16 Best graphic design courses to become a graphic designer
This article will introduce you to some of the most practical and best graphic design courses online. These courses and resources are suitable for those looking to start their journey in learning graphic design or for those looking to hone and perfect their skills and knowledge. There is truly something for everyone.
Graphic Design Courses Online – Overview
What it is – In its most simple form, graphic design is the arrangement of images and text to convey or communicate a message. Graphic designers employ a variety of tools, skills, techniques, and knowledge to solve visual problems. They utilize a variety of mediums for the specific purpose of visual communication.
Exceptional design requires thoughtful consideration and organization of several elements to effectively communicate an idea effectively and beautifully. Bad design is the result of haphazard use of visual elements that leads to miscommunication or verges on ugliness.
Topics – The most basic artistic elements a designer must consider are line, color, shape, space, and texture. An understanding of these and other elements in design is great, but they are meaningless unless they are employed by the hands of a skilled designer.
Skills – The skills a graphic designer requires are creativity, communicative, technological, typographic, and managerial. Great designers are polymathic individuals who can use their skills to adapt to a variety of challenges. They are adept visual problem-solvers who use visual communication to enrich ideas and concepts.
How to learn – This article presents a curated list of the best graphic design courses and resources that will not only give you a theoretical education on graphic design but will also offer you the opportunity for hands-on learning and experimentation.
Best Graphic Design Courses Online – Top Picks
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*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure at the end of this post.
Note: We aim to cover a variety of graphic design courses online that suit the needs of both beginners and intermediates. However, we don’t claim to be comprehensive.
1. Graphic Design Masterclass: Learn Design – Udemy
Udemy is a massive open online course provider and thus provides a range of graphic design courses too. This class (visit website) offers mini-classes providing an opportunity to explore various design categories to help learners find where their passion for design is.
The course is highly reviewed as a great introduction to graphic design. It is a good place to start if you are looking to learn the basics of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. It also introduces Affinity Designer as an alternative to Illustrator so that learners can expand their design toolset. One of the most popular and best graphic design courses on Udemy.
2. David Carson Teaches Graphic Design – MasterClass
MasterClass lets you tap into the mental power, experience, and vision of some of the world’s most outstanding achievers in their field of expertise. David Carson’s Graphic Design MasterClass (visit website) provides a deep insight into the principles of color, typography, photography, and logo design and how those elements impact each other.
Carson is a pioneer in graphic design and knows how to break established rules by understanding them deeply, taking them apart, and rebuilding new strategies that have the power to change the paradigms in place. It’s about: What am I trying to say? How can I best deliver that message? Trust your eye and intuition so great things can happen.
So, think outside the grid, and learn how to mimic some of the best print and online design approaches from one of America’s most influential artists. Carson explains why his work looks the way it does and explains the impact of color, shape, and texture. This is one of the best graphic design courses online to unleash your inner rebel. Assignment included.
Skillshare is another online learning community that focuses on video-based learning. This popular graphic design course (visit website) is taught by a certified Adobe instructor.
This is a beginner’s course aimed at teaching type and image manipulation to create logos, icons, postcards, and the creation of hand-drawn images in Illustrator. It blends video instructions with hands-on exercises.
The course has received high ratings from the community with 79% of students claiming their expectations were exceeded and 20% stating that their expectations were met. This is one of the best graphic design courses online for those who are looking to learn and improve on their Illustrator skills and knowledge.
Instructor: Daniel Scott. Skillshare | Level: All | Video Lectures: 10
Submitted Class Projects: 2400 | User Review: 4.9 ★★★★★
Info: View course. From $15/month. Try this course with free Premium trial.
4. Graphic Design Bootcamp – Udemy
This is a popular hands-on course (visit website) that focuses on the Adobe Creative Suite and utilizes project-based learning strategies. The bootcamp aims to help beginner designers become more proficient at utilizing graphic design tools and software.
It is a great course for those looking to dabble in graphic design as a hobby, or creatives looking to build their portfolios for freelance work, or for those looking to improve their design skills to create and print workplace materials.
