Starting on the 6th of January 2019, I will be running a year-long art course, with the goal of teaching myself, and others, concept art.
This course will be about learning the fundamentals of art and creating concept art.
It’ll start with the very basics: illustration, perspective, and rendering studies, plus a few design assignments.
After that the course will go into some more advanced stuff, like composition, color, and lighting, as well as more in-depth concept art projects.
By the end of this course you’ll be doing large concept art projects that’ll be great for showcasing in portfolios.
This course is free. It’s also fairly loose and non-traditional. What you put into this course is what you’ll get out of it. If you do the assignments, focus on studying art, and stay dedicated, you’ll get more out of the course than if you stop after the first week.
Art Course Goals
I originally started designing this course as a learning plan for myself, as well as a way to document the improvement of my art throughout twelve months of hard work and study. But after receiving interest from others who wanted to learn art, I decided to make this a large course that anyone can join to learn how to do art.
In my opinion, learning how to do art shouldn’t require a bunch of money, only payment for art supplies and a good amount of dedication. Because of that, this course is free.
Please note, that I am also not a professional art teacher. The intention of making this course was to create a structure in which I could teach myself how to do concept art, to see if I’m interested in doing concept art professionally.
Grading and Proof of Completion
This course isn’t very traditional, as there are no grades, and you won’t be getting a certification of completion at the end.
As I mentioned, what you put into this course is what you’ll get out of it. Your proof of completion will be the finished results of your assignments, the visual evidence of the hard work that you’ve put into learning art.
That being said, if wanted, constructive critiques on art work may be provided (more on this later).
Here are a list of suggested materials and supplies for doing this art course.
While the first term can be completed using traditional materials, terms after that will need at least some digital art. All the terms will be easier to do with digital materials, and all tutorials that I make will be for digital methods.
With that said, I will be providing material suggestions for both traditional and digital mediums, as I know that not everyone will be able to work digitally for the first term.
1. Art Program or Photo Manipulation Program
When doing digital art, your art program or photo manipulation program offers you the canvas for your work, as well as all the paint colors and tools you need.
Photoshop is a popular program to use, but there are also free alternatives, such as Krita and GIMP.
I’ve been using GIMP for years, and find that it’s a great program to make digital art with, but look around at different software reviews, and try different programs out to find one that will work the best for you.
The most important thing about the software you choose is that it’ll need to have layers and layer modes, as that will be needed for many, if not all, of the assignments (and it’ll make your life a lot easier).
The layer modes that will be used a lot during this course are:
So make sure your chosen program has those layer modes.
2. Tablet and Pen
While digital art can be made with a mouse, using an art tablet will make things easier and more intuitive. I’ve been using the Wacom Intuos Pro for a little over a year and a half now, and I’m very happy with it.
There are cheaper alternatives to Wacom, so take a look online and watch some YouTube reviews to find a tablet that works for you.
Pinterest is my favorite place to find reference and inspiration images, and there will be lots of Pinterest boards with reference image compilations for the assignments of this course.
You don’t have to pay anything to make a Pinterest account, and it’ll allow you to see the reference boards made for this course. You’ll also be able to find your own reference and inspiration images.
4. A Website to Showcase Your Art
Having a website to showcase your artwork and assignments from this course will allow me and other students to see it, and it’ll also give you a nice place to set up a portfolio.
I’ve been using WordPress for over a year now, and I find it easy to use and manage.
Alternatively, social media that allows you to post your own art, such as Instagram will also allow me to see your work.
1. Multi-Media Sketchbook
You’ll need somewhere to draw if you’re going to be working traditionally, so getting a sketchbook that supports multiple art mediums will be a good purchase.
I use a 5.5 by 8.5 inch multi-media Canson sketchbook, and it’s great considering the price. I got mine on sale for about five dollars. It works well with pencils, colored pencils, markers, and pens. The paper does warp a bit when using watercolors, but it still works nicely.
You don’t need a set of fancy drawing pencils to make good art. I tend to switch between two pencils that I got at my local dollar store, and they work pretty well for sketching. Blending with them can be a bit difficult though.
I suggest investing in just one or two higher quality pencils with softer leads for blending.
3. Blending Material
There are lots of things you can use to blend graphite, such as your finger, a tissue, cotton swabs, blending stumps, and tortillons.
I’ve found simple cotton swabs to work well as blending tools, and they’re less messy and more precise then using a finger to blend, plus they’re very affordable.
4. Kneaded Eraser
A kneaded eraser is a soft eraser that feels similar to putty. It can be shaped for very precise erasing and it lifts the graphite from paper, instead of rubbing it away like a normal eraser.
Unlike a normal eraser, a kneaded eraser won’t need to be replaced often. When the kneaded eraser is dirty, just squish it into a different shape. It only needs to be replaced once the eraser is saturated with graphite, at which point it will begin marking your paper, rather than erasing.
5. Normal Eraser
While the kneaded eraser is good for precise work, erasing large areas of your illustration is much better done with a normal eraser.
6. Coloring Materials
Be it paints or colored pencils, you will be needing to color things during this course.
7. Inking Materials
When it comes to inking materials, something reliable and comfortable is what’ll work best for you.
I tend to stick to a simple Sharpie fineliner when doing traditional inking, as they’re affordable and work well enough for me.
Some Other Notes
In order to not lose track of the files on your computer, I suggest you stick to a naming convention for folders and files that’s easy to understand and keep track of.
I like to keep name files starting with the year, then the month, then the day they were made, along with a name and sometimes a version number (especially for artwork).
As an example, I might name the first illustration assignment for this course as:
I would also keep that file in some organized folders, so that I know exactly where it is.
The entire file path might look something like this:
2019ArtCourse / Term1 / Week1 / 2019-01-06-Week1-IllustrationAsgmt-V01.png
This helps me easily keep track of where each file is and what it’s for.
Deadlines and Timings
There aren’t any strict deadlines for the course, however I will be featuring students on my blog, so if you want to increase the chance to be featured, please do the assignments on time.
Each week’s assignments and teaching material will be published on Sunday at 10:30 Eastern Time. There you will receive the assignments for the week. On the last Friday of each month I will be featuring some of the best work from throughout the month.
If you don’t want to be featured, please let me know. If you do want to be featured, make sure to share your work in a place that I can see it, such as on a blog or on Instagram.
I may give out some constructive criticism on assigment work. These critiques will include things such as:
- Mentioning improvements in your work
- Complimenting aspects that were skillfully executed
- Suggestions on things to improve or change
- Suggestions for things to focus on
These critiques are for the sake of learning and improvement, and at the end of it all, you’re the judge of your own work. If you feel as if my suggestions won’t help you improve, then feel free to disregard them.
If there’s a specific area of art you’re struggling with during the assignments, please let me know. I may be able to provide a more objective look and help you pinpoint what exactly is bothering you.
If you’re interested in doing this art course along with me, then check back on the 30th of December at around 10:30 Eastern Time. I’ll be releasing the course syllabus then, and you’ll have a week to prepare for the course, which starts on the 6th of January.