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Design

50 Totally Free Lessons in Graphic Design Theory

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Looking to expand your knowledge? Check out this round-up of free lessons on graphic design theory. 

We can't stress how essential it's to learn the fundamentals of design. The internet has made it easy for us to share information and to learn new information. Today, we've put together a list of free graphic design theory lessons for you. 

We often see only the result of a design process and not much of the behind-the-scenes work. We often wonder about the 'why' and 'how' of the process. These 50 excellent graphic design theory lessons will help you understand the process a bit better.

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Typography

  • The ultimate guide to basic typography

    1. The Ultimate Guide to Basic Typography

    The world of design is extensive. Learn the most important terms that you need to navigate your design career. This article touches on misused terms and explains some important typesetting terminology.

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  • How to use variable fonts on the web

    2. How to Use Variable Fonts on the Web

    Variable fonts allow you to have an unlimited number of fonts that derive from the same font file. Forget about having any limitations in your design as variable fonts will allow you to be more flexible.

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  • How to Use Color Fonts on the Web

    3. How to Use Color Fonts on the Web

    Looking to use more than one solid color in your next web design project? This tutorial shows you how to use different colors per glyph, which will give you a fun result.

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  • A Brief History of Display Fonts

    4. A Brief History of Display Fonts

    Display fonts are essential if you're looking to create a certain atmosphere and feeling in your design. In this article, get familiar with the history of display fonts and how they came to be so popular.

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  • How to Combine Fonts How Not To and the Best Font Combinations

    5. How to Combine Fonts, How Not To, and the Best Font Combinations

    Typography is an essential part of graphic design. When I was a beginner designer, I had trouble understanding and combining fonts for a project. In this article, you'll learn how to use this important tool with simple tips and tricks.

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  • A Brief History of Type

    6. A Brief History of Type

    Typography has a fascinating history and it’s come a long way to become what it is today. Learn the history of type starting from the earliest engravings, the printing press revolution, its impact in the Midcentury Modernism, and all through to today.

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  • How to Improve the Accessibility of Fonts and Typography in Your Designs

    7. How to Improve the Accessibility of Fonts and Typography in Your Designs

    Design for accessibility has been improving year after year. Typography is one of the most essential tools in graphic design and therefore has a huge impact on how text is viewed. Learn how to improve your technique for accessibility with this handy article.

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  • The Different Types of Fonts When to Use Each Font Type and When Not

    8. The Different Types of Fonts: When to Use Each Font Type and When Not

    There’s no shortage of fonts these days. There are so many options for every single project. Building a font collection is a smart way to organize all your favorite fonts. Check out this article to learn more about classifications and find some great inspiration.

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  • The Rise of the Sans Serif

    9. The Rise of the Sans Serif

    Do you want to learn a bit more about the history of sans serifs? The last few years have brought a lot of changes in branding. Many companies were shifting from serif fonts to sans serifs. Check out this article to learn more about the reasons behind it.

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  •  3 Tips to Help You Avoid Bad Web Typography

    10. 3 Tips to Help You Avoid Bad Web Typography

    Typography has so many variable options. Our jobs as designers don’t end at choosing a single font. We also have to decide all the smaller details that can cause a big impact on our design project. In this article, learn more about how to avoid bad web typography.

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Grid-Based Design

  • How to Design With Grids and Break Them

    1. How to Design With Grids and Break Them

    If you ever wondered about grids, this article covers everything from their origin to how to design with them. As the foundation of any visual design, grids have become essential for composing layouts. This tool will help you create an organized and cohesive page. Check out this article to learn more.

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  • How to Create a Bauhaus Poster in Adobe InDesign

    2. How to Create a Bauhaus Poster in Adobe InDesign

    Curious about how to include grids in your poster design? The Bauhaus school was a German art school that emerged during the pre-war period. Their ideals have come to define what we now know as Modernism. This tribute poster is based on a grid, which was essential to the philosophy of this school.

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  • How to Make Icons

    3. How to Make Icons

    So you’ve mastered grids, and now you're wondering how you can take it up another notch? This tutorial is perfect if you're looking to create your own icons. This thorough article will show you how to carry out icon research, how to choose the right size, and how to make it pixel perfect.

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  • Finding Inspiration in Graphic Design History 5 Aesthetics to Inspire Your Next Project

    4. Finding Inspiration in Graphic Design History: 5 Aesthetics to Inspire Your Next Project

    Throughout design history, there have been multiple styles that adopted the grid as their own. One of them is the International Typographic Style. Learn more about the Swiss Style, which used the grid to organize content.

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  • How to Create a Professional Magazine Layout

    5. How to Create a Professional Magazine Layout

    This quick introductory tutorial is perfect if you are wondering how to use grids in a magazine layout. You’ll learn the essential techniques for creating templates and print-ready spreads. 

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  • Illustrator in 60 Seconds The Perspective Grid

    6. Illustrator in 60 Seconds: The Perspective Grid

    Perspective grids are one of those tools in Adobe Illustrator that not many people know how to use. With this super quick tutorial, you’ll be sure to learn everything about perspectives and how to create designs based on perspective grids.

