learn graphic design online. two hands reaching upward in a watercolor looking rainbow of yellow, hot pink, and electric blue. A digital painting.

Best Resources to Learn Graphic Design Online

If you’re looking to DIY some graphics and get your small business started, here’s my recommendations for learning graphic design online.

My Top Five Places to Learn Graphic Design:

  • YouTube
  • Udemy
  • Domestika
  • Coursera
  • LinkedIn Learning (Lynda)

YouTube is great to get started, or to find out answers to very specific questions. Want to know generally how to make basic shapes in Illustrator? Great! Go to YouTube. Want to know how to design functional tabs in the generated table of contents in InDesign? YouTube told me how. It’s wonderful for basics and specifics. However it’s really hard to get a thorough understanding of a topic on YouTube. A lot of times it can get confusing if you’re watching a lot of videos, and there’s no clear layout. It’s easy to miss a topic because you didn’t know you should learn it. That’s where some of the paid courses come in.

Udemy is solid and you can buy courses individually, which I like. Wait for the sales. I was looking for a course on After Effects and Udemy had one. It was over a hundred dollars, and that was too much for me! However, I have picked up a number of courses on web design, graphic design, illustration, and Adobe products at much better price points when I wait for the sale. Usually, they run between $10.00 and $20.00 dollars. Yes, please!

Domestika has some weird things. You can, if you want, learn “Design of Decorative Pieces with Sequins.”

You know you want to:

learn graphic design online, sequins in a pile of pink and yellow glory.

Seriously though, they do have some cool classes, and their prices are the best. Like Udemy, you purchase courses individually. The downside (If you don’t speak Spanish) is that most of the videos are in Spanish. I just watch with the English subtitles on and it works fine for me. In general I find their classes really are more interesting than Udemy, with more flair and more interesting projects. I tried Domestica when I didn’t want to pay Udemy prices and was really pleased with the clarity and resources in the courses.

I’ve taken Domestika classes in Adobe After Effects and Digitizing Watercolor for Packaging and really liked them both.

Coursera takes things to the next level. It’s recommended as a legitimate way to build your resume or CV and partners with universities, so the teachers are actually professors. You won’t find classes on decorating with sequins, but you will find wide-ranging practical topics.

Right now I’m working my way through the Graphic Design Specialization through the California Institute of Arts. It’s a little more pricy than Udemy or Domestika, but it’s legit, with professors and homework. It’s all self-guided, so if you’re a person who likes a lot of hands-on care, you might find that difficult. Even when I was in school I had a tendency to just keep my head down and do the work, so it doesn’t bother me.

LinkedIn Learning, which used to be Lynda until it got bought, is also recommended as a genuine resume builder. The classes are clear and laid out well. It’s a monthly flat fee, so if you’re serious about digging into a topic it can be a good bargain. It has a bunch of solid classes on Adobe products, as well as classes on the basics of graphic design. I haven’t yet taken any courses from LinkedIn, but it’s probably next up, after I finish the Coursera specialization.

Other Ways to Learn Graphic Design

There are a lot of books available, and if you watch Humble Bundle you can pick up packs of books on all kinds of Graphic Design topics, especially on topics that are more tech focused. There’s also just digging into software, and lots of free websites and apps for that. Generally I have found that Canva is very well recommended, it’s probably the best free graphic design software, IMO. It can’t do nearly everything that the Adobe Creative Suite does, but for most people it will get the job done.

So there you go. If you want to do what I’m doing, that’s awesome and that’s how I’m doing it. University is incredibly expensive and I’ve been working on finding less expensive options to round out my self taught education. If that’s what you’re into, awesome! Comment if you’ve used one of these learning options. What did you think?

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