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Top 10 Free Graphic Design Courses Online

Top 10 Free Graphic Design Courses Online

Graphic design is everywhere. From the logos on your favourite products to the fonts and colours used by your go-to websites, graphic designers shape our visual world. Mastering graphic design unlocks new professional opportunities and lets you make your creative vision a reality.

Luckily, you don't need to pay thousands in tuition to learn. In online education, high-quality graphic design courses are now 100% free. Whether you're an aspiring designer looking to break into the industry or a hobbyist wanting to level up your skills, free graphic design courses online allow you to learn at your own pace.

This guide will explore the ten best free graphic design courses online in 2024. From beginner lessons on the fundamentals to advanced tutorials on specific programs and techniques, these courses offer something for designers of all levels. Read on to discover the free graphic design training that's right for you.

Why Take an Online Graphic Design Course?

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Before diving into the top course picks, let's look at why online education is a smart way to learn graphic design:

Flexible Learning

Online courses allow you to learn on your schedule. With self-paced lessons and materials available 24/7, you can fit learning around work, family, and other commitments. Whether you prefer to learn a little every day or power through material on weekends, online graphic design courses offer scheduling flexibility.

Top Teachers

While online education is still emerging, many of the best courses come from top design schools and working professionals. Learning online gives you access to lessons and perspectives from talented teachers worldwide.

Versatile Content

From one-off tutorials to multi-week classes, online graphic design courses deliver tailored content. You can target specific skills like logo design or choose comprehensive training to expand your knowledge. This versatility makes it easy to customise your learning path.

Community Connections

Premium online courses build learning communities through discussion forums and other features. Connecting with fellow students provides support, accountability, and new perspectives on course materials.

Cost Savings

Tuition and fees make design degrees prohibitively expensive for many learners. Quality online education offers similar content at a fraction of the cost. While some advanced courses charge fees, plenty of free beginner-level options exist.

Career Advancement

Studies show that employers value candidates who pursue online education. Completing respected graphic design courses signals motivation and skills, even without a formal degree. Upskilling through online training can open doors to new graphic design roles.

With these advantages in mind, let's explore the top free online graphic design courses for mastering this versatile skill.

Top 10 Free Graphic Design Courses

1 – Graphic Design Specialisation (Coursera)

Graphic Design Specialisation Coursera

Offered by the California Institute of Arts through Coursera, this specialisation provides a comprehensive introduction to visual communication and graphic design. Learners explore design principles, image creation, typography, colour theory, and more through five courses and a capstone project.

Key Topics Covered:

  • Fundamentals of Graphic Design
  • Visual elements and principles
  • Image manipulation and ideation
  • Typography and letterforms
  • Branding, logos, and visual identity
  • Layout, composition, and hierarchy
  • Design research and concept development

With a flexible structure and self-paced lessons, this specialisation works for beginners and intermediate designers looking to develop a well-rounded skillset. The courses steadily build skills through industry-relevant projects, including posters, logos, brochures, and brand identity deliverables.

While premium versions of Coursera courses charge a fee, you can audit the Graphic Design Specialization materials and assignments for free. However, free learners do not earn a Specialisation certificate upon completion.

Why It's Effective:

  • Comprehensive content taught by a leading design university
  • Hands-on projects put skills into practice
  • Free access makes top-level education accessible

If you want a structured curriculum that covers graphic design holistically, this specialisation from Coursera and CalArts is a top choice. The breadth of material lays a versatile foundation applicable across design disciplines and media formats.

2 – Graphic Design Course (Shaw Academy)

Shaw Academy's self-paced Graphic Design Course offers beginner-friendly training for developing core skills. Through concise video lessons and downloadable resources, learners gain practical abilities for bringing creative ideas to life digitally.

Key Topics Covered:

  • Design principles and psychology
  • Digital drawing and illustration
  • Image editing and manipulation
  • Layout and composition
  • Typography and working with fonts
  • Logos, branding, and identity
  • Graphic design careers and pathways

With quick 30-minute lessons, this course efficiently covers fundamentals across eight modules. Beginners appreciate the simple teaching style and flexibility of learning at their own pace. The affordable paid upgrades are optional for learners seeking certification.

Why It's Effective:

  • Beginner-focused foundation knowledge
  • Easy-to-digest lessons and downloadable tools
  • Certification is available through paid upgrades
  • Can complete initial course for free

Shaw Academy's structured course provides an excellent starting point for introductory graphic design training. The basics pave the way for exploring specialised skills like digital illustration and branding design.

3 – Introduction to Graphic Design (Kadenze)

Best Free Graphic Design Course Online

Created by the Maryland Institute College of Art, this Kadenze course explores visual communication fundamentals needed for graphic design. Learners gain applied skills for print and digital media through video lectures, readings, and hands-on assignments.

Key Topics Covered:

  • Graphic design principles and elements
  • The creative process and problem-solving
  • Visual hierarchy, layout, and composition
  • Typography and working with type
  • Branding, identity design, and style guides
  • Infographics, data visualisation, and diagrams
  • Digital design and online publishing

With a direct focus on real-world applications, this course helps learners create impactful graphics for branding, editorial, informational, and experimental purposes. Self-paced modules make lessons accessible even for busy schedules.