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  • Quick Tip How to Create an Isometric Grid in Less Than 2 Minutes

    7. Quick Tip: How to Create an Isometric Grid in Less Than 2 Minutes!

    Isometric vectors are an awesome trend of illustration that look hard to create but are in fact super easy. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a rectangular grid to use as a base for your vectors.

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  • How to Create a Newsletter Template in InDesign

    8. How to Create a Newsletter Template in InDesign

    If you are new to grids, this tutorial is perfect for you. You’ll learn how to set up a template by using a basic three-column grid. You’ll be able to see how to populate pages with images and text to keep your design clean and organized.

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  • How to Create a 60s Retro Flyer Design

    9. How to Create a 60s Retro Flyer Design

    This flyer is inspired by the Swiss Typographic Style or modernist design that was popular in the 1960s. The heavy use of grids as an organizational system helps display information in a clean and clear way. Check out more to learn about how to keep your design cohesive and pristine!

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  • A Comprehensive Introduction to Grids in Web Design

    10. A Comprehensive Introduction to Grids in Web Design

    That’s right, grids aren’t only for print design. Web design is completely based on grids. In this article, you’ll learn everything from basic lingo to theory and examples of how websites are using grids.

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Color Theory

  • The 5 Problems With Fundamental Color Theory

    1. The 5 Problems With Fundamental Color Theory

    Color theory is one of the first tools we learn as designers. This article goes over five myths of color theory that could be limiting us as designers.

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  • Creating Graphic Design and Illustration for Color Blind People

    2. Creating Graphic Design and Illustration for Color Blind People

    A large number of the worldwide population suffers some kind of vision impairment. We, designers, have a great impact on their lives through the work we put out. This article outlines a few solutions we could use to improve their quality of life.

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  • 10 Best Logo Colour Schemes  Combinations With Examples

    3. 10 Best Logo Colour Schemes & Combinations (With Examples)

    Choosing color combinations for logos is an important job as color can affect emotions and behaviors. We’ve all felt uncertain at times when designing a brand and not being able to decide what to choose. This article helps you understand how to effectively use color for a logo.

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  • Photoshop in 60 Seconds RGB vs CMYK

    4. Photoshop in 60 Seconds: RGB vs. CMYK

    If you’re a beginner designer, learning color modes is essential to do your job the right way. In this video, you’ll learn the differences between the two most important color modes, RGB and CMYK, what they stand for, and how to convert color modes in Adobe Photoshop.

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  • Advanced Color Theory What Is Color Management

    5. Advanced Color Theory: What Is Color Management?

    Know everything about RGB and CMYK but want to learn more? This article helps you understand other color models available to designers. You’ll learn how to and when to use them, how to manage colors, and what happens when you convert color spaces.

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  • Accessibility Basics Designing for Visual Impairment

    6. Accessibility Basics: Designing for Visual Impairment

    About 9% of the global population experiences a kind of visual impairment, so can we do anything to improve their online experience? In this useful article, you’ll learn more about how website design affects visually impaired individuals and what we can do to make it better.

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  • The Ultimate Guide to Adobe Illustrator Swatches

    7. The Ultimate Guide to Adobe Illustrator Swatches

    Keeping an organized workspace is essential if you are working in Adobe Illustrator. This article is all about the Swatches panel. You’ll learn everything from adding swatches to handling pattern swatches.

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  • Why You Should Avoid Vibrating Color Combinations

    8. Why You Should Avoid Vibrating Color Combinations

    Vibrating colors is a phenomenon that happens when two highly saturated color schemes look as if they are vibrating. The colors appear to merge and glow. In this article, you’ll learn how vibrating colors can cause legibility issues and how it affects visually impaired individuals.

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  • An Introduction to Color Theory for Web Designers

    9. An Introduction to Color Theory for Web Designers

    If you dabble in web design, you need to read this essential introduction to color theory. This practical article explains many design principles you can use to choose a color scheme.

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  • 6 Beginner Safety First Color Guidelines for the Web

    10. 6 Beginner “Safety First” Color Guidelines for the Web

    Color theory for web design is just as important as for print design. We all get very excited about color palettes and tend to use one too many color combinations. This article outlines a few tips on how to successfully use color in web design.

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Design Theory

  • The Basic Elements of Design

    1. The Basic Elements of Design

    Understanding the fundamental concepts of design is essential to creating a layout that makes sense. In this article, you’ll learn many concepts that are useful when it comes to composition.

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  • 60 Design Terms You Should Know

    2. 60 Design Terms You Should Know

    We put together a glossary of terms that every designer should know. No matter what stage of your career you are in, this article is important to refresh your memory.

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  • Become a Better Designer by Exploring Universal Beauty Myth vs Reality

    3. Become a Better Designer by Exploring Universal Beauty: Myth vs. Reality

    Have you wondered what’s considered beautiful around the world? This article touches on the concept of beauty, where it comes from, and how this idea shapes us as designers.

