We all have a lot more screen time these days while sitting indoors, enjoying YouTube and art feeds to escape from the daily grind. As an artist you’re already used to using screens on a regular basis, so learning from YouTube art channels is a bit of a creative no-brainer.
It’s also worth remembering that there’s no better time than now to improve your skills and get inspired by new perspectives. Of course we have many excellent how to draw and brilliant art tutorials on this very site, but if you’re looking for ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’, then YouTube videos by artists are a great way to reboot your mojo.
With so much varying quality on YouTube, though, it can be difficult to know where to start. To help you out, we’ve selected the 10 best YouTube art channels to inspire you and improve your skills.
Founded in 2012, Proko, the YouTube art channel of fine art painter Stan Prokopenko, is on a mission to teach you the basics of drawing and anatomy. A teacher at the Watts Atelier of the Arts, California, Prokopenko clearly knows his subject inside out, and his short videos are detailed, comprehensive and full of useful tips and information.
While some ‘instructional’ art videos on the web are more about showcasing the artist’s own technique, Proko’s lessons are practically focused and often include tasks for the viewer to complete in their own time, making it all seem very lesson-like. That said, they’re also a lot of fun, with the artist’s lively and loud sense of humour shining through throughout.
02. Kyle T Webster
Anyone with even the slightest inclination for digital art will have heard of Kyle T Webster. The US-based illustrator has a massive social following, and is perhaps best known to our readers for his free and very popular Photoshop brush packs. Kyle has also drawn for The New Yorker, TIME, Nike, and many other distinguished editorial, advertising, publishing and institutional clients.
Obviously no slouch, the artist would be a wise choice for budding digital doodlers to learn from. Good thing then that his YouTube channel is full of cracking classes covering all things Adobe PS and Fresco, with tutorials in drawing charcoal figures, improvised forms, and even pop culture heroes like Tintin.
Kyle’s channel is also useful for tips and tricks using Adobe suite, with shorter videos giving you the lowdown on useful things to know like perspective shifts and drawing straight lines. In other words, a channel good for both the beginner and digital pro.
03. Aaron Blaise
If you watch a lot of Disney videos with your kids, the name Aaron Blaise may seem familiar. That’s because he spent 21 years of his life as an animator on such films as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan and Brother Bear, the last of which he also co-directed. He’s now left the movie business, but Disney’s loss is the art world’s gain, as more recently he’s turned his hand to teaching. And it turns out he’s very good at it.
As well as writing books and offering paid-for courses, the animator, director, illustrator and fine artist uses his YouTube channel to share his art, techniques and tips. Blaise's videos include walkthroughs on everything from how to draw wolves to plein air painting with goauche, along with time-lapse paintings, live-streamed chats with fellow artists, and traditional animation tutorials.
Most of Aaron's videos are very long; the creative likes to take his time and show you everything he’s doing at a natural pace, which makes for an immersive and insightful viewing experience.
04. Sarah Tepes
Sarah Tepes may be only 19 years old and still a student, but she’s attracted more than 400,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, and for good reason. Self-taught in digital art herself, she has a great ability to pass on knowledge to newbies in a way that’s both slickly professional and easy to follow.
Alongside instructional art lessons, there are also some great time-lapse, speed painting and process videos in the mix too, and the tone is consistently encouraging and thoughtful; providing great motivation for young and beginner artists everywhere.
05. Alphonso Dunn
Alphonso Dunn has won a number of awards for his art, and his work can be found in numerous private collections in the US and worldwide. He is widely known for his popular art instruction books like Pen & Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide and Pen & Ink Drawing Workbook. His YouTube channel meanwhile has almost 700,000 followers and features hundreds of free videos and tutorials on drawing, sketching, pen and ink, watercolour and more for learners at all levels.
