How to Learn Graphic Design: A Step-by-Step guide | AND Academy (2024)

Do you want to learn graphic design from scratch? Then you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find an actionable step-by-step guide, complete with helpful resources to get you started.

Graphic design is a broad and varied field. This makes it incredibly exciting—but also pretty daunting if you’re a newcomer.

What should you learn first? How do you make sure you’re covering everything? What industry resources can you trust?

So many questions! But don’t worry. To help you in your quest to learn graphic design, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide. For each step, we’ve outlined clear learning objectives and linked them to helpful resources.


  • 1) Why learn graphic design?
  • 2) How to learn graphic design
    • Learn the history and fundamental theory of graphic design
    • Dive deeper into the key graphic design elements and principles
    • Learn the most important graphic design tools
    • Take free graphic design courses
    • Formalise your learning with a graphic design qualification
    • Apply your budding skills to practical projects
    • Network and join graphic design communities
  • 3) Next steps: Forging a career in graphic design

Are you ready to learn graphic design? Let’s begin.

1. Why learn graphic design?

There are many reasons why you might choose to learn graphic design. Perhaps you want to expand your creative skill set and become more versatile in your current career. If you’re working in a field like marketing, for example, being able to create your own graphics could come in handy.

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:

Now you’re thinking “Sign me up!” So, without further ado, let’s show you how to learn graphic design and get started in the field.

2. How to learn graphic design in 7 steps

We’ve written this guide for beginners who want to learn graphic design from scratch, and made it as actionable as possible with clear learning objectives and helpful resources. Follow it step-by-step and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a job-ready graphic designer.

I. Learn the history and fundamental theory of graphic design

If you’re brand new to graphic design, your first step is to learn the basics. At this stage, your goal is to learn about graphic design rather than actually learning how to do it—that will come later!

Learning objectives:

  • To understand, and be able to clearly explain, what graphic design is and what graphic designers do;
  • To learn about the different types of graphic design;
  • To understand the basic history of graphic design and how the discipline has evolved over time;
  • To familiarise yourself with the most important graphic design skills.

Learning resources:

Overall, you want to build a solid theoretical understanding of the field and what it entails. Focus on free resources such as blogs and podcasts, as well as graphic design books.

How to Learn Graphic Design: A Step-by-Step guide | AND Academy (1)

II. Dive deeper into the key graphic design elements and principles

You’re now well-versed in what graphic design is, where it comes from, and what it’s all about in theory. Now it’s time to delve deeper into the elements and principles that graphic designers use in their work.

Learning objectives:

  • Understand the 7 basic elements of graphic design: shapes, lines, colour, texture, type, space, and images;
  • Understand the fundamental principles of graphic design and how graphic designers use them to create aesthetically pleasing and communicative designs;
  • To explore these elements and principles in action with real-world examples.

Learning resources:

III. Learn the most important graphic design tools

The next step in your journey from graphic design novice to hands-on professional: learning the essential graphic design tools.

Graphic designers use different tools depending on their exact role and industry. A book designer will use different tools than, say, an animation artist. That said, there are some fundamental tools that all graphic designers are familiar with—and these are the tools you’ll want to focus on first:

  • Adobe Illustrator: a vector-based illustration software used to create different graphic design assets from scratch.

  • Adobe Photoshop: used for creating and editing images and photos. You may want to start with Photoshop Elements, a simpler, more beginner-friendly version.

  • Canva: a free, beginner-friendly drag-and-drop graphic design tool.

  • Adobe Express: a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator.

The best way to build proficiency in graphic design tools is to jump right in. Download and/or sign up for different tools and follow free tutorials—the internet is bursting with them! Check out the resources we’ve linked to in the “Learning resources” section to get started.

Learning objectives:

  • Learn about the most popular graphic design tools and what they’re used for;
  • Download and/or sign up for industry-standard tools;
  • Get familiar with each tool’s interface and functionality;
  • Follow free tutorials to perform basic tasks in each tool.

Learning resources:

Once you’ve got the lay of the land in your chosen tools, search the web for more specific tutorials; for example, “How to create a logo in Adobe Illustrator”.

IV. Take free graphic design courses

So far, you’ve been following your own curriculum, exploring different resources, and taking a rather organic approach.

That’s perfect for learning the basics—but, if you’re serious about mastering graphic design, it’s time to bring some structure to your learning. Before you take the plunge with a full graphic design qualification (which we’ll get to in step five), we recommend dipping your toe in with some free courses.

Note that, while there are some excellent free courses out there, it’s important to go in with realistic expectations. A free course won’t be enough to prepare you for a job in the field. Rather, it’s a great stepping stone along the way, helping you gain a deeper understanding of the topics you’ve explored so far. Free courses will also help you decide if you want to invest in a full-time course.

Learning objectives:

  • Explore fundamental graphic design tools and topics further with free graphic design courses;
  • Bring some structure and depth to your learning;
  • Lay the foundations for a full graphic design course/qualification.

