How to Learn Graphic Designing: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Are you wondering how you can start learning graphic design? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Maybe you’ve been wanting to make a career change to a more creative profession or need to add another skill to your CV—regardless of the reason, the importance is to take the first step.

Read on to learn more about the foundation of design as you begin your design journey, along with inspirational content to discover why taking a graphic design course could be beneficial for you and more!

Graphic designing is an exciting and rewarding creative career path. As a graphic designer, you get to combine art and technology to communicate ideas visually. The world of graphic design is constantly evolving with new tools, trends and opportunities. So how do you get started and learn graphic designing?

Here is a step-by-step guide to learning graphic design for beginners:

Learn the Basics

To begin your graphic design journey start by learning the fundamentals. Here are some key things to focus on

  • Understand the principles of graphic design – like balance, hierarchy, contrast, repetition, proximity etc. These form the foundation of visual communication.

  • Study color theory – learn about color wheels, shade tints, warm/cool colors color psychology etc. Mastering color is crucial for graphic designers.

  • Typography – study different fonts, pairing fonts, using typography to create visual hierarchy. Typography brings designs to life

  • Composition – learn composition techniques like using the grid, rule of thirds, negative space etc. Good composition creates captivating designs.

  • Graphic design history – learn about pioneering designers like Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Milton Glaser and how graphic design has evolved.

  • Design thinking – understand the design process from research and ideation to execution. Graphic design solves problems.

Spend time studying graphic design books, blogs, courses and podcasts to build a solid base.

Build Your Skills with Online Courses

Once you have a basic understanding, take your learning further with online graphic design courses.

Introductory courses on platforms like Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera etc are a great way to develop technical skills. Here are some key skills to focus on:

  • Learn graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign. These are essential tools for designers.

  • Study layout design – magazine layouts, brochures, flyers, posters etc.

  • Learn logo design, brand identity design, packaging design.

  • Try your hand at typography, info-graphics, marketing design, web/UI design etc.

  • Take specialized courses like motion graphics, 3D modeling, design for AR/VR.

Online courses offer flexibility to learn at your own pace. Build a diverse graphic design skill-set.

Master Design Programs

While online courses teach the basics, take it to the next level by mastering industry-standard design programs. The big three are:

Photoshop – For photo editing, image manipulation, compositing etc. Learn layers, selections, masking, filters.

Illustrator – For vector graphics like logos, illustrations. Master drawing tools, brushes, vectors, typography.

InDesign – For layouts and compositions. Learn multi-page documents, typography, interactive elements.

Additionally, explore programs like After Effects, Blender, Figma etc. Check online tutorials, Udemy courses and certification programs.

Aim for expert-level proficiency in your tools of choice. This takes time and hands-on practice.

Create a Portfolio of Projects

The best way to hone your skills is by working on real-world design projects. Build a diverse graphic design portfolio including:

  • Logos – Design logos for brands, products, services, companies.

  • Posters – Create promotional posters for events, causes, bands, movies etc.

  • Brochures – Design trifold brochures for businesses, products, conferences.

  • Packaging – Conceptualize packaging for food, beauty, toy, fashion products.

  • Website/App UI – Design web or mobile interfaces and layouts.

  • Info-graphics – Develop engaging data visualizations and info-graphics.

  • Illustration – Illustrate characters, scenes, patterns digitally or by hand.

Treat each project like it’s for an actual client. This will build professionalism in your work.

Grow Your Network

Expanding your professional network opens doors in graphic design. Ways to network:

  • Follow graphic designers on Instagram and Behance. Study their work and reach out to connect.

  • Attend design meetups, talks, conferences in your city. Meet fellow designers.

  • Join Facebook groups, Slack channels, Reddit forums for designers. Exchange ideas.

  • Follow graphic design publications like Print, HOW, Communication Arts, Design Taxi.

  • Connect with design schools and studios. Offer to volunteer or intern if possible.

  • On LinkedIn, connect with designers working at companies you admire.

Networking builds community and often leads to career opportunities down the line.

Get Some Work Experience

Hands-on work experience will develop your skills exponentially. Look for:

Internships – Many design studios take on interns. Email your portfolio and offer to intern for free.

Freelance gigs – Sites like Fiverr, Upwork let you freelance with basic skills. A great way to gain experience.

Volunteer design – Non-profits and social good projects often need design help. Offer your skills pro-bono.

Start real projects – Design posters for a local gig, brochures for a friend’s business etc.

Treat every project seriously, deliver on time, take feedback positively and build your experience.

Continue to Learn and Grow

Graphic design is constantly evolving. Successful designers continually learn new skills and techniques. Make lifelong learning a habit:

  • Expand your software skills – learn Cinema 4D, Blender, Maya for 3D/animation.

  • Stay updated on trends like 3D, generative design, VR/AR etc.

  • Read blogs, listen to podcasts, take online courses. There is always more to learn.

  • Follow designers who inspire you. Study how their style and skills evolve over time.

