Get a comprehensive guide on learning Graphic Design, from understanding what it entails to the various ways to learn and apply it professionally. Discover the various careers that utilize Graphic Design and the different training options available to hone your skills.
Graphic design is the art of using text, graphics, images, color, and other visual assets to build vibrant visual compositions intended to persuade and communicate. Using tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, graphic design training will help creatives take their visual compositions to the next level. If you’ve always wanted to learn graphic design but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn graphic design, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use Graphic Design.
Graphic design is a field of creative arts that focuses on projecting visual communication, often built of combinations of text, images, photographs, and other visual elements, with specific goals. Graphic design covers a wide array of different artistic disciplines and endeavors. Still, at its core, it is the act of using visual imagery to communicate with audiences and convey feelings and ideas that language alone wouldn’t be able to express. As a subset of the fine arts, graphic design skills are used in virtually every industry, but they are particularly prominent in advertising and branding. Advertisements, product packaging, logos, branded merchandise, and other promotional materials all demonstrate graphic design skills. Any business or organization looking to reach an audience will want to hire those skilled in graphic design.
Since graphic design covers a wide range of artistic disciplines, no two Graphic Designers will be working with the same toolset or on the same kinds of projects. Some will work in traditional print mediums, such as the publishing or magazine industry. Some will work on designing logos and branded merchandise for companies to place on billboards, hats, and other promotional materials. Some will work on digital projects, building webpages and mobile application assets. Others will design infographics, posters, and signage for activist organizations or non-profits. Graphic design is a wide-open field of diverse artistic endeavors, and learning graphic design skills will open many doors for creatives.
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Graphic design represents a wide-ranging field of visual expression, which means there is virtually no limit to the kinds of images that sufficiently skilled creatives can create. As the field of graphic design is so expensive, creatives can make use of their skills in both professional and personal contexts. As professional Graphic Designers, creatives will be tasked with building imagery that is both evocative and communicates complex persuasive ideas to their audience of consumers. Graphic Designers will build the iconography of companies and brands, build the images that audiences come to associate with those companies, and help construct memorable advertising campaigns, promotional material, and product packaging.
Graphic design skills are also useful for non-professionals who want to persuade large audiences. Small business owners, start-up entrepreneurs, or even creatives working in marketplaces like Etsy may wish to learn more about graphic design to build their brand identities and set themselves apart from their competitors. Activists and organizers can learn graphic design skills to build more visually appealing and persuasive designs for flyers and infographics. Politicians will hire graphic designers to build campaign materials. As long as someone is attempting to communicate visually to an audience, they will benefit from either learning graphic design skills or working closely alongside someone who knows them.
Since it is such an expansive creative skill, graphic design training can help students find jobs in various professions and industries. From advertising to political campaigning to activisim to social media management, graphic design skills are useful for any profession that asks professionals to try and build materials to persuade an audience. A few of the most common graphic design careers include:
Graphic Designers: Graphic Designers are responsible for designing the materials companies and organizations use to communicate their message and persuade their audiences. This can be as simple as designing a logo for a company or as complex as designing an entire marketing campaign’s worth of promotional material for the release of a new product. Graphic Designers will mostly work with two-dimensional, static print material, like posters, flyers, promotional merchandise, and swag. They will need to know how to use graphic design tools and compose and build evocative and effective designs.
Digital Designers: Digital Designers take the skills of Graphic Designers and specialize in producing designs for digital products, such as webpages, mobile applications, or even video games, films, and television. Some of these designers will learn how to build motion graphics animations, while others will work strictly in the realm of static digital designs. These designers are employed in nearly every industry, as building a strong web presence has become essential to both public and private sector organizations and companies. Anyone interested in working on an ever-expanding digital canvas should consider a career as a Digital Designer.
Design Director: At larger firms and organizations, graphic design projects are rarely undertaken by single individuals. Rather, they are the collaborative work of teams of designers working with one another to assure that a product launch, political campaign, fundraiser, or other project is completed perfectly. A Design Director must see that all the individual team members and teams work well to meet deadlines and hit design goals. Design Directors will need to be trained as designers to understand how their teams are functioning, and they will need to be trained in soft leadership skills to ensure that the design process's human element runs smoothly.