Learning resources:

V. Formalise your learning with a graphic design qualification

If you’re learning graphic design just for fun or to pick up some basic skills, you probably won’t want to invest in a full graphic design course.

But if you’re learning graphic design in order to qualify as a graphic designer and start a career in the field, a formal qualification is the fastest, most thorough, and most effective way in.

This is where you cross over from “aspiring graphic designer dabbling in the basics” to “fully qualified graphic designer ready to work in the field.”

Here’s what a reputable graphic design course will give you that you can’t get from self-study:

  • A structured curriculum based on current industry requirements
  • Regular, interactive instruction from experts in the field
  • The opportunity to apply your skills to practical projects
  • One-to-one mentorship and feedback on your work
  • A community of fellow learners

Of course, not all graphic design courses offer the same quality and value. It’s important to do your research before signing up—check the “Learning resources” section for a comparison of the best graphic design courses.

Learning objectives:

  • Take your learning up a notch with a formal graphic design course;
  • Follow a structured, expert curriculum;
  • Make the transition from curious graphic design newbie to job-ready graphic designer;
  • Obtain a professional graphic design certificate/qualification.

Learning resources:

How to Learn Graphic Design: A Step-by-Step guide | AND Academy (3)

VI. Apply your budding skills to practical projects

Graphic design is a highly practical field, and you’ll learn the most when you actually apply your burgeoning skills to graphic design projects.

If you follow our advice in step five, you’ll choose a graphic design course that includes project work in the curriculum. This will give you instant access to graphic design projects—and an invaluable opportunity to get feedback.

Beyond your chosen graphic design course, accelerate your learning curve by gaining as much practical experience as possible. This might be through volunteer gigs, passion projects, or even a graphic design internship. Gain valuable insights into portfolio building with these impressive student projects crafted by AND learners.

  • Print and Publication Design Project by Roohani Goyal
  • Brand Identity Design Project by Sai Prasad Chandran

Learning objectives:

  • Apply your new and budding skills to real projects;
  • Gain practical experience in different types of graphic design projects;
  • Learn from feedback;
  • Build out your graphic design portfolio.

Learning resources:

VII. Network and join graphic design communities

Learning graphic design isn’t just about mastering the technical skills and tools. You can learn so much about the field—and how to navigate it successfully—from fellow graphic designers.

This is a lifelong learning tip: start building your graphic design network, be active in graphic design communities, and learn as much as you can from those around you.

Network with new and aspiring graphic designers just like you, as well as with seniors who’ve been in the field for a while. Every new connection can teach you something (and learn something from you in return, no doubt).

If you’re new to networking in the graphic design field (or to networking in general), you’ll find some useful pointers in the “Learning resources” section.

Learning objectives:

  • Join graphic design communities;
  • Attend graphic design meetups (virtual or in person);
  • Learn from senior graphic designers;
  • Participate in knowledge exchanges and peer-to-peer learning with fellow aspiring designers.

Learning resources:

3. Next steps: Forging a career in graphic design

That concludes our step-by-step guide on how to learn graphic design. Now you may be wondering: What happens once I qualify as a graphic designer? How do I forge a career in the field?

As soon as you’ve gained some hands-on experience (either through an internship, volunteering opportunities, or via your graphic design course) and built a strong portfolio, you can think about applying for your first graphic design role.

But, if you’re switching from an unrelated career path, it’s important to start marketing yourself as a graphic designer before you send out any applications. This includes updating your LinkedIn profile and resumé to reflect your new skills. It should be clear to recruiters and hiring managers that you’re ready to work as a graphic designer, so tailor your online presence and application materials accordingly.

Then, when the time comes, you can prepare for the graphic design hiring process. We run through the most common graphic design interview questions in this guide.

But one thing at a time! Focus first and foremost on learning the essential graphic design skills and tools, networking with fellow designers, and gaining real-world experience with a variety of practical projects. Good luck!

Here are some additional resources and recommendations that will surely be useful in learning more about graphic design - the industry, career prospects, and much more:

  1. Watch this session by design veteran and AND’s Academic Head, Prachi Mittal, and our Course Lead, Soumya Tiwari.
  2. Talk to a course advisor to discuss how you can transform your career with one of our courses.
  3. Pursue our Graphic Design courses - all courses are taught through live, interactive classes by industry experts, and some even offer a Job Guarantee.
  4. Take advantage of the scholarship and funding options that come with our courses to overcome any financial hurdle on the path of your career transformation.

Note: All information and/or data from external sources is believed to be accurate as of the date of publication.

