10 highly recommended online courses to reignite your creative passion

Whether you’re new to your creative career or a seasoned professional, it’s essential never to stop learning. In a dynamic industry, new techniques, technologies and career opportunities are emerging all the time, and you don’t want to get left behind. Plus it’s always good to challenge yourself and add new strings to your bow, to stay inspired and keep growing creatively.

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

And the best thing is, you no longer need to invest a lot of time and money in retraining. Learning community Skillshare makes numerous courses available on its platform, led by some of the world’s most famous creatives, for very reasonable prices, making it quick and easy for you to upskill and stay relevant. For a limited time only, Skillshare is offering Creative Boom readers two free months of Skillshare Premium so that you can enjoy 24,000+ classes at no extra cost. Here are 10 of our favourites.

1. Customising Type with Draplin: Creating Wordmarks That Work

If you only ever use the same fonts as everyone else, your designs are unlikely ever to stand out. And so customising type is an essential skill for graphic designers of all levels. In this 90-minute class, follow along as famed designer Aaron Draplin digs for antique typographic references and then creates several type treatments of his own to design merchandise for his hometown of Portland.

You’ll discover how to uncover reference material, the importance of kerning, how to customise letterforms, sketch type from scratch, prep a file for print and more. There are also bonus segments on adding texture and rebuilding typefaces from scratch.

Once you master customising type, you'll have a powerful skill in your design toolkit for every branding, logo, and visual styling project that comes your way.

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2. Lettering for Designers: One Drop Cap Letterform at a Time

The foundation of all lettering is understanding how to create just one beautiful letter. And so this course by famed letterer and illustrator Jessica Hische focuses on just that.

Across 101 minutes, you’ll learn how to sketch your ideas, create a solid foundation for your design; digitise your work in Illustrator, identify what makes a letter look organic, and replicate it in your work. You'll also learn how to get solid finishing touches, such as perfect curves. Throughout each lesson, Hische walks through her lettering process and shares tips and tricks from throughout her career.

On completing this class, you’ll have a finished drop cap letter and a full arsenal of tools to create perfect letters for every project and style.

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3. Beyond the Logo: Crafting a Brand Identity

Learning to craft a logo is an integral part of being a designer, but it’s also important to understand that logos don’t exist in a vacuum.

Courtney Eliseo’s 90-minute class on branding beyond the logo explains how to craft a broader identity for a brand and where the logo sits within this system. From colour and typography to patterns and illustrations, you'll learn to recognise and craft crucial visual cues for conveying brand values and personality.

In addition to 10 short video lessons, the course includes 15 pages of specific, downloadable resources to help you fully realise your brand identity vision. By the end, you will have a complete brand identity system that's ready for client presentation and real-world implementation.

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4. Demystifying Graphic Design: How Posters Work

Need to master the art of poster design quickly? Then take this one-hour class given by Ellen Lupton: author, educator and curator at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Lupton explains how to tell a story, excite the eye, and use visual language to create an emotional, practical design, as well as to share her poster design process in a hands-on lesson, inspired by Cooper Hewitt's 2015 book and exhibition How Posters Work. Each lesson in this course is illustrated with inventive and authentic designs, from Polish film posters to political propaganda.

This class is perfect for graphic designers, illustrators, and enthusiasts alike. All you need is a passion for design, a curious eye, and love for a visual story.

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5. The Golden Secrets of Hand-Lettering: Create the Perfect Postcard

Lettering, calligraphy, and type design are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually very different. A calligraphy letter is more flowing and artful, while type design is about matching combinations of fonts for mass production. Lettering, meanwhile, has more of an emphasis on storytelling and is more commercial than calligraphy art.

This 108-minute course from letterer and designer Martina Flor outlines the fundamental principles of lettering art and applies them to a specific design project: the creation of a beautiful postcard.

