Illustrations surround us everywhere we go! You may not realize it, but many of your everyday interactions involve coming into contact with the art of painting or drawing and graphic design elements taught in illustration courses.

Illustrator drawing on lightbox
Image Source: Unsplash

The world of illustration has changed dramatically since its inception. In fact, the field of illustration has grown so large that it now encompasses all forms of visual communication, including photography, animation, typography, web design, advertising, and more.

Whether by looking at social media when you wake up or beholding a piece of art, you’ve likely encountered a wide variety of design elements before having your morning coffee.

Illustration falls under a large design umbrella, and many different illustration fields are placed beneath it. Think drawings, cover artwork, fashion design, animations, films, character development, product design, and more.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to finding the best illustration course at your specific experience level, you’ve come to the right place.

Let's dive in.

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What can I learn in an illustration course?

An illustration course is a type of art class that provides a creative learning space for students to expand and develop their artistic skills and explore an articulation of ideas.

Many of these courses are online nowadays, making them accessible to everyone. The days of enrolling in a physical design school are still ongoing but are starting to fade out.

Students learn how to create their original artwork and are taught fundamental design skills.

Some online course platforms offer classes geared specifically toward illustrators. In contrast, others focus on all aspects of the creative process and are perfect for individuals looking to expand their artistic skill set.

Depending on the field of illustration you want to learn about, an illustration course may cover studio drawing, understanding form, anatomical study, material exploration, interaction design, and many other concepts.

A typical illustration course will have modules involving the history of illustration, art history, contemporary drawing practices, 2D and 3D illustration, digital media, studio drawing, and portfolio design.

Illustration courses can cover various design niches and are helpful in most divisions of the art and design industries. Most illustration classes are available as online courses and explore drawing skills and technical skills relevant to the design industry.

Introduction to illustration courses

Interactive online illustration courses provide a creative way for artists to express themselves, exchange various experimental methods, and share visual stories or ideas with the world.

The best illustration programs offer a variety of tools and resources to help you develop your skills and avoid common beginner illustrator mistakes.

An illustration course (whether it’s a beginner or professional course) will help you, the artist, to understand the image and idea you’re hoping to achieve at your skill level. These courses focus on the illustration field, concept design, and how to create interactive experiences between your illustrations and your audience.

All the courses mentioned throughout this article are taught by professionals in the industry. They’re filled with helpful tips and tricks to get you started, the estimated materials you will need, and most of them award certificates of completion.

There are many online courses available from top artists who teach everything from drawing basics to advanced techniques. The best ones will give you access to a community of like-minded people, so you can ask questions and receive feedback.

You may not be a professional illustrator yet, but you can still create beautiful works of art with the help of these courses to improve your experience level.

Often, the best way to start is by taking a free online course or experimenting with trial periods to see what areas you want to dedicate your time to.

The courses below are some of our top picks for gaining an introduction to illustration and cover the basic understanding of visual design elements, studio drawing, color workshops, and creating illusionistic forms.

1. The Linearity Academy - How to Design Children's Illustrations

Vectornator Academy online course for illustrators

From our very own course academy, this children's illustrations course is suited for beginners and those who love storytelling through a wide range of visual elements.

Children's illustrations are usually used in children's books, movies, video games, websites, blogs, social media platforms, and many other places.

Unlock your inner child with this short but educational course on adding a child-like nature to your illustrations. You’ll learn how to use Linearity Curve's (formerly Vectornator) Pen Tool, Brush Tool, Node Tool, and Selection Tool to enhance your design.

Create simple shapes with keen observation, and learn how to combine and structure them to produce an eye-catching project. So, this course is perfect for aspiring book cover designers, graphic novel illustrators, or those wanting to venture into animation concept illustration.

Meet the Masters of Illustration

Discover the stories and works of the world's most famous illustrators. Get inspired by their unique styles and creative journeys.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Define your character's story with three or more traits
  • Determine what you want your character to be occupied with
  • Create your character's pose, understand form, and how to have it reflect their personality
  • Incorporate shape design throughout while keeping it simple
  • Design for children, less detail is more, leaving room for imagination

Your only requirement for this online class will be downloading Linearity Curve; otherwise, the course is free and offers a wide range of skills for you to learn about this particular field of illustration.

2. Skillshare - Find Your Style: Five Exercises to Unlock Your Creative Identity

Skillshare online course for illustrators
Image Source: Skillshare

Here’s a fun and educational course perfect for beginner skill levels looking for inspiration and tips on how and where to start with the illustration process.