Why It's Effective:

  • Hands-on graphic design assignments
  • Applicable skills for career or passion projects
  • Created by respected design college faculty
  • Flexible timeline for completing the course
  • Free certificate upon passing the course

For foundational graphic design skills that translate into actual output, this edX course from MICA delivers. The broad introductory content allows you to determine specific areas to pursue further.

4 – Graphic Design Training (LinkedIn Learning)

Offered on LinkedIn Learning, lynda.com's graphic design training provides beginner skills and advanced techniques. With various course lengths and topics, learners can target goals from logo design to branding to motion graphics.

Key Topics Covered:

  • Graphic design basics and principles
  • The creative process, from brief to brainstorming
  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
  • Logos, business cards, and branding
  • Packaging, book covers, and editorial layouts
  • Infographics, charts, and data visualisation
  • Presentations, posters, and print projects
  • Motion graphics and animation

Courses balance industry tools with foundational skills like concept development and design thinking. With thousands of design courses available, LinkedIn Learning is a go-to resource for flexible self-paced training.

Why It's Effective:

  • Massive range of intermediate and advanced courses
  • Taught by digital design experts
  • Applicable skills for career growth
  • Certificates to showcase completed courses
  • A 1-month free trial is available

LinkedIn Learning is a top choice for unlimited access to in-depth graphic design training. From intro skills to niche programs like Adobe XD, discover targeted courses for any learning level or goal.

5 – DesignLab Graphic Design Course

Designlab Free Graphic Design Course

Designlab's courses focus on digital product design but include excellent modules for graphic design beginners. The classes explore design thinking, visual communication principles, Adobe XD, and UX/UI skills that translate into graphic design.

Key Topics Covered:

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Project-based units put skills into practice by designing brand collateral, mobile apps, websites, and more. For learners focused on digital media and UI design, Designlab provides applicable graphic design training.

Why It's Effective:

  • Hands-on lessons and industry-relevant projects
  • Exposure to UX/UI and digital product design
  • Supportive online community and mentorship options
  • Flexible 4-6 month timeline
  • Guaranteed job within six months of completion

For those interested in digital design, Designlab delivers an excellent foundation of graphic design training. The courses seamlessly bridge graphic design and UX/UI skills applied in product design roles.

6 – Graphic Design Course (Inkscape)

Dedicated to the free, open-source Vector Graphics Editor Inkscape, this course teaches graphic design through hands-on digital projects. With a focus on Inkscape tools, learners build logos, icons, book covers, and more while sharpening visual communication abilities.

Key Topics Covered:

  • Inkscape interface and tools
  • Digital illustration and drawing
  • Logo design and branding
  • Typography, text, and fonts
  • Image trace and manipulation
  • Layout and composition
  • Exporting and preparing files for print and web

With project-based lessons, learners gain practical experience creating different graphic design deliverables. The focused Inkscape tutorials build both software skills and foundational design knowledge.

Why It's Effective:

  • Hands-on learning through real-world projects
  • Focuses on free, open-source Inkscape program
  • Allows practice applying graphic design principles
  • Flexible timeline and self-paced lessons
  • Free access without needing to register

For focused training using Inkscape vector graphics software, this course delivers Results. The project-based structure pushes learners to apply design principles while mastering Inkscape's versatile toolkit.

7 – Graphic Design Playlist (YouTube)

On YouTube, experienced graphic designers share tutorials perfect for beginners. This Graphic Design Playlist compiles the best YouTube tutorials for free training across 50+ videos and 10 hours of content.

Key Topics Covered:

  • Graphic design basics and elements
  • The creative process from concept to execution
  • Illustration, digital drawing, and image editing
  • Logo design, branding, and identity
  • Brochures, business cards, and stationery
  • Posters, book covers, and layout design
  • Colour, fonts, typography, and lettering
  • Design tools, software, and best practices

With varied video formats ranging from quick tips to 30-minute tutorials, this playlist makes learning engaging. Top design YouTube creators like Chris Do and The Futur provide high-value lessons.

Why It's Effective:

  • Highly engaging and visual video format
  • Taught by professional graphic designers
  • Covers diverse topics and media formats
  • Completely free access to YouTube
  • You can learn at your own pace

YouTube delivers excellent free education for bite-sized and visually dynamic graphic design training. Stream this playlist during downtime to steadily build knowledge.

8 – Graphic Design Classes (Skillshare)

Skillshare offers thousands of design, illustration, and creativity classes. Exploring graphic design classes exposes you to diverse processes, aesthetics, and techniques to inspire your vision.

Key Topics Covered:

  • Software programs like Illustrator, Photoshop, and Procreate
  • Drawing, digital illustration, and image creation
  • UI/UX design, motion graphics, and 3D modelling
  • Designing merch, album art, branding, and more
  • Creativity, conceptual thinking, and art lessons
  • Crafts, fine arts, and analogue techniques

With classes from top designers and animators, Skillshare fuels out-of-the-box creative growth. Complementary courses support holistic skills beyond pure graphic design.

