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Intro to Visual Design

Intro to Visual Design

If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already started learning design skills online. There are a ton of amazing of ways to learn design online, and our goal at TechWorks isn’t to reinvent the wheel. Instead, we want to pick up where most online courses end, by helping you build an amazing portfolio of detailed design projects that will land you your dream job in the creative industry.

At the same time, we know that when you’re spending so much time building up your portfolio, it can be hard to find the time to continue building up your design fundamentals and technical skills. So to help make things a bit easier, we’ve curated a curriculum of articles, courses, and videos from across the internet that you can work through at your own schedule to broaden your understanding of Visual Design in preparation for your first job in the field. Get ready to expand your knowledge with over 60 hours of wonderful Visual Design resources!

The Skillshare/TechWORKS Curated Visual Design Track

Skillshare has created a hand-picked curriculum of their best courses related to design, with tracks covering Visual Design, Branding + Identity Design, and Illustration. And if you’re a new Skillshare member, you’ll be able to access our curated list (and their entire library of content) free for two months — click the link below to get instant access.

  • You can find the Visual Design curriculum here.
  • You can find the Branding + Identity curriculum here.
  • You can find the Illustration curriculum here.

The TechWORKS Intro to Visual Design Curriculum

We’ve also curated a curriculum of videos, articles, and written lessons from the best sources on the internet to help you strengthen your Visual Design knowledge and learn new skills that will help you launch your creative career. The curriculum is broken down as follows:

  • Design theory
    • Design Principles (Balance, Hierarchy, Contrast, Repetition, Alignment)
    • Design Thinking (Research and testing, Ideation and sketching)
    • Design Fundamentals (Typography and Typesetting, Grids, Color Theory)
  • Design programs
    • Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Sketch
  • Our favorite Visual Design Sites
    • Lists of sites like Smashing, Abduzeedo, It’s Nice That,


Let’s get started!

We’d recommend studying the following curriculum at your own pace as you work on your portfolio projects. We’ve structured the course so that you’ll first build a deeper understanding of the best ways to learn the principles and tools that effective visual designers employ every day.

Lesson 1: Design Theory

Design theory refers to the methods, strategies, and analysis of the practice of design. In this first lesson, we’ll dive into the basic principles of design.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Video The principles of graphic design
2 Article A simple description of the basic principles of graphic design
3 Article 10 basic principles of visual design
4 Article Visual Perception and the principles of Gestalt
5 Article Design elements and principles
6 Video Graphic design and the making of meaning
7 Article Learning the Basic Elements and Principles of Graphic Design

Lesson 2: Design Principles

In this lesson, we’ll dive into the five main principles of design: Balance, Hierarchy, Contrast, Repetition, and Alignment.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Video Balance: Beginner’s guide to balance in graphic design
2 Video Balance: Principles of balance in graphic design
3 Video Balance: The principles of balance
4 Video Hierarchy: Beginner’s guide to Hierarchy in graphic design
5 Video Hierarchy: Achieving hierarchy through design principles
6 Video Hierarchy: Why is visual hierarchy important?
7 Video Contrast: Beginner’s guide to contrast in graphic design
8 Video Contrast: Achieving contrast in your work
9 Video Contrast: How to pick colors for your design
10 Video Contrast: Understanding color in graphic design
11 Video Repetition: Beginners guide to contrast in graphic design
12 Video Repetition: Basic principles of graphic design
13 Video Alignment: Beginners guide to alignment in graphic design
14 Video Alignment: How to direct someone’s attention

Lesson 3: Design Thinking – Research and Testing

Design thinking refers to the concept of research, testing, and problem solving as the basis of modern design technique. Also referred to as human-centered problem solving, design thinking allows designers to create innovative solutions based on real user needs.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Video Beginners guide to graphic design: Research and testing
2 Article Design meets research
3 Article Your guide to online research and testing tools
4 Article Logo design: conducting preliminary research
5 Video Visual design theory and research
6 Article The key principles and methods of graphic design visual impact testing and user research
7 Article First impressions matter: the importance of great visual design
8 Video Exploring practice-based methods in design research
9 Article How to make your not so great visual design better

