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12 inspirational free courses to get your creative juices flowing

A concept illustration of a strange character sat on a log
(Image credit: Robbie Trevino)

We all can use a creative boost every now and then, but finding the right resources that respect your time and talent can be a challenge. To help, ArtStation, the community that was shaped with the goal of empowering artists and creating opportunities for success, has made their educational ArtStation Learning video library free for all users. 

In this article we’ve rounded up 12 of their high-quality tutorials and lectures that are sure to spark your imagination and get your creative juices flowing. These cover everything from mastering colour and light, developing a unique style, and how to make more of the core digital art tools at your disposal. 

To watch each of these fantastic workshops and tutorials from leading professionals working in films, video games and animation, simply click through using the links at the bottom of each description below. You will need to create an ArtStation account so you can watch these incredible courses, and registration and viewing is free.

You can also watch these courses and more on the go. Check out the ArtStation Learning app and download it for free on iOS (opens in new tab) and Android.

01. Generating coloured sketches and ideas from chaos, with Geoffrey Ernault

Artwork of a tree in a swamp by Geoffrey Ernault

Learn to use Procreate to paint imaginative and colourful sketches from photos (Image credit: Geoffrey Ernault)

Create coloured sketches in Procreate with Geoffrey Ernault – starting with just a blank canvas! In this amazing course senior concept artist Ernault, who has Riot Games, Guerrilla Games and MPC on his CV, shares how to use photos to generate ideas, develop a colour palette, and refine the composition in order to have a starting point for a more developed image.

Watch Geoffrey Ernault (opens in new tab)'s course on ArtStation

02. Conquering the blank canvas, with Zelda Devon 

A frog plays a flute in an illustration by Zelda Devon

Discover how to conquer the blank canvas, creating illustrations with colour and impact (Image credit: Zelda Devon)

In this course, Zelda Devon (opens in new tab) reveals the power of “just starting,” and reviews the psychology of The Pomodoro Technique. She shows how you can add brand new pieces to your portfolio with minimal anxiety. Zelda also discusses how reference is an absolutely essential part of the illustration process. 

The artist has over 15 years experience of working in advertising creating concept boards, poster art and more. Take the opportunity to follow her excellent course, for free.

Watch Zelda Devon (opens in new tab)'s course on ArtStation

03. Painting with coloured squares, with Robh Ruppel

Artist Robh Ruppel teaches on a live video still

Hear how this award-winning artist created a new digital style, and helped pioneer digital plein air painting (Image credit: Robh Ruppel)

Are you looking to find your voice as an artist? Join Robh Ruppel (opens in new tab) as he discusses the techniques and processes that helped him to distil his creative ideas over time. Through this fascinating four-part talk the award-winning concept artist shares his insights into digital plein air painting and how to view the world in a new stylised, paired-back way. This course is unmissable.

Watch Robh Ruppel (opens in new tab)'s course on ArtStation

04. Getting some perspective, with Robert Laszlo Kiss

A sketch of a street by Robert Laszlo Kiss

Troubled by perspective in your art? This free video course reveals how to master the everything, including fish eye (Image credit: Robert Laszlo Kiss)

Robert Laszlo Kiss (opens in new tab) discusses the essentials of understanding perspective as a tool to create the illusion of 3D. This course provides the fundamentals of perspective that can be applied to pencil and paper or digital tools. 

Through this workshop Kiss demonstrates how to apply one, two, and three-point perspective as well as fish eye and lens distortion effects. This is a great video course for mastering perspective in an easy and accessible way.

Watch Robert Laszlo Kiss (opens in new tab)' course on ArtStation

05. Sketching characters with energy, with Joel Dos Reis Viegas

A figure sketch by Joel Dos Reis Viegas

Learn to sketch dynamic characters from your imagination with this excellent video course (Image credit: Joel Dos Reis Viegas)

Joel Dos Reis Viegas (opens in new tab) shares his methods for creating dynamic and energetic characters. Through speed sketches drawn from memory, he shows how you can use observation and knowledge of fundamentals to unleash creativity. 

In this free nine-part video course Viegas demonstrates how to use form, perspective, and movement to bring a new sense of action that can help tell a story and bring characters to life. 

Watch Joel Dos Reis Viegas (opens in new tab)' course on ArtStation

06. My sketchbook & me, with Dawn Carlos

A photo of a pile of artists sketchbooks

Follow an artist's personal journey into why sketchbooks are so important and how using them can improve your art (Image credit: Dawn Carlos)

Video games concept artist and illustrator Dawn Carlos (opens in new tab) shares a personal peek into her thoughts, processes, and philosophies surrounding the use of a sketchbook. This is a fascinating course every artist can relate to and learn from.