Why It's Effective:

  • Expert-led classes across creative fields
  • Exposure to diverse aesthetics and processes
  • Creative support for holistic growth
  • Premium but affordable paid access
  • A 7-day free trial is available

For inspiration beyond traditional design, Skillshare opens your eyes to new creative possibilities. The platform empowers both niche skills and big-picture creative development.

If you're interested in learning more about Skillshare, you can find comprehensive Skillshare reviews that provide valuable insights into the platform's courses and features.

9 – Graphic Design Tutorials (Tuts+)

Envato Tuts Graphic Design Courses Online

Tuts+ offers thousands of design, illustration, and web development tutorials. While they provide premium content, Tuts+ has 100+ free graphic design tutorials available without an account.

Key Topics Covered in Free Lessons:

  • Graphic design basics and principles
  • Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign tutorials
  • Logo design, branding, and identity
  • Brochure, poster, and packaging design walkthroughs
  • Mockups, lighting, and smart object techniques
  • Text effects, custom brushes, and shapes
  • Colour theory, geometry, and composition

With detailed written tutorials from industry pros, Tuts+ empowers practical skills. Their library of premium tutorials unlocks even more specialised abilities.

Why It's Effective:

  • Massive range of tutorials for software and techniques
  • Granular lessons for developing specific skills
  • Taught by professional designers and digital artists
  • Free starter tutorials with paid upgrades
  • You can search graphic design tutorials by skill level

For focused training on industry-standard software and tools, Tuts+ graphic design tutorials are a top choice. The practical lessons teach techniques needed for the job.

10 – Free Design Resources (Canva)

Canva Design School Free

While not a structured course, Canva offers excellent free resources for honing graphic design skills. The Canva blog and Design School are full of actionable lessons, from inspirational projects to one-off tutorials.

Key Topics Covered in Free Content:

  • Graphic design basics, like the design process
  • Principles like contrast, repetition, and visual hierarchy
  • Logos, branding, and visual identity
  • Social media graphics and online visuals
  • Presentations, posters, and print projects
  • Typography dos and don'ts: working with fonts
  • Getting started with Canva graphic design software

With a vast library of free templates and images, Canva fuels your creative projects. Their design blog and tutorials offer real-time inspiration and skills.

Why It's Effective:

  • Bite-sized tutorials and inspirational projects
  • Focused topics for learning niche skills
  • Expert tips and ideas from the Canva team
  • Helps learn Canvas free graphic design software
  • Completely free access without an account

For quick hits of inspiration and targeted tutorials, Canva's graphic design content excels. Dip into their Design School for real-time creative fuel.

Key Takeaways: How to Learn Graphic Design Online

  • Take advantage of free courses from top schools and experts. Platforms like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Shaw Academy make quality design education accessible.
  • Use structured curriculums for comprehensive training. Courses that methodically build skills yield versatile and holistic abilities.
  • Complement courses with one-off tutorials to target specific programs, tools, and techniques. Granular tutorials build niche skills efficiently.
  • Get hands-on whenever possible. Projects let you apply skills meaningfully and showcase work for your portfolio.
  • Explore complementary niches like digital illustration, UI/UX design, motion graphics, and 3D modelling to expand your range.
  • Learn at your own pace. Self-paced online education works with your schedule and style.
  • Pair online learning with offline creation and collaboration. Nothing beats hands-on practice, peer learning, and real-world experience.

Now that you know where to access free graphic design education online, it's time to start your journey! With quality courses and tutorials just a click away, anyone can develop professional-grade skills.

Match online lessons with passion projects, peer feedback, and old-fashioned practice to achieve great graphic design. Learning online saves money without sacrificing world-class content from industry leaders. Upgrade to premium offerings once you know it's a good fit.

The resources in this guide empower both hobbyists and career changers. Your unique visual voice and style will shine through with the proper online education. The digital tools are at your fingertips – the rest is up to you. Break a leg with your graphic design journey!

Frequently Asked Questions About Learning Graphic Design Online

Graphic design courses allow you to unlock new skills from home. But you probably still have some questions about the logistics of online education. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions:

How much time do I need to devote to learning graphic design?

It depends on the scope of training, but expect to put in 2-5 hours per week for fundamental courses. Beginner skills take roughly 3-6 months with consistent practice. Advanced skills take 6-12 months. Be patient and focus on real comprehension vs racing through lessons.

What if I don't know how to use design programs like Photoshop?

Intro courses teach software skills from scratch – no experience required! Many lessons also teach transferable design principles applicable with or without programs. Start simple and add tools over time.

Can I learn graphic design using only free courses?

Absolutely. High-quality free courses teach all the core skills to start. Once you know your learning style and professional goals, invest in premium training for specialised abilities.

What computer or tech do I need for graphic design courses?

You only need an internet-connected device like a smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Many courses have mobile apps for learning on the go. For assignments, a desktop or laptop helps run intensive programs like Photoshop.

How do I choose the right graphic design course?

Consider your skill level, areas of interest, learning style, and schedule. Intro courses work for total beginners. Target speciality topics once you have the basics down. Also, think through the teaching style and format you prefer.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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