How Long Does it Take a Beginner to Learn Graphic Design? - All Free Mockups (2023)

How Long Does it Take a Beginner to Learn Graphic Design? - All Free Mockups (1)

Graphic design is a powerful discipline of visual communication. With the immense reach of mass communication outlets like social media platforms, digital publications, and online content providers, graphic designers are in high demand as businesses and organizations look for ways to connect with their target audience. So how does one get into graphic design and how long does it take to learn it?

A beginner can learn the fundamentals of graphic design in as little as a few months by attending a full-time course, or within nine months by taking part-time classes. Highly motivated people can learn graphic design on their own and some have even done it while holding down a full-time job. Using template based graphic design software can increase your learning period, and get you started making professional designs faster.

Customizing templates is the fastest way to learn graphic design for a beginner. It allows users to see what great design layouts look like, suggests colors that go well together, and ultimately allows users to download these customized templates and use them commercially. Our favorite website for this is because they are the leader in the graphic design template industry, they give users full commercially usable fonts and graphics, and we personally use them ourselves!


Creativity cannot be taught in a classroom (live, digital, or otherwise), and in the case of graphic design, it can only be nurtured and utilized through knowledge of basic concepts and techniques. Graphic design can be learned in a year or less, even by those without natural artistic talent, but only by taking the right approach. Read on to learn how.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Graphic Design?

Although graphic design is an artistic discipline requiring creative and problem-solving skills, it also has technical aspects that successful graphic designers have all mastered. Whether they are learned through a design school or on your own, these are the 8 principles of graphic design that every graphic design beginner should know inside and out:

  • Alignment – this basically refers to the way that elements of a design relate and connect with each other in an orderly, eye-pleasing manner
  • Hierarchy – this concept is what designers use to emphasize a particular design element to help deliver the intended message
  • Contrast – this visual tool draws the audience’s attention to particular elements or areas of a design
  • Repetition – repeating colors, fonts, words, or shapes (such as in the branding guidelines of a business) enhances brand recognition
  • Proximity – grouping related design elements together is a vital part of an effective messaging strategy
  • Balance – this principle is about creating cohesion in a design and facilitating the audience’s perception of its various elements
  • Color – this is a powerful, non-verbal way to trigger an audience’s emotional response to a design
  • Space – effectively employing negative space (aka white space) is as important to a design’s overall impact as its substantive elements

There are certain things that every beginner in the field of graphic design needs to learn. How they go about doing this, however, can vary from person to person.

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Attending a Graphic Design School

For beginners who have the means, attending a graphic design school is more often than not the most thorough way to embark on a career as a graphic designer. There are several paths to attaining a formal education in the field of graphic design and the most rigorous is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. This is a four-year commitment but offers the most comprehensive education and training by:

  • Placing students in small, studio-style cohorts
  • Encouraging close interaction between students and instructors
  • Providing a highly structured and immersive curriculum in all facets of graphic design, including history and theory
  • Facilitating mentorship and peer interaction
  • Laying a strong foundation for post-graduate networking

But pursuing a formal 4-year degree in graphic design does not appeal to everyone and for many, it simply is not feasible for any number of reasons, not the least of which are the time and money it would take. Fortunately, there is another viable option that still places students in a challenging academic environment for learning graphic design.

Highly specialized graphic design schools offer intensive, “boot camp”-style instruction that can result in students emerging with a design degree or certificate in a fraction of the time and cost that it would take to complete a 4-year program. Here is an example of how much faster alternative graphic design school students can complete their studies and be on their way to a career in design:

(Video) Expert Graphic Designer: How to Create Typography Designs on Printify

  • Students who commit to enrolling full-time can complete graphic design school in as little as three months
  • For beginners whose work or personal obligations limit the amount of time they can devote to their studies, graphic design school can be completed on a part-time basis in nine months

The structure, learning environment, and support fostered by a graphic design school can be instrumental to the success of certain people aiming for a career in design. But for others, attending graphic design school may be a luxury they cannot afford or an obligation that would be exceedingly difficult to fit into a busy schedule. This does not close the door to learning graphic design, however. It simply requires a different path.

Learning Graphic Design on Your Own

Success stories abound with self-motivated people demonstrating that learning the ins and outs of graphic design on their own terms, without attending design school, can be done with the right combination of determination, persistence, and resourcefulness. The process of becoming a self-taught graphic designer can be as short as six months to one year for those with the proper amount of self-motivation.