Watching Alphonso's fun, authoritative videos, it's no surprise that the artist has such a large following. His fascinating pictures are a wonder to watch come to life, and the range of subjects covered offers something a little different to other YouTube art channels. The seven-part Urban Sketching series is a good example of why Alphonso's channel is one of the best and most interesting out there.
06. Bayley Jae
Bayley Jae is a young Canadian illustrator who worked in the animation industry for a while after graduating before going freelance. Her art is mainly traditional, with some digital, and she shares her process with enthusiasm and passion on her YouTube channel, which features speedpainting, product reviews, tutorials, and more.
Jae’s videos are far from formal lessons, but her fresh, raw and energetic approach can be a real shot in the arm when you’re looking to be more creative and motivated about your art.
She’s also honest and open about where her strengths lie, and often shares the process of taking on new challenges in videos such as ‘I tried hand lettering’ and ‘I tried a 3D pen’, which is a lovely touch.
07. Bobby Chiu
Canadian artist Bobby Chiu works in concept and character design and has won a number of awards for his creative work, including an Emmy. He also teaches digital painting online at Schoolism.com, publishes art books, and has a YouTube channel that’s full of inspiration for those who wish to follow in his footsteps.
Chui doesn’t do tutorials as such on his channel, but his lengthy, live-streamed discussions, demos and interviews with fellow artists are packed full of insight and detail. In fact, whatever a particular video is about, you won’t want to miss a moment spent in the company of this super-talented artist.
08. Emmy Kalia
Emmy Kalia is a self-taught pencil artist from the Netherlands with some serious talent at creating photorealistic images using graphite. Her YouTube channel contains a mixture of tutorials and time-lapse videos that showcase and demonstrate her technique.
Her results may look intimidating, but she explains the process that gets her there in a clear and straightforward manner. If you're interested in making realistic pencil art, or just curious about how she does it, then this is one YouTube art channel that's definitely worth checking out.
09. Sophie Chan
Sophie Chan is a self-taught manga artist from Canada who’s best known as the author of The Ocean of Secrets series. As well as using her YouTube channel to promote this series, she also shares time-lapse videos and some excellent tutorials on the fundamental of drawing manga characters.
Manga tutorials can often be overly prescriptive and grid-based, leading to everyone creating very similar-looking characters. So it's to Chan's credit that she strikes a nice balance on her channel between 'How to draw' videos, 'How I draw' videos, and encouragement to break the rules once you know them, the above video being a prime example.
10. Draw with Jazza
Draw with Jazza is the YouTube channel of Josiah Brooks, an Australian artist who has a clear passion for teaching people how to draw, animate and paint, using both analogue and traditional media.
With a strong focus on cartoon and animation styles, this channel is updated weekly, with new content including tutorials, speed paintings, streams, art challenges and competitions.
Brooks’ presentational style is upbeat, friendly and personable, and while you won’t find the most comprehensive, step-by-step lessons here, you will find short, fun videos packed with tips, tricks and inspiration.
11. Mark Crilley
Mark Crilley is an American artist, illustrator, author, and graphic novelist who’s also written instructional books about how to draw manga. His YouTube channel features how-to-draw videos on a wide range of topics, mainly around manga and anime styles.
Crilley’s narrated, step-by-step drawing tutorials break everything down to fundamentals, so even if you can’t match the high quality of his artwork, you can easily see the principles behind how it’s made.
His channel also features a ton of inspiring time-lapse videos, speed challenges and tips on things like different ways to begin a story. Most importantly, Crilley makes a big effort to get his audience involved, so there’s a real community feel to the channel.
No list of YouTube art channels would be complete without the channel of our sister title, ImagineFX, the world’s number one digital art magazine. Here you’ll find video tutorials by dozens of world-class artists, working in a range of styles, both traditional and digital.
The emphasis in the main is on sci-fi and fantasy, game design, manga and film art, and contributors include some of the biggest names in these industries. And if you like what you see, why not take out a subscription to the print magazine and get a beautifully packaged blast of new digital art inspiration every month?