The course has 13 lessons; each lesson has a relatively short duration. The entire course can be completed in just over an hour, perfect for on-the-go, busy learners who are fans of independent study.

The course covers illustration but also delves into photography, graphic design, and product design and informs you on how you can incorporate these elements in your illustration journey.

Each lesson will focus on the following:

  • Exploring your identity, and understanding influences and specific experiences
  • Determining what you define as 'good'
  • Including your footprint in every project you make
  • Experimentation at its finest, helping you expand your visual vocabulary and experience level with class exercises and material exploration
  • Guiding you on how to keep creating projects that will see success in the future and maintaining a professional portfolio design

There’s a 7-day free trial available. After that, the course is charged at $2 per month or an annual payment of $24.

The course is suited to any experience level. Whether or not you have prior illustration knowledge, everybody can learn something new and exciting with this experience.

Illustration courses for beginners

3. Udemy - Easy Drawing, Painting & Illustration for Absolute Beginners

Udemy - Easy Drawing, Painting & Illustration for Absolute Beginners
Image Source: Udemy

Ever wanted to learn all the art basics in one place? Then this course is for you. The course material covers everything you need to know about starting as an artist and all the tools you need to help along the way.

The duration is around an hour and a half of interactive online class videos, and you can participate in educational assignments and class discussions along the way. The only requirement for this course is having some art materials.

The primary focus of this course is to help you discover your own way of creating illustrations and your creative method or brainstorming activities.

Some key topics you will cover:

  • Understanding different art mediums and how to use them
  • Figuring out your art style and how to find inspiration for illustrations
  • Utilizing and understanding media experimentation and the basics of digital illustration

You can take this course for $69.20, giving you lifetime access to all the course materials.

If you’re a beginner artist starting from scratch or want to brush up on your skills, this course is a top pick. You will also receive a certificate of completion.

4. Domestika - Illustration Techniques to Unlock Your Creativity

Domestika online course for illustrators
Image Source: Domestika

If you’re a beginner looking to dedicate some time to learn the most you can about illustration techniques and the field of illustration, then you've arrived at a great pick.

You’ll learn to use geometry to your advantage when creating and transforming shapes. Some classes focus on generating text and how to choose the best typeface for a design.

The course duration is around three hours, and there are a wide variety of helpful learning materials and class exercises for beginners.

There are 16 lessons, each covering the essential elements of graphic design with a mini illustration and graphics workshop. You’ll also learn how to navigate and incorporate this new knowledge using the materials and resources available to you.

Learn how to:

  • Explore color palettes, create figures, and size your project
  • Utilize various art mediums and compositions
  • Enhance your presentation skills and skill level

You can take the course at your own pace. As it is focused on independent study, there’s no need to worry about having a set deadline - you can learn with ease!

You can purchase the entire course with lifetime access for $8.08. You’ll also need a mixed-media sketchbook and some art materials to get you started.

5. Creativebug - Drawing and Illustration Basics

Creativebug online course for illustrators
Image Source: Creativebug

Another creativity-packed course that focuses on creating beautiful illustrations with essential art materials and the willingness to learn.

This beginner skill-level illustration course is built around busy individuals who don’t have the most time to focus on a comprehensive beginner illustration course. If you have three and a half hours to spare, you can learn about creating illustrations from anywhere at any time with fun class assignments.

The course also helps beginners warm up and relax with various drawing exercises that get the creative juices flowing.

Taking this course is also a good choice if you’re looking for an easy introduction to illustration without the pressure of learning a bunch of techniques at once.

You’ll learn the following:

  • Essentials for creating beautiful art
  • Important illustration tips and tricks

The focus is to have fun and create colorful, stunning designs with basic illustration concepts and art mediums.

This free course is good for beginners looking to dip their toes in the illustration and design world with educational, fun class projects.

6. Creative Live - Illustrating Characters and the Stories They Tell

Creative Live online course for illustrators
Image Source: Creative Live

If you’re looking for a great course to learn the fundamentals of character design, then this course by Creative Live is a top pick.

As you move through the course, you’ll feel more like a pro every day, with easy-to-follow classes that cover the basics of character design and how to tell a story with your character.

The course is around two and a half hours long and covers essential, informative topics surrounding storytelling with character illustration. It’s suited for beginners, but also for other skill levels.

You can participate in real-world assignments and projects to truly understand what a career as a character illustrator could look like for you or enjoy all the exciting tips for illustrating as a hobby.

