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Learn Visual Design

A Comprehensive Guide to Start Learning Visual Design

Visual design refers to the application of traditional design principles to digital products such as websites, mobile and tablet applications, and web-based graphics.

Visual design is a creative field concerned with designing and creating digital assets such as banners, buttons, menus, and other components of digital interfaces. Any aspect of a webpage, mobile application, or other digital product looks the way it does because of the work of creatives trained in visual design. In this overview, you’ll learn more about what visual design is, what it can do, who uses it, and how to learn it to determine how to add this skill to your professional toolbox.

What Can You Do with Visual Design?

Visual design training allows creatives and professional designers to build vibrant and evocative digital assets and projects which take maximum advantage of the medium of digital applications. By blending text, graphics, imagery, and color with interactive elements, links, graphic animations, and other digital designs, visual design skills let you express your ideas in ways that would have been nearly impossible. The digital canvas provides creatives with a huge library of new tools for building designs, and visual design training will help students take advantage of these tools.

Learning visual design also opens the doors to an in-demand career field that spans positions across hundreds of industries. Visual Designers work on mobile applications and webpages and in the film and television industry, the video game industry, and emerging tech markets such as wearable technology and e-commerce. These jobs will allow aspiring designers to reach a massive audience by contributing to large projects as part of a dedicated team of Visual Designers. With this skills training, designers will be able to be a part of massive digital design projects, adding their voice to an impossibly large canvas.

How Do You Get Visual Design Tools? How Much Does it Cost?

Visual Designers use a selection of different tools throughout their creative work. They will often use user experience layout design applications alongside tools like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These tools will help designers expand the kinds of assets they can create, so the more tools a designer has proficiency in, the more complex their designs can become.

In terms of user experience design tools, there are a few options available to new designers. The three industry-standard tools are Figma, Adobe XD, and Sketch. Noble offers a free introductory seminar detailing the differences between these programs. Adobe XD is the most expensive option but can be packaged with other useful programs. Figma offers users increased collaboration tools and is ideal for design teams. Sketch is the most cost-effective tool and is specifically optimized for macOS design.

The most commonly used graphic design tools are Photoshop and Illustrator, both available through Adobe as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Users will have to pay a monthly licensing fee to access these programs, and the cost will depend on how many of the tools a user wishes to license at any given time. Free trial versions are available for students to experiment with, but once these trials run out, users may need to license the full program to access their work.

There are alternative programs available, such as Inkscape or Affinity Photo, and the cost of these programs will vary from program to program. Some are free, some require one-time purchases, while others operate on a subscription basis, like Adobe. This means that the cost of acquiring these design tools will vary depending on how many programs a user licenses and which programs a user decides to learn.

What Are the Benefits of Learning Visual Design?

Learning visual design skills will help professional designers and aspiring creatives expand their career opportunities and discover new ways to express themselves creatively. By learning how to use visual design tools and techniques, students will be learning a skill set that is in high demand across many industries, owing to the increasing importance placed on digital design. Any company looking to advertise online, post-digital updates on their webpages, design mobile applications for their products and services, or simply launch web pages will need skilled Visual Designers who can ensure these projects are visually appealing.

For creatives who aren’t as concerned with the marketability of their skills, learning visual design offers to teach students how to use a whole new medium to express themselves. Visual design skills like Photoshop and Illustrator will help expand the tool kit that creatives have to work with, and the expansiveness of the digital canvas will open up many new options for creative experimentation. Visual Designers can build interactive infographics, digital art projects, digital documentaries, and other expressive works. The interactive space of the internet offers creatives untold possibilities if they receive the correct technical training.

Read more about why you should learn visual design.

Visual Design Careers

Visual design training can open the doors to various career options across many industries. As companies and organizations become more focused on building a digital presence or producing products in the digital sphere, the skills required to make these products memorable and evocative are becoming sought after. Some of these career fields include:

Visual Designer: Visual Designers are the creatives who build a digital project's individual elements and assets. They will build digital assets such as banners, drop menus, slide shows, interactive photos, and many other kinds of interactive digital assets. They will be able to find work on various projects, ranging from web pages and digital applications to movies, tv, and film. Creatives looking to explore a new medium professionally should consider looking for job opportunities as Visual Designers.

User Interface Designer: Whereas Visual Designers are tasked with creating individual digital assets, UI Designers are responsible for bringing those assets together to create singular, cohesive design layouts for digital applications. UI Designers will work closely with Visual Designers, and at many smaller companies, the two jobs will overlap greatly (or be filled by the same people). UI Designers will work with tools like Figma and Adobe XD to build evocative digital applications.

Design Director: Often, digital projects are created by large teams of designers and developers working together to create complex products. In these contexts, companies often hire Design Directors who oversee designers' teams, ensuring that projects run smoothly. This position will require in-depth design knowledge to oversee projects and interpersonal leadership skills to keep the design process's human element working smoothly.

