Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design - learn more

Online Advanced Digital Illustration Course

Digital Illustration II

Digital illustration is a challenging and expressive area of graphic design. With Adobe Illustrator, you can develop your unique personal style as an artist. In this online advanced digital illustration course, you'll learn professional illustration and Adobe Illustrator techniques for communicating your creative concepts. Working with a pro designer, illustrator, you'll learn approaches for creating editorial illustrations, icons, retro poster designs, 3D illustrations, and restaurant identity designs.

Advanced digital illustration course image 

You'll soon be hooked on using Illustrator

Create editorial illustrations using Adobe Illustrator

Instructor-Led Course

Feedback from design professionals

Creative Projects

Stretch your skills, grow your portfolio

Learn at Your Own Pace

Self-paced and scheduled programs available

Course Outline

1 - Conceptual Composition

Lesson One explores the challenge of editorial illustration. You'll explore how to define a concept, brainstorm ideas, and sketch options. Then you'll open up Illustrator and follow an illustration project that incorporates basic shapes and transformations, gradients, importing line art into Illustrator, lighting and shadow, chrome effects, iconographic shapes, and accents.

Project - Editorial illustration

2 - Pen Tool Studies

The Pen tool is your favorite tool, right? If not, Lesson Two will give you a thorough workout in using this indispensable Illustrator feature. You'll begin with a fun but extended tracing project that will stretch your Pen tool prowess and give you techniques for reworking bitmap images in Illustrator. In the second half of the lesson, you'll examine the process of creating simple, iconographic illustrations (icons) that are easy to recognize in black and white at different sizes.

Project - Pen tool icon

3 - Color and Interpretation

Illustrators are often asked to work in retro or period styles. Lesson Three takes you back to the 1930s as you recreate a poster in the WPA style. You'll use basic lines and different Pen tool techniques to create stylized line art and enhance it with color and shading, lights and darks, and midtones. You'll set your illustration in a dramatic context and add art deco typography too.

Project - Classic poster design

4 - Light, Shadow, and Perspective

The Renaissance artists captured light, shadow, and perspective in their representations of three-dimensional form. In Lesson Four, you'll explore techniques for creating 3D objects and effects. First, you'll create a template for drawing objects in one-point perspective. Then you'll create an object, comparing how to simulate three dimensions through traditional highlights versus 3D effects. Finally, you'll learn how to place objects in the foreground or background of a composition, scale them proportionally using perspective lines, and add realistic shadows.

Project - Perspective and proportion study

5 - Illustration in Sequence

Sequential illustrations are like the panes in a comic strip. Each frame has some common characters, or elements, and yet each depicts a different action, or even just a continuation of an action. Lesson Five focuses on creating a series of related drawings, a task that a designer is often called upon to do. By creating a character and repeating colors and other visual elements through a series of scenes, you'll create a sequence that is both consistent and varied.

Project - Storyboard

6 - Theme, Repetition, Symmetry, and Type

What good are great illustrations without a unifying theme or composition? In Lesson Six, you'll put it all together—you'll develop a theme, and using colors, symmetry, repeated elements, and type, create a unified illustration for a restaurant logo design. This lesson integrates everything you've learned in the course and explores the challenge of making imagery and typography work together.

Project - Book cover design

Course Outcomes

Students in this course can expect to learn to:

  • Create editorial illustrations, icons, retro poster designs, 3D illustrations, and book title designs in Illustrator.
  • Develop and sketch illustration concepts to prepare them for digital creation.
  • Use shape and freehand drawing tools to create complex shapes and patterns.
  • Use gradients to create lighting and shadow effects.
  • Import bitmap and vector art into Illustrator and create guides for illustration.
  • Create simple iconographic illustrations and shapes.
  • Develop proficiency in drawing or tracing using the Pen tool.
  • Create illustrations inspired by 1930s era WPA-style posters.
  • Create objects with 3D proportions and lighting effects and place them in perspective on a plane.
  • Create a sequential illustration that repeats certain features and colors over a series of frames to maintain a consistent look.
  • Design a symmetrical title or identity that integrates repeated graphic elements and typography.

Course Registration

Interested in this course? Scheduled and self-paced enrollment options are available. Ask Admissions about taking this course as part of a degree or certificate program.

Course LevelClasses startRegistration FeeTuition
Degree course
3 credits, 15 weeks
Jan, Apr, Aug$200$510/credit
Vocational course
60 clock hours, 3 months access
Enroll today, start tomorrow$50$949
* Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for updates to course or program content.

Software and Supplies

To take this course you'll need:

  • Computer with Internet connection.
  • Adobe Illustrator CS6 or CC.
  • Basic experience in drawing and the above software.

Who’s Teaching

Course developed by Andrew Shalat

Getting Started

Enrolling online is easy and convenient.

Chat with our knowledgeable admissions staff to select course and program options.

Complete your registration entirely online.

Related Programs

Did you know? You can take this course as part of an award-winning certificate or degree program.