Lesson 4: Design Thinking – Ideating and Sketching

Ideation is the part of the design process focused on generating ideas. Generally, you want to  go as wide as possible, getting every idea that pops into your head onto paper for further refinement later in the process.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Article Empowering your design with mind maps and word clouds
2 Article Intro to moodboarding
3 Video The role of sketching in graphic design: intro for beginners
4 Article The importance of sketching in creating a successful design project
5 Video Ideation and marker sketching
6 Article Sketching: the visual thinking power tool
7 Video A live sketching workshop (part 1 of 2)
8 Video A live sketching workshop (part 2 of 2)
9 Video Fast and easy ideation and sketching
10 Article Concept design, ideation, and the creative day for Industrial Designers

Lesson 5: Design Fundamentals – Typography

Choosing the right type in your design is crucial, as it is the visual form of written language and can have a huge impact on how a user perceives your design.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Video Beginning graphic design: typography
2 Article 8 rules for creating effective typography
3 Video Graphic design tutorial: typography and design
4 Video Graphic design tutorial: basic typesetting
5 Article Typography rules and terms every designer should know
6 Video 10 rules to help you rule type!
7 Video Typography design and art direction
8 Video Typography tips for beginners
9 Article Common typesetting mistakes to avoid

Lesson 6: Design Fundamentals – Grid Theory

Grids are a structural element of design theory that allow designers to organize the elements of their design and maintain consistency.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Video Graphic design tutorial: Designing to a grid
2 Video Graphic design tutorial: Design structure with grids
3 Article Using layout grids effectively
4 Video Graphic design tutorial: Static and dynamic grids
5 Video Photoshop: Web design grid tutorial
6 Video Layout and composition tutorial: Grid variations
7 Video Designing with grids

Lesson 7: Design Fundamentals – Color theory

Color is one of the most impactful and powerful elements designers use to elicit specific feelings, moods, and reactions in users.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Article Color theory for designers: the meaning of color
2 Video Introduction to color theory
3 Video Beginning graphic design: color
4 Tool Everything you need to know about colors
5 Video Introduction to the color wheel
6 Video Color theory basics
7 Video Color theory: hue and saturation
8 Video Color: visual elements of graphic design
9 Video Working with colors
10 Video Simple strategies for applying color

Lesson 8: Visual Design Programs – Photoshop

Photoshop is a photo-editing and image manipulation tool that nearly everyone has heard of before. It’s one of the most powerful tools in a designer’s toolbox.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Video Getting started with Photoshop (from Adobe)
2 Video Photoshop tutorial: the basics for beginners
3 Video 10 Photoshop features every designer should know
4 Video How to design a t-shirt graphic using Photoshop
5 Video The complete beginner’s guide to Adobe Photoshop (33 videos)
6 Video Another great intro to Photoshop
7 Video A quick introduction to Photoshop for beginners

Lesson 9: Visual Design Programs – InDesign

InDesign is a tool for creating professional layouts for documents, publications, posters, and everything in between.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Video Learn Adobe InDesign (13 videos
2 Video Adding images and textures to brochures in InDesign
3 Video Designing a magazine spread (live)
4 Video Working with graphics in InDesign
5 Video How to get started with InDesign
6 Video InDesign for beginners

Lesson 10: Visual Design Programs – Illustrator

Finally. Illustrator is a vector design program that lets designers easily create and manipulate digital artwork. It is used for everything from illustration work to branding to icons.

# Lesson Link Description
1 Video Learn Adobe Illustrator (19 videos)
2 Video Creating fluid design in Illustrator
3 Video 10 things beginners should know how to do in Illustrator
4 Video The beginner’s guide to Illustrator
5 Video Learn to draw anything with Adobe Illustrator
6 Video How to create custom type designs in Illustrator

Congrats! You’ve reached the end of the TechWorks UX/UI Curriculum!

After finishing this curriculum, you should be starting to build up a vocabulary of UX/UI Design and beginning to develop your technical abilities in programs like Sketch. But you’re not done yet! Proceed to the next page for some of our favorite UX/UI websites across the web. Wherever you are in your creative career, drawing inspiration from the world around you is crucial if you want to continue improving in your field so get ready to bookmark like crazy!

