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To earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration at SVA, students must complete 120 credits as follows:

  • 72 credits in studio art courses
  • 30 credits in humanities & sciences courses
  • 15 credits in art history courses
  • 3 elective credits from among the undergraduate course offerings
First Year

AHD-1010 Art History I
AHD-1015 Art History II
FID-1130 Drawing I
FID-1135 Drawing II
FID-1220 Painting I
FID-1225 Painting II
FID-1430 Sculpture
SMD-1020 Foundations of Visual Computing
HCD-1020 Writing and Literature I
HCD-1025 Writing and Literature II

Second Year

Requirement A
One semester of:

ILD-2000   Principles of Illustration I
ILD-2005   Principles of Illustration II
ILD-2010   Painting/Illustration I or CID-2050 Storytelling I
ILD-2015   Painting/Illustration II or CID-2055 Storytelling II
ILD-2020   Drawing I
ILD-2025   Drawing II
ILD-2040   History of Illustration
HHD-2990 Western Civilization I
HHD-2995 Western Civilization II

Choose one of the following technique courses each semester:
CID-2108         Drawing with Ink for Cartoonists
CID-2148         Digital Coloring for Cartoonists
FID-2841/2842            Etching and Monoprint as Illustration
ILD-2104          Hand Lettering
ILD-2106          Graphic Design Solutions for Illustrators and Cartoonists
ILD-2116          Perspective
ILD-2122          Watercolor Techniques
ILD-2126          The Gouache Experience
ILD-2134          Modern Illumination
ILD-2136          Figurative Sculpture
ILD-2138          Introduction to Puppetry
ILD-2143          Collage Illustration: Collage as a Medium and a Tool
ILD-2145          Digital Collage Illustration: Telling Stories in Layers
ILD-2146          Digital Workshop: Music to Your Eyes
ILD-2147          Realistic Digital Painting Techniques Using Photoshop
ILD-2149          Realistic and Fantastical Digital Painting
ILD-2151          Acrylic Painting
ILD-2161          Still and Moving: Low-Tech Animation
ILD-2162          Illustration in Motion
ILD-2163          Photocopy Zines
ILD-2166          Bookmaking and Linocut Inventions
ILD-2168          Photography for the Illustrative Eye

Third Year Requirements

Third-year illustration majors must take one semester each of:

ILD-3010   Pictorial Problems I
ILD-3015   Pictorial Problems II
HPD-3050  Culture Survey I
HPD-3055  Culture Survey II

Fourth Year Requirments

Fourth-year illustration majors must take one semester of:

ILD-4040   Professional Practice: Illustration
ILD-4080   Basic Digital Portfolio or ILD-4090 Intermediate Digital Portfolio
ILD-4912/4932  Illustration Portfolio I
ILD-4942/4962  Illustration Portfolio II

General Course Listing

ILD-2000 / ILD-2005
Principles of Illustration I and II
Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester
Designed to introduce the illustration basics: editorial interpretation, compositional fundamentals, different media, color and stylization, these courses will focus on thinking and establishing creative solutions to problems. The sketch and its function in the illustrative process will be explored. Appropriate professional work habits will be stressed. 

ILD-2010 / ILD-2015
Painting/Illustration I and II
Two semesters: 2 studio credits per semester
These courses take a conceptual approach to art and composition, yet emphasizes a comprehensive understanding of traditional oil painting techniques and materials. Appropriation; still life; use of color; working from photography, literature and art history are combined to explore innovative approaches to a classic medium. 

ILD-2020 / ILD-2025
Drawing I and II
Two semesters: 2 studio credits per semester
These courses will explore the basic aspects of drawing in relationship to the figure. 

History of Illustration
One semester: 3 studio credits
The fascinating history of illustrative images and the major movements in illustration are the focus of this course. The continuous interrelations between commercial and fine art, as well as the changing role of the artist’s influence on culture will be explored. The course will also help students better understand the differences of metaphor in pictorial content and the universal symbolic vocabulary—where a rose is not just a rose, a ladder is not just a ladder, and a dark horse is far from being just a dark horse. 

