Online Illustration Courses and Classes Overview

Students interested in illustration can take online courses that lead to a degree in art or illustration. Some colleges, universities and art schools also offer standalone illustration courses.

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Online Courses in Illustration

Below are some commonly offered online illustration courses.

  • Pencil and Ink Drawing Course: Students practice developing illustrative techniques with pencil and ink. This core class is typically taken early on in an illustration program. Students send scanned images of their work to their instructors, who then return feedback to students via e-mail.
  • Figure Drawing Course: This entry-level class allows students to practice drawing the clothed and unclothed human figure. Individuals become familiar with common drawing implements and types of paper as well as drawing techniques, light, shadow, perspective and proportion in illustration.
  • Sequential Illustration Course: This class helps students develop art skills and narrative techniques for telling stories in panel format as used in comic books, graphic novels, storyboards and animation. Topics discussed include current and future trends, history of sequential art and building collaborative relationships with writers. Teachers and students exchange course materials electronically.
  • Illustrative Painting Course: Students learn to paint with oil and acrylic paints while exploring color theory and composition. This course usually emphasizes basic techniques and development of personal illustrative style. Lessons include how to use brushes, brush styles and strokes.
  • Illustrating with Digital Media Course: This required class explores the role of digital visual media, such as photography, in illustration. Students practice taking online photographs and using related image-editing software to produce their own work.
  • Clothed Figure Drawing Course: In this course students will further their figure drawing skills by practicing on clothed figures in a variety of positions. Techniques in three-dimensional form and proportion will be emphasized. Students will also gain skill in rendering textile and its many properties in relationship to the body.
  • Life Drawing Course: This course will help students to develop the basic skills of composition and dimensions. Additional topics include proportions, anatomy and portraits.
  • Cartooning Course: In this course, students will learn about story-boarding with cartoons. Focus is placed on the creation of characters and using digital media with comics.

Program Information

Due to the practical nature of creating art, most illustration courses are offered on-campus at colleges and universities. However, a few schools, most notably art schools, do offer online courses, and some offer fully online certificate programs. Students seeking standalone courses can find subjects like graphic novel illustration.

Those taking courses leading to a bachelor's or master's degree in fine arts or illustration will need to take basic art courses like drawing, color theory, figure drawing and painting. Graduates of online illustration programs sometimes work as freelance or in-house illustrators. Online illustration programs often require digital image creation and editing software programs.

Online illustration courses are available via certificates and standalone courses in addition to bachelor's and master's degrees. Coursework includes figure drawing, pencil and ink drawings and cartoons.

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