As we live in the era of heavy digital and print marketing, possessing computer graphic skills can be truly rewarding and profitable. If you are a graphic design noob, you probably have a burning passion to become a full-fledged designer, equipped with spot skills to create visuals beyond our wildest dreams. Nonetheless, this is a struggle and part and parcel of a never-ending journey. No doubt, aspiring designers wander in all places for guidance. Right now, I’m sure you have so many questions in mind, such as “how to become a professional graphic designer”, or even ‘how to become a graphic designer without a degree’. Well, you have come to the right place! You can find the list of best online computer graphic courses here, and whatever your motivation, I only have one goal: To guide you through the learning process so you can become the best graphic designer you can be.
But first of all…
What Is Computer Graphic?
Getting started in this field can seem very intimidating and overwhelming at first, and even this beginner question might turn out to be very confusing. That’s because the field of computer graphics is broad and diverse, existing cross-section between computer science and design.
In short, though, “computer graphic” (CG) refers to the entire process of using computers and software programs to create visual media. This can include still two-dimensional (2D), three-dimensional (3D) images, animated pieces of work, interactive media like video games, or just about anything that’s visually engaging and created through the use of computers.
While hand-drawn artworks are still there to serve several purposes, most finalized art being used for advertising, corporate logos, and websites is generated with computers. Many professional artists have become less fond of the traditional form of visual creation due to the many advantages digital media offers, such as easy transportation, editing, and printing. Nowadays, even formats like comic books are created by scanning hand-drawn images into a computer then using software to ink, color, and finish the finalized pages.
Movie and television special effects require a lot of computer graphics work. These sorts of graphics are often generated with the aim to create lifelike creations that blend smoothly into a scene. This includes giant monsters, robots, aliens, explosions, and fully digital sequences of action that cannot be set up. While some film critics have decried the use of computer graphics, many filmmakers around the world view it as just another creative tool at their disposal.
How Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” Was Animated
PC games and video games are almost entirely composed of computer graphics. In the 1990s, when compact disc (CD) formats were introduced to store video games, some games featured video footage of live people blended with digital images. The experiment wasn’t well-received, though, and the industry’s standard has traditionally been to use computer graphics to create characters, environments, and action. With the development of technology, video games’ images are getting more and more sophisticated and complex, but the principles and designs behind the games have remained fairly consistent.
Why Should You Consider This Career?
That said, computer graphics are present everywhere in our daily lives, from movie making, video games, computer program development, scientific modeling, and literally any facet of a business. Computer graphic designers are in strong demand right now, which we can see from statistics.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers working in computer system designs and similar services are seeing the highest growth rate. During the 2018 – 2028 decade, these professionals have a 24% rise in positions. On the other hand, graphic designers working for book, magazine, newspaper, and directory publishers are likely to see a 22% decrease in jobs. This is understandable, considering more and more media is now available online.
Either way, computer graphic designers have a lot of room for growth in the near future. The Design Management Institute (DMI) reports that design-driven companies outperformed the S&P by a whopping 219 percent between 2004 and 2014. Moreover, 67% of small businesses think that graphic design contributes significantly to brand success. Even during or after the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses need digital graphic designers more than ever to attract online customers.
By 2028, we can expect to see 8,800 new graphic design jobs coming. Only designers who stay abreast of the latest technology and software can welcome these opportunities.
So, What Does A Graphic Designer Do?
As the previous part mentions, a computer graphic designer’s job is to deliver ideas that inspire, inform, and captive customers through digital images. This process is done with the help of computer software, so you will have more room for creativity than other ways of making art.
A computer graphic designer is responsible for the following:
- Consult with clients or art directors to establish the scope of a project.
- Use digital illustration and software such as photo editing or layout to create designs.
- Create visual elements (logos, original images, or illustrations for example) that aid in the transmission of a message.
- Layout design, including color, image, and typeface selection.
- Present the drafts to clients or art directors.
- After clients or art directors suggest improvements, incorporate them into the final design.
- Review the final layouts before they are printed or published.
“Can I Become A Graphic Designer Without A Degree?”
Truth be told, I’m one of those visual designers who didn’t graduate from a fancy design school. At some point, I just decided that computer graphic design should be my career path.
Here is the problem: I just spent 4 years obtaining my degree in business, and I didn’t have another $100,000 to go back to school. Aside from the whopping cost, going back to traditional art or design school means that I will be out of the job market for another 4 years. Doesn’t sound so good.
At first, I had a lot of doubts about whether someone could become a graphic designer without a degree. Still, I embarked on this new journey anyway. After a year of hacking together my own computer graphic education while working a full-time job, I finally realized: Yes, it is possible.
I’ll admit, I’m nowhere near as good as the top-notch designers who came out of a 4-year education at an elite school. But I’m definitely good enough to do my job well. I design a pretty wide range of things — for the website, iPhone app, emails, social media, and print.
