesignWizard.
  • Piktochart.
  • Pixlr.
  • Fotor.
  • GIMP.
  • Adobe Express.
Apr 10, 2024

Can you be a self taught graphic designer? ›

Becoming an independent graphic designer is possible through self-learning, although formal education and training can provide a strong foundation. Many successful graphic designers are self-taught, relying on online tutorials, books, and practice to build their skills.

Can I learn graphic design on my own online? ›

Even more good news, as there's plenty of free graphic design courses online you can use to start building your knowledge base. Dabble in a few different courses and refer back to them whenever necessary.

Where do graphic designers make the most money? ›

Best-Paying States for Graphic Designers
District of Columbia, DC$87,980
New York, NY$81,370
California, CA$80,240
Washington, WA$73,130
Massachusetts, MA$73,060
2 more rows

How many months to learn graphic design? ›

Rough Estimates of How Long It Takes to Learn Graphic Design
Level of ProficiencyTime Required
Ability to create simple design projects6 months to 1 year
Ability to create complex design projects1-2 years or more
Becoming a professional graphic designer3-5 years or more
2 more rows

Does graphic design need math? ›

Although most graphic designers don't use math daily, and their degrees won't have any math-focused courses, there are some concentrations that might have math required. One of the concentrations that is more math-focused is website design.

Can you call yourself a graphic designer without a degree? ›

Graphic design is a great career path for those who have an artistic eye and enjoy creative projects. Contrary to popular beliefs, a traditional four-year college degree is not required to become a professional graphic designer. Just because someone has a degree doesn't make them automatically a great designer.

What does a beginner graphic designer need? ›

  • Pen and paper. The fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to transfer design ideas from your head to the real world is to use a good old pen and paper. ...
  • Computer. ...
  • Stylus and graphics tablet. ...
  • Smartphone. ...
  • Camera. ...
  • Color space reference. ...
  • Monitor calibrator. ...
  • Storage.

What are the 7 types of graphic design? ›

Types of Graphic Design | Graphic Design
  • Web Design. ...
  • UI and Interactive Design. ...
  • Advertising and Marketing Design. ...
  • Motion Graphics and Animation. ...
  • Packaging Design. ...
  • Game Design. ...
  • Illustration. ...
  • Publication and Typographic Design.
Sep 8, 2021

How long does it take to self learn graphic design? ›

Rough Estimates of How Long It Takes to Learn Graphic Design
Level of ProficiencyTime Required
Ability to create simple design projects6 months to 1 year
Ability to create complex design projects1-2 years or more
Becoming a professional graphic designer3-5 years or more
2 more rows

How long does it take to learn graphic design on your own? ›

Mastering graphic design can take a few weeks to several months or even years, as it requires repeated practice and training. Learning graphic design can be expedited by understanding principles of design and composition and regularly practicing and receiving feedback.

Can I learn graphic design without going to school? ›

Graphic design is a great career path for those who have an artistic eye and enjoy creative projects. Contrary to popular beliefs, a traditional four-year college degree is not required to become a professional graphic designer. Just because someone has a degree doesn't make them automatically a great designer.

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