Graphic design can be easy to break into if you are already familiar with computers and have an eye for design. The price of graphic design classes can be an unnecessary barrier to learning design skills but you can often get the same depth of experiencing when you learn graphic design online for free. Learning online allows you to move at your own pace. Depending on your determination and schedule you could learn the basics in a few weeks or a few months without being tied to a class schedule.
Buy design software such as Adobe CS with Photoshop and Illustrator or download free software like GIMP and DrawPlus. Photoshop and GIMP are raster programs that allow you to edit photographs and create effects and web graphics. Illustrator and DrawPlus are vector programs that are more suited to page layouts, logos and drawings.
Use the program's help menu to learn how to use the software and what the various tools do. The help menu should give you good basic knowledge to expand upon as you learn advanced techniques.
Find tutorials for your design software at sites like TutsPlus.com. Tutorials walk you through a project step by step so you can recreate the look or object on your own. Tutorials can take hours to complete for complex designs, but most are written in a way that is accessible to all users. Once you learn a technique in a tutorial you will be able to use it in other designs and tweak it suit your style and projects.
Join an online community for graphic designers. The people in the community will have experience and insider knowledge that will help you as you learn. HowDesign.com is a design magazine that has a popular forum.
Submit your works for critique in the community and critique others' work. There is no better way to learn than by your mistakes and you will develop an eye for what looks and works best while judging other works.