Of the things I was able to do throughout COVID-19 lockdown and shielding, discovering the Skillshare 2 month free trial [affiliate link] has lowkey made the most difference to my life. Before taking some of these classes I struggled to see myself as anything other than a bit of an iPad doodler, but I’ve started to push my own boundaries and take myself more seriously as an illustrator, and it has made me fall in love with education again. The Skillshare classes I took this summer have also been just one in a number of factors that ultimately led to me feeling able to apply to go back to college again. An unexpected side effect, but certainly a welcome one! Read on for a list of the 9 best illustration courses that I took (and loved) this summer.
I started with the Create an Intricate, Editable Floral Pattern in Procreate [affiliate link] beginners course by Di Ujdi. I adore pattern, and this course teaches an absolutely ingenious way of creating a repeat pattern completely within the Procreate software. I loved the soft yet clear instructions, and once I’d finished I immediately took things up a notch and attempted the Create a Dense, Floral, Half Drop Pattern in Procreate [affiliate link] course by the same teacher, which is at the intermediate level so it’s trickier but it’s so satisfying when you see it come together!
After easing myself into Skillshare with the pattern courses, I decided to seek out some classes that would help me nail down exactly what my art style is, or at least gently push me in the general direction. First up I took Digital Illustration for All: Discover, Cultivate and Share Your Unique Personal Style [affiliate link] by Laci Jordan which was so incredibly useful, informative, and had such a huge scope; I learnt so much about Laci’s process as well as tips for upping my own game. It was at this point I’d started to recognise my love of texture in my digital illustrations so I took a quick lil’ course by Liz Kohler Brown called Block Print Style Illustrations on Your iPad [affiliate link]. This course not only gives tips on use of texture and teaches you how to make a custom stamp, it also comes with some free stamps and textures made by Liz which was a nice touch.
Next up, I wanted to address my use of colour in my work. I’m ridiculously indecisive about colour palettes, so Exploring Color in Your Illustrations Using a Limited Color Palette [affiliate link] by Karla Alcazar was just what I needed. It was the perfect lesson in making more conscious colour choices and how the palette used can really change the mood of a piece. After a short break brought about by creative block, Amber Vittoria’s Intuitive Illustration: 4 Quick, Fun Exercises to Unlock Creativity [affiliate link] was the perfect class to give me my energy back. She describes it as a no-pressure, upbeat class and that covers it very well.
With a handle on what I like my work to look like, the textures and colours I love to use, and fresh from being snapped out of a bit of a creative block by Amber’s course I knew it was the right time to take on my biggest art fear: PEOPLE. I can’t draw bodies or faces for shit. I’m truly terrible. This is where ODD BODIES: Illustrating Expressive, Stylized People [affiliate link] by Tom Froese came in. It really helped me think about drawing human bodies differently, worrying less about capturing the identical form and concerning myself more with getting the personality right.
Emboldened by my progress drawing bodies, I zeroed in on faces as being possibly my biggest challenge and Charly Clements’ Fun With Faces: Create a Stylised Digital Portrait [affiliate link] gave me so much to work with, in particular her tips for drawing faces have stuck with me. I’m still practicing, but I’m definitely getting there, and Illustrating Expressive Portraits in Procreate [affiliate link] by Maia Faddoul has helped fill in some more of the blanks I tend to have when it comes to giving the faces and portraits I draw that something extra, that spark.
Coming across the free trial of Skillshare has felt heaven sent during my stint in shielding. It’s allowed me to tap into the expertise of some wonderful artists who have been the most generous with sharing their skills, and it’s given me the gentlest of confidence boosts in my own digital illustration work.
It’s important that I make completely clear that this post isn’t sponsored, nor is it an advert. I found Skillshare through another illustrator’s Instagram and signed up for my free trial which ends on August 12th, but I want to keep my subscription going as I’m getting so much out of this site. If you’re reading this and you feel inspired to sign up using any of my affiliate links (that are all clearly marked) you can get your own 2 month free trial [affiliate link] and I’ll get another 1. It’s not just illustration courses on there; anything you could possibly want to learn, see, make, or do is available. I’ve bookmarked a few creative writing classes and my husband has been looking at some software training. I love that a place like Skillshare exists and it’s been a fabulous resource for me this summer.