So, if you are passionate about this career and have a desire to explore the colorful world of computer graphics, you will be glad to know that your skills matter more than a degree. That said, you can kickstart the journey by building yourself a solid foundation of graphic design. Additionally, you have to familiarize yourself with desktop design software, such as Illustrator, InDesign, etc., and image-editing packages such as Photoshop. Then, what’s left is to create an impressive portfolio to showcase what you learn, as well as your mindset and even personality.
Yes, that sounds a bit overwhelming for a self-learner, but don’t forget one thing: This is the information era. Instead of learning on your own, why don’t you choose some good online computer graphic courses or certifications that will provide you with a proper foundation in various areas of graphic design?
6 Best Online Computer Graphic Courses For Aspiring Designers Out There
Below is the list of best online computer graphic courses, tutorials, training programs, and certifications available online. It includes both free and paid resources with a super-flexible timetable, thus allowing you to study additional learning and practice material on your own.
- Platform: CreativeLive
- Rating: 93%
- Duration: 5 hours
As J.K. Rowling once said, “A good first impression can work wonders.”
If you want to find a position in computer graphic design, the first thing that matters is your portfolio. Whether you graduate from an art school or are a self-taught designer, it is essential yet often critically overlooked. More than just a collection of your past works, a portfolio is a designer’s visiting card. It represents his ideas, work ethic, and even his personality.
Fortunately, I have just the right class for you to begin your professional career. With 93% of students recommending this class, “Create A Knockout Graphic Design Portfolio” is sure to help you master the art.
Within 15 HD video sessions (which takes around 5 hours), you shall get a step-by-step tutorial on how to create an outstanding portfolio. The course helps you analyze your potential employers and narrow down the target audience so you know which one is the right work to showcase. After finishing the course, you will know how to view yourself and your work as a business. And, once you’ve established a brand for yourself, putting together an excellent portfolio comes easy.
“This class was great – straight and to the point. Ram is an excellent instructor and explains his points both clear and concisely, the perfect combination. As a career changer and now new to the design industry, Ram helped me to understand a simple correlation: to have a portfolio that is ‘strong enough’ really boils down to being ‘relevant enough’. Game changer!!” – Lauren Perove.
Graphic Design Master Class – Learn Great Design
- Platform: Udemy
- Rating: 4.7
- Duration: 29 hours
If you search for graphic design or computer graphic courses on Udemy, you will definitely bump into Lindsay Marsh’s Graphic Design Masterclass. Aiming at beginners who want to kickstart a career in graphic design, this course is by far the best-selling one in this field. In the “Review” section, though, you can see many intermediate and advanced level learners reporting that they still get a ton out of it.
In addition to fundamental theories, the course provides you with real-world projects and applications. Throughout the course, learners will pick up knowledge about typography, color schemes, layout, position, and literally everything to create breathtaking graphics. A wide range of topics and projects will be covered. You will also be taught the basics of Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop. Those are essential tools for any digital designer.
What I like the most about Graphic Design Masterclass is that Lindsay Marsh provides learners with many intriguing content sections. For example, you will find a part dedicated to the most up-to-date design trend, so you can keep up with what’s hot in the design world right now.
Another exciting part (which was just added recently) is “Finding Your Design Niche”. Perhaps you already know, but there are plenty of specializations within the field of digital graphics, such as logo design, print & editorial design, illustration, and so on. This exploratory mini-class covers the core elements for each design niche, so you know what you will need to leap into those design niches. This will greatly help you to choose your top focal niches.
Aside from the main course, Lindsay Marsh offers learners many useful downloadable materials. This includes a mini handbook on how to use grids, a color theory sheet, anatomy of typography poster, and graphic design resource guide with links to free and paid tools, resources, and inspirational sites. All of this can be stored for future use.
“English is not my mother tongue, but your way of teaching is really helpful and easy to understand. I think this course is really great for someone who is interested in graphic design and doesn’t know where to start and what field of graphic design to choose.” – Quynh Hoa N.
Online Computer Graphic Course – Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers Specialization
- Platform: Coursera
- Rating: 4.7
- Duration: Approximately 4 months
This Coursera class is brought to you by the University of Colorado Boulder – a university that boasts 5 Nobel winners among its alumni. Just this fact is enough to make Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers Specialization a worthy admission to our list of best online computer graphic courses. In every way, it offers an in-depth and extremely engaging learning experience.
The course consists of 4 modules, each will take around a month to complete. All of them are dedicated to a particular aspect of design, such as the fundamentals, graphic, textual, and even printing. After going through each, learners are sure to master each of the aforementioned design elements. Additionally, you will also participate in various exams and learn how to evaluate different types of visual art in order to reinforce your understanding of the content.
To get a firm understanding of the creative process behind graphic design, this is one of the best courses available. At the same time, though, it is far from a theoretical bore-fest. As a learner, you will get your hand dirty as well. For instance, you will experience how designing a professional business card takes place. Sounds interesting? It is.
So, who would I recommend this course for? Both for newcomers and for advanced learners. Without a doubt, an online degree from a top-tier university helps you big time in your graphic design aspirations. And, of course, being a smart-ass about the design of your friend’s favorite page is a bonus in itself.
