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Today I wanted to write a post for you about my experiences with online art schools. Of course, these are my personal experiences. Some of you might find your experience to be different. But I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts about them in case some readers have been trying to decide if trying any of them out was worth it or not. If you have an interest in checking any of them out just click the images to go to their website.
Schoolism actually feels like art school. The instructors are top notch industry giants in animation, illustration and fine art, etc. You get assignments to do. They are seriously challenging. You will learn something if you listen to the instruction and do the work. Don’t pass on watching the critiques. You will learn a lot from those.
The one drawback I can name is, in the last few months they have doubled their monthly costs to $30. They did do away with the annoying $1 charge to switch classes, so now you can switch between the classes freely. But I think the price hike was a bit steep because they didn’t add any new classes or content. Even though the class count may be limited compared to other schools, the quality is far superior. I really loved all of the courses I took. If I could give them one suggestion it would be to add more traditional media courses. Most of them are geared towards digital media, though I worked my assignments with pencils and paint. There is also an option, you can take a full on course with the instructor giving you weekly critiques of your work. It does not come cheap – $998 per course.
Art Tutor has a variety of courses geared towards the traditional media artist. I signed up with them specifically to take the courses on ink drawing. They did not disappoint. I stuck around for several months do several other courses and having fun learning different mediums. This site’s courses also have the feeling of a real art school. Many of the classes have assignments to do. The courses are of excellent quality and I learned many tips and tricks. At €17 per month I felt the value was excellent. Again, if you follow the instruction and do the work, you will learn and improve whatever medium you are studying.
I’m actually looking back through their classes and debating a resub. I think they may have even added a few new ones that look pretty cool.
This group is affiliated with North Light. You may have visited their website or seen some of their books on Amazon. They publish art and craft books on a massive range of topics. Anywho, they also have a channel with more than 700 classes on all sorts of media. My biggest interest was drawing, ink drawing and watercolor. The courses were pretty good. Claudia Nice does some watercolor and ink courses. I LOVE her work and have a few of her books, so this was huge for me to get to watch her process.
The classes are mostly follow along style. A little YouTubish, but overall informative. The price is $19.99 a month for total access. Maybe a little high in terms of quality but it makes up for it in quantity. Seriously, you could be on here forever and never run out of videos to watch.
The Virtual Art Instructor
This is a cool site run by instructor Matt Fussel. His courses are really top quality and worth checking out if you are a traditional media artist. It really helped me up my ink drawing game. He has a week trial for $1 and then $19 a month after. Sometimes he runs special offers and you can sub even cheaper. Some of his videos are completely free and you can view them on YouTube . As a full member you can download the videos and ebooks from the site and watch them as many times as you like. I really enjoyed his courses. Sadly, there just wasn’t enough to keep me around for long.
Society of Visual Storytelling
SVS is the brainchild of illustrators Will Terry, Lee White and Jake Parker. You might remember Jake Parker as the guy who started Inktober.
SVS is mainly geared around children’s book illustration. There were some classes on ink drawing and comic creation, which is why I subbed. THE absolute coolest thing about this school is the courses on the industry side. Yes, they discuss how to get a contract, what contracts are bad and which ones are good, legal pitfalls, what should you be getting paid, ethical practices in the industry and other awesome topics no one ever talks about.
According to the reviews I read some people feel they can’t live their lives without Skillshare. I hated this site with the burning passion of 1000 suns. You can get 2 months trial sub for 99 cents. After that it is $11 a month. If you search around you can find discount codes. I think I got one for $8 for a month. Even after I tried it and hated it I went back and paid for a month because I wanted to take Yuko Shamizu’s ink drawing class. As much as I love her work her class was disappointing. Most of the classes on there I found disappointing. There were a few gems – Jen Dixon’s ink drawing/ watercolor classes were informative. Rob Marzullo’s comic creation courses were good. However, he also does them for free on YouTube, so why pay for it? Truthfully that is exactly Skillshare reminds me of- YouTube you pay for. The classes are mostly low quality. They are not vetted for quality by the company. Anyone can make a class and post it. Many of the videos are only a few minutes long and teach you nothing. Lots of the “instructors” can’t even make themselves understood. Seriously, save your money and go elsewhere unless you have a buck burning a hole in your pocket and nothing better to do.
Lynda.com / LinkedIn
Lydia.com has been bought out by LinkedIn and is now LinkedIn Learning. You can still sign up through the Lydia.com site- which I am posting a link to here because it is slightly easier to navigate. You can sign up with the Lydia.com site with your LinkedIn account information.
This site boasts a huge library of classes (according to their website anyway) which are nearly impossible to find. You can do a search for topics and get a short list of about 6 recommended topics. If you click on those topics you get other recommendations based on what you are looking for. In short, this site severely pisses me off. The saving grace is you can get an entire month free to attempt navigating through this nightmare if you have a credit card or a Paypal account. They also invite you to cancel ahead of time if you hate it and they won’t bill you further.
I have found a few comics creation courses and drawing courses. So far the quality of them seems to be pretty good. Most of the topics they offer, at least in the topics list you can find on Lydia (if you dig deep enough you can find a somewhat tragically ordered list of keywords) seem to be geared towards business classes and learning software programs. I’m going to watch the comics creation videos and be done with it. Hey, free is free.
I love YouTube. You can find pretty much anything on there and it is absolutely free. If you are persistent and do some digging you can get some really worthwhile information. Here is a list of some of my favorite channels for art and comic creation:
- Christine Karron – Watercolor
- Alphonso Dunn – Ink and Watercolor
- Mark Crilley – Comic Creation
- Lethal Chris – Drawing and Comic Creation
- Stan Miller – Watercolor
- The Art of Aaron Blaise – Drawing and Painting
- Kelly Eddington – Drawing and Watercolor
- Draw Mix Paint – Oil Painting and Color Theory
- James Gurney – Painting
- Jeff Watts – Drawing and Painting
- Cha Yeon Painter – Watercolor
- Fine Art Academy – Drawing and Painting
- Stefan Baumann – He mostly deals with oils. Sometimes he lectures on galleries and art shows. He is insane and always dresses like a pirate.