A Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts program in illustration may be completed entirely online. Courses mix classical approaches to artistic training with exposure to new media, enabling students to compile a portfolio that covers a broad range of commercial applications. In addition to holding a bachelor's degree in an arts-related field, applicants must typically provide an artistic sample to their desired schools. A graphics-capable personal computer and graphic design software will be needed.
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Illustration Master's Degree
An online master's degree program in illustration develops conceptual and technical competencies in approaches to visual representation. Students practice their drawing skills and apply theories of color and composition to solving problems in image creation. Enrollees need to have earned a bachelor's degree, preferably in an arts-related subject and submit drawings or other samples for review.
Information and Requirements
Readings, lectures and other content for the illustration master's degree program are distributed via a school's website and are accessible at a student's convenience. Assignments must be completed by specified deadlines. Student-instructor and student-to-student interactions are handled via online forum, e-mail, fax or phone. A master's degree is typically completed in two years.
A graphics-capable personal computer with Internet access and graphic design software are the primary technical requirements for online illustration programs. Courses may be completed on either a PC or Macintosh computer.
List of Common Illustration Courses
Master's degree programs in illustration are structured to include studio courses, academic courses and electives. Students need to complete a thesis project to graduate.
Clothed Figures Illustration
Students learn to draw realistic three-dimensional clothed figures on paper using an assortment of drawing tools in this course. Implied movement, physical flexibility and accurate representation of clothing folds are among the topics covered.
Digital Drawing and Painting
This course develops the capacity of students to use simulated drawing and painting tools found in popular graphics software programs. Topics covered include brush types, layers and filters.
The history of narrative in art and methods of visually communicating a storyline are the primary topics of this course. Students complete a narrative work using photographs, sketches and visual research.
Students in this course examine formal and aesthetic aspects of visual narratives, including story structure, mechanics and styles of representation. Picture books, storyboards, comics and film provide source material for study.
An online master's degree program in illustration prepares graduates for commercial work, producing images for magazines, books, calendars, stationery, wrapping paper or greeting cards. They may also find work creating scenery, characters and objects for video games, as art directors, or with film production companies as animators. Illustrators may be independent contractors or employed in-house.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that employment of all fine artists, including illustrators, would grow by 3% between the years 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). According to PayScale.com, as of October 2016, illustrators earned a median salary of $42,704.
Continuing Education Information
A master's degree is generally considered the terminal degree level in illustration. However, illustrators interested in specific career paths can look into pursuing degrees in related subjects, such as graphic design or game development. Associate's degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree programs in these fields are available online.
Master's degree programs in illustration are available fully online, but students will need modern computers with graphic design software to complete assignments and build a portfolio. In these programs, students develop their drawing capabilities as they learn about color and composition theory, media forms and relevant software programs and tools.