This path to learning graphic design may not be suitable for everyone but for those whose circumstances make attending formal classes a challenge (or simply undesirable), here are a few insider tips from successful self-taught graphic designers to keep in mind:

(Video) How to Learn Graphic Design at Home

  • Learn the basics of drawing, graphic design theory, user experience (UX), and writing
  • Learn how to use indispensable software like Illustrator and Photoshop
  • Emphasize specialty areas like logo design, mobile app design, and web design
  • Build a marketable portfolio of representative work through mock app and website designs, design competitions, design workshops, pro bono graphic design work for non-profit organizations and churches
  • Become more marketable (i.e., improve your chances of landing a graphic design job) by learning to work with developers and creating your own website highlighting your graphic design work

For those looking to learn graphic design on their own, it is important to maintain a grounded perspective. This means taking on odd projects during the early stages just to build up a portfolio of representative work, and oftentimes, performing graphic design services for free. As far as learning fundamental skills, there is a wealth of online resources comprising self-paced courses on virtually every graphic design topic imaginable.

Learning graphic design on your own will not be short on struggles but with commitment comes measurable progress. For people seeking a career change or planning to add graphic design skills to enhance their professional prospects, embarking on a path to becoming a self-taught graphic designer will afford great scheduling flexibility but this freedom to dictate the pace of learning requires discipline.

Ultimately, prospective employers will want to evaluate your work and on the portfolio end of things, taking a creative, outside-the-box approach can go a long way.

(Video) How to Become a Graphic Designer | Everything About Graphic Design | Salary, Free Courses

For instance, you can use pre-made templates to design your own t-shirts, corporate branding mock-ups, and other marketing collateral, are great ways to build up your portfolio and demonstrate real-world applications of your talent and skills. Plus, you get full usage rights with sites like, so you can even sell these designs!

Final Thoughts

Pursuing a career in graphic design can lead to opportunities in a countless number of fields and applications. And for beginners looking to learn the fundamentals of graphic design, there are different paths that can be taken, ranging from formal undergraduate degrees to intensive specialty programs to independent self-study.

(Video) How I became a UI/UX Designer in 3 months | No degree, no experience, self-taught


How long does it take to learn graphic design on your own? ›

Yes, you can grasp the basics of graphic design in 2 months, but it takes several years to master it. In fact, you'll learn that even decades later you can keep improving your skills.

How do I start learning graphic design for free? ›

10 Excellent Free Online Graphic Design Courses
  1. CalArts Graphic Design Specialization. ...
  2. Canva Design School: Graphic Design Basics. ...
  3. Logo Design Fundamentals. ...
  4. Introduction to Graphic Design History. ...
  5. Adobe Illustrator for Beginners. ...
  6. Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design.

How long does a simple graphic typically take to prepare? ›

However, on average, most designers can create a basic logo within 2-3 hours. If you're looking for something more complex or specific, then it may take longer – potentially up to several days.

Can I learn graphic design in 6 months? ›

The Certificate in Graphics course is designed for students with an interest in exploring graphic design with an emphasis on print media.
Product Specification.
Course Duration6 Months
Training Duration6 Months
FeatureCost Effective
Certificate Course TypeGraphics Certificate Course
2 more rows

Can I self teach myself graphic design? ›

While you don't need a formal education to become a graphic designer, you do need to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals. This means getting yourself primed on the principles of design, learning how to effectively use elements like color, contrast, hierarchy, balance, and proportion in your work.

Can I learn graphic design with no experience? ›

There are many graphic designers out there, all offering their services. Even if you have zero experience, there are still plenty of opportunities for you.

Can I learn graphic design in 3 months? ›

While the field of graphic design is constantly changing and relatively competitive, it is possible to learn fundamental skills and start building a portfolio of work in just a few months.

Is graphic design easy for beginners? ›

The reality is, getting started in graphic design is no easy task. However: If you take the right steps to learn graphic design, you can teach yourself graphic design more efficiently and effectively.

Can I be a graphic designer without coding? ›

Learning to code for designers is not necessary. But if they know a bit about code, they can understand a developer's perspective. It doesn't mean that they have to be an expert coder. But it would greatly benefit them if they knew a little about how to code HTML and CSS, maybe a little bit of JavaScript.

What is the first rule of graphic design? ›

Communication is key.” That's the No. 1 graphic design rule in Senior Designer Tim Olech's playbook. “Ultimately, design is about communication, and our job is to communicate as clearly as possible.”

