Design

Top 10 Free Design Tutorials and Courses

Which new design skill will you learn today?

Portrait for Andrew Blackman By Andrew Blackman
Posted 08 Oct 2020

Whether you're a design novice or pro, it's always a good time to pick up new skills or practice your existing ones so it's not forgotten. These ten free design tutorials and courses will help you get the most out of Photoshop, Illustrator, Affinity Designer, and other popular design software.

Some are video training, others are written tutorials, but one thing they all have in common is that they're free. So read on and decide which new design skills you're going to master today.

Photo manipulation is a great technique for beginners because you don't need drawing or painting skills—you just take existing images and combine them to create something beautiful and other-worldly. There are some important tricks to master if you want it to look realistic, though, and you'll learn all of them in this free design course with Abbey Esparza.

Photo manipulation

Twitch emotes are like chat emojis, but the cool thing is that Twitch lets Affiliate or Partner channels offer custom emotes to their subscribers to use in their channel’s chat. But how do you make emotes? Learn how in this free tutorial.

Twitch emotes

Of course, Adobe's not the only game in town. Affinity Designer is a powerful piece of design software, and this detailed YouTube video course gets you up to speed in using it. It's designed especially for those new to Affinity Designer or thinking of switching to it, so it makes for a perfect introduction.

Making your own custom brushes in Illustrator can save you loads of time on repetitive tasks. Grass is the perfect example—how long would it take you to draw each blade individually? By making brushes, you get realistic-looking grass, without hours of tedious work. Learn how to make your own grass brushes in this simple, step-by-step tutorial.

Grass brush in Illustrator

Or if you'd prefer something more systematic, try this epic three-hour YouTube video, in which Dan Scott takes you through all the essential features of Adobe Illustrator and shows you how to use each one, with examples. It's all broken down into separate sections too, so if you just want to learn something specific, like how to use the Pen Tool, you can use the navigation links in the description to jump straight to that.

Check out how realistic that rich wood texture looks. You can almost feel the grain of it. If you're curious about how to create it, read this tutorial for the step-by-step instructions.

Or how about this: instead of creating a wood texture digitally, why not draw wood yourself, using pencils and paper? You’ll learn how to draw a log with bark, as well as a smooth wooden surface. It's also a very relaxing video to watch.

I'll be honest—I don't love the style of this lettering. But one thing you can't deny is that it's eye-catching. That's the thing about 3D text—it really leaps off the page and gets the viewer's attention. Learn how to make those big, bold shadows and 3D effects in this free design course. You can apply the same techniques to create your own 3D text styles.

Here's a variation on the photo manipulation course we covered at the beginning. This one features a dynamic image of a robot in a post-apocalyptic industrial scene. With the skills you pick up in this free course, you'll be able to take your viewers anywhere—the only limit is your imagination.

Finally, let's go from a futuristic scene to a vintage one. This tutorial teaches you to create an old paper texture, which you can use to give any photo or illustration that retro, aged look. You'll need paper, a paintbrush, coffee or tea, and a scanner for this one.

These ten free design courses and tutorials are just a few recent examples—there are thousands more in the full Design & Illustration section on Envato Tuts+. Have a look at these recommendations from previous months to get some more inspiration.

This incredibly comprehensive introduction to Adobe InDesign was first published back in April and has been hugely popular, with 450,000 views and counting. If you want to learn InDesign from the ground up, this is the only video you need to watch. Get started now.

If you're stuck at home, what better thing to do than learn a creative skill like drawing? This beautiful and easy-to-follow tutorial teaches you how to draw a rose, step by step.

We often feature fun or inspiring designs here, but real-life graphic design work can sometimes be about creating something much more functional. This tutorial shows you how to create a simple but elegant take-out menu using Adobe InDesign. Learn how it’s done.

Takeout menu design

If you want to be a better designer or illustrator, you'll love this course. Adobe Illustrator is such a powerful design and illustration software package, and this course takes you through the essentials of the program and how to use it. Start watching and learning today!

Whether you're a restaurateur looking to design your own menu or a graphic designer who's been hired to create one, this tutorial has you covered. It takes you through the full process of creating not just a professional-looking menu, but an InDesign menu template that you can adapt to use again and again. Find out how it's done.

Restaurant menu template

When you're putting together a proposal, the design really matters. Your prospective client will probably have dozens of other proposals to look through, and grabbing their attention with a clean, elegant design will give you a crucial advantage. This course teaches you how to stand out from the crowd by putting together a great proposal in InDesign.

