How can I learn Visual Design? Can AI Help me?

Visual Design 101: Can AI Be Your Mentor in 2024?

What Is Visual Design?

You want to get into visual design, but have no clue where to start. It can feel totally overwhelming when you don't have a mentor to guide you. But what if AI could be your mentor? In 2024, AI is shaping up to be an incredible resource for new designers. With the right tools, AI can provide feedback, suggest ideas, and point you to the best learning resources tailored to your goals. Sure, nothing beats learning directly from an experienced human designer. But AI mentors are available 24/7 and cost a fraction of what a real mentor charges per hour. In this article, we’ll explore the AI design tools on the horizon and how you can use them to level up your skills. AI may never fully replace human creativity, but it can definitely give your design learning a big boost.

Core Principles of Visual Design

Visual design is all about creating visually engaging and impactful pieces that effectively communicate a message. As a visual designer, your job is to use elements like color, typography, layout, and imagery to visually represent ideas, convey information, or evoke emotion.


The typefaces you choose greatly impact the overall aesthetic and tone of a design. Serif fonts like Times New Roman appear more traditional while sans serif fonts like Arial seem sleek and modern. Size, spacing, and alignment also affect readability and flow.


Colors have the power to attract attention, set a mood, and build brand identity. Using a complementary color palette creates harmony while contrasting colors make a bold statement. Consider your audience and how different hues might emotionally resonate with them.


How you arrange, organize, and align the elements in your design determines how effectively it communicates. A clean, uncluttered layout with strong alignment and proximity between elements allows for easy flow and comprehension. White space gives the eye room to rest, so don't feel the need to fill every inch of the page.


Photography and graphics are highly engaging and help to visually reinforce your key message or theme. For maximum impact, choose high quality, emotive images that your audience will connect with. But be selective - too many photos can seem cluttered or distracting.

With practice and patience, you can master the fundamentals of visual design. And while AI may not replace human designers just yet, it can be an invaluable tool for generating ideas, enhancing workflows, and gaining valuable insights and feedback. But for now at least, the human touch is still needed to create truly impactful designs.

Essential Skills for Visual Designers


To achieve visual balance, you'll want to distribute elements evenly so that no one area feels heavier or draws more attention. Symmetry, where elements on both sides are even, creates a formal balance. Asymmetrical balance, where unlike elements have equal "weight," leads to a more casual feel.


Aligning elements—lining them up along common lines or edges— creates a clean, organized look. Use alignment to connect items in a layout, whether that's text, images, or other components. Alignment gives the viewer anchor points to follow as they scan the design.


Repeating visual elements, like colors, shapes, typography, or imagery, ties a design together and makes it feel cohesive. But be careful not to overdo it, or your design can feel boring. Vary scale, orientation, and other attributes to keep things interesting.


Contrast refers to differences between elements, like size, color, and style. Contrast helps highlight what's important, defines space, and creates visual interest. But again, too much contrast can make a design feel busy or disjointed. Use contrast judiciously and make sure there are still cohesive elements tying the design together.


Hierarchy refers to the organization of elements to indicate their level of importance. It leads the viewer through the information in the intended order. Establish hierarchy through size, color, alignment, style, and position. Make what's most important largest or most prominent, and scale down from there.

With a solid grasp of these core principles, you'll be well on your way to designing visually compelling graphics, presentations, documents, and more. Study examples, practice applying the principles, and get feedback to strengthen your design skills. Before you know it, you'll have an intuitive sense of what makes for good visual design.

How to Learn Visual Design in 2023

To become a visual designer in 2024, you’ll need to develop a core set of skills. While AI can help generate ideas, you still need to direct its work and make critical creative decisions. Focus on strengthening human-centered skills that AI cannot easily replicate.


Tap into your imagination to generate innovative concepts and unique designs. Explore different perspectives to find unexpected solutions. AI tools can help ideate, but they still rely on human creativity to produce truly original work.


Learn to articulate design concepts and decisions clearly to clients and colleagues. Develop active listening skills to understand different viewpoints. Provide constructive feedback and explain your reasoning persuasively. Strong communication, especially the ability to connect with people, will set you apart from AI.


Work with other designers and teams to brainstorm ideas, give and receive feedback, and make group decisions. Develop empathy for different working styles and find common ground. AI cannot match the dynamics of human collaboration, especially the ability to negotiate, compromise, and build trust.


