I have a Fine Art background. I want to learn Graphic Design and be job ready in this field within six months. I am self learning and have time and discipline to put in. what is the best curriculum to learn Graphic Design? I have checked out courses on Udemy and Skillshare. There are lots! Any guidance or resources that in your opinion are greater and better than others?

Does the order in the way we learn things matter?

I appreciate the very useful answers that I have been given.

Thank you.

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    Possible duplicate of What does an artist who wants to learn graphic design need to know? Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 23:57
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    You will notice on that post, that the software is not mentioned. Software does not make a designer.
    – Rafael
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 14:48
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    When i was younger i wanted to learn to play the synth, so i got a cheap one. To my chagrin i wasnt really good at it, so i blamed my tools. As if giving me the best synthesizer would have made me great. A few years later i got to test a really expensive synthesizer, i still sucked but by then i knew that no matter what keyboard you'd give me i would not be great without a serious 10 year investment. Same applies to graphic design, its not the tool. Its the thought behind it. But I'm not a graphic designer i am a tool specialist i know how to use lots of tools in ways that most have not heard.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 14:59

4 Answers 4


I'm posting a very limited answer because the real scope of it.

I want to learn Graphic Design from scratch and be job ready in this field.

I must say I have lived all my life doing "graphic design" "related" things, for example in high school one periodic table that was stoled two days after by a fan. I studied 4 years in the university, and worked on the field by several decades now. And I still "strugling" to be ready, because things are changing all the time.

Having said that, part two:

Art and design are not the same, take a look at this: Whose persona should I consider while designing my portfolio?

And the marked as duplicated answer: What does an artist who wants to learn graphic design need to know? among other things.

Part 3, the software... Oh, my.

The software is specific about what branch of graphic design you want to work in, and the first choice is what do you want to do?

The main categories based on the output

  • Printed

  • Electronic medium (Graphic design, UX, video, etc)

  • Video

Based on the specific step of the process (this list is not methodological but a brainstorming.

  • Image manipulation, photo manipulation

  • Ilustration creation

  • Press output, publication integration

  • Web UX, content

  • Motion graphics

  • Corporative design, internal comunication

So the main categories in which "Graphic design" software is categorized is:

  • Vector based: Corel Draw, Ilustrator, Inkscape, and some others like DrawPlus.

  • Photo editing: Photoshop, Gimp (and some many others)

  • Publishing systems: InDesign, QuarkXpress, Scribus

  • Presentation software

  • Video Editing

  • Animation

  • 3D, animation and rendering, modeling, etc.

So first of all you need to decide what are you going to do.

  • What an insightful reply. To be honest at the moment I want to get into GD in the most widely accepted form and then learn as I go. I am willing to put in the self discipline and study hours. The idea of working in a Museum, UX and illustration has excited me but I reckon that I will have to take and implement certain steps before that. But what is to say that when I actually get to video editing or animation , I might get to enjoy that more than what I 'thought' I would. Its a matter of actually doing it and then making up my mind.
    – GDlearner
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 20:40

After 15 years in the field i would say the very short answer is to learn the Adobe Suite, mainly Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign. Some might argue this for various reasons, but generally these apps are currently the top 3 tools for professional designers.

At the same time you need to get some work done for some friends or whoever is willing to give you simple projects to begin with.

To get a quick start while learning the software, i would avoid creating custom designs and downloading/adjusting ready-made templates of which you can find plenty on any kind of material, be that flyers, brochures, logos, etc.

Then as you make progress with this workflow, you will become more confident with your software skills and also should be able to develop initiative and create your own designs.

Good luck!

  • Thank you for the Adobe Suite recommendations. Is there a course that you think is better than others?
    – GDlearner
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 20:45
  • There's a lot of good videos on Youtube to get you started. I prefer not to mention paid courses since i didn't really follow any of these, but i'm sure you can google this if you need to. I'm sure they are good quality stuff. Depends on what type of projects you will be after, but one good strategy could be to focus on Indesign training, while you could pick up Photoshop and Illustrator basics on the go. As a professional designer i feel Indesign to be the most useful tool for me, and i studied this in great detail, while only moderate PS and AI knowledge seems to be working.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 22:04
  • What versions of Indesign, PS and Illustrator are best suited to Graphic designers?
    – GDlearner
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 23:13
  • The latest version ideally, but any version should be fine. Most essential features are the same and the differences between different versions should not concern you as a beginner.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 9:45
  • Thank you for your positive spirit. Appreciate your input
    – GDlearner
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 20:09

I have been in the graphic design business for a while (1986), and right now, my programs of choice are Adobe In-Design, Photoshop and Illustrator. I am using the Cloud version of all of these programs, which is becoming the way of the world I'm afraid. But they do keep your software up to date automatically. My expertise is in the world of Print, not Web design. I would really suggest taking classes. You can take on-line courses, but either way, you really need to get a good understanding of the process. (it's kind of like saying - "I can read a cookbook, so I must be a chef") I have met lots of people over the years who are "self-taught" and all they (usually) end up with is bad design. You need to have an understanding of the printing process in order to create designs that will reproduce well. Your art background will help you, but the graphic programs that I listed above are complicated and will be overwhelming if you haven't used them before, that's why I suggest some classes. Adobe's programs mesh well together with each other, which is one reason that I like them. I also use Quark, but don't like it as much, but need to because some of my clients use it. There are many community schools that have classes, and Adobe offers tutorials but I have found that you need to have a basic understanding of the software to get the most out of the tutorials. I hope this helps a little.

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    I hope that yo do not really think that a tool makes a carreer. "I want to be a surgeon, what is the best scalpel?"
    – Rafael
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 14:45
  • No @Rafael, looking for guidance in a time effective manner
    – GDlearner
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 16:43
  • @LouM thanks for the recommendations. I am a painter and have a good understanding of design and colour principles. Self study is the only option for me right now. I have the time to put in.
    – GDlearner
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 16:48
  • @GDlearner Yes, but do you understand color management? Art color theory is not exactly the same thing as color reproduction on devices. Are you sure you dont want to be a production artist?
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 16:55
  • @joojaa No, you are right. Managing color across devices is not something I am familiar with. But I want to be! That's why I am here to get help. I have not looked in to a production artist role spec. Is it easy to get into? What are the requirements?
    – GDlearner
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 17:09

There are reasons why people pay money to learn graphic design in school. So they can learn "from scratch" how to be a graphic designer, including principles and tools.

With all due respect, I feel you need to carefully re-read the answers you have gotten here. Then do more research yourself.

For example, go to job search websites and see what skills are required. You will find that most of the time, a degree is required.

  • Thanks for you input. But I beg to differ.I do not think that one needs go under debt over skills that can be)with with discipline and hard work, be learnt oneself. This is also apparent in the job specs that I have looked at - No degree required. The entry level jobs can be gained access to. After that - I will have my work and experience speak for itself.
    – GDlearner
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 15:02
  • Well, I admire your self-confidence. Keep in mind though, that you will be competing for those jobs with other people who have gone to school, and can prove they already have the skills. But good luck.
    – DocPixel
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 4:57

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