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Learn animation if you focus on print design.

  • Offer free mentoring to new designers. Teaching is learning.

  • Enter your best work in graphic design contests and awards.

With consistent, focused effort – learning graphic design is very achievable. Master the fundamentals, build a versatile skill-set, create an impressive portfolio and gain practical experience. You’ll be on your way to an exciting and rewarding career in graphic design!

how to learn graphic designing

Step 6: Learn Graphic Design Terminology

As you start learning more about graphic design, it’s also important to become acquainted with the terminology so that you can speak the same language as other designers. We’ve put together a list of 120 design terms to help you understand the meaning behind each one.

A few common terms you may have heard of include the golden ratio, rule of thirds, hierarchy, kerning, leading, tracking and x-height. By becoming fluent with the common design terms, you’ll be able to understand the “design speak” when meeting with other designers as well as communicating with your team.

Step 8: Get Creatively Inspired

Looking through design blogs, design books, creative magazines and social media (Instagram, Pinterest, Behance) is a good starting point to discover what type of aesthetic you gravitate towards. By learning from the work of other designers, you start to learn about different styles and current trends. Over time you’ll begin to develop your own personal style based on your interests.

As a creative, it’s good to know what the latest trends are and what other designers are creating. By following blogs, you can get your dose of inspiration and maybe get a few new ideas in the process. We’ve put together this amazing resource of 50 blogs on art and design that you can explore so that you can stay up to date on what’s going on in the creative space, as well as push your creative projects forward. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Create by Adobe: a magazine by creatives, for creatives—available online and as a mobile app. Visit them for inspiration and tutorials on photography, illustration, graphic design, web design, motion graphics, audio/video, branding and more.
  • 99U: started by Adobe which is aimed at helping creative professionals within their careers. The practical articles offer guidance on productivity, positive work habits, work & life balance, personal branding, leadership and much more.
  • Wix Creative: offers great content for creatives, from inspiration to tips and resources with helpful guides on topics from mood boards to creating an online portfolio.
  • It’s Nice That: is a popular industry resource for top articles on design, art and illustration around the world.
  • The Inspiration Grid: an online magazine that showcases global creative talent, providing you with the best in art, photography, illustration, design and typography.

To learn more about studios and other designers, take a look at the I Love These Geniuses selections from Shillington bootcamp students and staff from around the world to find out about the creatives who inspire them.

As any creative knows, Instagram is full of visual delight from illustration to lettering, photography and design. As the third most popular social media platform, it’s the perfect go-to for your daily inspiration and to connect with other creatives. To help you get started, take a look at our curated list of 100 Instagram accounts to follow to discover your new favorite creative.

Our next place to browse for inspiration, research and creating mood boards is on Pinterest. It’s the perfect platform to discover new boards and create themed boards that you can reference later or share with a friend. To save you time, we’ve put together our top 100 Pinterest accounts for graphic design inspiration that you can start following now and begin creating your own boards today.

And lastly, Behance is our next source for inspiration where you can discover top designers, typographers, digital artists and studios. Explore this list of 60 Designers on Behance that we think you should know about and bookmark for future reference.

How to Learn Graphic Design at Home


Can I learn graphic design on my own?

Graphic design is a creative and versatile skill that can help you express your ideas, communicate your messages, and enhance your visual appeal. Whether you want to pursue graphic design as a hobby, a career, or a side hustle, you can learn it on your own with the right resources, tools, and strategies.

How do beginners learn graphic design?

Start with the fundamentals The graphic design fundamentals that every beginner should familiarize themselves with includes the key principles of design, such as alignment, color, contrast, space, proximity, hierarchy, repetition, and balance.

Is graphic design hard to learn?

Learning graphic design is not hard, but it does require creative thinking, an aptitude towards art and design, and time and dedication. Graphic design requires learning the necessary tools, as well as understanding and applying the principles and theories of design.

How long does it take to become a graphic designer?

Talent, for the most part, is forged during the process. You can go from having no idea about graphic design to being effective. It takes some theory, experience, and persistence. It takes time, but not necessarily years. Some of my best students (with no previous graphic design experience) have accomplished excellent results in only one semester.

How do I learn graphic design?

Learning graphic design starts with the basics, like understanding the principles of design. Step by step, we’ll take you through how to learn these skills. Read more: What Does a Graphic Designer Do? And How Do I Become One? 1. Learn the basics. Graphic design is about using visual communication to convey different messages to specific audiences.

Why should you learn graphic design?

The most popular reason for learning graphic design, though, is to become a graphic designer. Graphic designers (and graphic design-adjacent roles) enjoy high demand, good earning potential, and heaps of variety and creativity. That’s a pretty solid recipe for a rewarding career! Here’s what you can expect from a career in graphic design:

Should you learn graphic design principles?

Learning the principles of graphic design should be the foundation of your education. But what use is it if you can’t put these principles into practice? To actually produce and create great design work, you also need a few hard skills under your belt—for example, knowledge of certain design softwares.

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