Hone your ability to frame questions, analyze constraints, and evaluate options objectively. Think critically about the goals and priorities for each project. While AI tools can help brainstorm solutions, visual designers need to determine the best approaches based on the unique needs of each client or situation.


Expect continual change in technology, design tools, and client needs. Stay up-to-date with trends in visual design, UI/UX principles, and related fields like marketing or web development. Learn how to apply design thinking to new areas. Adaptability, especially the ability to learn and re-learn quickly, will future-proof your role as a visual designer.

With a balanced set of technical skills and human-centered abilities, you can work with AI as a partner rather than be replaced by it. Focus on the skills that make us fundamentally human—creativity, empathy, and judgment—to build a successful career as a visual designer.

Online Courses for Visual Design

Take online courses

In 2023, online courses will be one of the best ways to learn visual design. Platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and Udacity offer video tutorials and projects to help you master design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch. You can find both free and paid courses on topics like color theory, typography, user experience design, and more. The flexibility of online learning means you can study at your own pace whenever you have time.

Practice design techniques

The only way to truly learn visual design is through practice. Pick up a design book on color, layout or typography and complete the exercises. Recreate webpage layouts or mobile app designs you like. Develop a visual style for a fictional company or product. Set small, achievable goals and deadlines for yourself to stay on track. Don't get discouraged if you struggle at first—becoming a good designer takes time and patience.

Find a mentor

In 2023, you may be able to find an AI-based mentor to help guide your visual design learning. AI mentors are programmed with knowledge from expert designers and can provide feedback on your work, suggest techniques to improve, and keep you accountable. While not as valuable as a human mentor, an AI mentor is readily available and can be a helpful supplement to your self-guided studying. The key is choosing a mentor focused specifically on visual and graphic design.

Build your portfolio

As you learn and improve your skills, build a portfolio of your design work to showcase your talents. Include images of web pages, mobile apps, print materials, user flows, and more. A strong portfolio is essential for freelancing as a designer or landing a job at a tech company. Ask friends or family if you can do any design work for them to add to your portfolio. You can also find fictional briefs online to concept designs for. Continuously update your portfolio with your latest and best work.

With dedication and persistence, you can teach yourself visual design and build the skills to become a designer. Let online courses, practice, mentorship, and building a portfolio guide you on the journey to becoming a UI/UX designer in 2023. While the road ahead requires hard work, the rewards of a thriving design career are well worth the effort.

Using Design Software Like Figma and Canva

When learning visual design, online courses are a great place to start. They provide structured guidance at an affordable price. Many leading design schools and experts offer courses on platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare.


Udemy has a wide range of visual design courses for all levels. Their courses include video tutorials, assignments, and community support. Popular courses cover tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch. They also offer courses on design fundamentals like color theory, typography, and user experience design. Udemy frequently runs sales with courses under $20.


Coursera partners with top universities like CalArts, Michigan, and Duke to offer visual design courses. Their courses lead to Specializations that provide an in-depth education in areas like graphic design, UI/UX design, and branding. Courses involve video lectures, peer reviews, and end-of-course projects. While Coursera courses are free to audit, a monthly subscription unlocks graded assignments and Specialization certificates.


Skillshare features short video tutorials and classes created by expert designers. Their visual design courses cover everything from hand lettering to mobile app design. The classes are very hands-on, with most ending in a student project. An annual subscription provides access to all classes for under $20/month. Skillshare is ideal for learning new skills quickly or exploring areas of visual design you find most interesting.

While AI and robots are still learning visual design skills, they have a long way to go to match human creativity, empathy and taste. That said, as AI continues to advance, virtual mentors and intelligent course platforms may provide interactive guidance and feedback for visual designers in the coming years. For now, online courses led by experienced human designers are your best bet for a well-rounded visual design education. Take advantage of these affordable resources to build up your skills and stay ahead of the curve.

Practicing Visual Design Projects

These days, you don’t need expensive design degrees or software to create professional graphics. User-friendly design tools like Figma and Canva put the power of creation in your hands.

Figma: For Collaborative UI/UX Design

Figma is a vector graphics editor geared toward UI and UX designers. Its collaborative features make it easy to work with teammates. You can create frames, components, and auto layouts to build wireframes and prototypes. Figma offers free starter files, templates, and tutorials to help you improve your skills.