Learning graphic design skills, particularly industry-standard tools like Photoshop or InDesign, will allow students to expand their creative talents while opening the door to an in-demand career field. Learning graphic design skills will help creatives turn their passions into professions, as graphic design skills are utilized in dozens of industries to communicate important information and ideas to consumers and communities. Whether working in a small business to help establish a brand identity, working for a non-profit to build infographics, working for a politician to produce campaign material, or working for a massive company designing advertising campaigns, anyone whose job involves attempting to persuade an audience will benefit from learning graphic design skills.
Graphic design training can also help non-professional creatives gain new skills that they can use to expand their artistic abilities. Most graphic design training emphasizes either theory of design and composition or the specific tools that professional Graphic Designers commonly use. Learning applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign will expand the scope of projects that creatives can work on. Even if they aren’t intending to switch career paths because of their graphic design training, learning how to use these tools will open up new opportunities for artistic and creative expression.
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Students looking to learn graphic design skills have a few options for how to receive their training. They can enroll in live training courses, take a self-paced on-demand course, or ease themselves into the tools of graphic design by taking advantage of free training resources. Each graphic design training option has certain advantages and disadvantages, so students should consider their own needs and learning styles before deciding.
The most immersive learning options are live instruction courses, both in-person and online. These courses give students hands-on experience using graphic design tools, and students will benefit from working directly with live instructors who can provide students with vital feedback on the progression of their designs. In-person courses also let students work with like-minded colleagues and receive networking opportunities that can benefit them long-term. However, these courses can be somewhat restrictive in where they are offered. Online training options offer the same benefits as live instruction but can be taken from anywhere. The drawback to these courses is that students must supply and maintain their own technology.
Students looking for more flexibility in their graphic design training may want to consider on-demand graphic design training. These courses let students control the pace of their own learning, letting them study and practice their graphic design skills when it is most convenient for them. These classes are ideal for students with inconsistent schedules or other obligations that make live training impossible. The downside to these courses is that without a live instructor, there is no one to provide feedback on a student’s designs, which is a vital aspect of creative skills development.
Students who don’t feel ready to enroll in a graphic design training program may wish to consider exploring the options for free online training. These tutorials won’t replace professional training, but they can help students become comfortable with the necessary skills to ease them into more professional training options. Noble offers free video tutorials on the Graphic Design playlist on its official YouTube channel. In addition, students looking to learn more can consult Noble’s Learn Graphic Design hub to find articles, tutorials, and free learning resources related to graphic design tools and techniques.
Students who want to get a feel for the process of graphic design before they invest too much time and money into professional training options may wish to take advantage of free online training resources and tutorials. These training resources will help students ease into using tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign and will provide students with the necessary background on composition and design theories and philosophies. While students looking to use their graphic design skills professionally will need more advanced training, these online seminars are a great way to start down the path of graphic design education.
Noble offers a wide array of free graphic design seminars through the Graphic Design playlist on its official YouTube channel and the Free Seminars page on its official website. These courses include free introductory seminars on Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign alongside seminars detailing more general theories of graphic design and its function in various industries. These courses will give students the chance to learn the basic features of graphic design tools to begin experimenting with their own designs and feel more confident in their skills when they enroll in an online course.
Many other service providers offer free online training, including Udemy and Coursera. In addition, for students looking to learn graphic design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, Adobe provides users with free tutorials and introductory projects through their website.
Read about more free graphic design videos and online tutorials.
Students may be worried that learning graphic design will be difficult or costly. For the most part, this isn’t the case. Graphic design tools are fairly easy to learn, and students can become proficient enough in programs like Photoshop and Illustrator within only a few hours of training. The challenge lies in perfecting these skills through constant practice and iteration.
There are no formal prerequisites to learning graphic design, though students should be comfortable using computers and navigating through multiple files, folders, and applications. In addition, while graphic design applications rarely have demanding system requirements, students wanting to learn online should ensure they have the hardware required to run multiple applications simultaneously.
The cost of practicing graphic design will vary depending on the number of programs and the kinds of programs that a designer wishes to work with. Students who want to license a single program, such as Photoshop, may pay about 20 dollars a month. In contrast, students who want to learn the entirety of Adobe Creative Cloud may pay upwards of sixty dollars a month. In addition, students can receive discounts on these programs or search for free alternatives like Inkscape and Darktable.