How to Learn Graphic Design: A Step-by-Step guide | AND Academy (2024)


How to learn graphic design step by step for beginners? ›

How to learn graphic design
  1. Learn the basics. ...
  2. Build your skills with online courses. ...
  3. Master the ins and outs of design programs. ...
  4. Create a portfolio of projects. ...
  5. Grow your network. ...
  6. Get some work experience. ...
  7. Continue to learn and grow.
Nov 29, 2023

Can you self teach graphic design? ›

Many successful graphic designers are self-taught, relying on online tutorials, books, and practice to build their skills. To become independent, start by learning design software like Adobe Creative Suite, practicing design projects, and creating a portfolio to showcase your work.

How to become a graphic designer complete guide? ›

How To Become a Graphic Designer
  1. Complete a Course.
  2. Learn the Basics.
  3. Make Time for Learning, Training, and Education.
  4. Learn the Essential Tools.
  5. Hone the Requisite Skills.
  6. Build a Strong Portfolio With Volunteer, Freelance, and Sample Projects.
  7. Build Your Network and Get Involved With the Community.
Nov 15, 2021

How long does it take to learn graphic design on your own? ›

According to some designers, they spent: 1-2 years learning the basics and practising design on their own. 3-4 years honing their skills and gaining experience through internships and entry-level positions. 5-10 years continuously improving their craft and staying up-to-date with industry trends and technologies.

How do I start graphic design with no experience? ›

How To Be A Graphic Designer (With No Experience)
  1. Develop Your Graphic Design Skills. ...
  2. Build Your Online Portfolio. ...
  3. Network and Collaborate With Other Graphic Designers. ...
  4. Market Your Graphic Design Services. ...
  5. Find Your Graphic Design Niche. ...
  6. Freelance Platforms and Job Boards.
Jul 6, 2023

How can I learn graphic design with no experience? ›

Follow the steps below to find out how you can become a self-taught graphic designer in 2022.
  1. Step 1: Learn the fundamentals. ...
  2. Step 2: Invest in the right tools. ...
  3. Step 3: Build a body of work. ...
  4. Step 4: Get your work seen. ...
  5. Step 5: Network with other graphic designers. ...
  6. Step 6: Get real-world work experience.

How can I practice graphic design at home? ›

12 Graphic Design Practice Exercises
  1. Design something for an imaginary client. ...
  2. Redesign an existing brand. ...
  3. Create a logo for yourself. ...
  4. Drawing and sketching. ...
  5. Offer graphic design work to family and friends. ...
  6. Other design exercise games.
May 28, 2020

Is 30 too old to learn graphic design? ›

The truth is, there is no set age limit or average age for graphic designers. The industry values creativity, skill, and a passion for design above all else. So, whether you're 20, 30, or even 40 or 50, it's never too late to embark on a fulfilling journey as a graphic designer.

How do you introduce yourself as a beginner graphic designer? ›

Cover Letter Introduction

I am writing to apply for the Graphic Designer position at your company. I recently graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and I am looking for a job. I have some experience with Adobe Creative Suite and I think I could be a good fit for your company.

Can I be a graphic designer without a degree? ›

A degree is not a prerequisite for a career in graphic design; having a strong portfolio showcasing talent, skills, and creativity carries more weight. Graphic Designers in the United States earn an average salary of $58,000 with higher earnings in states like New York, New Jersey, and California.

What is the best tool for graphic design? ›

Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, InDesign, and After Effects are among the best software for graphic design.
  • Photoshop. Photoshop is a graphic editor that is best used for image editing. ...
  • Sketch. Sketch is a vector-based tool available on Mac and focuses on web, app, and interface design. ...
  • Illustrator. ...
  • InDesign. ...
  • After Effects.

How much a graphic designer can earn? ›

An experienced visual graphic designer can earn anywhere from ₹6,00,000 to ₹15,00,000 per annum or more, depending on the level of expertise and the company they work for.

Does graphic design require math? ›

Graphic Design Math Requirements

Most colleges and universities have no math requirements for graphic design majors. If your school does have a math requirement, it will probably be a related math course like geometry.

Does graphic design require coding? ›

Graphic designers do not need to be great coders, but it is beneficial for them to understand the fundamentals of coding languages such as HTML, CSS & JavaScript. Also, learning to code can ease the interaction with the tech team & improve your designs since they would've got their atleast their basics straight.

How do I start being a graphic designer? ›

How to become a graphic designer
  1. Develop your design skills. Start your pursuit of this career by improving your graphic design skills. ...
  2. Earn a professional degree. ...
  3. Gain relevant experience. ...
  4. Create a design portfolio. ...
  5. Apply for graphic design jobs.
Feb 3, 2023

Which graphic design course is best for beginners? ›

Graphic Design Courses for Beginners
  • UX Design: From Concept to Prototype. ...
  • Foundations of User Experience (UX) Design. ...
  • Principles of UX/UI Design. ...
  • UX Design Fundamentals. ...
  • Designing User Interfaces and Experiences (UI/UX) ...
  • Understanding User Needs. ...
  • Introduction to User Experience Principles and Processes.

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