CID-2050 / CID-2055
Storytelling I and II
Two semesters: 2 studio credits per semester
Comic-book artists must learn to defy the constraints of the page and of the imagination to get the greatest possible effect with the greatest economy: to use a series of images to tell a story clearly and effectively. These principles of storytelling are the solid foundation of the comics medium, and can be employed no matter what style or approach is chosen. These courses will explore contemporary and past examples of bravura storytelling, as well as many personalized methods, to unlock the story in your head and get it onto paper. 

Second-Year Technique Courses  

Hand Lettering
One semester: 2 studio credits
Words combine with images in various ways: from narrative text balloons and comic strips to title designs, page headings and logos, on book covers and posters. Pictures with words are everywhere—yet lettering is an art form in its own right. One cannot create good hand-lettered type without understanding time-tested techniques. This course will explore these principles and practices, facilitating opportunities for expressive and creative work. Students will also be able to adapt or refine lettering on pre-existing illustration and cartooning projects. 

Graphic Design Solutions for Illustrators and Cartoonists
One semester: 2 studio credits
This course will give the cartoonist and illustrator better insight on how to combine type and images. There will be a focus on how to create hand-drawn type to incorporate into your projects, as well as how to adapt and customize pre-existing typefaces to enhance your visual projects. 

Drawing with Ink for Cartoonists
One semester: 2 studio credits
This course will introduce students to the powerful, expressive possibilities of ink drawing. While it is geared toward working for comics, it is not strictly a “how to ink for the big leagues” course. Rather, students will study and experiment with a variety of materials, techniques and approaches to drawing with ink. Demonstrations in the use of dip/quill pens, and the uses of pen and brush together will be given. Techniques such as the modulation of line weight to create depth and the uses of crosshatching to achieve lighting effects will be shown and discussed. An analysis and critique of pen-and-ink drawings of past masters of fine art, comics and illustration, as well as weekly critiques of student work is included. 

One semester: 2 studio credits
This course will cover all the necessary mechanical aspects of one-, two- and three-point perspective. We will explore compound forms (i.e., extensions to houses, chimneys, attics), inclined planes (hills and valleys, steps), placing windows, non-parallel forms, interiors and exteriors, station point/field of vision and environmental scale, reflections, shadows and shading, and atmospheric perspective. Exercises will incorporate the use of the human figure. 

Watercolor Techniques
One semester: 2 studio credits
Watercolor is a beautiful, versatile and demanding medium. This course will focus on learning its technique and applying it to a semester-long assignment. The majority of class time will be spent painting from the model in order to master traditional, realistic, tonal painting. Attention will be paid not just to the differing techniques of watercolors, but also to basics such as composition, drawing and color. The works of past and present master artists will be examined through weekly discussion. Students may work in any style they choose to develop and execute the semester-long project. Particular focus will be placed on the conceptual and interpretive nature of the work. 

The Gouache Experience
One semester: 2 studio credits
An intensive course devoted to the use of gouache for illustration. Gouache is, in many respects, the ideal illustration medium—fast drying and giving brilliant, rich matte color. The course will be a workshop and seminar in which students undertake a variety of projects. A number of different techniques will be explored, but the course will concentrate on using gouache to enhance the work of the individual student. Some seminar time will be devoted to taking a close look at the uses of gouache in the professional work of many artists and illustrators. 

