Free Graphic Design Software for when you are Learning Graphic Design

If you are learning graphic design and haven’t got a big budget, the first investment I would suggest is a layout pad and pencil/pen (yes – seriously). The most important thing will always be your ideas and the design rather than the tools you use to implement them. However when you are ready to take your ideas on to the computer there are a couple of good websites you may want to try to find free graphic design software as alternatives to paid commercial programs.

Alternative to
On this site you have a couple of options, if you have something specific you are looking for – type in the mainstream commercial design program ie. Dreamweaver and then it will give you a list of alternatives (both paid and free).

Free graphic design software

To narrow it down to just Free and Open source use the drop “Filter by License” menu. You can also filter by platform – Mac, PC or Linux.

Opensource design software

With “Alternative to” you also have the option to browse through software by choosing your platform from the top menu and then choosing the type of software you are looking for.


Here you can simply search for the commercial graphics software (eg. Photoshop) that you are trying to find an open source alternative to. When you have found it select it and underneath you will find a list of alternatives along with which platform they are available for Mac, Windows or Linux.

Osalt Open source design software

Have fun, but don’t forget the humble pencil!

Student Car Graphics Design Competition

Car Graphic Design competition

To celebrate the launch of a new model of electric car called the Twizy, Renault are running a competition entitled “Design a Twizy”. The competition is targeted at students in further and higher education and gives them the chance to design their very own Twizy. The winning design will see the entrant having a year’s worth of tuition fees paid for. The second prize is a weekend for two in Paris, with the third prize winner taking home £250 in French Connection vouchers.

Find out more at

Logo Design Tutorial Exercise 3 for Complete Beginners

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When you are working on a logo design project:

1. First you will have taken a design brief

Read Why is a Design Brief so Important

2. Then done some research and started brainstorming

You can read a bit about doing some basic research in Logo Design Tutorial to Design a Charity Logo
See an example of brainstorming in one of the the previous Logo Design Tutorials

3. Sometimes a moodboard will help you find the right feel for a logo

Logo design Mood Board

You may find the odd project where you really struggle for ideas or to work out the right sort of “feel” for the logo. This is where moodboards can come in.

If you haven’t heard of moodboards before they are traditionally big boards (pieces of mountboard or card) which are filled with images, bits of type, perhaps colours and anything which you feel is in the direction of the type of design you are trying to achieve.

When I produce moodboards I generally get together any leaflets I have lying around, buy magazines which I feel fit with the type of market or niche I am designing for and rip out bits and pieces that I like and then paste them on to a big board. I might also include images, logos and type that I find online and print out. There is something about the act of getting away from the computer and really looking at other images that really helps to get you mind going again. Once the moodboard/s are complete you can then use them alongside your brainstorms to stimulate logo ideas. Perhaps you might really like the way a piece of typography works or a colour combination on some of the bits you have torn out.

If you are pushed for time (and I use this method too) you can always create digital moodboards or image collections. The simplest way is to simply collect together images you find on the web download them to a folder on your machine and then pull them all in to a program like iphoto so you can view them all at once (a bit like a moodboard). If you prefer you could alternatively drop the images into layout design software, or if you are using an iPhone or ipad use an app like the aptly named Moodboard.

ipadd app moodboard

Still stuck?

Try out some of these other creative exercises

See Also

Logo Design Tutorial 1
Logo Design Tutorial 2

learn logo design online

Logo Design Tutorial Exercise 2 for Complete Beginners

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This is the second logo design tutorial, which is again aimed at complete beginners. The exercises are designed to break down the thinking behind designing a logo into bite size chunks. Don’t forget to check out the first logo tutorial too.

This logo design exercise will allow you to concentrate on another important aspect of logo design which is to start looking for suitable fonts/typefaces. As with the first logo tutorial we are again going to use the two words we used previously. If you didn’t do the previous exercise choose 2 words which are different to each other (ie. Dog and cat, angel and devil)

Logo Design Tutorial Exercise 2

1. Think about what sort of typeface/font might represent the words well.

Taking the word “angel” for example we might look for typefaces/fonts which are very round, or light weight or simple. The word “devil” on the other hand conjures up a much harsher, perhaps heavier or angular typeface/font.