What is the 80/20 rule in graphic design? ›

The 80 / 20 rule states that 80% of the effects in any large system is caused by 20% of the variables in that system. What this essentially implies is that, the 20% is what causes the 80%. Look at 80 as the effect produced and the 20 as the cause of the effect.

What are the five rules of graphic design? ›

5 Core Principles In Graphic Design – Rules You Must Obey
  • Contrast of size.
  • Contrast of width.
  • Contrast of light.
  • Contrast of color.
  • Juxtaposition.
28 Feb 2020

Is graphic design a lot of math? ›

Maths is a necessary part in many undergraduate courses in graphic design. This covers units such as arithmetic, calculus, and perhaps perspective geometry and statistics.

Is graphic design difficult? ›

Is Graphic Design Hard to Learn? Learning graphic design is not hard, but it does require creative thinking, an aptitude towards art and design, and time and dedication. Graphic design requires learning the necessary tools, as well as understanding and applying the principles and theories of design.

Is 50 too old to become a graphic designer? ›

No, it is never too late to start a career as a graphic designer. There are several ways to develop the skills and knowledge for this role, and these are open to people of all ages.

Where should a beginner graphic designer start? ›

  • step 1Learn Graphic Design Principles. ...
  • step 2Enroll In a Graphic Design Course. ...
  • step 3Learn Key Graphic Design Tools. ...
  • step 4Work On Your Own Projects to Develop Your Graphic Design Skills. ...
  • step 5Develop a Portfolio to Showcase Your Graphic Design Work.

What does a beginner graphic designer do? ›

An entry-level graphic designer is responsible for producing still images, videos and other visual elements for websites, magazines, presentations, television, movies, billboards and other media. These professionals are crucial for an organization to build and maintain a brand as well while driving sales.

How can I practice graphic design at home? ›

11 Graphic Design Practice Exercises
  1. Design something for an imaginary client. ...
  2. Redesign an existing brand. ...
  3. Create a logo for yourself. ...
  4. Drawing and sketching. ...
  5. Offer graphic design work to family and friends. ...
  6. Other design exercise games.
28 May 2020

Is graphic design high paying? ›

The best Graphic Designer jobs can pay up to $108,000 per year. A graphic designer creates visual designs using digital illustrations, images, and typography.

How long does it take to finish graphic design? ›

On average, learning graphic design and obtaining a degree from a traditional university takes about 4 years, which will usually earn you a Bachelor's degree. While 5 – 6 year Master's Degree programs are available at some schools, a vast majority of students aren't looking to spend that much time behind a desk.

At what age should I start graphic design? ›

Graphic design is not a field restricted to adults only, you can get started in graphic design from 11 – 12 years of age till the end! It is a field that relies on a person's creativity and you need proper mentorship to channel that creativity.

What is the least you can make as a graphic designer? ›

Graphic Design Intern – $25,291. Graphic Designer – $38,310. Senior Graphic Designer – $55,149. Senior Designer – $83,312.

What is the basic qualifications for graphic designer? ›

For most entry-level and advanced graphic design positions, you will need a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited university, college, or private design school. However, if you are seeking an associate's degree, you can obtain your certification from a variety of schools.

Is math required in graphic design? ›

Many graphic design undergraduate programs require three to four credits of math as part of degree completion. These courses can include traditional math subjects, such as algebra or calculus.

What are the 3 C's of graphic design? ›

The 3 Cs of Design: Consistency, Clarity & Content.

What are the 3 P's in graphic design? ›

The 3 P's are Preliminary, Production and Promotional. towards production and promotional drawings. The second of the P's is the Production Drawings which consist of all drawings enabling the manufacture of the product being designed.

What is a Level 1 graphic designer? ›

This multi-level certificate program is designed to prepare students for careers in the Graphic Design field of Communication Art. Students are given creative design and technology skills necessary to develop successful graphic design for print, web, and other media.

What is the golden rule in graphic design? ›

How does this relate to design? You can find the Golden Ratio when you divide a line into two parts and the longer part (a) divided by the smaller part (b) is equal to the sum of (a) + (b) divided by (a), which both equal 1.618. This formula can help you when creating shapes, logos, layouts, and more.

What are the four rules of graphics? ›

The four graphic design principles are contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity (C.R.A.P.). Contrast helps to highlight and focus attention. Contrast may be achieved using color, shades of gray, size, visual weight, and so forth.