“I have always enjoyed exploring how colors work together to invoke different reactions. After getting this course, I am now using the color wheel in everything I do.” – Tanya P.
Graphic Design Specialization By CalArts
- Platform: Coursera
- Rating: 4.7
- Duration: Approximately 6 months
This is the program I chose when I was new to graphic design, and until now, I’m still grateful that I made the right choice. CalArts (California Institute Of The Arts) specifically designed the Graphic Design Specialization for beginners. It teaches you the core skills needed to create sophisticated computer graphics. After enrolling in this program, you will get a deep understanding of the formal and conceptual tools professional designers utilize.
Graphic Design Specialization consists of 5 courses:
- Fundamentals Of Graphic Design: Through visual examples, learners will get essential concepts of graphic design, from image-making and composition to dealing with color and shape… These are fundamental skills that are used across the board in graphic design practice.
- Introduction To Typography: The art of manipulating the visual form of language to enrich and control its meaning is typography. In this introductory course, you will get a deep understanding of this essential area. Afterward, you can name and measure the characteristics of letterforms.
- Introduction To Image Making: This course is useful for both beginners and serious designers. It doesn’t only teach you how to make, modify, and arrange images to create compositions, but also helps you develop your visual vocabulary in terms of discussing your own and other people’s artworks
- Ideas From The History Of Graphic Design: This condensed survey course concentrates on 4 key periods or themes from the Western history of design. Learners will develop an understanding of today’s diverse design styles.
- Brand New Brand: This course is the culmination of the Graphic Design Specialization and gives you an opportunity to tie together your knowledge and skills into a single project: a brand development guide for a company you will invent.
All the courses contain video lectures, homework assignments, creative prompts, and additional materials. Compared to other courses and programs in this list, CalArts’ Graphic Design Specialization has a longer duration. Since it goes deep into almost every aspect of computer graphics, though, it is a worthy investment. Just give it a try, and you will quickly see why it has gained a rating of 4.7 out of 5 on Coursera.
“This course is crucial if you want to learn graphic design. Each lecture is perfect, great job from instructor Michael Worthington, I had a great experience, for me, maybe week one can feel a bit light or slow but it’s fine, it sets a mood and creates an atmosphere. Every lecture and assignment is worth it, in my opinion, what you will learn here you will use it through all your Graphic Design career.” – Oliver G.
Adobe CC Masterclass: Photoshop, Illustrator, XD & InDesign
- Platform: Udemy
- Rating: 4.6
- Duration: 13 hours
While most of the courses above focus on the fundamental theories of computer graphic design and only scratch the surface of the tools, Adobe CC Masterclass will help newbies to learn the full suite of Adobe CC products. This includes Photoshop, InDesign, XD, and Illustrator. After completing this practical course, you will be able to master these tools and use them to your advantage.
Adobe CC Masterclass consists of over 13 hours of video tutorials. Each section provides step-by-step instructions for using a particular Adobe tool. Be it a designer, an artist, a freelancer, or an individual working in a large production house, all can find something useful in this course to build on their creative skills.
Jeremy Deighan and Lindsay Marsh are instructors of this digital graphic course. Both of them have years of experience in the field and are professional artists by trade. After joining the course, students can gain access to a Facebook group where they may communicate with the instructors and other students to seek help with assignments and even real-world projects in general.
“This course was such a great way to dive into the world of Adobe. As a complete beginner in the start, I feel confident in my ability to now use the Adobe suite. Easy to follow along and not too time-consuming. Definitely recommend.” – Jamie P.
Online Computer Graphic Course – Logo Design Fundamentals
- Platform: Udemy
- Rating: 4.7
- Duration: 29 hours
When you mention digital graphic design, most people will think of creating logos. This is also the specialized field that many aspiring computer graphic designers seek to pursue. If you are one of them, this course is exactly what you need.
Consisting of 15 lessons, this mini-course provides you with basic knowledge about how to create a logo. Not only will you learn how to construct one, but you shall pick up knowledge on how to interact with customers properly – which is crucial for graphic designers who work in the field of brand identity design. What’s more, this course also lays out the issue of branding as well, which has a direct connection with logo development.
Minor parts of the course are said to be “short and shallow” by Udemy learners, but for a free course that only takes around an hour to complete, “Logo Design Fundamentals” offers a lot of eye-opening techniques for beginners. It proves that you do not need hours of video lessons and long expert-created video tutorials to grab the basics of logo creating.
“I’m a 12-year-old trying to pave a career path in brand identity design. The pace of this course is so perfect, and from this course, I learned some very useful tips that will help me big time. Thank you ;)” – Nour Eldin Mohammed H.
Don’t Stop Practicing!
Taking advantage of the online computer graphic courses in this article will help you on your journey to develop your skills and grow as a graphic designer.
Lastly, kickstarting a career in computer graphics might feel like a challenge at first. So, let me wrap up with the wise words from Ira Glass:
“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years, you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. It is only by going through a volume of work that you close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambition.”
Brace yourself, and always keep learning.
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