2. Try out different fonts

You can of course look through the fonts on your machine and test out different fonts, but for this exercise I am going to suggest you go over to which offers variety of fonts free to download. The great thing about Dafont is that it allows you go type in your chosen words (you have to first choose from one of the type categories) and then see how they look in each of the fonts.

looking for fonts to for Angel Logo Tutorial

3. Always remember as with most things simple is generally best

You can see below some more unusual fonts used to spell out Devil. Some look really interesting in themselves, but remember to use them sparingly. In most cases it’s best to avoid crazy over the top fonts, especially especially Comic Sans and stick with much simpler ones.

Fancy fonts for Devil logo

4. Download a selection of the best fonts

Once you have found several fonts you feel are appropriate download them and test them out in Illustrator (Inkscape is free vector software you can use and an alternative.) Why not also experiment to see if you can combine them with some of the elements from the first logo tutorial.

Hopefully this exercise has got you thinking more about choosing appropriate fonts. There is much more we can delve into regarding using fonts in future logo design exercises.

Note: If in future you intend to use any of the fonts from Dafont for paid commercial use make sure you check the licenses on the fonts – not all fonts may be used for commercial work without permission.

learn logo design online

Logo Design Tutorial Exercise 1 for Complete Beginners

If you are a complete beginner looking for logo design tutorials you probably have found a few different blog posts on the logo design process and even a few walk through tutorials showing the start and finish point of logo design. This is all very well but if you are anything like I was when I first started learning graphic design (years and years ago) it’s all a bit overwhelming. One of the things that could help you is to break down the logo design process into small exercises where you don’t feel pressured and you don’t have to show anyone (including a client) your logo design results.

Here’s one logo design tutorial exercise which could start your mind thinking more in the way a designer does when they are working on logo designs.

Logo Design Tutorial Exercise 1

1. Start by thinking of a couple of words, ideally that are the opposite or very different from each other
For example Dog and Cat or Devil and Angel

2. Quickly brainstorm each word – using mind mapping techniques.
You can do this by starting with your word written in the middle of the page and then spring off of that other related words. So in the case of the word Angel, I might have wings, halo harp etc etc. If you prefer you can use mind mapping software to do a similar exercise. You can also try other creative techniques to generate more ideas.

Angel logo design tutorial mindmap

3. Take these two words and sketch them very basically on a piece of paper or type them in on the computer if you prefer

4. Now by adding just one or two shapes or lines make these words have some resemblance or association to what they are.
These do not need to be polished, they can just be very rough and sketchy as mine are below 🙂 . You are simply using this exercise to work out the logo ideas for your own benefit, just as a graphic designer would create rough ideas that the client would never see before they moved on to the more polished options they would present

Angel devil logo design sketches for tutorial

5. Repeat the exercise above to see how many options you can create. As a slight variance try to use just the first letter of the words in the same way.

6. Take your favourite logo options, scan them into your computer and have a go at working them up using a vector program such as illustrator
If you are looking for free vector software try Inkscape.

Don’t worry about using fancy typefaces, just use something basic for now like Arial or Helvetica. This gives you less to worry about and allows you to concentrate on the shapes. When you get more experienced you can experiment with fonts but keep it simple for now and concentrate on one thing at a time. Start in black and white and only when you are completely happy you can choose then to use one or two colours.

logo tutorial options worked up on computer

If you likes this logo design exercise you may want to check out my logo design course

Beginners may also want to check out the sample logo design briefs I have put together:

Design Exercise: Logo Design/Redesign
Sample Brief: Design a Garden Centre Logo

Posts with Logo Design Tutorials from around the Blogosphere

Smashing Magazine’s 60+ Beautiful Logo Design Tutorials And Resources
Logo Design Process and Walkthrough for Vivid Ways
The Logo Design Process of Top Logo Designers
Step by Step Logo

Nottingham Design Students Invite you to an Art Auction on 3rd December

Nottingham Invite

Students at Nottingham Trent University have organised an art auction with all profits going towards their graphic design degree show for third year students.

Lawrence one of the students said:

“Our goal is to raise money for our end of year exhibition, taking the success of last years show one step further. So our second event is ‘going, going. gone’, a design print auction. We have received some great work so far from Rob Ryan, Shepard Fairey and YCN to name a few. On the night we have mince pies and mulled wine, stalls, and raffles. The night is also being photographed”

All are welcome

Auction Night: 3rd December, opening at 6:30 with the Auction beginning at 8:30

Venue: Nottingham’s Independent Art Centre, The Art Organisation , 3-21 Station st Nottingham NG2 3AJ