Modern Illumination
One semester: 2 studio credits
During the middle ages, “paper/parchment” for books was actually sheets of animal skin, goatskin, sheepskin, calfskin or other animals. Text was handwritten in ink. Illustrations and elaborate decorative borders were painted in egg tempera, embellished with gold and silver leaf as well as powdered gold and silver. Covers were bound with leather and often encrusted with jewels. With the invention of the printing press, hand-produced books became scarce. During the Renaissance, oil painting replaced the use of egg tempera; today it’s nearly a lost form, yet it still produces brilliant examples of intricate form and color. Egg tempera paintings in manuscripts from the medieval times have not faded for centuries and are as vibrant as the day they were created. In this primarily technique course students will focus on the materials and methods from medieval illuminated manuscripts. They will explore egg tempera and gold leaf on goatskin parchment, and reinterpret their use in a modern context. Some time will be devoted to looking at examples of manuscripts from Europe, Russia and Persia from the middle ages, as well as contemporary artists. Field trips to museums will be included. Student projects may range from re-creating elements of an illuminated manuscript to personal illustrations and abstract work. 

Figurative Sculpture
One semester: 2 studio credits
This course will introduce various materials and techniques commonly used for toy design, action figures and sculpting the human form in commercial sculpture studios. The semester begins with the design and drawing of a simple object. With detailed demonstrations, we will convert the drawing to a Plasticine clay model and then to a wood sculpture. The course will fabricate a latex mold of the image and make a duplicate cast. A final project inspired by direct observation of the model will be created. Photography of your sculptures will be discussed. 

Introduction to Puppetry
One semester: 2 studio credits
The dynamic world of puppets and visual storytelling will be introduced in this course. Puppetry is an ancient art form deeply ingrained in human history. From totems/relics of worship and special ceremonies to entertainment, puppetry has helped us communicate thoughts, ideas and needs since the earliest formations of society. We will delve into the principles and mechanisms of movement, covering simple and complex joint connections, and students will design and build functional puppets through various materials/mediums, and create portfolio-worthy pieces. The course is geared to the illustrator/cartoonist mindset interested in understanding the animation of bodies in motion. 

Collage Illustration: Collage as a Medium and a Design Tool
One semester: 2 studio credits
The medium of collage allows us to take forms that already exist and combine them to say something new. Ephemera such as magazines, newspapers, tickets, labels, and various papers not only have color and texture, they also have meaning. By combining these elements by themselves or with drawing, painting, photography, typography, etc., we can use the world around us to comment on it. As a design tool, collage provides freedom to move forms, combine different elements and essentially play. We will explore different materials and techniques with an emphasis on personal expression and communication of ideas. 

Digital Collage Illustration: Telling Stories in Layers
One semester: 2 studio credits

Collage is a dynamic medium that lends itself to create stories with layers of color, texture and meaning. This course will explore various approaches to collage and basic Adobe Photoshop techniques with an emphasis on personal expression and communication of ideas. Students will combine painting, mixed media and digital assets to create images that are seamlessly woven together. 

Digital Workshop: Music to Your Eyes
One semester: 2 studio credits

This course will use digital methods to combine photography, drawing and digital painting to explore various aspects of creating images suitable for music/band posters, album/cd packages, T-shirt and button designs. We will look back at the history of rock and roll/band graphics from the past, and discuss ways to adapt older visual strategies into fresh, hip, contemporary solutions. 

Realistic Digital Painting Techniques Using Photoshop
One semester: 2 studio credits
Learn the essential tools and techniques for drawing and painting in Adobe Photoshop. We will go through the many functions of the design tools of Photoshop as they are applied to digital painting. Learn to search out, use, modify and create Photoshop brushes. Learn to use layers, masking and adjustment layers to edit paintings and create depth. Develop a sophisticated knowledge of color and lighting to be applied to traditional and digital painting. Learn to create finished work efficiently. 

Digital Coloring for Cartoonists
One semester: 2 studio credits
With the changeover to digital prepress, most cartoon publications are now colored on the computer. This course is an introduction to the Macintosh for cartoonists. After learning the basic operation of the machine, students will scan their artwork into the computer where it will be digitally colored and printed. In addition to these techniques, students will also learn image processing and digital manipulation. Demonstrations of the capabilities of digital design will give cartoonists an insight into the potential of the computer as a creative tool. 

