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12 top learning resources for illustrators

Whether you're new to illustration or you're a seasoned professional, there's always more to learn. But with so many options, how do you know where to focus your time – or more importantly, where to spend your money?

This round-up explores great 12 ways to learn how to draw (opens in new tab), plus other vital skills, and includes both paid and free online resources, books in print, and even some of the best YouTube channels for illustrators. If you're looking for a few more resources in your learning toolbox, this should get you started.

Online learning

You can learn almost anything online these days, so it's no surprise at how many places offer courses on design and illustration. Here are my top three picks for online learning.

01. Udemy (opens in new tab)

Learning resources: Udemy

Udemy is crammed with courses of all descriptions

From £10.99

With over 80,000 courses in more than 50 languages, totalling over 17 million minutes of video, Udemy describes itself as he leading global marketplace for teaching and learning, connecting students everywhere to the world’s best instruction anywhere. You name it, you can almost certainly find a course on Udemy explaining how to do it, including illustration. There are over 100 courses on offer; our pick would be Brendon Schumacker's From Drawing to Illustration (opens in new tab), which aims to take you from the basics of character drawing through to creating full illustrations to professional standard.

02. Skillshare (opens in new tab)

Learning resources: Skillshare

There are almost 4,000 design-related courses on Skillshare

From free

Another online learning community featuring more than 24,000 of classes in design, business, tech and more. Some are free, but you can unlock access to its full range of courses from £7 per month, and with nearly 4,000 illustration-related courses available there's plenty to learn there. We'd point you in the direction of Yasmina Creates' course in pen and ink illustration (opens in new tab), which will give you a firm grounding in working with ink, including tips on cross-hatching and stippling, and how to create illustrative patterns.

03. CreativeLive (opens in new tab) 

art and design classes

From free

CreativeLive offers online classes for creative professionals, including classes that focus specifically on art and design. You'll need to pay between $49 and $299 (although there are often discounts) for its on-demand courses, but it also offers a ton of free, live and on-air classes.

With more than 192 classes and 302,000 students in art and design alone, there's a large, growing community of creatives waiting for you to connect with and learn with.

04. Society of Visual Storytelling (opens in new tab)

From US$10 per video/ from $16.50 per month to access everything

SVSLearn is another online learning resource for illustrators. Since 2012, SVS co-founders Will Terry (opens in new tab) and Jake Parker (opens in new tab) have been making instructional videos that highlight their work process.

Since then, Lee White (opens in new tab) has joined the team, along with other top illustrators and industry professionals, such as Guy Francis and Mel Milton.

05. London Art College (opens in new tab)

London art college

From $283/£190

My last recommendation in this category is the London Art College. The London Art College offers 30 online art courses for all ages and abilities. Its courses are accessible 24/7, and you can work at your own pace.

As an added bonus, you'll have access to your own personal tutor. Prices are reasonable, and there are a few different study types available: Diploma (most priced at $508/£360), Certificate ($396/£275), Short ($283/£190), and Young Artists ($198/£125).

Books are another great resource for continued learning. If you're a designer or an illustrator, make sure you have these three books nearby – or for a more comprehensive collection, take a look at our list of books every graphic designer should read (opens in new tab).

06. Universal Principals of Design (opens in new tab)

universal principles of design

$25 (opens in new tab)/£13 (opens in new tab)

Whether you're an artist, illustrator, designer, or developer, the Universal Principals of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler is a must-have.

Inside its pages, you'll learn how to make your designs work for you (and your clients) by reviewing many different concepts and practices, from a variety of industries and disciplines.

07. Illustration that Works (opens in new tab)

$20.40 (opens in new tab)/£26 (opens in new tab)

They call it the 'everything you need to know' guide to the world of professional illustration, and I couldn't agree more. Greg Houston breaks down the technical aspects of illustration and design in this 200-plus page book.

In addition, there are several assignments for you to try, and 400 examples for you to follow.

08. Creative Illustration (opens in new tab)

creative illustration

$29 (opens in new tab)/£27 (opens in new tab)

Another remarkable book is Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis. In fact, if you can only have one book on your shelf, this should be the one – especially if you're serious about a professional illustration career.

Loomis breaks this book into seven sections: Line, Tone, Color, Telling the Story, Creating Ideas, Fields of Illustration, and Experimenting and Studies. Although some of the illustrations are a bit outdated, the lessons are timeless.

The best of YouTube

YouTube is often overlooked as a 'serious' learning platform. And while some of the content isn't great, there are tons of useful resources out there. In fact, there's so much stuff for illustrators that it was difficult for me to pick my top three – so I picked my top four instead.

09. Draw with Jazza (opens in new tab)

Free

One of my favourite YouTube channels is Draw with Jazza. Run by Josiah Brooks, Draw with Jazza is filled with a little bit of everything: reviews, tutorials, unboxings and more.

If you're looking for an all-round good channel, this is your best bet. I had an opportunity to interview Josiah on Roundabout: Creative Chaos (listen here (opens in new tab)).

10. Will Terrell (opens in new tab)

Free

Will Terrell's channel is another great resource for illustrators. He offers tips, advice, tutorials and interviews. He also uploads a lot of speed-sketching videos, which are fun to watch.

11. Brandon Green (opens in new tab)

Free

Although no longer updated with many new videos, the existing content on this channel is more than enough. Brandon Green's artistic technique and teaching style will keep you coming back for more.

12. Will Terry (opens in new tab)

Free

Last, but certainly not least, is Will Terry. You probably recognise his name from the Society of Visual Storytelling, above. On his YouTube channel, Terry gives advice to illustrators about business, marketing, and professional practices. There's a lot of encouragement and anecdotes, and the occasional interview.

BONUS: ImagineFX magazine (opens in new tab)

ImagineFX magazine

Subscribe to ImagineFX for a monthy helping of essential illustration tips

From £3.85 per issue (with a subscription)

If you love to draw and paint and you'd like a monthly helping of step-by-step know-how from professional artists and illustrators, you can't go wrong with ImagineFX magazine. As well as great tutorials, video workshops and custom brushes, you'll also find insight into the art of games, film, manga, animation, comics and more, as well as interviews with leading artists and much more besides.

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Tammy Coron
Tammy Coron

Tammy is an independent creative professional, author of Apple Game Frameworks and Technologies (opens in new tab), and the maker behind the AdventureGameKit (opens in new tab) – a custom SpriteKit framework for building point and click adventure games. As an innovative problem solver and industry leader, Tammy enjoys working on projects from content creation – including books, tutorials, videos, and podcasts – to the design and development of cross-platform applications and games. For Creative Bloq, she has written about an array of subjects, including animation, web design and character design.