Top 12 Free Online Art – Design Courses in 2021

Do you enjoy making new things by sculpting, painting, and other forms? A course in Art and Design may be a great choice for you! Diverse as it is, Art and Design highlights your unique skills and turns your creative passion into an income-generating hobby! Whether you want to be the next Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, or be on a team designing the next hybrid car, these courses can help you reach those dreams!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Art and Design?
Why Should You Consider Studying Art and Design?
Course Entry Requirements
What Jobs Can You Do with an Art and Design Degree?

The Top 12 Free Online Courses for Art and Design in 2021

Beginner

The Language of Design: Form and Meaning
The Architectural Imagination
The 3D Printing Revolution
Human-Centred Design: An Introduction

Intermediate

Ignite Your Everyday Creativity
Online Jamming and Concert Technology
Fashion as Design
Fashion Design

Advanced

Evaluating Designs with Users
Basic Elements of Design: Design Principles and Software Overview
Digital Drawings: Points, Lines, Curves
Reimagining Blackness and Architecture

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Art and Design?

Art and Design are defined as the creative expression of one’s imagination and ideas. These ideas may be expressed via art, music, drama, and Design. The global art scene has pushed people to enroll in Art and Design courses. If you plan on enrolling in any of these courses, not only do you get to express yourself, but you are also presented with different career options. These courses have long with associated with so many things, including painting, graphic design, dance, theatre, fashion design, UI/UX designing, magazines, animations, brochures, and so much more. 

However, so many students have this misconception that finding a job related to arts and Design is quite difficult. This stems from the negative opinions of most families and friends. They let students believe that Art and Design are nothing but painting and drawing nice things and getting graded. This is not true! Arts and Design are more than that. The employment rate of Art and Design degrees is expected to increase to 2% by 2024, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This percentage reveals that roughly 16,700 new jobs are available by then, and one of these jobs could be yours.

Free Online Classes in Art and Design fact 1

Why Should You Consider Studying Art and Design?

If you’re bent on getting a degree in Art and Design, but you still need further convincing, here are compelling reasons why you should study this subject.

  • Wide Range of Study Topics. From theater to fashion, history to sculpture, you can study many areas in an Art and Design course. Students become more engaged because of this diversity, and the interesting course structures stretch your minds even more creatively.  
  • You Can Travel Abroad. Many colleges and universities get you the chance to study overseas, whether it’s for a single term or a whole year. This will help you widen your skill set and knowledge in the field. Furthermore, a career after the course, like fashion design, can potentially take you all over the globe. 
  • You Have Endless Career Opportunities. Especially if you are specializing in graphic design, expect to have unlimited career options. In today’s world that revolves around technology and heavily relies on gadgets, good Design and innovative ideas are essential. Animators, graphic designers, UI/UX designers, and illustrators are highly in demand for companies in website design, app development, or software programming. You can either be a digital illustrator, a video creator, an animator, and so much more. 
  • The Demand is Very High. Following Steve Job’s admission that his success was because of his creative engineers, more and more companies today seek art students. It’s common knowledge that artists are innately confident, have the right discipline, and know-how to deal with criticisms. Additionally, Art and Design graduates are not only in demand because of these specific characteristics, but they are also wanted because of their exceptional skills. Companies these days wish to boost their digital awareness. They want good, visually stimulating, and effective media platforms and websites—something that creative engineers can seamlessly deliver. 
  • Transferable Skills. A career in the creative sector may not be as lucrative as other highly paid jobs in most cases. However, the skills you gain as you study the course will prepare you to excel in other professional roles. You will learn how to think, hone your problem-solving skills, and exercise other communications and hand-eye coordination. skills

Course Entry Requirements

Art and Design, as a concept, is extremely broad! You have several options when you talk about which Art and Design program is suitable for you. The practical subjects to study would be Art, Design, or Design and Technology. However, you can showcase your creative juices through other subjects such as fine arts, photography, product design, graphic design, and so much more. If you plan to enroll in a foundation-level course first, many colleges and universities offer different opportunities. 

Students in Art and Design are creative, driven, and open-minded. Make sure to point these qualities out in your statement in your college application. If you can, provide solid and convincing examples of how these qualities influence your work. Another thing is your specialization. Although this depends on the field you will focus on, you may opt to highlight skills for your preferred field of Art and Design. For instance, if you plan to go the design route, try to show your technology or computer-aided design skills. 

Free Online Classes in Art and Design fact 2

What Careers Can You Hold with an Art and Design Degree?

Most students who prefer to go for a degree in Art and Design do so because they already know what job they will have after completing the course. However, if you’re one of the many students who are leaning into enrolling in Art and Design, but you’re clueless about what career to do afterward, below are some helpful ideas.