Realistic and Fantastical Digital Painting
One semester: 2 studio credits
This course will cover the basics of digital science fiction or fantasy illustration using Adobe Photoshop. Science fiction and fantasy can be daunting at times and overwhelming with possibilities for design. The course is designed to give you confidence through properly researching your idea and then proceeding to the next phase of solidifying a concept sketch and gathering reference for your idea. Themes of composition and lighting will be covered as well as how to take photo references for your work. The basic rules of painting digitally will be explored through that application of traditional rules and photomontage. Achieving atmosphere with tonal values and how they sit in space in relation to one another will also be examined and will make your pieces much more convincing and unified. Human anatomy will also be covered. If you are planning a career in concept art, or any sci-fi or fantasy-related illustration field, this course is a solid introduction. 

Acrylic Painting
One semester: 2 studio credits
In this introductory course students will become familiar with the material and techniques of acrylic painting through hands-on painting, demonstrations, home assignments and in-class critiques. Materials will include the use of acrylic paint and mediums on paper, canvas, fabric and wood. In addition to the technical aspect, this course will explore and emphasize developing a strong visual vocabulary as students become fluid with acrylic painting in the context their work and ideas. Each student can expect to complete a series of paintings during the semester. 

Still and Moving: Low-Tech Animation
One semester: 2 studio credits
In this course, students will create smart, short, limited animation films and GIFs, multi-panel narrative sequences, storyboarding and time-based editorial art. Experimental projects using diverse analog mediums will be encouraged, including drawing, collage, paper dolls, puppets and miniature sets in conjunction with digital cameras, QuickTime Pro, Adobe Photoshop, and other software. 

Illustration in Motion
One semester: 2 studio credits
How to animate your static illustration and cartoon images in a variety of digital means is the focus of this course. We will discuss how movement can enhance meaning, and deepen the picture’s content to create more than just visual tricks. A final project will be sequential digital work, combining sound with moving images. 

Photocopy Zines
One semester: 2 studio credits
In this course students will create zines and mini-comics. The class will primarily use a Risograph, which is similar to a photocopy machine but prints in multiple colors. Students will learn how to use a limited palette to make their images and will explore various ways of making color separations. Various bookbinding techniques will be demonstrated. Several small zine projects will be assigned during the class for students to experiment with different formats, materials, and techniques. For the final project, students will make a zine or mini-comic in an edition of 25, using any of the techniques covered in class. 

Bookmaking and Linocut Inventions
One semester: 2 studio credits
Basic to advanced techniques in cutting, inking and printing on linoleum and linoleum-like reliefs will be the focus of this course. Investigations that lead to an understanding of building images by using multiple-color transparencies will be emphasized. As linocut techniques progress, each step will serve students in how to sequence their visual narratives. Research will consider book forms and bookmaking from various perspectives. Completed assignments will be bound into books of innovative explorations. 

Photography for the Illustrative Eye
One semester: 2 studio credits
This course will cover the basics of studio photography—lighting, composition, focal planes, styling, etc., with the primary intention of creating a photographic narrative using a manufactured identity. Character development, costume building, props, theatrical lighting, make-up and techniques will be included. Students will bring in sketches of their character ideas that will be realized. Fashion, glamour, fantasy, cosplay, self-portraiture and performative identities will be explored. 

FID-2841 / FID-2842
Etching and Monoprint as Illustration
One semester: 2 studio credits
This course will introduce students to numerous basic etching and monoprint techniques, including hard ground, soft ground, aquatint and color printing. Once students become familiar with functioning in a print shop, they will learn to use prints as a viable technique for fine illustration. The emphasis will be on experimentation and personal expression. We will discuss the early relationship of printmaking to illustration, and will study and discuss specific illustrators who use printmaking as a final technique for answering illustration problems. 

