You don’t need to pay money to learn the basics of graphic design. There are great resources out there that are 100% free. Here are 8 free resources (plus 2 that don’t cost very much) that will make you a better designer.
1) Hackdesign (100% free)
This design course is both 100% awesome and 100% free. Go through the lessons from start to finish. Sign up for weekly lessons sent to your email address or click “view all lessons” and start working your way through. It’s fairly in-depth. You’re going to learn a lot about graphic design from this one.
2) Design For Hackers (The email course is 100% free)
David Kadavy’s sums up his reason for writing the book:
“We can create flyers, postcards, and PowerPoint presentations complete with animations. We can create blogs, posters, and even coffee mugs…But few of us are design literate.”
Just because you can create a website that works doesn’t mean that you can create a beautiful, well-designed website that works. Don’t want to pay for the book? No problem. Sign up for Kadavy’s 100% free, email-based course “Design Pitfalls”.
3) UX Crash Course: 31 Fundamentals (100% free)
This crash course by Joel Marsh is a great way to learn the basics of UX (User Experience). He views the course as a “quick overview, so you can go from zero-to-hero as quickly as possible.” Topics covered include user research, information architecture, wireframes, visual design principles, layout design, user psychology, and designing with data.
4) UX Crash Course: User Psychology (100% free)
This is part two of Joel Marsh’s UX Crash Course: 31 Fundamentals. Do you know what’s happening in a user’s mind when he/she interacts with your design? You will after you take this course!
5) Material Palette (100% free)
If you’ve gone through the basic design stuff I mentioned above but still aren’t sure about how to apply color theory, bookmark this site now and start using it. Click on two colors and a beautiful, full-color palette appears. Other good sites for color palettes are flatuicolors.com and coolors.co
6) Basics of Adobe Photoshop (100% free)
You’re going to need a handle on Photoshop to work with photos and create web-ready graphics. Here are a bunch of 100% free Adobe Photoshop CC tutorials. They cover the basics and will be enough to get you started.
7) Basics of Adobe Illustrator (100% free)
Ok, so you’re not a graphic artist creating your own art. What if you want to edit and use someone else’s vector art though? Let’s say that you found a beautiful vector image on iStock that you want to use. However, the color is wrong or you would like to delete part of the image. No problem. Learn the basics of Illustrator and get the job done in no time!
8) The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web (100% free)
Typography may seem boring, but it’s important. Read a little bit at a time. I like this site because the information is presented in easily digestible tidbits. Check out this one minute read on letterspacing
9) Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
This is the classic book on web usability. Jeffrey Zeldman, the founder of A List Apart magazine, sums it up: “If you design, write, program, own, or manage Web sites, you must read this book.” Well said. Read this book.
10) The Creativity Challenge by Tanner Christensen
Keeping your creativity in top shape means exercising it. This book contains 150 fun challenges aimed at getting you to think outside the box. The book’s introduction provides the instructions: “Whenever you feel stuck or uninspired, simply turn to a random page and follow the instructions to complete the creative challenge you find there.”