After taking the course, you’ll be able to:

  • Understand key elements of story creation
  • Work with your intuition to determine your flow and limitations
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Use essential character illustration elements

It can also be a great refresher course for those who want to re-ignite their passion for character design and storytelling. With its enjoyable online classes, this comprehensive course is only $49 once off or $13 per month with the Creative Live subscription plan.

Once completed, you’ll walk away knowing how to express yourself through your character illustration within your independent projects.

7. Udemy - The Complete Drawing & Painting Illustration Course

Udemy Complete drawing and illustration course
Image Source: Udemy

This bestseller professional course is perfect for beginners, offering more than 20 drawing and painting projects to enhance your skills and provide you with inspiration and knowledge.

With the focus on creating professional-looking illustrations, you’ll have access to twelve hours of informative videos, downloadable course materials, and a certificate of completion with this online class.

The course starts with the basics: understanding each art medium, how to use them, and how to select the best and most affordable mediums for your project.

The lessons emphasize practicing with each medium until you feel confident enough to venture out into creating full illustrations.

What do you need to start? The basics of a drawing studio, pencils, and paper. No, seriously, all you’ll need to succeed in this course are various art papers (watercolor, toned), colored and graphite pencils, watercolor paint, an eraser, and of course, the enthusiasm and motivation to learn new things.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Paint and draw realistic shadows and light
  • Draw with colored and graphite pencils
  • Portrait and studio drawing while understanding form
  • Paint with watercolor with the help of a mini color workshop
  • Adding that illustrative spark to your work with material exploration

With the course available for $52.47 with lifetime access, you can always have a helpful guide on hand to turn to whenever needed, no matter your future experience level.

This is also a nice choice for those looking to design graphic novel covers or

Enter the Enchanting World of Children's Book Illustrations

Discover the magic of storytelling through art. Learn about the creative process behind enchanting children's book illustrations.

8. Domestika - Vectorial Illustration with Style

Domestika vector illustration online course
Image Source: Domestika

Want to up your illustration flare game? This course is for you.

With beginners in mind, this vectorial illustration course covers the key to developing your unique artistic style and how to showcase your work on a variety of social media platforms, and understand portfolio design.

You can complete the course in roughly two hours and have access to 16 lessons and additional downloadable resources. The course is designed to take as much time as you need to complete it.

Learn how to vectorize your illustrations with professional techniques and helpful tips along the way. An important part of the course is teaching you how to use color effectively to bring the most out of your designs.

Vectorial illustrations can be described as drawings that use lines to represent vectors, such as Bézier curves.

This Vectorial illustration course is about discovering your illustration style and how to express and utilize it to the best of your ability and create a social following that can open you up to exciting, creative career opportunities.

The course is available at $37.91, with lifetime access. If you are a plus or pro member, you will also receive a certificate of completion.

Intermediate, comprehensive illustration courses

You may already have a foundational knowledge of visual design and illustration practices and want to build upon your current skill level.

If that’s the case, consider exploring some of the courses below, which offer insights into the articulation of ideas, interaction design, portfolio design, product design, and practical application.

9. Creative Live - Make Things Make Money: The Business of Illustration and Lettering

Creative Live business illustration online course
Image Source: Creative Live

This course focuses on how to hone your craft and turn it into a business. Throughout the 29 video classes, you’ll learn how to post about your work on social media and get noticed by a large audience.

Pro tip - If you’re interested in product design, contemporary drawing practices, and hand lettering, this course is great for exploring methods for creating a unique brand product or message.

Some of the skills you can expect to develop further include illustration, graphic design, social media, and communication platform design.

You can expect to learn the following:

  • How to attract clients using your online audience
  • The three ways to make money for your illustration business: commercial work, products, and commissions
  • How to get the most out of your creative process
  • Ways to repurpose your work

The course is only four and a half hours long and available for $99 once off, or $13 per month with the Creative Live subscription.

Not sure if you’re ready to go pro? Check out our list of pros and cons for freelance illustrators.

10. Skillshare - Character Illustration: Drawing Faces, Figures & Clothing

Skillshare online course character illustration
Image Source: Skillshare

Here is another great character design illustration course. Perhaps you’ve designed some characters in the past but have yet to get the opportunity to fine-tune your character illustration skills. Well, now you do.

Character illustration is important, especially if you’re an illustrator within the publishing, product design, toy design, comic industry, and animation industries.