Interior Designer. Interior designing is not just about making working and living spaces more beautiful. This is also about improving a living space’s safety and functionality. This career is the best if you have a knack for designing and always have an eye for good lighting, harmony, and color. 

Interior designers usually sketch or use special software in making a design before sharing their outputs with builders, engineers, or architects, so they can all work together and make their dream a reality. You are trained on different types of software throughout your interior design degree to fully optimize this arts and design field.

Art Director. Print magazines, online publications, and websites need somebody to coordinate the whole creative team to bring together layouts, advertising projects, and more; hence, the art director. Using graphic software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, you are guaranteed that every element of your project will come together properly.    

If you find mixing media for a commercial purpose interesting (something you can find as part of this degree), then you’re likely to find art direction enticing. Here, you will work with communications and marketing professionals. Additionally, if you are a people person, the idea of working with different people throughout your career is something you will not miss. The job role of an art director involves coming up with fresh ideas and pleasing the team from the companies that you will be working with.

Fashion Designer. This role is dreamt by many, but it is extremely challenging to break into. But if you persevere, you will find this much-coveted field truly rewarding. A fashion designer creates wedding couture and the latest trends in fashion, designs for a major fashion label, or works with artisans to make stylish accessories like jewelry, shoes, or bags. Many successful fashion designers attest that they love their careers simply because they love making clothes and drawing. Thus, if you’re someone who spends your spare time checking and shopping for the trendiest clothes and that you are hardworking and can survive in a fast-paced working environment, a fashion design degree is perfect for you. 

UX (User Experience) Designer. Apps, websites, software interfaces, video games— these things play a crucial role in digital marketing. As a UX designer, you can help improve the way clients use digital systems and products. This career is perfect if you are a people person. You will work with developers, designers, product managers, copywriters, and so much more. You are also at the frontline of technology, utilizing different processes and tools. 

Industrial Designer. As an industrial engineer, you are responsible for creating useful appliances, furniture, and even cars. You need to have a special blend of imaginative flair and a concrete understanding of how this applies to basic applications in the real world. In this degree, you need a lot of computer-aided Design (CAD) experience, and that you should know and understand how to work with prototypes. If you thrive in fast-paced creative fields, this career path is for you. 

Free Online Classes in Art and Design fact 3

Graphic Designer. This is one of the most popular careers today, and for a good reason. A graphic designer works on illustrations, logos, visual concepts and fonts, and advertisements, merging all these into a coherent brand identity for customers. To become successful in this field, you should have a keen eye for design, coupled with a solid understanding of marketing fundamentals. 

Multimedia Artist. If you are into video games, special effects, illustrations, and other creative forms of multimedia becoming an animator or a multimedia artist help you bring your ideas to life. As an animator, you will work with other artists. You should also know about animation software and have a solid grasp of coding. If your chosen design degree course has programming, UX wireframes, Photoshop, or basic programming, becoming a multimedia artist is relatively easy to achieve. 

The Top 12 Free Online Courses for Art and Design in 2021

Now that you understand the fundamentals of Art and Design courses, below are 12 free online programs for this field in 2021. 

FOR BEGINNERS

The Language of Design: Form and Meaning

California Institute of the Arts, via Coursera

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 1

This course is perfect for beginners or if you simply want to recall the fundamentals of Design. In this program, critique is defined deeper than usual. The critique here is the detailed and objective analysis of a graphic design job. Lexicon is introduced in the course to demonstrate better and talk about graphic design in the context of critique. 

This free online course is important for those looking to develop and further refine their critical vocabulary, especially when discussing Art and Design. Whether you are a practicing graphic designer, a current (or future) student of Art and Design programs, a teacher teaching visual arts, or a stakeholder in a design project, this course exposes yourself to the terms and principles of Design and how you can use them properly. It is easy to follow, very elaborated, and very clear. The instructors are superb in communicating their points clearly but slow enough for everyone to understand and digest. 

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Ideal for everybody, even for the beginners
  • Takes 8 hours to complete
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Flexible Deadlines 
Free Online Courses for Art and Design - Divider

The Architectural Imagination

Harvard University, via edX

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 2

In this course, you will understand architecture as both technical achievement and cultural expression. From hands-on exercises in modeling and drawing to intensive analyses of exemplary buildings, this program will take you close to the work of historians and architects. 

During the first part of the course, you are introduced to the idea of architectural imagination. Architectural typology and perspective drawing are further studied. You are then introduced to some of the usual challenges in drafting architectural history. You will also learn how to address technology as an element of architecture. New aesthetics experiences are promoted, and innovative technologies are enabled. The power of representation of architecture is also discussed. Here, you will see how this can produce collective memories and meanings. 