The instructor, Derrick Mitchell is well-qualified and has years of design work experience working with some impressive global brands in marketing. One of the best graphic design courses online to learn technical design skills at an affordable price.
5. Graphic Design Fundamentals – CreativeLive
CreativeLive offers online courses and learning resources for the global community of creatives. They offer affordable graphic design courses facilitated and taught by industry leaders and experts. This class is an introductory course taught by Timothy Samara.
He aims to teach students through demonstration and hands-on design work the basic design elements of Form and image, Color Theory, Typography, Layout and Composition.
73% of students recommend the course with most agreeing the content is essential. The course is well-rounded and offers a great amount of content for those looking to expand their knowledge of design and design theory through lectures and project-based learning.
Instructor: Timothy Samara. CreativeLive
Level: All levels | Content: 15.5 hours | Classes: 18
Price: from $13/month ($149/year)| Rating: 100% ★★★★★
6. The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course – Udemy
This class (visit website) aims to improve learner knowledge and understanding of design theory and concepts. Through a series of projects, learners engage with color theory, composition, logo design, and legal matters such as copyright and trademark issues.
This course is reviewed and recommended by several designers who are already in the industry. It is meant to reinforce design foundations to improve designer knowledge and workflow. It is a shorter class than the two Udemy graphic design courses above; however, it offers a well-rounded and holistic approach to teaching design theory.
Furthermore, reviewers have applauded it for providing a highly practical design methodology that helps them to approach design-based problems with confidence.
This class is instructed by Aaron Draplin of the Draplin Design Company. Sharing his 15+ years of design experience Draplin teaches learners through the process of designing for producing merchandise such as pins, patches, hats, and shirts.
The course (visit website) is aimed at any level of designer and comes highly suggested by the Skillshare community with many citing that Draplin is a highly engaging instructor.
With a focus on creating and designing merch, this is one of the best graphic design courses online for musicians, artists, and creatives looking to promote their work by creating their own logos and merchandise. It is especially useful for those interested in a variety of print mediums.
8. Fundamentals of Graphic Design – Coursera
Coursera is one of the best-known online learning platforms so undoubtedly it would host some graphic design courses. One is The Fundamentals of Graphic Design (visit website) which is an introductory course offered through the California Institute of the Arts.
This class introduces the fundamental principles of design and provides beginners with the typographic, image-making, and compositional skills required of designers. It is a very highly reviewed course and 50% of learners claim that it changed their career trajectory and 44% of learners say it improved some aspects of their current careers.
Reviewers claim that the assignments are simple but enriching. Some reviewers loved the course but lamented that it was for absolute beginners. If you are a beginner, this is one of the best graphic design courses online to get started. You can audit this class for free.
9. Graphic Design Specialization – Coursera
The graphic design specialization at Coursera (visit website) consists of 5 classes to build knowledge and skill within graphic design. It includes The Fundamentals of Graphic Design (mentioned above), Introduction to Typography, introduction to Imagemaking, Ideas from the History of Graphic Design, and Brand New Brand courses.
This specialization takes about six months to complete and culminates in a capstone project which puts your knowledge and skills into practice. 67% of learners claim that this specialization put them on a new career path.
Coursera specializations are not free and require a monthly subscription; however, financial aid is available for those interested. The benefit of this specialization is a well-rounded opportunity to learn design and the opportunity to employ acquired skills and knowledge in the capstone project.
Furthermore, as it is offered by the California Institute of the Arts ensures a certain quality for the five courses offered. This is a highly sophisticated program and certainly among the best graphic design courses available online.
Provider: CALARTS. Coursera. Type: Specialization. 5 graphic design classes.
User Review: 4.7 ★★★★★ | Duration: 6 months. 3 hours/week.
Info: View course. Get Coursera Plus – $39/month with certificate. View Offer.
10. Become a Graphic Designer (Path) – LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning offers an affordable online monthly subscription to access courses aimed at improving the skills necessary for career mobility. Their graphic design courses are created and delivered by instructors with real-world experience. The Become a Graphic Designer Learning Path (visit website) hosts 11 classes with 29 hours of content.