Project Proposal

One of our most popular design courses is now free to watch! Learn how to design a business card in Photoshop in this free 45-minute course. You'll see how to make three stunning designs inspired by minimalist, photographic, and artistic concepts.

Business card design

People used to dream of having their book published one day. Now, with services like Amazon and CreateSpace, it's easy to skip the dreaming and go straight to the publishing. But as you'll see if you browse any online bookstore, getting the cover right is easier said than done. So take this book cover design course to learn how to create a professional-looking book cover that will entice new readers to buy and read your book.

Book cover course

The isometric style is perennially popular, so why not master it in this free course? You'll learn how to create this amazing 3D text effect in Adobe Illustrator, and you'll pick up some valuable Illustrator skills along the way.

3D text effect

The design world has its own language, and it's essential to master it if you want to be a successful designer. Even if you have the visual sense and software skills, you need to know how to explain your designs to clients—and how to understand what clients want from you. So here are 60 design terms you should know.

Essential design terms

This course is a comprehensive guide for complete beginners to Adobe Illustrator. It starts with zero assumed knowledge and in over three hours of video lessons, it takes you up to the point where you can create finished illustrations using the Pen Tool, the Curvature Tool, brushes, and more. Take the course to go from zero to competent illustrator in a few hours!

The isometric style is perfect for making small, compact icons that are instantly recognizable. Learn how to use it to make these three cute food icons in Adobe Illustrator. Read the step-by-step instructions.

Isometric food icons

Adobe Illustrator is a great vector design package, but it's not the only game in town. In recent years, new competitors have emerged that have a lot to offer. So why not explore some of the other options out there by watching the video above.

Adobe Illustrator is a great vector design package, but it's not the only game in town. In recent years, new competitors have emerged that have a lot to offer. So why not explore some of the other options out there by watching the video above.

This tutorial teaches you how to create your very own color font using the latest version of Adobe Illustrator and the powerful Fontself extension. So why not learn this important new design skill?

Color font example

Any designer will tell you that typography is crucial to good design. From company brands to newspaper headlines to advertisements to websites, you can see the power of typography in action everywhere. But, like any specialized field, typography has its own vocabulary, which can be confusing for beginners. Watch this 60-second typography video to learn how to tell your counters from your spines and your stems from your shoulders.

Typography terms

Have you tried the latest hot drawing and painting app? Adobe Fresco made a big splash when it was launched recently, but how does it compare with the more established Procreate app? Discover the answer by watching this free video comparison.

Can you believe that this stunning portrait was created on an iPad? And can you imagine creating it yourself in the Procreate app, with step-by-step instructions? That's exactly what you'll get in this tutorial. So view the instructions and start using your iPad for something other than Netflix!

Punk portrait on Procreate

If you want to get more Instagram followers, you'll want to read this post, which summarises some of the key lessons from the newly launched School of Instagram. Find out how to write better captions, how to use the new Create Mode, and much more.

Instagram caption tips

Adobe Photoshop has ruled the roost for so long now that "photoshopping" has entered the language as a verb. But many people are switching to Affinity Photo, a viable competitor with some impressive features. Watch this video to discover eight features of Affinity Photo that might convince you to switch over from Photoshop.

Do you like bold colors and playful design elements? Then you'll love the Memphis Style, created in the 1980s and now back in vogue. From three of our recent tutorials, you can learn what the Memphis Style is, and then make a text effect and a poster in Memphis Style.

Memphis Style

If we're putting something out into the world these days, it really should be accessible to everyone. What I like about this tutorial is that it explains in lots of scientific detail what color blindness is and how things look to people with different kinds of color blindness, and then it goes on to give tips on what you can do to make your designs easier for everyone to view. Read the tutorial to learn how to tell protanopia from deuteranomaly and cater for people with either of them.

Designing for color-blind people

Did you know that the average human head has about 100,000 individual hairs? What that means is that if you want to draw someone's hair, you can't draw separate lines for each strand—you need to learn some tricks to create the illusion of 100,000 hairs while using far fewer lines. Take this drawing tutorial to see how it's done.

How to draw hair

Whether you love them or hate them, animated GIFs are all over the web. This tutorial shows you an easy method of putting together an animated GIF in Adobe Photoshop. The example is of a wolf's glowing eyes, but feel free to use the same techniques for laughing dogs, weird celebrity mashups, or whatever your heart desires. Start animating your GIFs here.

Animated GIF made in Photoshop

There’s More...

This post has just skimmed the surface of what Tuts+ has published recently, and in the full archives going back ten years, there’s even more. So if you don’t see what you’re looking for in this post, you can search the full Tuts+ library of more than 1,250 courses and 28,000 tutorials to find exactly what you need.