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.
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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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!
The Best Courses and Classes
|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
|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
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
|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
|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.|