More Resources

The Best Courses and Classes

# Lesson Link Description
1 Tutsplus One of the largest repositories of educational resources and tutorials  on the web, they’re especially well known for their coding tutorials, but like Treehouse, also have an excellent collection of Design courses!
2 Treehouse Most people know Treehouse for their amazing coding classes, but they also have a quickly growing repository of Design classes designed for beginners and intermediate designers.
3 Coursera Design Courses One of the original online learning platforms, Coursera teaches courses from acclaimed universities around the world.
4 Learn design the hard way An awesome (and free) design course intended to teach the basics of Visual Design to aspiring creatives. Taught in Sketch, this is an awesome primer for anyone just getting started.

The Best Visual Design Educational Tools

# Lesson Link Description
1 It’s Nice That

Always quirky and constantly surprising, the UK-based site publishes all that is unique in the design world, from amazing branding deep dives to profiles of up-and-coming design talent around the world.

They also have a new site called Lecture in Progress whose mission is  to provide graduating design students with the tools they need to launch their creative careers.

2 Creative Boom Creative Boom is another UK-based design inspiration site whose mission is to provide inspiration and useful tips and resources for people trying to build creative careers.
3 Speckyboy Another amazing resources full of interviews, tips, collections, and tutorials for designers at every level of their career.
4 Booooooom Focused on showcasing truly unique and downright wild design work, Booooooom is a great place to go to be reminded of just how diverse the creative world is.
5 Abduzeedo What list is complete without the versatile Abduzeedo, an amazing collection of inspirational work from designers, illustrators, and artists in every facet of the creative world.
6 Beautiful Pixels A site focused on showcasing the best User Interface work being created around the world. A must visit for any visual designer trying to expand their expertise!
7 Creative Bloq An incredibly active design site that publishes dozens of articles every week about Graphic Design, Web Design, Typography, and everything else design-related!
8 Onextrapixel Onextrapixel focuses on providing resources to make the jobs of designers and web developers just a bit simpler.

The Best Typography Sites

# Lesson Link Description
1 Typographic Posters

You might not be familiar with the concept of typographic posters, but take a quick look at this site and you’ll never be the same.

Typographic Posters keeps its focus very specific, showcasing the most interesting typography-based poster design submitted by members worldwide.

2 Typewolf If you’re interested in deepening your knowledge of the vast variety of typefaces that have been created, look no further than Typewolf. They curate resources on typography and mix them with recommendations and lists of the best fonts for any situation.
3 Typeverything Anything and everything related to typography and fonts. From tutorials to interviews to lists, they’ve got it all!
4 Paletton A bit unlike the rest of the sites on this list, Paletton is an incredibly versatile tool that lets you create amazing color palettes for any project.

The Best Branding + Identity Sites

# Lesson Link Description
1 Brand New If you’re looking for inspiration for your newest logo or branding project, look no further than Brand New. An incredible showcase site featuring examples of some of the coolest and most unique branding work being done today.
2 For Print Only Similarly, if you’re working on a print design project, this site will be your new best friend. Showcasing amazing posters, business cards, and more, For Print Only features only the best of the print design world.
3 Ad Collector Take one quick look at this site featuring the most original work being done in advertising and you’ll be left wondering why most of the ads you see online and on TV are so mediocre. Rest assured – there is a  ton of inspiring work being done in advertising, and this site is your best bet to stay on top of it.
4 Identity Designed Rather than just showcasing tons of great branding design, Identity Designed does deep dives into some of the most interesting branding being done around the world.
  Logo Design Love Another great aggregator of beautiful logo work on the web and in print.

The Best Design Aggregators

# Lesson Link Description
1 Designspiration A simple and beautiful stream of design work from artists around the world. With amazing work ranging from typography to logo design to illustration, Designspiration is a must visit when seeking inspiration.
2 The DSGN Blog A site that showcases a curated selection of the best design and branding work from individuals and studios around the world. They also love featuring young designers so keep them in mind if you’re hoping to have your work showcased!
3 The Best Designs This site curates a daily list of unique websites from all corners of the internet. They also showcase not just designs, but designer and workspaces as well.
4 Niice Ever wanted a tool to easily create a moodboard for a client or project? Well, Niice is the solution! Generate moodboards based on keywords, colors, or vibes.
5 Behance Not much to say about Behance – if you’re a designer, you’ve definitely heard of them.
6 Dribbble Same thing with Dribbble. Find jobs, post your work, engage with others, and more.

Now go make your Visual Design dreams a reality!