Anatomy in Design (AID) is an important approach to character design that focuses on understanding the human form and its relationship to space. This includes understanding the structure of the human body, how it relates to the environment, and how to combine both to work in harmony.

This course is a mere one hour long, with 12 lessons, and the amount you learn in that time is sizeable and significant. Throughout the course, you will create your own character in a hands-on project and share what you learned with the class.

You’ll learn the following:

  • How to explore the movement of the human figure with pose and figure drawing exercises
  • Understanding form and drawing the four core expressions
  • How to add color correctly for style and contrast with a mini color workshop
  • Creating characters with personality

The course has a 7-day free trial. After that, the course is charged at Skillshare's subscription price of $2 per month.

11. Udemy - Learn the digital inking for your illustrations

Udemy Digital inking online course for illustrators
Image Source: Udemy

This course is an excellent choice if you’re a comic book illustrator and want to gain more confidence when inking your illustrations.

You can use any creative software for this course. The focus is placed on creating professional-looking outlines with the correct inking techniques. To ensure your graphic art stands out and comes to life, it is crucial to learn how to ink to increase the quality of your drawings.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Ink with digital software
  • Use various inking techniques to bring your design to life

The course is available for $16.03, with lifetime access to all course materials.

12. CG Spectrum - Advanced Digital Illustration Course

CG Spectrum online course for illustrators
Image Source: CG Spectrum

We’re calling out to all film and game graphic designers, illustrators, and illustration graduate students. If you want a comprehensive course that covers all you need to know to succeed in concept art and illustration, then this one is a great option.

The duration of this advanced course is nine months, divided up into three terms. In the first term, you’ll learn about art history in more depth, creating advanced compositions and improving your painting skills.

The second term focuses on interaction design and how to tell a story and sell it to your audience. The third term emphasizes the importance of portfolio design and the steps you need to take to advance your career and skill level as an illustrator and your chosen illustration department.

You can choose whether to join a small online class (a good choice if you enjoy class discussions and assignments) or have one-on-one lessons.

The small online courses are the more popular of the two choices, with class time discussions and class projects available at either $1.185 per month, $3.199 per term, or $7.999 upfront for the entire duration of the course.

13. Proko - Art of Caricature

Proko online course for illustrators
Image Source: Proko

Have you ever wondered how to exaggerate an existing international character but maintain a likeness in the illustration? If so, then this field of illustration focusing on caricature design and experimental methods of anatomical study is a top course for you to take on.

With 131 lessons, the duration of the course is around 32 hours. Each online class provides an in-depth approach to caricature and the core concepts thereof.

You’ll learn tips for creating a caricature that retains a person's likeness with a side of humor. The focus is also placed on memory sketching when drawing caricatures. It's best to draw from memory, as this creates bolder shapes that appear more exaggerated.

There are various assignments and downloadable course materials to keep you up to speed, enhance your experience level, and provide helpful demonstrations for assignments.

You will learn the following:

  • Exaggeration and how to apply it to a design
  • Rough sketching and brainstorming
  • Reilly abstraction-using abstract rhythm to create lines and add detail to your illustration
  • How to shade and caricature your illustration's body and understand form
  • Being conscious of shape design and how it affects the overall design
  • Capturing the 'spirit animal' of the caricature

The course is available in two parts, or as one bundle purchase for $235, with lifetime access.

14. Skillshare - Mastering Illustration: Sketching, Inking & Color Essentials

Skillshare Mastering illustration online course
Image Source: Skillshare

If you’re all about fine-tuning your illustration skills, look no further. Comprised of 15 lessons, culminating around two hours, you can up your illustration, studio drawing, and sketching game.

You can work with your medium of choice and learn some bold techniques like creating different textures and lighting effects.

You’ll learn the following:

  • How to brainstorm creative concepts with visual design, even if you feel un-inspired
  • Sketching your favorite ideas and how to combine them to form a cohesive artistic direction
  • Material exploration, like Inking for creating depth and the element of dimension
  • How to use color to add intensity and light to your visual design project with some color workshop tips

The course is also all about assisting you with finding your illustration style, the field of illustration you are drawn to, the skill levels needed, material exploration, and embracing the happy accidents along the way.

Ready to create brand assets that pack a punch?

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It's essential finding your own voice as an illustrator. It can take hours of practice and experience to discover your style, but it's worth it when you can create your own works of art.

At the end of the course, you’ll have the opportunity to showcase the illustrations you’ve been working on as a hands-on task throughout the course duration.