The graphic design courses take a threefold approach to the learning process. Students will Build a solid foundation in the elements of design: typography, color, and layout; Explore the design process to visualize compelling ideas, and; Practice with hands-on exercises in InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.
This learning path has received positive reviews for learners looking to build a solid foundation of theory and know-how. It is one of LinkedIn’s best graphic design courses online. The content may be accessed for free by signing up for the 30-day free trial period.
11. Graphic Design Fundamentals: Color – CreativeLive
Another course by Timothy Samara covering color theory which is one of the fundamental elements of graphic design. The course covers four areas: Hue, temperature, saturation, and value; Analogous and complementary relationships; Developing palettes and systems, and; Color psychology and symbolism.
Through a series of lectures, you will learn a system of color selection for project-specific graphic design. At the time of writing this course boasts a 100% recommendation from former students and reviewers due to the depth of knowledge of the instructor.
While this is a fundamentals course, learners will receive an in-depth exploration of color theory to help choose and create color pallets for various design projects. This is one of the best graphic design courses to build upon a foundation class.
Instructor: Timothy Samara. CreativeLive
Level: All levels | Content: 2 hours | Classes: 5
Price: from $13/month ($149/year)| Rating: 100% ★★★★★
Tip: Before enrolling in graphic design courses, see our guides Typography Basics and Graphic Design Basics. Alternatively, see our lists of Illustrator Courses, Photoshop Courses, and Photography Courses or Web Design Courses.
12. Typography Fundamentals – CreativeLive
This course is taught by Ilene Strizver who is the founder of The Type Studio. it is one of the best graphic design courses online that teach the fundamentals of typographic aesthetics and teaches how to make the best typographic choices for different design projects.
Although this course is more information-focused than hands-on learning it offers a 94% rating with reviewers applauding the clarity and usefulness of the content.
The course is intended for beginners or those interested in how typography is used to shape and convey meaning. Understanding typography will help learners design readable and legible designs that communicate clearly and effectively.
Instructor: Ilene Strizver. CreativeLive
Level: Beginner | Content: 6 hours | Classes: 13
Price: from $13/month ($149/year)| Rating: 94% ★★★★★
13. UI/UX Design Specialization – Coursera
UI/UX design is about designing user interfaces and user experiences. It is an extension of graphic design which seeks to improve the usability and aesthetic of machine-driven interfaces such as programs and apps.
This four-course Coursera specialization (visit website) introduces the core concepts and principles of UI/UX design alongside applied and hands-on training tools. While this specialization has extremely high reviews only 32% of learners claim they started a new career after completing it and 18% got a promotion or pay increase.
However, the statistics are likely lower with this specialization because UI/UX is a highly specialized discipline within graphic design. This doesn’t take away from its increasing importance in the design world.
The four courses included are Visual Elements of User Interface Design, UX Design Fundamentals, Web Design: Strategy and Information Architecture, and Web Design: Wireframes to Prototypes. These best graphic design courses are aimed at bringing designers into the UI/UX world encouraging better app, program, and web design.
Provider: CALARTS. Coursera. Type: Specialization. 4 graphic design classes.
Tutor: Michael Worthington | Duration: 4 months. | Review: 4.8 ★★★★★
Info: View course. Get Coursera Plus – $39/month with certificate. View Offer.
14. Graphic Design Courses – Alison
Alison offers a variety of free online courses created and facilitated by field experts and professionals. They offer several graphic design courses which are suitable for beginners.
The first course engages learners with an introduction to the theory, principles, and practices of graphic design; the second course focuses on the processes, elements, and skills of design, and; the third course is based on how to employ the principles and elements of graphic design in your work.
These online graphic design courses are a perfect place to start. They are highly recommended by reviewers based on how easy the platform is to use and its aesthetics. Furthermore, many reviewers praise the content of the courses claiming that it is practical and reflects real-world practices.