HHD-2990 / HHD-2995
Western Civilization I and II
Two semesters: 3 humanities and sciences credits per semester

These courses provide a historical overview of Western thought from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. Students will explore the ways in which history and culture have interacted to shape the development of societies and individuals in the modern age. We will focus on major historical transformations such as the Renaissance and the Reformation (first semester), the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution (second semester), in order to understand how such pivotal events both condition and reflect movements in science, philosophy and the arts. The courses will also provide an introduction to the assumptions, strategies and methods that inform the disciplines of history, philosophy and the social sciences. Readings include selections from: A History of Modern Europe, vols. I and II; Plato; Hobbes; Descartes; Locke; Voltaire; Kant; Mill; Marx; Nietzsche; Freud; Heisenberg; Einstein. 

Pictorial Problems I and II: Illustration
Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester
Students will design a cohesive series of works based on a theme, starting with specific assignments and progressing to more elaborate, self-determined explorations. Each student will be asked to devise his/her own complex research systems and to develop an important, cohesive body of work. A series of related illustrations will be produced by the end of the spring semester, from which an exhibition of selected works will be displayed. 

HPD-3050 / HPD-3055
Culture Survey I and II
Two semesters: 3 humanities and sciences credits per semester
Taught in conjunction with CID-3010/3015, Pictorial Problems I and II, this survey will showcase reading lists, film screenings and slide lectures exploring a given exhibition theme.  

Professional Practice: Illustration
One semester: no credit
Instructor: S. Savage (
Students in this course will acquire the five basic business tools/skills necessary to become a freelance illustrator. 1) Physical portfolio, 2) business card/identity, 3) promotional mailer, 4) market research report, 5) business management skills (pricing, contracts, rights, etc.). Please bring a physical portfolio to the first class session. Students will spend six weeks polishing the portfolio before making a presentation to a working art director during the final session. 

Basic Digital Portfolio
One semester: no credit
This course will help students to create a web presence and digital portfolio. How to properly scan and adjust images and files for publication will be examined. The rudimentary aspects of blogging, design and digital programs necessary for all illustrators and cartoonists to compete in the 21st century will be covered. 

Intermediate Digital Portfolio
One semester: no credit
Design of a website is as important as the content and we will explore how to create a website and digital portfolio for creative and self-promotional purposes. Preparing files for site design using programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator will be covered. Blogging and the digital programs necessary for all illustrators and cartoonists to compete in the 21st century will be addressed. 

ILD-4912 through ILD-4962
Illustration Portfolio I and II
Two semesters: 3 studio credits per semester
In the senior year, students will create a personal body of work, building on their progress from the sophomore and junior experiences. Your informed choice of an instructor will be crucial. At least 12 finished works are expected by the end of the spring semester, and after completing an exit review, selected senior works will be chosen for the Portfolio book and Cartooning magazine. 

One semester: 3 studio credits
Students can gain valuable experience and broaden their professional network through an internship with an employer. Internships-for-credit are available to juniors and seniors who have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or better. To receive credit, students must apply online during the designated application period, be approved by the Career Development Office, and registered for the internship by their academic advisor. Students need to work 150 hours during the semester (usually 10 to 15 hours per week), participate in a weekly online course with other SVA interns, and complete midterm and final self-evaluations. Elective studio credit is awarded for the successful completion of an internship. For more information go to 

Advanced Cartooning and Illustration Electives 

Drawing on Location
One semester: 3 studio credits
Class sessions will be spent at various New York City locations, learning to challenge the practical difficulties that arise while drawing on the spot. The main goal of the course is to encourage students to observe their environment, the particular details of each situation, and to draw spontaneously. We will put together three stories from drawings done on location. On-the-spot drawing experience is not necessary, but you should have some drawing skills. 

Advanced Drawing: Finding the Weird
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will include figure drawing, incorporating collage, collaboration, focused observation and merciless revision. The goal will be to uncover and reveal weird, personal and deeply engaging imagery. 

