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Graphic Design for Beginners (Online Short Course)

Graphic Design For Beginners (Online Short Course)

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Ruth Sykes


This short online graphic design course gives you an intensive and practical introduction to 20 key graphic design principles.

Each week you will gain experience applying these principles, by completing practical and realistic projects. Through this project work you will become familiar with techniques for working with images and fonts, designing layouts, and crafting logos and visual identities. The four projects can be tailored to your needs and can be related to current professional projects if required.

The course is also suitable for those wishing to discover and practice the fundamental principles of communication via the combination of text and image, perhaps as a first step into a new area of study, or simply to exercise an enquiring mind in a two-dimensional arena. The course does not cover the use of graphic design software, but you are welcome to complete projects using any software you wish, or none, as all projects can be completed working with hand tools (pens, pencils, paper, scissors, glue etc.).

  • Layout design
  • Typography
  • Kerning, tracking and leading
  • Working with images
  • Scale, spacing and positioning
  • Using grids to enhance your work
  • Logo design

Course Outcomes
By the end of the course you will have;
  • Attained an understanding of what graphic design is and what graphic designers do
  • Studied techniques that will allow you to create effective and provoking layouts
  • Completed a diverse range of exercises designed to strengthen your graphic design skills
  • Had your work reviewed by your tutor and received feedback
  • Learnt how to make typography, layout and images work together to communicate ideas
  • Produced work that can be added to a portfolio that can be used to enter further study

Who is Graphic design for Beginners (Online) for
This course is aimed at beginners to graphic design who are keen to experiment and produce an inventive portfolio, either for an application for further study or for those who just want to refresh themselves and exercise an enquiring mind.
Level: Beginner
Please note: This course is for students aged 18 and over

Why choose a CSM Online Short Course
Our online learning short courses allow you to experience Central Saint Martins wherever you are in the world, studying part-time and from your own home. Additionally all CSM Online Short Courses include

  • Live sessions with expert
  • Lesson recordings
  • Practical assignments
  • Personal feedback
  • VLE with course content
  • Forums for support
  • 3 months online access
  • CSM Certificate upon completion

Visit Frequently Asked Questions for further details about preparing for your online course, including any equipment you need.

Please note that all courses are taught in UK time. To compare times, please check World Time Buddy.

Tutor Description

Ruth Sykes is a graduate of Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art. In 2003, Ruth co-founded graphic design partnership REG ( and began teaching on the graphic communication design programme at CSM where she continues to work. Her design work encompasses exhibition, visual identity and publication design for arts, education and charity sector clients such as The Crafts Council, Central Saint Martins and Amnesty International. Ruth’s writing on graphic design history has been published in Eye magazine, the London Transport Museum’s book ‘Poster Girls’ and the American Institute of Graphic Artist’s journal ‘Eye on Design’.


Online Short Course Materials

To take part in the Online sessions you will need:

  • An up-to-date web browser (we recommend Firefox or Chrome)
  • The latest version of Java installed on your device
  • Microphone and headphones (a headset with a microphone function is recommended)
  • Webcam
  • Strong Internet connection via WiFi or ethernet; 2G, 3G or 4G will not be sufficient

Course Specific Materials

Please ensure that you have the following materials to hand:

  • Black ink pen
  • Sketchbook (A4 size)
  • Coloured pens and pencils are useful
  • A camera (any sort, a camera phone is fine) 
  • 1 x USB webcam (external), to easily show work in progress

For those who wish to work by hand (not computer) it is also necessary to have:

  • Scissors 
  • Glue stick
  • A3 tracing paper (around 6 sheets)

To neatly trim printed out work, and for more precise cutting when creating compositions, the following is useful:

  • Scalpel knife
  • Cutting mat
  • Metal safety ruler

NB The course does not cover the use of graphic design software, but of course you are welcome to complete projects using any software you wish, or none, as all projects can be completed working with hand tools (pens, pencils, paper, scissors, glue etc.).

Available dates