You can purchase the course for $2 per month, charged at Skillshare's monthly subscription price. There is also a 7-day free trial available.

15. School of Visual Storytelling - Editorial Illustration

School of Visual Storytelling online illustration course
Image Source: School of Visual Learning

If you’re interested in learning about the online editorial illustration industry, improving your experience level, presentation skills, and professional practices that go with it, this could be the course for you.

The course showcases the workflow and steps of the editorial illustration process, with helpful demonstrations throughout to guide you.

You’ll learn the following:

  • What editorial illustration is
  • What’s expected from you throughout the course
  • Your teacher's creative process and how it may help you discover yours
  • The timeline for creative art and sketches and the presentation skills needed
  • How to execute a wide range of art in Photoshop

You can purchase this professional course for $20, with lifetime access. Enjoy insightful tips, experimental methods, and tricks from an industry professional.

16. LinkedIn Learning - Become a Digital Illustrator

Linkedin learning illustration online course
Image Source: LinkedIn Learning

Enjoy this comprehensive digital illustration course with 36 hours’ worth of fantastic learning content.

If you want to improve your illustration skills and discover how to design for large advertising companies (product design), design studios (studio drawing), and the entertainment industry, this course has got you covered.

You’ll learn the following:

  • How to draw vector graphics and digitize hand-drawn illustrations
  • Tips for optimizing your workflow when working with clients
  • How to use illustration software to enhance your projects and your experience level

This professional course costs $29 per month. At the end of the course, you’ll earn a badge of completion.

Benefits of taking an illustration course

There are many benefits to taking an illustration course, whether to advance your career as an illustrator or improve your art skills as an individual.

Remember, the ultimate goal is becoming a confident artist and not being afraid to share your awesome ideas with the world.

So, what are these benefits?

Improves your creativity

Have you been feeling the creativity bug creeping up on you? It may be the perfect time to immerse yourself in an illustration course.

The wide knowledge gained from a course and fellow class students will inspire you to create more designs and open your mind up to new ideas, with tips for brainstorming and coming out of an artist's block.

Improves your spatial awareness

Getting into the habit of drawing what is there and not what we think we see takes time and practice.

The first step is to draw what is actually there. This means looking at things from different angles and distances and understanding form. It also means getting out of your comfort zone by trying new techniques and materials.

Sometimes drawing from memory is required for a project, but if you want to enhance your perception of distance and space, practicing drawing objects as accurately as possible is a great exercise.

Improves communication

A course gives you access to a community of like-minded people who share your passion for art and design. It helps you develop skills and confidence by providing feedback and constructive criticism within class discussions.

Courses also allow you to meet inspiring artists and designers during class or by taking trips to designer studios, which could lead to future collaborations.

Expands the job pool

Using the information gained and knowledge learned from an illustration course can open you up to a wide variety of career opportunities.

Directly, you can go into fields like animation, graphic design, industrial design, production design, concept design, and more. Indirectly, you have fields like advertising, fashion design, web design, fine art, and more where your skill set will still fit well.

How to choose the right illustration courses for you

It’s probably the most important question to ask yourself, which course is the correct one for you?

To help you with this decision, consider the following factors:

  • Your experience level or skill level, what do or don't you know yet?
  • Your time, how much can you set aside to take on a course?
  • Your budget, as some courses can be pricey; consider what it is you’re hoping to learn and build your budget around that. There are some fantastic, affordable courses, especially for beginners.
  • Requirements or software needed to participate. Check whether you have the right resources and estimated materials to participate in your chosen course.

Consider the industry or field of illustration you’re or are hoping to work in and what specific illustration skills you would need for the roles associated with that industry.

Many courses offer multiple options to learn more than just one skill. Some courses allow you to study character design, landscape drawing, and portfolio design simultaneously. Others let you pick and choose which areas you'd like to explore first.

Knowing what skills you want to learn or build upon will help you find courses that target specific skill sets and focus on interactive experiences instead of just a broad overview of a particular concept.

At the end of the day, whichever online course you choose, remember to enjoy it! The skills and experimental methods you’ll learn from these courses will only propel you to success and enrich your creative journey.

We hope we could inspire you to take further online courses! If so, please have a look at our article about the 16 best graphic design courses online!

Linearity Curve is the perfect design software for you to learn the foundations of digital illustration and grow your skills. It's easy to use with a low learning curve (pun intended!) and works equally well for amateurs and professionals. Why not try Linearity Curve for free?

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16 illustration courses you can take online | Linearity
16 illustration courses you can take online