Read about how difficult it is to learn graphic design.
Graphic design is an expansive field of creative work that touches upon or completely overlaps several other creative disciplines. Learning graphic design skills will likely give students access to the tools they need to begin learning other similar skill sets, meaning that new students should be aware of where these skills are useful.
Graphic design skills are closely related to visual and user interface design skills. They use many tools, but user interface design emphasizes using them to build digital assets that will populate webpages, mobile applications, and other digital products. Graphic design training will teach students how to build things like posters, company logos, magazine page layouts, and other traditional print media, while visual design training will strictly focus on designing assets for digital spaces.
Graphic design training is also focused primarily on static, two-dimensional designs. Students will learn how to build static assets that can be printed onto or made into physical objects. Contrast this with motion graphics training, which teaches students to use additional tools like Premiere Pro or After Effects to create animated three-dimensional assets. This training is essential for anyone hoping to build graphic designs for the film and television industry, as it allows them to add movement and depth to their otherwise flat, static designs.
The best way to learn graphic design will primarily depend on two factors: a student’s professional aspirations and how many different tools they want to learn how to use. Students hoping to build a career out of their graphic design training will need more detailed hands-on instruction than those wishing to expand their creative toolkits. Likewise, students hoping to learn how to use Photoshop will need less detailed training than students looking to master all of the Adobe Creative Cloud programs.
Students looking to learn the basics of graphic design without spending too much time and money should consider free training seminars, such as Noble’s Intro to Graphic Design course. These free training seminars are ideal for students looking to become familiar with graphic design tools and techniques, but they aren’t certain that they want to build a career out of those skills.
Students hoping to expand their creative skills by learning a new graphic design tool may want to consider a specialized bootcamp. These bootcamps, available for programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, will teach students how to build vibrant graphic designs using the advanced features of a specific application. These training courses are especially valuable for students who have experience with other graphic design programs or who already work in the industry and want to expand their skill set to become more desirable in the eyes of prospective employers.
For students who want to build a career out of graphic design skills, professional career training, like that offered through Noble’s Graphic Design Certificate program, is an ideal way to build a new career. These career training programs will teach students all the major tools they need to succeed in graphic design, making them ideal for novices. In addition, these courses aim to prepare students for entering the workforce, meaning that many of them build career professionalization training, such as one-on-one mentorship and dedicated portfolio-building exercises, into their curriculum.
Interested in learning graphic design? There are a few different options available. It’s possible to either study individual graphic design tools in accelerated bootcamps or learn complementary graphic design skills in more career-focused training programs. Both graphic design training courses are available to students through Noble Desktop, both in-person and online. These courses are taught by experienced instructors who can teach students important graphic design techniques and give them vital feedback on their designs. Even online, Noble strives to keep class sizes small, ensuring that students can interface directly with their instructors. Plus, all of Noble’s courses have the option to retake the course for free within a year. This allows students to hone their skills, cover material that may have given them difficulty, or just get more hands-on practice and feedback on their designs.
For students looking to learn the programs most commonly associated with professional graphic design, Noble offers a wide selection of bootcamps. These include training courses in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, all of which are industry-standard tools. These courses will provide students with hands-on training in the advanced techniques to manipulate and edit photos, build vector graphic illustrations, or construct layout designs. Each of these courses will guide students through practical exercises replicating the kinds of projects built by professional Graphic Designers. Each of these courses will teach an individual tool, but because they are all part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, learning one tool will ease future training and greatly expand how creatives can use multiple programs simultaneously.
Students looking to build a career in graphic design may wish to consider Noble’s Graphic Design Certificate program. This accelerated training program will teach students all three major 2D graphic design tools. Students will learn Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign work separately, then they will learn how these programs complement one another, introducing students to new and expansive ways to build graphic designs. Since this is a career-focused bootcamp, students will receive one-on-one career mentorship. The final portion of the course is dedicated to helping students build a practical portfolio of sample design that they can take onto the job market. For students looking to turn a passion for graphic design into a career, Noble’s certificate programs are an ideal place to receive the necessary skills training.