This course is eligible for AIA (American Institute of Architects continuing education units. 

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Certificate Available for $199
  • Ten weeks long, 3-5 hours a week 
  • Self-paced
  • Taught by K. Michael Hays, Antoine Picon, and Erika Naginski
Free Online Courses for Art and Design - Divider

The 3D Printing Revolution

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, via Coursera

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 3

This course provides an understanding and overview of the 3D printing industry: where it came from, where it is going, and where somebody can start if interested in pursuing opportunities. 3D is an amazing technology that has revolutionized the world, and this course will teach you about the working principles of 3D printers.

The specialization opens your world to the magic of 3D printing. Through a series of demonstrations, you will have clear knowledge on how 3D printers work, what people can make with them, and study the 3D printing ecosystem. You will also explore what advancements are there in 3D printing and discuss how this printing technology will revolutionize the world. 

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Paid certificate available 
  • Two weeks long, 9 hours worth of material
  • Perfect for beginners
Free Online Courses for Art and Design - Divider

Human-Centred Design: An Introduction

University of California, San Diego, via Coursera

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 4

This course is a great specialization for those who wish to get into the UX/HCI field or for those who are simply interested in research and ergonomics. In this 4-week free online course, you will learn how to create technologies that will give people joy instead of frustration. The course teaches different techniques for rapidly prototyping (like the Wizard of Oz Prototyping. Different interface alternatives are also evaluated while also keeping tabs on why rapid prototyping and comparative evaluation are important to achieving the best interaction design. 

As you go along with the course, you will conduct fieldwork with other people to design ideas. You are also expected to make low-fidelity mock-ups and paper prototypes that are interactive. From there, use these designs to gain feedback from other stakeholders like users, clients, and your teammates. All in all, this is a great intro course to get your design thinking started.

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Paid Certificate Available
  • Four weeks long, 14 hours worth of material
  • Peer evaluations make the course better

FOR INTERMEDIATE LEARNERS

Ignite Your Everyday Creativity

The State University of New York, via Coursera

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 5

This free online course aims to guide you in recognizing, developing, and acting upon the creativity that you already have. In the 21st century, creativity is a highly important skill. And while this is innate in people, only very few nurture this skill. Not knowing creativity needs new and better ideas in practically every aspect of our personal and professional lives. 

To acknowledge your creativity skills, you can accomplish this by using three distinct methods: be aware, be inspired, and be creative. Upon completion, students of this free course will be able to:

  • Identify the integral creativity not just in yourself but also in others
  • Recognize qualities of a creative person that relate to yourself
  • Acquire problem-solving skills creatively using fundamental elements of the creative process
  • Study characteristics of a creative environment based on realistic settings
  • Gauge an idea using creative product criteria

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Paid Certificate Available
  • Six weeks long, 18 hours worth of material
  • Well-organized; a mixture of readings, lectures, and practical work
Free Online Courses for Art and Design - Divider

Online Jamming and Concert Technology

Stanford University, via Kadenze

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 6

Despite the huge amount of video conferencing and streaming that the Internet offers, it fell short on one major aspect that so many people would love to learn: musical fun. This course, thankfully, is just about that: high-quality and near-synchronous musical collaboration. The Internet is a perfect gateway for ultra-low-latency and uncompressed sound transmission. Thru this course, you will learn about different techniques for setting up city-to-city, studio-to-studio audio links. 

Whether you are a software developer, a professional musician, or just a plain music-lover who wishes to step up your musical knowledge, this course is right for you. This free course aims to impart information on producing, rehearsing, and setting up concert ensembles. Students will learn more about network audio and network protocols while also getting some ear training.

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Paid Certificate Available
  • Five weeks long
  • Suitable for both experienced learners and beginners
  • Self-paced
Free Online Courses for Art and Design - Divider

Fashion as Design

The Museum of Modern Art, via Coursera

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 7

Highly recommended for people who live and breathe fashion, this free online class explores the many facets of the industry, from history to modern sustainability concepts. 

Fashion as Design strongly focuses on selecting more than 70 accessories and clothes from the different parts of the world, ranging from kente cloth to gowns to 3D printed dresses. By studying these garments, you can learn more about what people wear, why they wear them, how they are made, and what the clothes mean. The best part of the course is learning from various designers, historians, makers, and people working with garments every day. To make it even interesting, interviews, studio visits, and different resources will introduce you to the rich history and development of every garment used in fashion, alongside its uses, meanings, and impact over time. 

