Monday, 11 April 2016

The Easy Way to Learn Adobe Creative Suite

So even after 4 years at art college, my Adobe Creative Suite skills were still extremely limited. In Textile Design, Photoshop is an excellent resource for producing really intricate and beautiful designs for digital print but all I could wrap my head around was how to edit the colours and place filters on designs I'd drawn freehand and scanned in. I can't help but look back now and feel I could have made my work 1000 times better if I'd just taken the time to learn more about how to use programmes such as Photoshop and Illustrator. After all, if other people can do it, why can't I?!

Here I am now, 7 months in to my HND course in Interactive Design and I've finally come to realise how valuable and actually limitless Creative Suite can be. Of course I'm still learning, but now when I see designs on the likes of Dribbble and Behance I understand how they've been made and it acts as inspiration rather than my usual response of 'how the hell did they do that?!'

So I thought I would take the time to share with you my Top 5 tips for learning Adobe Creative Suite. Included are some fun, insightful and really worthwhile web resources I know you'll love!

This is by far the best way to learn specific techniques in Creative Suite. A quick Google search will present you with hundreds of YouTube videos with step by step instructions of what to do and how to do it. It goes back to something I learnt in the Mac Lab at college - if you wanted to know how to do something specific, chances were someone in there knew how to do it and was more than happy to show you. This then allows you to pass it on to someone else and so on and so on. So next time you're completely stuck and your deadline is looming, just ask Google!

Some great online tutorial websites I've used are:

'Learn a New Skill Online, on Your Time'
They have an extremely extensive library of tutorial videos ranging from all programmes in Creative Suite to CAD, Excel and even iBooks. As a LinkedIn company, they also provide some really interesting marketing tips and the secrets of running a small business. I'm really lucky and receive a free membership from my college but you can sign up for a free 10 day trial to get a feel for it and if you're really serious, a membership will prove to be an extremely valuable investment in the long run.

As I said before, YouTube is a great way to find some excellent, free video tutorials. This does have it's pros and cons however. I've spent so much time (under pressure as my deadline gets closer) combing through YouTube finding relevent videos to help me but lately my go-to channel has definitely been TastyTuts. They have some excellent beginner guides as well that I really enjoy watching. I found this video on a Typographic Portrait especially useful after being given a Typography Poster Design brief last semester. Have a look and let me know what you think. If you have some other channels you find particularly useful please share it with me by leaving the link as a comment below!

Who doesn't love playing games?! I'm pretty sure I got my first iPhone just so I could play Doodle Jump... but what about a game you can actually learn from instead of just procrastinating? I recently found an excellent article with all my favourites in one place. Have a look at Ucreative and see what you think. So not specifically all Adobe related but they are a really fun, creative and (more importantly) effective way to learn about kerning, colours and pixels without even noticing - a huge skillset that will make your life as a Graphic Designer 10 times easier! Another one I've been obsessed with recently is The Bezier Game, once I realised how much practice I needed with the Pen Tool.

Here are some of the best:

If you know of any more please leave me a comment and I'll have a go!

These can be as detailed as you want but it's always easier to start small. What I did in the evenings was simply download an image, open it in photoshop and just play around. I tested each and every button just to see what it did. This was an excellent way to experience what Photoshop had to offer without being under pressure to produce something I had to show people at the end. I'm not at all proud of anything I produced this way of course but now when I get a new brief, I'm a lot more informed as to what Photoshop can do and what each button actually means.

Pinterest is a great place to find Tutorials and Mini Projects. Remember to pin them to your own account so you can revert back to them in the future. I've created a board I hope you'll find helpful here.

Ok so these are more of a desk reference and not for everyone. I know designers in particular prefer to watch and listen rather than read but these were such an immense help and provided me with so much guidance they definitely deserve a place on my list! A quick amazon search will show you the hundreds of tutorial books on offer but BEWARE as they're not all as helpful as you'd think. Before purchasing, you need to decide what exactly you're looking to get out of it and what level your abilities are. The customer reviews are key as well, take note of what they have to say and this will help you decide if it's the right choice for you.

My favourite books have to be:

Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book
These books are official training guides straight from Adobe and come in all the different Creative Suite versions (CS6, CC etc). I found it incredibly easy to follow and the well organised chapters make it perfect for beginners. This is the Photoshop version but they have them all (Illustrator, inDesign etc)!

You can do what I did and enroll in a full or part-time college course if you're really serious about starting a career in Graphic Design, or if you have other commitments that don't allow that and want to learn in your own time - the internet has a world of online courses to choose from! A lot of these you will have to pay for but there are some free ones out there too. Once enrolled, most of them will give you lifetime access so you can work through it when time allows.

Udemy provides an introductory course in Photoshop from as little as £15. The one I linked here focuses primarily on retouching photographs and is for all abilities. If it's Illustrator you're interested in, this CC tutorial course is £45 and is again for all abilities. Simply visit their homepage, search for a course you're interested in and see what they have to offer! All courses have been reviewed by previous students so be sure to read through some of them before jumping in. Udemy also offers free previews so you know what to expect. Each course is split in to chapters with individual lectures that last from 1 to 11 minutes making it easy to start and stop as you please.

With over 6 million people already enrolled, Alison is a very popular choice when looking for a free online course. They have courses in all the Creative Suite programmes and have a community page full of success stories from previous students. I haven't used Alison myself but if it's free - why not have a look and see what you think?

Now these won't all work for everyone but hopefully you'll find something that's even a little helpful. Learning takes time and patience and Adobe Creative Suite is so vast please don't expect to become an expert in everything it has to offer. I advise starting with Photoshop and Illustrator and everything after that will be a doddle (not really but it'll be easier)! I was almost a complete beginner before starting my course but looking back at what I was producing last September and what I'm producing now really proves how much I've learnt in as little as 7 months. So give it a try and let me know how you get on and what works best for you. If you need any help at all please don't hesitate to leave me a comment and I'll do my best!


  1. As far as making a career out of it, is a degree required?

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