UndergraduateGraduateContinuing EducationSpecial ProgramsAbout SVAStudent LifeAttend SVAAfter SVA

The Division of Continuing Education offers advice on courses. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions. Should you have additional questions, please contact a CE Course Advisor at ce@sva.edu or call 877.242.7200.

View courses

Which Advertising course will help me build a portfolio?
The majority of our advertising courses are portfolio-building courses. The focus will be on concepting; developing the best possible ideas for an ad campaign. With that in mind, you may be able to complete 2-3 portfolio pieces per course. However, you should not expect to build an entire portfolio within one course, or by taking multiple courses concurrently. Building a professional, competitive portfolio for the marketplace takes time and is a continuous process throughout one's career.

What course should I take if I'm interested in being a copywriter?
Most of our advertising courses are taught by a copywriter/creative director team, and give assignments that will be equally helpful for someone pursuing a career as a copywriter, as it would for those interested in being a Creative Director. While some courses place emphasis on visually polished pieces, instructors emphasize that what they are looking for in your work are great ideas.

Computer Art

Will I learn about design and build a portfolio in the Computer Art courses?
In our Computer Art courses you will learn about the different tools and techniques that are used in design. These may include: desktop publishing software, such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign; the languages and software used in web development such as HTML, Javascript, CSS, Dreamweaver and Flash; and the software used in motion graphics, like After Effects. Although these courses are very effective in teaching the current software used in the industry, you will not be learning about the principles of design, nor will the focus of the courses be toward building a portfolio. To learn about design, the creative process undertaken in order to convey a specific message (or messages), please view our Graphic Design course offerings.

Which course should I take if I want to learn about web design?
To start learning about web design you can take either Getting Started with Web Languages (SMC-2422), or Dreamweaver (SMC-2424), or both. Introduction to Web Languages is an introductory course in HTML coding in which you will build a basic website using HTML and basic JavaScript codes. If you plan to pursue a career in web design and development—and wish to move into more advanced languages like XML, PHP, CSS, HTML5, MySQL, or into iPad and iPhone App development—you will need to have a working knowledge of basic HTML. Dreamweaver is a user-friendly software based on HTML coding which allows you to create websites without actually having to hand-code the HTML. It is similar to working with other design programs and a quick way to get started. However, you need to have basic knowledge of both Photoshop and Illustrator before taking the course. Deciding which course to begin with depends largely on the individual student. Are you invested in a career as a web developer? Do you want to create iPhone and iPad Apps? Are you interested in the back-end development of websites? Then start with HTML. Are you a designer or artist trying to get an online portfolio together? Do you have an aversion to coding? Are you a better visual learner? Then start with Dreamweaver.

Film, Video and Animation

Which Animation course should I take if I'm a beginner?
If you are a beginner, consider taking Animation as a Fine Arts Medium (ANC-1022) or Animate Your Stories From Start to Finish (ANC-1027). Both courses will introduce you to the basics of animation. In these courses you will be hand drawing your animations, cell by cell, and then shooting them in LunchBox pencil test rooms. The approach is very similar to that used in early Disney animations and will introduce you to the process of creating animations, from storyboards to final film.

Is there a course in which I can complete a film?
Completing a full-length film is a huge undertaking! Our courses focus on specific areas of the filmmaking process, so you can focus on honing specific skills. In some courses like Introduction to Filmmaking (CFC-1003) or Introduction to Digital Production (CVC-1042) you will make a short film, and gain insight into the stages of the filmmaking process. In other courses, like Creating a Documentary Film (CFC-3027), planning, concepting and writing are partnered with hands-on work to help you develop your idea for a full-length film.

Fine Arts

What are the differences between Drawing I and Figure Drawing I
The approach in these courses will vary by instructor, but in both courses, the emphasis will be on life drawing (drawing the nude model from observation). However, in Drawing I, you will also spend time drawing still life and/or discussing perspective while drawing the interior of a room. Both courses will cover basic principles of drawing such as proportion, mark-making, shading, line-weight, composition and positive and negative space.

Can I use the studios outside of class time? 
Students enrolled in printmaking courses are offered additional studio hours outside of class time. The open studio schedule will be made available to students once all of the courses have begun for the semester. Many of our sculpture courses offer access to the studios outside of class time. Sculpture courses that do not meet in the sculpture center do not offer studio access outside of class time. (See individual sculpture course descriptions for complete details.) If you are enrolled in a painting, drawing or jewelry-making course, there are no studios available for use outside of class time.


