List of Free Online Commercial Art Courses & Learning Materials

See our list of the top free online commercial art and design resources. Learn about what courses and materials are available and what topics they cover to find the ones that are right for you.

Free Online Course and Materials Info

Commercial art and graphic design courses can help students acquire the skills they need to create and style layouts for advertisements, publications, product packages or promotional campaigns. Some universities that offer free online classes are members of the OpenCourseWare (OCW) consortium. Courses offered through the OCW program are non-credit, non-degree resources, and no registration is required to view the materials. The online versions may not reflect all of the activities and content included in the original, on-site classes, and students will not have access to instructors. Although formats can vary, they may include a syllabus, lecture notes, videos and assignments. Most course materials are suitable for both Macintosh and Windows platforms, and the technical requirements include current Web browsers and the use of Adobe Acrobat.

2-D Design and Composition at Palomar College

The design notes for this course are based on a 100-level class that was originally offered at this California-based school. As a resource, it provides online learners with a basic, conceptual framework for designing 2-dimensional artwork and includes illustrated lectures, assignments and examples of student work. In addition to an introductory overview, the 5-part syllabus includes topics in design elements, principles and protocols, color and painting. Students who choose to complete the projects will also have the opportunity to design a symbol for the sun, a photomontage and a textured quilt.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS6 Tutorial at Bowling Green State University

This 18-page, step-by-step guide for both Mac and PC users shows students how easy it is to create a simple website. At the beginning of the tutorial, students will learn how to organize their site and create a local root folder for their pages and pictures. The guide also teaches students the correct way to format text and images, work with tables and upload the completed site on the Internet.

Adobe Illustrator CS6 Tutorial at Bowling Green State University

The 19-page guide to the Adobe Illustrator vector graphics program can show novice designers how to create basic shapes and format type for both online and print materials. As students progress through the tutorial, they will learn how to use the Illustrator toolbox, set up a document and combine text and graphics. They can also find out how to arrange type on a non-linear track, use symbols and work with special effects.

Adobe InDesign CS6 Tutorial at Bowling Green State University

As a comprehensive guide to Adobe's desktop publishing program, this manual shows students how to set up documents and work with the software's illustration and type tools. Other tutorial topics include color mixing and text wrapping, as well as the organizational procedures associated with arranging, grouping, placing and stacking layers.

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Tutorial at Bowling Green State University

Students who would like to get started with Adobe's image-editing software may be interested in this graphically illustrated, 30-page tutorial. Instructional emphasis is on the importance of document set-up, after which, students can learn how to correct, crop and resize images. They will also be shown how an interface layout works and have the opportunity to experiment with color palettes and boxes.

Applied Multimedia at Notre Dame University

Through the OCW program, students can receive an introduction to Web-based media and learn how multimedia presentations can be used to exchange information and resolve problems. The course examines topics in applications, critical thinking, dimensions and skills, as well as emphasizes the four dimensions of multimedia artwork: appearance, information, purpose and usability. The 15 weeks of lessons examine sound editing, image editing, usability, aesthetics, content, functionality and animation. Students have access to an image portfolio and podcasts.

Applied Multimedia Technology at Notre Dame University

This recently revised OCW course in Adobe Flash teaches students how to combine animated graphics, content, sound and video resources to create multimedia presentations. As with the above class in Applied Multimedia, this course emphasizes the four critical aspects of multimedia technology, and most of the required readings can be found in Teach Yourself Adobe Flash CS3 Professional in 24 Hours by Phillip Kerman, which is not provided. Learning outcomes include the ability to create an animated sample, an audio recording, a blog and an edited image. Software requirements include the Web browser and a word processing program of your choice, Adobe Flash CS3, an image editor, a sound editor and Second Life.

Blender 3-D Design at Tufts University

The 24-unit syllabus for this OCW course is suitable for students in beginning, intermediate and advanced levels and includes PDF downloads and video lectures. Online designers will be introduced to the basics of mesh modeling and learn how to apply digital fabrics and textures to animated graphics, lighting, renderings and three-dimensional objects. The class requires the use of specific hardware and software; however, text learning units, projects, student galleries and supplemental materials are provided.

Flash at Utah State University

This course acquaints students with the fundamental programming and concepts behind Adobe Flash. This is a project-based course, and participants can discover how to create animated and vector graphics, integrate multi-level media components and upload their work to the Web. The course includes class notes, resources and assignments; however, students typically need to purchase specific software to complete assignments.

Visualisation: Visual Representations of Data and Information at The Open University

Visualisation is an eight-hour course for online learners at the intermediate level. The class is designed to help students to interpret and create creative visual representations of data and information. As a derivative of the university's Communication and Information Technologies course, the visual organization topics include those related to charts, geographical data, treemaps and multi-dimensional data. The course includes text lessons and videos.

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Popular Schools

The schools in the listing below are not free but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Other Schools:

  • Areas of study you may find at Syracuse University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
        • Advertising and Commercial Design
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • Areas of study you may find at New York University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
        • Advertising and Commercial Design
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • Areas of study you may find at The University of Tennessee include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
        • Advertising and Commercial Design
        • Interior Design and Decorating
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • Areas of study you may find at George Washington University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
        • Advertising and Commercial Design
        • General Visual Communications Design
        • Interior Design and Decorating
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • Areas of study you may find at Boise State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework, Diploma
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
        • Advertising and Commercial Design
        • General Visual Communications Design
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts

Popular Schools

The schools in the listing below are not free but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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