Online Commercial Illustration Course course at Sessions College

Online Commercial Illustration Course

3 credits

ILL 209: Commercial Illustration

Explore exciting projects for professional illustrators

Explore business applications for your illustration work, from editorial and commercial to advertising and marketing. In this online commercial illustration course, you will explore different genres of project work, learning how contracts and copyright work and how to represent yourself professionally and effectively.

Student work by Eladia Laines

Course At A Glance

Course Features

  • 100% online
  • Project-based
  • Instructor-led
  • Credit-bearing: 3 Credits
  • Classes start January, April, and August


The course is taught by the following instructor(s):

Course developed by: Aya Kakeda

Take this course as a standalone or as part of the following program(s):

Course Projects

    1. Who Are You as an Illustrator?

      You can find the creations of illustrators everywhere. In this first lecture, we'll start you on your path to developing your personal illustration style. You'll explore different fields of illustration and learn how to apply a drawing practice to your workflow.

    2. Editorial Illustration

      You're in the dentist's office, waiting. You pick up a magazine and start flipping through, not really reading, passing the time. Suddenly, a great illustration catches your eye. That's editorial illustration. In this lecture, you'll learn about the history and present landscape of editorial illustration and learn how to work with an art director's assignment.

    3. Surface Design

      Designing for things can be fun for illustrators. In this lesson, we'll learn about the surface design market for illustrators, including licensing. We'll study examples of effective surface and product illustration.

    4. Character Design

      Characters are an enduring subject. In this lesson, we will study the history and commercial applications of character illustration and learn methods for developing and drawing unique characters.

    5. Children's Books

      In this lecture, we're going to take a short trip through the history of children's books, examine some different styles currently popular in this thriving market, explore my own story of how I illustrated a book called The Hole in the Middle, and close out with some resources for children's book illustrators.

    6. Self Promotion

      Self promotion is one of the most challenging but important things as a commercial illustrator. You can be making beautiful and powerful images, but if you don't have any outlet to let the world know, you won't be discovered. In this final lecture, I'm going to show you some tips and tricks for getting your work out there: on the Web, in illustration communities, and elsewhere. Don't be afraid to be proud of yourself and your work! That's the final step in embracing yourself and a true illustration lifestyle.

Sample Student Work

by Allison Chamberlain

Course Outcomes

What Are The Course Projects?

Engaging, advanced illustration projects in this course include: influence research, editorial design, pattern design, character design, children's book cover, and promotional poster.

What Software or Supplies Do I Need?
  • Computer with Internet connection.
  • Adobe Illustrator CS6 or CC.
  • Basic experience in drawing and the above software.
What Will I Learn?

Students in this course can expect to learn to:

  • Apply a drawing practice to your workflow and balance traditional and digital tools.
  • Develop time management, business, and communication skills for freelance illustration.
  • Construct editorial illustrations that reflect an understanding of the genre's history and function.
  • Work with an art director and develop an invoice for an editorial illustration assignment.
  • Navigate the surface design market for illustrators, including licensing.
  • Turn an illustration into a pattern for product design in Photosohp.
  • Develop and draw unique characters that reflect an understanding of the history and application of character illustration.
  • Develop a physical installation with a character design.
  • Work with rights for character designs.
  • Navigate the market for illustrated children's book cover design.
  • Develop a workflow for working with editors on book cover illustration, including adapting to different styles and concepts.
  • Apply strategies for developing a personal commercial illustration brand.
  • Develop promotional collateral for commercial illustration branding.

Getting Started

Course Registration

  • Classes start January, April, and August
  • 3 Credit Course
  • Project-Based: Exercises, Discussions, and Critiques

Course Tuition and Fees
Registration Fee* $200
Total Course Price $1730

Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for course content.

Course Registration Form

To register for this course, use the form below to enter your information and desired start date. An Admissions Advisor will contact you to arrange payment and provide you with an Enrollment Agreement.

PD: Course Registration

Contact Information

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What Are The Courses Like?

Our courses are project-based. In each course you’ll enjoy a series of lectures, projects, discussions, and critiques designed to stretch your creative skills, earning college credit for your completed course.

How Much Time Do I Need?

Classes start January, April, and August, and this course can be completed in a 15-week term. College credit from this course can be applied to a range of degree and certificate level programs at Sessions College.

Who Are The Instructors?

Our courses are developed and taught by our faculty of professional artists, designers, and photographers. This means that you’ll learn in-demand skills, get feedback on your work, and build a portfolio of creative work.

Is Sessions College accredited?

Yes. Since 2001, Sessions College has been accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The Distance Education Accrediting Commission is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a recognized accrediting agency and is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).