Publisher: Alison | Certification: Yes | Level: All | Modules: 5
Duration: 3 hours | Price: Free | User Rating: 4.5 ★★★★☆
15. Graphic Design Courses Diploma – Shaw Academy
Shaw Academy offers online video-based courses that include hands-on learning opportunities. Their Professional Graphic Design Diploma course focuses on image editing, animation, layout, composition, and rendering 3d models.
This class aims to introduce graphic design and its various elements and then expand your skillset through growing your understanding of graphic design tools and software.
It has received extremely high ratings and offers flexible courseware and scheduling. Shaw Academy offers a 28-day free trial period if you would like to see if this course is something for you. The course is aimed at taking beginners through the intermediate and advanced stages to becoming proficient and professional graphic designers.
This is one of the best graphic design courses online and is appropriate and suitable for those looking to go through an in-depth learning process.
Publisher: Shaw Academy | Certification: Yes | Level: All | Modules: 4
Duration: 16 weeks | Price: Subscription | User Rating: 4.9 ★★★★★
16. Free Graphic Design Courses – Canva
Canva is best known as an online graphic design platform allowing users to create a variety of visual content. They offer free graphic design courses online that include both video presentations and lectures as well as hands-on practice using the Canva platform.
The course is simple to navigate and use and has received great reviews. One limitation is that the hands-on practice is based on their built-in platform; however, the theory and principles learned can easily be transferred to other software and technologies.
The best part of the course is learning how to use the Canva platform quickly and efficiently for simple design work and for this reason it is great for those looking to learn design fundamentals for simple design work.
Publisher: Canva | Certification: No | Level: Intro
Duration: 30-60 minutes | Price: Free | User Rating: 4.5 ★★★★☆
Choosing The Best Graphic Design Courses Online
Investing time and money toward learning something new can be a daunting task for many. Within the context of graphic design, there are many variables to consider.
Are you interested in learning more about design theory or how to use graphic design tools and software? Are you looking for something that will cover all the basics?
This article is aimed at helping you make these decisions. Depending on your objectives, there is certainly a course mentioned above for you. Our suggestion is to read the reviews of each course you are interested in and if the reviews support what you are looking for give the course a try.
Best Graphic Design Courses Online 2021 – Verdict
Design is thinking made visual. — Saul Bass
Well, here it is, our curated list of the best graphic design courses online. eLearning is a twenty-first-century miracle. It allows motivated learners to connect with experts and teachers with a flexible and often forgiving schedule.
The world of graphic design is becoming more accessible than ever. We can learn from the masters of the trade and quickly employ our newfound skills.
Investing the time or money required to enroll in online learning is an opportunity to invest in yourself. If you are looking to garner the skills and knowledge required to become a graphic designer, why not learn from a seasoned professional or expert from the comfort of your home?
Best Graphic Design Courses Online 2021Udemy
- Graphic Design Masterclass
- Graphic Design Bootcamp
- The Complete Graphic Design Theory for Beginners Course
- David Carson Graphic Design Course
- Adobe Illustrator CC – Essentials Training
- Design Great Stuff: How To Make Merch with Draplin
- Fundamentals of Graphic Design
- Graphic Design Specialization
- UI/UX Design Specialization
- Become a Graphic Designer
- Graphic Design Fundamentals
- Typography Fundamentals
- Graphic Design Courses Diploma
- Canva Graphic Design School
- Graphic Design
In-Person Graphic Design Courses – Universities, Schools, Institutions
Last but not least, here are a few suggestions if you want to attend a class in person or attend university to learn graphic design.
- SCAD – Savannah College of Arts and Design. USA
- Rocky Mountain College Of Art And Design. USA
- Shillington College. Australia
- Istituto Europeo Di Design. Spain
- London College Of Contemporary Arts. UK
- ITECOM Art Design. France
- Beppu Mizobe Gakuen College. Japan
- First Media Design School. Singapore
- Pearl Academy. India
- The Florence Institute Of Design International. Italy
- Fanshawe College. Canada
What are the best graphic design courses online? Let us know in the comments below.
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