Over the years, I’ve had many questions about how I learned graphic design.


For those of you that are new here, I didn’t study graphic design or marketing in college. I was actually a Communication Studies major, which is a social science that I think is closest to something like sociology. Technically, my degree is the same as those who studied PR/Advertising/Journalism in my college, but I didn’t take any classes like “Basic Principles of Design” or “Advertising Campaigns.”

So how did I learn? Essentially, I got my first internship (actually with my future father-in-law, but that’s a different story altogether) and for this position, I learned InDesign. From knowing InDesign, I got a job in my university’s Digital Media Center, where I learned a whole bunch of stuff: Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere, Logic, Final Cut Pro, and how to use all of the DSLR cameras, lighting kits, and audio equipment we had. This job really hit off my skills, and I later worked for The University of Alabama Athletics Department as a graphic design intern and completed a variety of on-campus extracurriculars as a marketer and/or graphic designer.

Essentially, I consumed anything and everything that I could. I volunteered on any team that had a communications/marketing division and invested myself as heavily as I could in the process… but those skills were the basis of my 20-year-old self being able to do that.

Is learning Illustrator easy?

Short answer: it’s not “easy.” Especially if you’ve never worked with a vector program before and have spent the majority of your time in Photoshop (Ps) or InDesign (Id). It’s a completely different monster with a completely different set of rules than most people are used to. That being said, it’s not as hard as most people think; once you get the basics and keep up constantly with practices and new features, it’ll be a walk in the park.

Free Resources to Help You Learn Adobe Illustrator

Now keep in mind that I was learning Illustrator (Ai) 6+ years ago, but these are the tools that I used to help me master it:

  1. Ai vs. Ps. vs. Id — First off, get a good grip on the differences between the most commonly used graphic design programs and be well versed in the differences between the three. Actually — while you’re at it, know all about color modesfile formats and types, and resolutions. Start with the basics and build your way up!
  2. Lynda — If you’re really starting at the absolute beginning, this is a great place to start. Lots of full courses for beginners on the basics of Adobe Illustrator. Adobe also offers a Get to Know Illustrator section as part of their Creative Cloud Tutorials.
  3. The Bézier Game — An easy, fun and sometimes frustrating game for mastering the Pen Tool. I used to get so frustrated by failing and failing at this game. Now it’s a piece of cake!
  4. Free How-To Tutorials & Online Courses by Envato Tuts+ — There are dozens of free How-To Tutorials on this website that can be watched for free and sorted by software. Example: How to Create Line Patterns in Adobe Illustrator but also other software, like How to Make a Photoshop Vignette Effect Action.
  5. Behance Live — Behance, Adobe’s portfolio website, hosts weekly live sessions with a bunch of different creatives. I love watching these even now, more than a few years into my graphic design work, when they feature Illustrators or Designers using Ai/Id/Ps. They also host daily creative challenges which is pretty awesome!

Hope those help you out! Good luck on your Illustrator journey!

Till next time,