What software will I learn in the course Basic Graphic Design?
The Basic Graphic Design (DSC-2020) courses will introduce you to the fundamental building blocks of design, but they do not teach students how to use any computer software programs. You may use whatever tools and skills available to complete your assignments; those may include but are not limited to drawing, painting, photocopying and collage. Some students may already know how to use programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, and while they may use these tools to complete the assignments, it is not required. Once at the intermediate and specialized level, it is expected that you have a working knowledge of imaging/desktop publishing software. To learn the basic software programs used by designers, please refer to our Computer Art courses.

Can I build a portfolio in these courses? 
All of our design courses are portfolio-building courses. Some courses will specialize on a specific area of design (i.e., Typography, DSC-2050), whereas others will focus on different types of design (i.e., Editorial Design, DSC-2156Package It, DSC-2231, and Information Design, DSC-2253). All of these courses will help you build a portfolio. If you are a beginner, you should not expect to complete a portfolio by taking one class, or even through multiple courses concurrently. Building a professional, competitive portfolio for the marketplace takes time and is a continuous process throughout one's career.

Illustration and Cartooning

What kind of drawing skills do I need to take these courses and/or can I use a computer? 
The level and type of skills required in our illustration and cartooning courses largely depends on the course. In a course such as Cartooning Basics (CIC-2011) you will learn some basic drawing techniques for cartoons and comics. Other courses that teach drawing skills include Drawing the Clothed Model (ILC-1033) and Drawing New York City (ILC-2184). In other courses such as Inking Comics (ILC-2114), Formula Drawing and Analysis for Cartoonists (ILC-2119), Intuitive Perspective (CIC-2068) and Drawing and Perspective (CIC-2072) you will be learning specialized and advanced techniques in drawing. Finally, we offer a large variety of concept-based courses, in which students should feel comfortable with their drawing skills and/or method of working. Courses include Illustration as Design as Illustration (ILC-2756-A), Fantasy, Animal and Creature Illustration (ILC-2739), Creating Children's Books (ILC-2563), Graphic Novels for the Children's Market (ILC-2562-A), Illustration Portfolio Clinic (ILC-2544) and Promoting and Publishing Illustration (ILC-3828-A), among others. The medium used in these courses may include: colored pencil, acrylics, oils, inking, gouache or collage, as well as computer programs such as Illustrator, Photoshop or Maya.

Which course should I take if I'm interested in children's book illustration? 
Although many of our courses teach concepts or techniques that apply to children's book illustration, two courses that directly address the subject are Creating Children's Books (ILC-2563) and Graphic Novels for the Children's Market (ILC-2562-A). Creating Children's Books is an introductory course, which tends to focus on younger readers. In this course, students will work on three main assignments—a nursery rhyme, a poem and a verse—followed by storyboards or a dummy book. The course also focuses on writing assignments. Graphic Novels for the Children's Market (ILC-2562-A), is a good course for those students who either have previous experience with children's books or for those with a specific project in mind. The course will cover a variety of techniques used to illustrate concepts and ideas, and will also allow students time to develop their dummies. Projects may be for any age group, from toddlers to young adults.


If I'm a beginner and I have a digital camera, which course should I start with? 
Digital Photography I (PHC-1042) is a great course to start with if you have a Digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera and you want to get started in photography.

Can I take a lighting course if I have no previous experience with photography?
If you do not have previous experience, or if you do not know about the basic principles of photography—how to take pictures manually; what the difference is between the f-stop, shutter speed and ISO—you should not take a lighting course or other intermediate to advanced courses in photography. In these courses, students are expected to have a basic working knowledge of these principles. Courses that will help you learn the basic principles include: Black-and-White Photography (PHC-1003), Black-and-White Photography: From Darkroom to Lightroom (PHC-1002), Digital Photography I (PHC-1042) and Introduction to the Principles of Photography (PHC-1040).


Blog Feed

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014

    The Wage is Too Damn Low

    The Wage is Too Damn Low

    “Artists rarely make a decent wage, even when they manage to practice art and have it be their main source of income,” says a recent Washington Post blog post.  How much should artists get paid?

  • Friday, October 10, 2014

    Pros and Con

    Pros and Con

    New York Comic Con is the mega-spectacle now under way at the Javits Center.  It’s the biggest pop culture convention in the East Coast and second biggest nationwide. Last year, it attracted more...

  • Monday, October 6, 2014

    Powerful Portrait

    Powerful Portrait

    Visit the district office of State Senator Brad Hoylman and you’ll find a painting by SVA Residencies alum George Towne of former Congressman Barney Frank!  Barney Frank was the first member of...

School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587