Course Objectives:

  • Trace the development, history, and garment impact over time, and explore how these garments can be possibly reinvented
  • Improve crucial tools to contextualize and appreciate fashion design
  • Study garments through different lenses like identity, politics, and economics
  • Know more about the lifecycle of garments: from the Design to the production, to marketing and distribution, and consumption

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Paid Certificate Available
  • Seven weeks long, 20 hours worth of material
  • Handled by four industry experts from the Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art
Free Online Courses for Art and Design - Divider

Fashion Design

Parsons Schools of Design, via Coursera

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 8

There is more to fashion design than checking the future and thinking about what to create today. Fashion design entails understanding the basis of the whole design process. You will know about the many technological developments surrounding the fashion industry, artisanal designs and craftsmanship, and 3D and digital printing in this free online course. You will grasp how you can build your fashion brand through materials, design aesthetics, fit, and silhouettes. 

You will also understand how important it is to collaborate with other fashion designers and how inspirations and new modes of thinking play a crucial part in the overall design process. Lastly, you will study the future of fashion forecasting and examine social movements, trends, politics, pop culture, and environmentalism—things that play critical roles as you build your brand strategy. 

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Suitable for intermediate-level learners (with at least two years of experience in fashion design and other creative industry 
  • Shareable Certificate
  • Self-paced learning option

FOR ADVANCED LEARNERS

Evaluating Designs with Users

The University of Michigan, via Coursera

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 9

In every designing project, the best way to test it is to let people use it. The same applies to designing systems. Watching users try this system to check which one works and which one doesn’t is the perfect way to gauge your Design.

This free UX course teaches you how to design and conduct tests with consumers to know if your Design is efficient enough to help users do what they must do. This is an excellent way to find out how these users feel about using your system. By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Distinguish the many types of approaches you can use to test the system
  • Know how to design an efficient user test
  • Understand how you can effectively run a user test so you can get all the necessary information needed
  • Check and report on user testing

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Paid Certificate Available
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Four weeks long, 8 hours worth of material
Free Online Courses for Art and Design - Divider

Basic Elements of Design: Design Principles and Software Overview

The University of Colorado Boulder, via Coursera

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 10

If your goal is to be a part of an organization’s design team, having the right technical skill is a given. However, this is not just about understanding how you can manipulate photos using photo editing tools like Photoshop or integrating a pagination program like InDesign. As a designer, you must be a visual storyteller—someone that can coin words with typography and images to convey better the information you wish to deliver to your audience. 

In this course, you will learn:

  • How to identify ways to work with creative professionals
  • Understand the design process and history of the graphic design profession
  • Compare the concepts of proximity, balance, repetition, alignments, space, and contrast
  • Determine how to use white space in developing forms, shapes, and structures in a graphic project

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Shareable Certificate
  • 11 hours to complete
  • Filled with articles with relevant topics to add your wisdom and knowledge about Design
Free Online Courses for Art and Design - Divider

Digital Drawings: Points, Lines, Curves

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, via Kadenze

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 11

In this course, you are introduced to rule-based systems and practices used in making complex and infinite designs beyond the limits of the usual pencil and paper mediums. Under the hands of UNLV’s Master of Architecture Program assistant professor Joshua Hamilton, this free online course is perfect for beginners who are interested to learn rules-based design with Adobe Illustrator and Rhido3D, or for those who want to use geometric properties like curves and lines as the foundation for your digital drawings. 

In this course, you will come across exercises that will help you familiarize yourself with the many significant design tools and ideas like graphic compositional principles, geometric operations, or visual hierarchies with weights, line, tone, and poche.

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Paid Certificate Available (included with a premium membership at $20/month)
  • Self-paced (4 sessions/6 hours per session)
  • Ideal for beginners
Free Online Courses for Art and Design - Divider

Reimagining Blackness and Architecture

The Museum of the Modern Art, via Coursera

Free Online Courses for Art and Design 12

This free online course delves into the relationship between architecture and Blackness, both an identity and a lived experience. You will hear the lectures directly from architects, black artists, writers, and scholars who have reimagined their surroundings and focus on the ways Black makers have succeeded in changing the world. You can see how architects work to transform American cities into more reasonable places using hip hop, textiles, and so much more. 

The course focuses on five themes: Care, Imagination, Refusal, Knowledge, and Liberation. Every week, you will have a broader understanding of architecture as a practice that can reach across the place, time, and form. These lectures are delivered through audio interviews, original films, and readings. As you go along with the course, reflection prompts and creative activities push you to think about your role in how you can help shape communities. 

Best Features:

  • 100% online and free
  • Paid Certificate Available
  • Six weeks long, 13 hours worth of material
  • Suitable for beginners

As technology is advancing every year, the availability of Art and Design courses is continuously on the rise. Students worldwide have become more interested in studying dynamic and unique courses in the Art and Design field. Whether you wish to become a fashion designer, a UX designer, or a Scriptwriter, there are various courses to sculpt your future and career as you desire.