How to Learn Visual Design

Students looking to learn visual design skills have a few options available to them in terms of their training format. Students will be able to enroll in live training seminars, both in-person and online, or they can enroll in on-demand, asynchronous courses. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, so students should consider their own needs and preferences before choosing a course. Students interested in comparing their options for visual design courses should consult Noble’s Classes Near Me tool.

Live training courses are the most in-depth and immersive training available. Visual design courses are available both in person and online. These courses let students interact directly with live instructors who can answer their questions and provide feedback on their work. In-person instruction also gives students valuable networking opportunities. Online courses give students the flexibility to enroll in courses anywhere in the country rather than being restricted to places they physically commute to.

On-demand courses are ideally suited for students who need flexibility in their schedules, as these courses let them dictate when they learn and at what pace. Students with obligations or inconsistent schedules may find that these courses give them a much greater opportunity to learn visual design skills, as they can practice at their own pace. Lacking a live instructor means students must be more self-motivated in their learning, but many students may find this alternative ideal.

Noble also offers students many free resources to help them become comfortable with visual design fundamentals. Noble’s official YouTube page has many free recordings of seminars detailing both graphic design principles and introductory lectures taught in both their Graphic Design playlist and their Web Design and Development playlist. These free tutorials are a good place for students to introduce themselves to the basic concepts they will study in greater depth in a paid training program. Noble also provides students with articles, resources, and other tutorials on their Learn Visual Design page.

Read the full guide on how to learn visual design.

Comparable Fields

Visual design is most comparable to the two fields that overlap with it, graphic design and UI design. It is best to think of visual design as a hybrid of the two. Graphic design covers any computer-assisted creative work, even for traditional print media, and UI design specifically deals with designing user interfaces for digital applications. These three fields have a great deal of overlap and use many of the same tools.

Graphic design and visual design differ primarily in terms of medium. Graphic design covers almost all creative work produced with digital design tools like Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. These designs can be for billboards, posters, advertisements, or any other visual medium. Visual design is almost entirely concerned with building digital assets using those same tools. Those trained in visual design will often be able to do graphic design work. Still, visual design training tends to emphasize the specificities of the digital canvas as a medium.

UI and visual design are closely-related enough that they are often used interchangeably. The difference is another issue of emphasis. Visual design concerns all digital assets that make up a digital application. On the other hand, UI design primarily concerns how those elements come together to form a cohesive whole as a singular digital application. In short, visual design is concerned with the appearance of a button, a drop-down menu, a graphic design, and a banner advertisement as individual webpage elements. UI design is concerned with how those four elements interact with each other when they are used to populate a single user interface.

Please consult Noble’s Learn Hubs for graphic design and UI design to learn more about either of these fields.

Learn Visual Design with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Once students decide that visual design training is right for them, Noble is here to help with various visual design classes and bootcamps. These courses, available in-person at Noble’s Manhattan campus or online, are taught by experienced instructors in small, intimate learning environments. Even the online courses are taught by live instructors ready to guide students through difficult concepts, provide valuable feedback on their projects, and answer their questions in real time. Small class sizes ensure that students can interface with their instructors directly, and Noble offers students enrolled in any course the option to retake it within a year. This will give students the chance to go over material they found difficult, attend a lesson they had to miss, or just get more hands-on visual design experience with the assistance of their instructors.

Noble offers several individual bootcamps to help students learn visual design tools, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Figma, alongside bootcamps teaching students the basic UI design principles. These courses will introduce students to the important features of the tools they will use when building digital applications and assets. Each course will give students hands-on experience using the featured application to work on practical exercises building the kinds of projects they would expect to make in a real-world professional environment. This gives students the practical training necessary to expand their creative toolkit and prepare them for more advanced visual design training.

For students who are looking to build a new career out of their visual design training, Noble’s UI Design Certificate program offers students the opportunity to learn all about the tools and techniques used by Visual Designers. This course emphasizes the creative side of web design, teaching students how to use tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to build evocative assets for digital applications. Then, students will be taught how to use programs like Figma and Adobe XD to build wireframe layouts of user interfaces that can be populated with the digital assets created in the graphic design process. Students will receive one-on-one career mentorship and spend a sizable portion of the class working on practical hands-on projects that students can include in their sample design portfolio when they enter the job market.

Key Takeaways

  • Visual design is the field of digital design concerned with the visual appearance of digital assets and objects used in webpages, mobile applications, animated web applications, and any other digital application.
  • Visual design skills will help students build evocative and memorable digital assets to populate more complex applications and products.
  • Learning visual design skills will open the door to many in-demand career opportunities across various industries.
  • Visual Designers most frequently use graphic design tools and user experience layout tools to construct their designs. These tools vary in cost and availability, so the cost of learning and experimenting with visual design will vary depending on the tools an individual opts to learn.
  • For students seeking more immersive visual design training, Noble Desktop offers in-person and online comprehensive training options.

Visual Design Resources

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