Digital Illustration Basics Course | Sessions College

Digital Illustration Basics

Learn to apply classic illustration techniques with Adobe Illustrator

Creating illustrations in a vector program like Illustrator can be fun or frustrating, depending on how you approach it.

In this hands-on introductory class, you'll learn professional illustration techniques for creating great-looking artwork using deceptively simple elements. In each lecture, a veteran illustrator will guide you through every step of an illustration project and get your creative juices flowing.

The class is for anyone who wants to learn more about illustration or Adobe Illustrator—or both. You'll learn how an illustrator approaches challenges like proportion, perspective, lighting, storytelling, and expression. And you'll also learn how basic shapes, symbols, gradients, fill colors, symbols, Bezier curves, and text can be combined to create artwork in Illustrator.

Creative class projects include still life illustrations, editorial art/brand logos, and character illustrations. Note: Basic familiarity with Illustrator is helpful for participation in this class.

Course Instructor(s):

Sessions digital illustration and design instructor Andrew Shalat

Andrew Shalat  is an author, designer/illustrator, educator, and Mac expert.

Course content developed by Andrew Shalat.
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To take this course you'll need:

  • Computer with Internet connection (56 Kbps modem or faster).
  • Adobe Illustrator CS6 or CC.
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The following courses can help you meet the above requirements:

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Course Objectives:

Students learn how to:

  • Create still lifes, editorial art/brand logos, and character portraits in Illustrator.
  • Create artwork from basic shapes, symbols, gradients, fill colors, symbols.
  • Create depth and shadow effects to give artwork a three-dimensional quality.
  • Spray, size, and rotate symbols to create repeated elements.
  • Integrate pencil sketches into the digital illustration process.
  • Add curves to shapes using the Pen tool and Bezier curves.
  • Use clipping masks to frame a composition.
  • Work with text as a graphic element.
  • Set up a template for a drawing project.
  • Draw character art following the basic proportions of the human face.
  • Apply simple techniques for drawing each part of the human face.
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Course Outline

LESSON 1  Illustration Tools

Lesson One introduces you to essential tools for illustration using a still life study. In a hands-on lecture, you'll learn how to draw three-dimensional shapes using ellipses (circles and ovals), rectangles and squares, and triangles. You'll explore how to use solid and gradient fills to add color and perceived depth. Finally, you'll learn how to spray, size, and rotate symbols to create repeated elements. In the exercise, you'll apply these skills to create a stylized illustration of an object.

LESSON 2 Telling a Story

As a designer and illustrator, it's your job to break down what you see into forms you can use in your drawing. Lesson Two explores the challenge of creating an illustrated scene that tells a story. You'll learn how to create depth and drama using two-dimensional shapes, starting from a pencil sketch. You'll explore how to add curves to shapes using the Pen tool and Bezier curves, as well as use masks to frame a composition. Using text as a graphic element will also be examined. In the exercise, you'll create your own storytelling illustration, working from a provided concept.

LESSON 3 Building a Character

In Lesson Three, you'll learn techniques for drawing or assembling character portraits, a common challenge for any illustrator, digital or traditional. First you'll study the classic proportions of the face, looking at how to place and size different features. Next, you'll explore how to communicate facial expressions and moods using highlights and accents, and sometimes by just rotating or moving the odd shape or two. It's all about giving your characters features with flair. In the final project, you'll do an exercise in character expression.

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Image of creating an editorial illustration design

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