List of Free Online Graphic Arts Classes, Courses and Lessons

See our list of the top free online graphics arts courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.

Info on Free Online Graphic Arts Courses

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that a 4-year degree in a design-related major is the usual requirement for working as a graphic artist, online courses and tutorials in computer programs and general theory can introduce students to the field or help working professionals upgrade their skills. The classes and lectures listed below include the study of computer animation, color theory, high-quality imaging and programming, as well as step-by-step guidelines for working with current graphics software. Course materials include PDF files, textbooks and video lessons but may exclude activities and resources available to on-site students, such as group projects and exams. Online learners usually need to purchase or download software applications used for these resources, and academic credit isn't awarded upon completion.

Free Online Graphics Arts Classes and Tutorials

Adobe Dreamweaver CS6 Tutorial at Bowling Green State University

This 18-page tutorial is designed to show students how to create a simple website and is suitable for both Mac and PC users. Through simple step-by-step instructions, beginning Web designers can learn how to create a local root folder and organize a site. Students also find out how to format text, place images, insert tables and upload the final product on the Internet.

Adobe Illustrator CS6 Tutorial at Bowling Green State University

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics program, and in this 19-page guide, even beginning designers can learn how to create professional-looking logos, page layouts and other online or print materials. Using visual aids, the tutorial shows students how to set up a document and use the Illustrator toolbox. This tutorial helps new designers teach themselves how to combine text and graphics, create simple shapes and set type on a non-linear path. Other topics include the use of special effects and symbols.

Adobe InDesign CS6 Tutorial at Bowling Green State University

Adobe InDesign is a desktop-publishing program that can be used with Acrobat, Illustrator and Photoshop. In this comprehensive guide, students are shown how to format a document and work with the program's drawing, type and selection tools. They can also discover how to mix colors and wrap text around images and objects.

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Tutorial at Bowling Green State University

This illustrated, 27-page manual introduces online learners to Photoshop, Adobe's image-editing software. The guide stresses the importance of document set-up and includes topics in image correction, cropping and resizing. As they work their way through the tutorial, students can practice working with an interface layout and experiment with color palettes and color boxes.

Applied Multimedia Technology at Notre Dame University

In this recently updated course, students are taught how to use Adobe Flash and combine animated images, text, sound and video to produce multimedia materials. The curriculum is project-based, and students can learn how to create animations, podcasts, portfolios and blogs. Some free service accounts are recommended in order to complete the projects. Course emphasis is on the four aspects of multimedia design: aesthetics, content, function and usability. The class requires the use of specific computer hardware and software, such as a sound recorder and Adobe Flash.

Blender 3-D Design at Tufts University

Blender 3D Design is a self-paced, project-based course that includes PDF tutorials, study units and video lectures. The program offers an introductory background in computer-generated animation and mesh-modeling techniques and shows how to work with a variety of materials-based and texturing applications. The 24-unit curriculum is divided into beginning and intermediate levels but does not represent the entire course as it was taught on campus. Interested students should check the course syllabus for specific hardware, software and system requirements.

Color Theory at Brown University

Designed for graphic or visual art students, this site provides a useful introduction to digital and paint-based color concepts and includes topics in color contrasting, mixing and modeling. The ideal configuration for viewing this tutorial includes Windows or Unix and Internet Explorer 4.0. The sections on color mixing and color contrast include electronic exercises associated with Goethe's color triangle and the Alber's color plates. Readers are also provided with a link to the in-class project activity log and testing results.

Digitization for Preservation at the University of Michigan

This graduate course acquaints students with the current literature and best practices associated with high-quality digital imaging. Online learners have access to the original reading list, lectures and handouts. Objectives include image conversion, 2-dimensional bitmap imaging, metadata standards for static images and project management. A textbook is not required.

Introduction to Design Computing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This undergraduate course consists of assignments, lecture notes and projects. This is an architectural class with emphasis on the study of computer modeling, digital fabrication and rendering. The course requirements include the use of computer-aided design software to create buildings. Online learners also explore the work of individual architects.

Introductory Digital Systems Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Although prior design knowledge is not a prerequisite for this class, it is known as one of the most challenging courses at the school. A familiarity with circuit theory is necessary, and students are encouraged to purchase two recommended textbooks that cover topics in logic design and Verilog (hardware programming language). Accessible course components include lecture notes, problem sets and a quiz.

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