Canva: For Simple Graphic Design

Canva is a simple drag-and-drop design tool for non-designers. With Canva, you can create social media graphics, presentations, posters, and more using their library of free images, fonts, and layouts. Just pick a template and add your own text and images. Canva’s intuitive interface and pre-made color palettes make it easy to create eye-catching designs, even if you have no design experience.

Learning the Fundamentals

While tools like Figma and Canva simplify the design process, it still helps to understand some basic design principles. Study concepts such as visual hierarchy, alignment, contrast, and balance. Look at examples from leading tech companies and brands for inspiration. Many free video tutorials and online courses can teach you the fundamentals of visual design and how to use design software.

With practice, these tools and techniques can help you gain confidence in your abilities as a visual designer. In a few years, who knows? You may even become adept enough with AI design assistants to mentor others. The future of design and technology is wide open.

How AI Will Transform Visual Design Learning

To improve your visual design skills, the best thing you can do is practice. Take on personal projects that allow you to apply what you're learning. Some ideas could be:

Design a Mobile App

Pick an app idea you're passionate about and design the interface. Map out all the screens, icons, buttons, and user flows. Decide on a color palette and typography that matches your concept. Creating an entire app design is a great way to practice key skills.

Redesign a Website

Find a website you use often that could use a visual refresh. Analyze what's working and not working, then redesign it. Improve the layout, update the imagery, choose different fonts, add animation—make it the best user experience possible. Redesigning an existing site allows you to focus on the visual design aspects without having to create content from scratch.

Create an Infographic

Infographics are a popular way to communicate data and ideas. Design an infographic on a topic you care about. Gather statistics, facts, and examples to include. Then determine the best way to visually represent your information. Use graphs, icons, illustrations, and minimal text to bring your concept to life. Infographics are an engaging project that strengthen your data visualization and graphic design abilities.

Design Print Materials

Don't limit yourself to digital projects. Create business cards, flyers, t-shirts, stickers or any other print designs that interest you. Print gives you an opportunity to think about tangible design considerations like paper choice, ink colors, and physical scale. Having real-world print designs in your portfolio shows your versatility as a visual designer.

Completing self-initiated projects gives you creative freedom and the chance to experiment. Don't worry about the outcome, just focus on the skills you're developing along the way. Over time, you'll build a compelling body of work and gain valuable experience by putting theory into practice. Consistently practicing visual design through real projects is the key to mastering the craft.

Visual Design Learning FAQs: Can AI Be Your Mentor?

AI is poised to disrupt visual design education as we know it. As AI systems get better at generating images, video, interfaces, and other visual media, they’ll transform how aspiring designers learn their craft.

Rather than just learning principles and theories in a classroom, you’ll get hands-on experience creating visual designs with AI collaboration and feedback. AI mentors can provide on-the-spot suggestions as you work, helping guide your creative choices and technical skills. They’ll point out ways to improve your color palettes, layouts, typography, and more. As AI gets more advanced, these mentors may even generate customized sample designs, examples and tutorials tailored to your needs.

AI will also open up new active learning opportunities. Instead of passively reading or watching video lectures, you can take part in simulated real-world design projects with AI collaboration. Working with AI teammates, you can brainstorm ideas, get and give feedback, and go through iterative design processes. These experiences will help build your soft skills in communication, collaboration and creative problem-solving.

In the future, AI may evaluate your work to provide personalized assessments and recommendations for improvement. The feedback can point out your strengths, weaknesses, and skills that need refinement. Over time, as you go through multiple practice projects, the AI can track your progress and suggest learning paths to help strengthen your abilities.

While AI will transform design education, human mentors and interaction will still be crucial. AI cannot replicate the full experience of working with experienced designers, creative directors or professors. However, when combined with human teaching, AI can enhance and scale visual design learning in new ways. The future is a hybrid model where AI and human mentors work together to educate the next generation of designers.

Overall, AI is set to become an integral part of learning visual design. It will open up new opportunities for hands-on, personalized and active learning experiences that supplement traditional design education. The combination of human and AI teaching will shape a new model for design learning in the coming years. Aspiring designers, get ready to learn from your AI mentors!