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  • The Principles of Design

    4. The Principles of Design

    If you are a beginner designer, this article is for you. The creation of a successful design piece is based on a set of principles. These tools can help you structure your design while still keeping it interesting.

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  • The Testing Phase of Design Thinking

    5. The Testing Phase of Design Thinking

    Testing your design before it goes into the masses is important. It’ll help you see if the design functions effectively and how it was intended. In this article, you’ll learn more about the importance of the testing phase of design thinking.

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  • A Comprehensive Introduction to Visual Design

    6. A Comprehensive Introduction to Visual Design

    Learn the fundamental principles of web design with real examples. Whether you’re an experienced designer or beginner, this article is a solid ground for you to build your practice.

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  • How to Advocate for Design Among Non-Designers

    7. How to Advocate for Design Among Non-Designers

    If you’ve been struggling with limitations in your design role by non-designers, this article is for you. You’ll learn a few pointers on how to better advocate for your role and for the value of good design.

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  • Why Design Matters To Your Business

    8. Why Design Matters To Your Business

    The value of design is taking a more important role in all types of businesses. Investing in user experience can mean you are making a great investment and improving key metrics that support your business. Learn how in this insightful article.

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  • How Apple Ended Up Leading the Icon Design Trends

    9. How Apple Ended Up Leading the Icon Design Trends

    Have you ever wondered why icon design is so important and how it came to be essential for digital devices? Take a look at this article to learn more about this revolutionary trend which started back in the 70s.

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  • Prototyping in Design Thinking Fail Fast Fail Often

    10. Prototyping in Design Thinking: Fail Fast, Fail Often

    Testing your prototype is an essential step in Design Thinking. Not only to see if they work but to see if the user is utilizing the product the same way designers think. Learn about the guidelines and types of prototypes you can use in your process.

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UI & Usability

  • Usability Testing Methods The Benefits of Face-to-Face Tests

    1. Usability Testing Methods: The Benefits of Face-to-Face Tests

    It’s hard to predict what users are thinking without testing products. Testing methods have come a long way, and most clients want to have the product out the door ASAP. But, without testing, the product can fail. Learn more about the benefits of testing products in this article.

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  • How to be a Design Usability Champ

    2. How to be a Design Usability Champ

    Understanding how to present and measure user research results is key to the developing process of a product. Learn a few guidelines on how to ease communication between users and project teams.

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  • An Introduction to Remote Usability Testing

    3. An Introduction to Remote Usability Testing

    If you ever wondered about remote usability testing, this article is for you. It contains valuable information that can help you with the decision-making process if your product is ready for the masses.

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  • Why Dark UI Patterns Are Bad for Business

    4. Why Dark UI Patterns Are Bad for Business

    Dark UI patterns have a very short term benefit when it comes to user trust. This article shares a set of best practices to avoid unethical and deceptive UI patterns.

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  • 8 Golden Rules for Better Interface Design

    5. 8 Golden Rules for Better Interface Design

    If you’re struggling with usability issues in your design process, this article can help you move in the right direction. This article outlines eight design principles that are applicable to most user interfaces.

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  • UXUI Kits to Speed Up Your Design Process

    6. UX/UI Kits to Speed Up Your Design Process

    If you are running short on time, resources are the perfect way to get ahead and buy yourself some time. Great quality resources are hard to come by, so here’s a list of resources that can help you speed up the UI/UX design process.

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  • UX in 60 Seconds Using Component Libraries

    7. UX in 60 Seconds: Using Component Libraries

    Check out this super quick introductory video on using component libraries for UX. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner designer or seasoned—this video is essential!

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  • Create Amazing Prototypes in No Time with the Envato Elements Sketch Plugin

    8. Create Amazing Prototypes in No Time with the Envato Elements Sketch Plugin

    Prototyping tools have come a long way in recent years. Sketch is one tool that is Mac-based and offers amazing functions through the use of plugins. Learn more about how to use this plugin and take your designs to a higher level.

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  • 5 Easy Rules for Mobile UI Design Beginners

    9. 5 Easy Rules for Mobile UI Design Beginners

    The creation of mobile applications grows daily. To design a good application, there are several rules to take into consideration that are different from desktop applications. Follow these rules before you get started on your next project.

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  • The Best Free Figma Resources Templates Icons UI Kits and More

    10. The Best Free Figma Resources: Templates, Icons, UI Kits, and More

    If you are using Figma as your interface design tool, this article has an awesome list of free resources to help you. Figma allows you to collaborate in real time while creating flawless and responsive experiences.

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That's It!

Understanding design principles and the essential tools you can work with is important. Sometimes we want to run before we walk, and that can open you up to mistakes. Learning the basics is important, not only to apply to projects but to also communicate and educate clients. We hope these 50 free lessons are useful for you as they are to us! 

If you liked this article, check out our free course on design systems—it's perfect for helping you translate graphic design theory into your web design work. You may also like these articles:

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