From exploring ideas, brainstorming concepts, to fully realised drawings and characters to studies and references – sketchbooks are one of the most versatile tools in an artist’s toolkit. 

In this free and extensive video course Carlos explains how and why sketchbooks are important, how to sketch with freedom and offers advice for overcoming self-doubt. 'My sketchbook & me' is a must-watch.

Watch Dawn Carlos (opens in new tab)' course on ArtStation

07. Making the most of digital painting tools, with Iris Muddy

A painting by Iris Muddy

Explore the key digital tools every artist needs to know, and how best to use them (Image credit: Iris Muddy)

Iris Muddy gives a practical presentation on the fundamental digital painting tools every artist needs to know, including adjustment layers, blending modes, blurs, and much more. Here Muddy shares the how and when to use these tools, bringing everything together in one striking illustration.

In addition to reviewing these tools for artwork creation and presentation, Muddy also includes helpful perspectives and exercises for finding inspiration and intention; they can be endless!

Watch Iris Muddy's course on ArtStation

08. Colour and light for visual storytelling, with Jason Scheier

A colourful fantasy landscape painting by Jason Scheier

Master the use of colour and light in art, and how to use light to build narrative in your paintings and sketches (Image credit: Jason Scheier)

In this course Jason Scheier talks about how elements of a story can be enhanced or communicated just by making the right choices in regards to colour and lighting. This free video course explores the basics of how to use colour and light, as well as the power light has on telling stories in art.

Scheier has worked for Walt Disney and Warner Bros. and taught at Art Center College of Design, ensuring his advice here is second-to-none. Watch the full course for free now on ArtStation.

Watch Jason Scheier (opens in new tab)'s course on ArtStation

09. Style design for art and entertainment, with Craig Elliott

A patchwork of illustrations by Craig Elliott

How to use research and adapt influences to develop a new and unique style for art and entertainment (Image credit: Craig Elliott)

Craig Elliott (opens in new tab) draws from his extensive experience in art direction, animation production design, illustration, and fine art to share elements of style in illustration, fine art, and the entertainment industry. 

The concepts of borrowing a style, analysing styles from existing well-known properties, as well as creating your own style for a project are covered. Elliot reveals how to bring all of these influences and ideas together to create something new and unique.

Watch Craig Elliott (opens in new tab)'s course on ArtStation

10. The art of direction, with Ron Ashtiani

A painting of a concept car by Ron Ashtiani

The role of the art director and the basics of art direction are covered in this course from Ron Ashtiani (Image credit: Ron Ashtiani)

In this series, Ron Ashtiani (opens in new tab) presents lessons learned from his 24-year-long career crafting compelling art direction for games (Mortal Kombat X) and movies (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers). 

In sharing how to develop a unique visual style, Ashtiani talks about understanding target audiences, gathering references, presenting to a team, managing artists, and more. This six-chapter video course is well-worth a watch.

Watch Ron Ashtiani (opens in new tab)'s course on ArtStation

11. Into the Numinous: Part 1 - imaginative storytelling and design, with Robbie Trevino

A concept illustration of a strange character sat on a log

Discover how one artist's life and inspirations led to the creation of an imagined world of beautiful creatures (Image credit: Robbie Trevino)

In this two-part course, Robbie Trevino (opens in new tab) reviews his career journey – from aspiring artist to the creator of his own universe. He discusses his influences, disappointments, and successes, as well as insights on how to create a universe made up of rules and strict principles of design. 

Through 13 chapters Trevino breaks down how he has got to this point where the artist's own world of Numinous has come to life. It's an inspiring story that will have you itching to build your own worlds.

Watch Robbie Trevino (opens in new tab)'s course on ArtStation

12. Art versus design, with Randall Mackey

A concept sketch of a spaceship

Randall Mackey explains what does it take to become a better concept designer (Image credit: Randall Mackey, for the ArtStation and ILM Star Wars Challenge.)

What makes a concept artist? The fusion of art and design. This course from the acclaimed artist Randall Mackey (opens in new tab) navigates the differences between art and design, as well as investigates what roles they play when put together for concept art. 

Using examples, Mackey shares the importance of strength, utility and beauty in a concept design to make it feel real. He explains the 'design pyramid' and explores what it takes to become a better designer.

Watch Randall Mackey (opens in new tab)'s course on ArtStation

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Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & Design at Creative Bloq. Ian is the former editor of many leading magazines, including digital art focused ImagineFX and 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. Ian launched the magazine X360 in 2005 and has relaunched many others. In his early career Ian wrote for music and film magazines, including Uncut, SFX, and assisted on The Idler. With over 25 years' experience in both print and online journalism, Ian has worked on many leading video game and digital art brands. With a passion for video games and art, Ian combines his loves to bring the latest news on NFTs, video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq. In his spare time he doodles in Corel Painter, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5.