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Online Graphic Design: Tools, Courses & Services

The Internet has vast possibilities in terms of graphic design. Whether you want to take a course, create your own graphics, or hire a pro - here’s everything to know about online graphic design.

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Long gone are the days where designers only had to work in physical offices. The possibilities of online design are bigger and broader than ever. Are you wondering “can I learn graphic design online”? Do you wish to use digital design tools, or want to find your design collaborator online? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Digital design is huge nowadays and not just because of the fact that over half of all marketing is digital. 

The graphic design industry is estimated at $45 billion in 2023, but many graphic design professionals still lack a formal degree. This is because there are many online graphic design courses on the basics of design and visual communication.

On the other hand, many non-designers use modern online design tools to create graphic design online for little or no cost.

Finally, there’s more than one way to get quality graphic design online. This means businesses are able to hire people with the best skill set for their design projects, in the price range that suits them.

In this article, we’ll cover precisely these three topics:

  • Can I learn graphic design online and where?
  • What are the best online graphic design tools?
  • Where can I get graphic design online?

Best online graphic design courses

Looking to brush up on specific graphic design skills? Or want to turn your career around and get an online graphic design degree? Whatever your intention, there are some great design classes out there. Here’s our pick of the best ones. 

Graphic Design Specialization (CalArts)

This free online graphic design course is one of the most popular ones and for good reason. It offers a great introduction to graphic design, from design fundamentals to the basics of creating visual brands. Moreover, it comes with a certificate from the California Arts Institute, which you can share on your resume or add to your LinkedIn profile. 

Graphic Design Masterclass (by Lindsey Marsh)

If you’re looking for a course that covers both design theory and offers heaps of practical knowledge, this Udemy course might be it. Regular price is $199, but Udemy regularly offers discounts so do keep an eye out for those (e.g. it’s just $39,99 right now!).

The course covers the fundamentals of working Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as Adobe InDesign, so you’ll be able to work with some of the most popular professional design software. 

Visual Elements of User Interface Design

This course is probably more suitable for people who already have some design knowledge, but want to start learning about UI and web design. 

This 16-hour crash course provides an insight into the world of user interface design: from understanding what user interface design is, to composing some basic UI elements. It also includes plenty of course materials including in-depth readings and quizzes. 

Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design

This free course available on Skillshare is a great starting point for your graphic design education. It focuses on some key design principles, such as symmetry, hierarchy and scale, and ends with a demonstration of how these principles work together in a piece of design. 

It may not be the most useful course if you want to start designing right away - you’ll still need to develop design software skills. But it’s a great way to start your in graphic design education on a thorough note.

Adobe CC Masterclass: Photoshop, Illustrator, XD & InDesign

Looking to master the Adobe Creative Suite? This course might be for you. This great course has a strong practical focus and demonstrates how different design projects are created with the help of Adobe design software. 

It could be a great option for beginners looking to get their foot in the door of graphic design, but also more advanced designers who wish to refine their skills or master a new program.

Best online design tools

Nowadays you don’t need to be proficient in traditional design software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Here are some awesome user-friendly tools to create visual design.

Canva

When you think of free online graphic design tools, you probably think of Canva. This user-friendly graphic design platform with a wide range of templates for social media graphics, presentations, posters, and more. It's great for beginners and offers both free and paid plans.

The paid version offers access to more templates, more extensive collaboration options and design tools.

Figma

Figma is a cloud-based design tool that's popular among UI/UX designers for its collaborative features. It allows multiple team members to work on the same project in real-time.

If you’re new to web design, this is a great tool to get you started, thanks to its user-friendly interface.

InVision

InVision is a prototyping and collaboration tool that's ideal for creating interactive and animated prototypes. It's widely used for user experience (UX) design. The free plan limits you to 1 prototype.

Gravit Designer

Gravit Designer is a free vector graphic design tool that offers many features similar to Adobe Illustrator. It works in your web browser or can be downloaded as a desktop app. Plus there’s a 15-day free trial so you can get a hang of it before purchasing the program.

Venngage

If you need to create infographics and data visualizations, Venngage is the right address. It simplifies the process of designing visually engaging graphics. Don’t expect quite the same level of templates design as Canva, but it’s a great library to help you think of Infographic ideas.

Pixlr

Pixlr is a free online photo editing tool that offers features similar to Photoshop. Don’t expect quite the same functionalities, but if you want to do some basic to intermediate photo editing, Pixlr is worth checking out. 

Snappa

Snappa is a quick and easy online graphic design tool for creating social media graphics, blog headers, and other marketing materials. There’s a free plan available, but it’s limited to 3 downloads per month.

Marq

Formerly known as Lucidpress, this a web-based design and layout tool is perfect for creating brochures, newsletters, and other print or digital publications. It’s a great alternative to traditional software like InDesign and QuarkXPress.

Where to get graphic design online?

Sometimes design is best left to the professionals. Luckily, there’s more than one way you can hire a designer online with just the right skills and styles for your project. And with an array of options to choose from, you’ll probably find something that fits your budget.

Freelance platforms

From Upwork and Fiverr, to their alternatives - there’s no shortage of great freelance designers looking for work

Freelance graphic design offers flexibility and access to specific skills. So, whatever your project is, you can find someone with experience in that department.

The main downside is that costs can accumulate fast, especially if you’re paying hourly. Additional revisions often come at an additional cost. Moreover, the flexibility also has a downside. Even if you find the perfect collaborator, there are no guarantees they’ll be available or responsive every time you need them.

Design contests

This unique model allows you to post a project proposal and receive submissions from multiple designers (the most famous design contest platform is 99Designs). While you’re not obligated to pay unless you want to purchase one of the submissions, this model is quite skin-deep. Usually designers won’t elaborate much on the design process, so you can’t be sure whether they will be a good fit for your brand in the long term.

Unlimited design companies

Modern businesses need graphic design daily. So, it only makes sense they’d want a design service to cover all their needs

Unlimited design companies are online graphic design firms that work on a subscription-based model: you pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited graphics and revisions.

It’s the quickest, fastest, and most affordable way to get quality design regularly. And ManyPixels is one of the best online graphic design services out there! Keen to know more?

Read about the perks of our service here, or book a free consultation for a chance to ask us any questions!

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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