Overview of Adult Education Programs in Illustration & Drawing

It is never too late to learn to draw or illustrate. Find out about illustration and drawing classes for adults, including where to find classes, what skills are taught and how these classes can lead to careers in art.

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Read this article to learn more about drawing and illustration classes and programs. Then read on to learn about what these programs can teach you and the career outlook for artists.

Program Information

Adults can take drawing and illustration classes to express their creativity, prepare for new careers or just to learn new skills. Drawing and illustration courses for adults are most often found through continuing education or adult education programs at art schools, community colleges and community organizations. Students in these courses may learn how to use traditional media in addition to working with digital media. These programs may award certificates of completion, but they typically do not award college credits, though degrees in art and graphic design do exist. More information is detailed below.

Programs At a Glance

  • The length of drawing and illustration courses vary, but are usually short-term.
  • Programs are offered for both beginner to advanced artist.
  • Programs are typically on-campus, in a studio or in a workshop.
  • Many programs involve drawing live models and/or using computer design programs.

Drawing Programs

Basic and advanced drawing courses include instruction in gesture, shape and composition. Students explore various drawing materials, including pencils, charcoals and pastels. Some courses focus on drawing figures, and live models are often used. Specific classes include basic drawing, beginner figure drawing, drawing portraits, experimental drawing, and drawing on location. Other programs are designed to teach students how to draw as part of team building programs, are part of traveling lectures and/or teach related skills like scrap booking.

Illustration Programs

Adult students learn types and techniques of illustration, including illustrating children's books, medical diagrams and advertisements. Instruction may also include graphic design. Courses cover illustrating with a variety of tools, such as pencils, paints and computer software. Adobe Illustrator is commonly taught in adult education illustration programs. Some sample courses include conceptual illustration, Adobe Illustrator basics, botanical illustration, drawing for illustration, and narrative illustration. Often these programs lead to a certificate that requires the completion of a capstone or portfolio class.

Employment and Salary Information

Illustration and drawing education classes and programs can help adults enhance their current careers or move into careers in publishing, advertising or criminal justice, to name a few. Specific careers can include book illustrator, advertising illustrator, sketch artist and courtroom artist. Sketch artists work with police to create pictures of criminal suspects, and courtroom artists capture scenes from court cases when photography is not allowed in the courtroom.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment craft and fine artists will increase by 2% from 2014 to 2024. Most illustrators are self-employed, and so salaries vary. In May 2016, the BLS reported that fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, earned a median annual salary of $50,790.

If you wish to put already existing art skills to work as a career or to improve your art skills, there are art classes for both beginners and advanced artists. While most programs offer non-credit classes, some may be certificate programs.

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