What are 4 important qualities of graphic designers? ›

10 essential traits of a successful graphic designer
  • Communication. ...
  • Curiosity. ...
  • Passion and Drive. ...
  • Openness. ...
  • Ability to Take Criticism. ...
  • Problem Solving. ...
  • Self-doubt. ...
  • Patience.
23 Oct 2015

Which field is best for graphic design? ›

Explore the most popular career paths for graphic designers to pursue in 2022. Determine which type of graphic design specialty suits your skills and interests.
  • Brand Identity Design. ...
  • Marketing & Advertising Design. ...
  • Packaging Design. ...
  • Web & User Interface Design. ...
  • Print & Publication Design. ...
  • Lettering & Type Design.

Does graphic design require drawing skills? ›

Graphic Designers do not need to draw but instead need to create appealing designs using assets such as images, typography, illustrations. In contrast, an Illustrator will focus on drawing to communicate a message.

Is graphic design a stressful job? ›

Graphic design is no more stressful than any other field,” says graphic designer Ryan Mungia. “A lot of the stress depends on what kind of job you have and who you are doing it for.” That said, there are a few common sources of stress for graphic designers: Keeping up with deadlines.

How do you know if graphic design is for me? ›

Would I be a good graphic designer? 9 Signs it could be right for you
  1. You're communicative. You like people. ...
  2. You're committed to continuous learning. ...
  3. You're a master multitasker. ...
  4. Creativity flows through you. ...
  5. You're constantly curious. ...
  6. You're punctual. ...
  7. You've got thick skin. ...
  8. You are collaborative and open to new ideas.
14 Mar 2022

Can everyone be a graphic designer? ›

Absolutely anyone, with the right tools and skills, can become a graphic designer.

What will graphic design look like in 10 years? ›

In about ten years, graphic design will become more immersive as the paper will become obsolete. In other words, all designs will be digital and have a website feel. Note that the designs will need layers to allow users to click deeper into designs, allowing people to sell products without pitching.

Can introvert become graphic designer? ›

These creative professionals use design principles of layout, typeface, white space and color to share their message. Why it's ideal for introverts: There are a variety of work environments for graphic designers, each with different requirements for group projects and collaboration.

Can you make a living off of being a graphic designer? ›

How Much Money Do Graphic Designers Make? The average graphic designer salary is around $45,000 per year, but that's if they work full-time hours. This equates to about $22 per hour, but this can quite obviously change depending on a designer's skill level, specializations, education, and more.

How can I learn graphic design at home? ›

How to become a graphic designer at home
  1. Study the fundamentals. ...
  2. Get Everything You Need. ...
  3. Learn the software. ...
  4. Set up your home studio. ...
  5. Keep yourself organised. ...
  6. Create a portfolio. ...
  7. Take a course.
21 Mar 2022

How can a beginner start graphic design? ›

  1. step 1Learn Graphic Design Principles. ...
  2. step 2Enroll In a Graphic Design Course. ...
  3. step 3Learn Key Graphic Design Tools. ...
  4. step 4Work On Your Own Projects to Develop Your Graphic Design Skills. ...
  5. step 5Develop a Portfolio to Showcase Your Graphic Design Work.

Can you call yourself a graphic designer without a degree? ›

Do You Need a Degree to Be a Graphic Designer? While some graphic designers certainly use a college degree to enter the creative field, it's not a requirement. Many companies hire entry level designers based solely on their portfolio and experience, rather than if they have a degree.

Can I learn graphic design online free? ›

Udemy, Alison Online, and Skillshare are some places where you can learn graphic design for free.

What should a beginner graphic designer buy? ›

Table of contents
  • Microsoft Surface Go 2 laptop.
  • HP Pavilion 590.
  • Alienware 25.
  • XP-Pen Artist 15.6 pen display.
  • Logitech M330 Silent Plus.
  • HP Envy 5055 Printer.
  • Olympus Tough TG-6.
  • Western Digital My Passport.
20 Jun 2021

What tools does a beginner graphic designer need? ›

  • Pen and paper. The fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to transfer design ideas from your head to the real world is to use good old pen and paper. ...
  • Computer. ...
  • Stylus and graphics tablet. ...
  • Smartphone. ...
  • Camera. ...
  • Color space reference. ...
  • Monitor calibrator. ...
  • Storage.

What graphic designers should not say? ›

7 Things You Should Never Say To a Graphic Designer (And How To Respond)
  • “Why don't you do this one for free; it'll look good in your portfolio.” ...
  • “You just draw pictures, right?” ...
  • “I could do this myself, so it won't take you that long to do.” ...
  • “I like it, but could you make it 'pop'?”
1 Jul 2020


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