This is a frequently asked question by most design students or people looking to learn graphic design, most people just want to know where is a good place to start. As there are multiple types of design and design software, I will be making this into a series, so this week I will be focusing on 2D illustrations and the best software and places that help you learn that piece of software. In the coming weeks I will cover photography, animation, print and 3D.
There are 2 main pieces of software that can be used to make 2D illustrations, Adobe Photoshop (raster) and Adobe Illustrator (vector). If you want to know what the difference between raster and vector illustrations are click here. These are the best pieces of software in their fileds however they are expensive and there are alternatives, which are free but aren’t nearly as good. The links I will provide are on the assumption that you are using either Photoshop or Illustrator.
This is one of my personal favourites, it has a lot of stuff for beginners as well advanced users of the software. Lynda offers online video tutorials and training for multiple pieces of software but it has a lot of stuff relating to design. There are multiple tutors and trainers to chose from as well as a variety of different courses on these pieces of software. My main problem with video tutorials is that you just watch someone else do the work and most of the time (especially when starting out) that can be useful but you will learn a lot more by actually doing. Lynda does a great job of combating this by offering exercise files, these allow you to follow along with whatever the trainer is doing. Lynda is fairly expensive, it’s $25 / £16.50 a month and you get access to all the video files or you can pay $37.50 / £25 and have access to the exercise files as well. Click the links below and see the types of things Lynda learning offers and there is also a 7 day free trial if you want to try it out.
This is a great website but you will benefit from it more if you are already competent with the software you are using, although they do offer a few beginner tutorials they are more focused towards the intermediate and advanced user. Digital Tutors offer professional CG, VFX and digital art training, like Lynda they do it in the form of video tutorials and offer exercise files in order for you to follow along with the trainer. Digital tutors are mainly focused on 3D design but they do have a lot of content for 2D work as well but it is considerably less than Lynda and it is geared towards people who have been using the software a while.
Digital Tutors is another monthly subscription service and access to everything will cost $45 / £30 a month or a yearly fee of $399 / £265. You can create a demo account and have access to a bunch of free content and if you like and want more you can upgrade whenever you want.
Instead of more sites that offer video tutorials and that cost money I thought I would show you another really useful website. Tuts+ is incredible useful and has an incredible range of tutorials but they are mostly text based with only a few of them being videos. It can be a little harder to follow along to a text based tutorial than a video but some people prefer it but the amount of content that this this site has, it’s definitely worth a look. Also unlike the others it’s free, there is something called premium tuts+, this gives you access to more content and tutorials but there are so many tutorials it’s not really necessary to get.
YouTube and Google
This is an obvious one but definitely one to remember. All the other sites are great for overall knowledge but if your are designing something and need something specific and you can’t remember how to do it, just type it into a search engine and you will be surprised the amount of help and information you get.
If you are fairly competent but are stuck on a problem and you can’t find anything through a search engine then a forum is your best bet. There are qualified professionals who visit frequently and help people like you and me when we are stuck on something. Make sure you use a search engine to try and help you before you ask a forum, sometimes people get a little upset about seeing a question that could be answered by a simple search through google. Below are some forums that I would recommend checking out:
If you have any other areas of design you would like me to cover e.g. photography, animation, print etc leave a comment and let me know. Also leave a comment and let me know if there are any websites I missed that you think maybe useful.