20 of the Best (Free!) Guides for Working Graphic Designers


Shutterstock Academy is your one-stop-graphic-design-shop for advice, inspiration, and educational know-how. Check it out for yourself.

“I’m a Photoshop user, but my new job only uses . . . Illustrator?” “My client and I aren’t in sync—are we speaking different languages?” “How does everyone on Twitch work so fast??”

These are the kinds of thoughts that can keep a graphic designer up at night. One of the glorious and sweat-inducing things about being a creative online is that our work can go well beyond its original design and can take a small arsenal of tools to get there.

A design you doodled in Procreate might need to be vectorized in Illustrator for a client’s merch or resized for a spread made in InDesign. A cool idea at work could be hampered by the decision between several costly options, when there was a free or fast option to get that social campaign done all along.

With the launch of Shutterstock Academy, we’ve rounded up a few of our best, most useful articles for graphic designers below. (And, by twenty, we actually mean just a few from the hundreds of instructional, inspiring, and FREE!! tutorials on Shutterstock Academy . . . but who’s counting?)


6 Graphic Design Fundamentals

For beginning graphic designers: Check out Shutterstock Design School: Learning the Fundamentals for an overview of common file types, time-saving keyboard shortcuts, and tons of tools that can help you accomplish any task.

For web designers moving to print (and vice versa): Learn about all things sizing and DPI in PPI vs. DPI: Demystifying the World of Online and Print Resolution and Preparing an Image for Web vs. Print.

Pixel Density
Image via Bro Studio

For a more in-depth look at design theory: Provoke specific moods and behaviors through your designs with The Psychological Meanings Behind Familiar Shapes (And How to Use Them), an overview of UI trends with What Is Neumorphism: Its History, Present, and Future, and tackle a classic trend with The Simple Way to Create a Bauhaus-Inspired Poster in InDesign.


6 Keys to the Designer’s Toolkit

Illustrator FAQ: The Total Beginner's Guide to Vector Illustration, Pt.2 — Clipping Mask

Image via Physicx.

For illustrators with Illustrator: Learn everything about creating vectors (used in large scale media, logos, and more) with Illustrator FAQ: The Total Beginner’s Guide to Vector Illustration, Pt. 1 and follow it up with Pt. 2.

For illustrators with Procreate: The much-lauded Procreate for iPad gives artists the freedom to paint on-the-go. To give your artwork a unique edge, learn how to Create Your Own Customized Brushes in Procreate.

For the InDesign hero: Whether you’re working with a production team or a printer, as a layout designer, you’ll need to know How to Package an InDesign File in 4 Simple Steps.

For the Photoshop power user: For any task you have in Photoshop, there can be a dozen ways to accomplish it. Check out a few methods you may not have known in How to Change the Color of Absolutely Everything in Photoshop.

For every designer: A Complete Guide to Image Editing with Shutterstock Editor shows exactly how easy and fast the pipeline can be from stock image to completed project. No software required.


5 Decoders for the Language of Design

Everything You Need to Know About File Types for Design — Web Files

Image via KittyVector.

For decoding your Creative Director’s feedback: Bookmark this list of common compositional elements and how they’re defined in graphic design with The Basics of Composition to Help You Create Powerful Graphic Designs.

For designers working with several outputs: It’s inevitable that every client or department needs a file that fits into their workflow. Read up on Everything You Need to Know About File Types for Design to get the right files into the right hands.

For the designer who works with non-designers: Get into your client’s head and pull out their best ideas with How To Work With Clients Who Don’t Speak Design.

For business owners who want to talk design: Our Design for Non-Designers: How Business Owners Can Master the Basics gives handy tips for those of us who don’t speak the language but want to communicate their aesthetic ideas. This is also the perfect article for designers to send to their clients who need extra help communicating their needs.

For those branching out into 3D: 3D has carved out a massive piece in the creative space and it’s finding its way into even more “traditional” digital artwork. We’ve made the learning curve more approachable with 3D Terms Every Cutting-Edge Creator Needs to Know. 


3 Helpers for Presenting Like a Pro

Minimal Dawn Templates
Inside the Minimal Dusk Template. Images via Vladimir Zotov, Viorel Sima, 3DJustincase, Re_sky, fotokop, limipix, respectively.

For the conscientious designer: Mobile app design is tricky, but it doesn’t have to be with our guide to The Ergonomics of a Successful Mobile App Design.

For that BIG presentation: Sleek and Professional: FREE Minimalistic PowerPoint Templates can take out some of the guesswork on how to present your incredible designs to stakeholders. 

For the UI/UX designer: Our roundup of 5 Prototyping Features Every UI/UX Designer Should Be Using is an excellent starting point for any designer who’s ready to tackle their next big UI/UX project.


Keep learning with even more Shutterstock Academy gems:

Cover image via MURRIRA.



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