Online Resources for Graphic Design

By Claudia O’Brien

As a graphic designer, having a foundational knowledge of graphic design principles is essential but can always be helped with tools and resources. 

“We live in an age where there is endless information and material provided by renowned designers and artists online for free.” – Claudia O’Brien

I believe using this online field of information to an advantage is essential to any design student looking to advance their skills. In this blog, I will feature several of my most favored resources online.

Chico State’s Adobe Creative Cloud

I shouldn’t write a blog about this topic without mentioning our university’s prepaid subscription to Adobe. Adobe Creative Cloud is a subscription package that enables access to all Adobe software, fonts, free images, and more. If you’re a student enrolled at Chico State, all you need to do is submit a request to the university’s IT support team and download the Adobe Creative Cloud dashboard. The university offers this service completely free for students.

Colors

Sometimes knowing color theory isn’t enough to create an appealing set of hues right out of your head. My first go-to is Coolors.co. Fabrizio Bianchi founded the website and is a web developer known for creating exceptional and contemporary websites. 

The biggest sell on this particular site is its highly interactive color palette generator. The generator displays attractive color palettes that can be randomized to another color palette, customized by individual hue, be tested for color blindness/accessibility, and many more features on the same web page. Each generated color has its color codes on display for users that are looking for the most suitable hues for screens and printing. Besides the generator, the website has other unique features: hundreds of palettes created and shared by other users, a tool for picking colors from images, and a contrast checker.

Free Images

Free images are classified as public domain- they do not require copyright and royalty fees. Unsplash.com is a beginner-friendly site that has many high-quality free images. The website does not require users to make an account, and there is no limit on the number of images you can download. The images are categorized by themes of Travel, Nature, Business, etc. The site also offers a search engine. When clicked, each photo lists the photographer’s name, the location, and the type of camera used.

Mockups

A mockup is a model meant to display a product or design. An example is a design that has been digitally applied to an image of a T-shirt. When a design is shown to a client, they want to see what the design looks like on the product, not just the design by itself. Mockups can be created within Adobe software, but that takes time and skill. Smartmockups.com offers many customizable mockups free of charge. Users can upload their design to any of the offered images and 3D models and download a JPEG of a completed mockup image.

All in all, countless more free resources are available. I encourage any designer to take advantage of them, as they are there to be used! If you’re interested in learning about more design resources, this article provides various websites to check out.