As she walks you through the project, she will teach you effective techniques to think, sketch and create a lettering piece from scratch. She’ll also show you how professionals work with custom typography and lettering, and offer tips to improve your own work process. On completing this class, you’ll see typography in a completely different light.

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6. Workflow of Modern Web Design → Ideation, Wireframing, Mockups & Prototype

In 2019, web design is a complex beast. With so many different sized screens and device capabilities, making your designs responsive is more challenging than ever.

So in this course, which lasts seven hours and 33 minutes, you’ll learn the modern process of creating a responsive web design. UX/UI designer and teacher Muhammad Ahsan, who has freelanced for several Fortune 500 companies, walks you through everything from gathering information and interpreting design briefs from clients to creating sketches, wireframes and prototypes, and even creating style guides for developers.

By following this course, you will learn to use tools including Adobe Photoshop, Balsamiq Mockups, Invision App and Zeplin App to craft your responsive designs, as well as touching on design frameworks such as Atomic Design framework 8-Point Grid System.

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7. Freelancing for Creatives: Strategies & Resources from First Leap to Finances

If you’re starting on a freelance career, or that freelance career has stalled, then this 60-minute course is for you.

It’s led by Margot Harrington, a communication designer at Pitch Design Union, who was laid off six years ago, and has been running her own studio ever since; so she knows what she’s talking about. And she covers everything you need to know about freelancing: how to make the initial leap, best practices to get your finances in order, different approaches for working with clients, how to balance your freelance schedule, and how to create your own mission statement.

Aimed at designers, artists, photographers, illustrators and anyone looking to kickstart their freelance career, this class is filled with tips, tricks, and insights for all levels of experience.

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8. Digital Painting: Concept Landscapes

Jonas De Ro is a Belgian digital artist doing concept art, design, and illustration for film and games clients including Warner Bros., Nike, 20th Century Fox, and Miramax. In this two-hour course, he teaches you the diligent and efficient digital painting techniques in Photoshop you need to create fantastic and surreal concept art paintings.

You will learn a step-by-step approach to painting a concept fantasy landscape, covering every part of the process from sketching in Photoshop to the final piece. You will learn to see space as an artist, conceptualising the translation from our real world to the two dimensional.

Walking you through the process, from sourcing references and making initial sketches to brush detailing, texturing, lighting and effects, you'll learn to efficiently utilise techniques in Photoshop and apply them to create your unique digital painting of an environment.

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9. Mastering Illustrator: 10 Tips & Tricks to Speed Up Your Workflow

Many creatives use Illustrator for years without ever really mastering it or unlocking the full potential of its myriad features. If that applies to you, then this 40-minute class by DKNG designers Dan Kuhlken and Nathan Goldman could be just what you need to boost your productivity and creativity.

Drawing on specific components of their work with Star Wars, Back to the Future, and SXSW, as well as personal design projects, this class covers everything from simple keyboard shortcuts to more complex visuals like pattern strokes and vector halftones, all the way up to the Live Corners feature in Illustrator CC. Whether you're just starting with Illustrator or have been using the software for some time and want to speed up your process, DKNG's ten tips will unlock a better way to create, while keeping everything in vector form.

Take the class – Note: this course is focused on using Illustrator on a Mac, not a PC.

10. UI & Web Design using Adobe Illustrator CC

UI design skills are hugely in demand right now. So if you’d like to take advantage of that, but are new to the world of app and web design, we’d highly recommend this course from Daniel Scott, an Adobe Certified Trainer.

Across four hours and nine minutes, you’ll learn how to design a professional website in Adobe Illustrator. You’ll start right at the basics of Illustrator and work your way through to building professional UI designs.

This course is squarely aimed at people serious about becoming a user interface design professional. And Scott will be around to help in person; if you get lost, you can drop a post on the class discussion board and he promises to get back to you.

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Don't forget, you can snap up two free months of Skillshare Premium, so you can enjoy these courses for free, and also get access to over 24,000 other classes at no extra cost. Enjoy!

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