Advanced Drawing
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will draw from the model over a sustained period of time (three- to four-week poses) alongside quick gesture drawing (one- to five-minute poses). Students will develop rapid, immediate examples of gesture and movement and an analysis of form and volume in its essentials. We will focus on the variety of changes and moments that influence each student’s drawing over time. The selective process that gives meaning and expression to a drawing will be the primary concern of this course. The use of a variety of mediums and supports will be introduced, such as graphite, silverpoint, metal points and chalks. 

Advanced Life Drawing: Figure, Form and Function
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will explore the core practice of drawing the human body as both expressive and functional outlets for communication in artistic representations. Perception, depiction and expression are challenged from an intense focus on the human form via exercises that provoke a direct intuitive response and brief lecture/demonstrations of synthetic anatomy, which confirm a form’s concepts. Combining these with three key design principles—rhythm, hierarchy and form—we will explore the function of line through various practices of drawing from observation and knowledge, which culminate in applied composition studies. The exercises develop a language of line that connect us to both the earliest known and the most sophisticated drawings made by humans. Progress is charted from practice of the exercises as well as personal expression and growth. 

The Drawn Epic
One semester: 3 studio credits
Using only simple materials—paper, drawing supplies and aqueous media (watercolor, gouache, acrylic)—this course will explore the traditions of grand, epic compositions; battle scenes; large groups of multiple figures and dramatic action. We will analyze the design strategies used by the great Japanese printmakers as well as the European masters. Ambitious fantasies and large-scale visions are very much encouraged. All work will be made by hand. 

Life Painting
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will pursue direct painting from the model over a sustained period of time (three- to four-weeks per pose). Students will paint in a workshop environment alongside the instructor with the emphasis on developing a highly representational image. The selective process that gives meaning to the expression of a representational painting is the primary concern. Simplifications of form and the gradual development of the parts in relation to the whole are produced through the observation of light and shadow, and warm and cool colors. Students will gain an understanding of materials and basic craftsmanship from ground supports to a variety of techniques in oil paint. They will also benefit from an understanding of form painted from observation will gain the tools to formulate a selective eye when using photographic reference material. 

Narrative Painting
One semester: 3 studio credits
Today, many contemporary artists straddle the line between the commercial and fine art worlds, and galleries and collectors have become more accepting of figurative work that blurs these distinctions. This course will strive to help students push their imagination to find a unique vision, with bi-weekly and semester-long assignments that focus on an exploration of ideas and emotions using a personal vocabulary. Class time will consist of critique, open and/or structured drawing and painting, and technical instruction and demonstration. We will keep current with the New York art scene by visiting galleries, inviting guest speakers and discussing pertinent local events. 

Classical Realist Life Painting: Painting the Illusion of Life
One semester: 3 studio credits
Do you control your pictures or do they control you? This course presents a simple, logical and structured approach to realistic painting, which emphasizes the underlying principles that have guided master artists for more than 500 years. Traditionally, artists have worked from life in order to develop their understanding of visual phenomena. Reality provides all the clues necessary, as long as you know what to look for. In this course you will learn how to accurately see what’s before your eyes, how to translate your observations onto the canvas and, most importantly, how to enhance the desired effect through the manipulation of color intensity, sharpness and contrast. Working in oils from a live model, you will learn how to master the illusion of light and atmosphere, how to make a form appear solid and project forward or recede back into space. You will discover a simple and straightforward way to accurately and repeatedly mix any color you see or imagine, including lifelike skin tones. All aspects of the curriculum will be demonstrated in class and thoroughly explained by the instructor. These are universal principles that, once understood, can be applied to all aspects of image creation in any medium: traditional, digital, or anywhere between. 

Classical Portrait Painting in Oil
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course is a logical approach to painting the portrait in oil and will emphasize the mindset and methodologies that have guided master portrait artists for more than five hundred years. You will learn the time-honored techniques that have served as the backbone for some of the greatest portrait paintings ever created. Successful portraiture is more than merely copying what is in front of you; it requires the ability to understand and interpret your subject. By working from the live model, students will rigorously engage with the principles of portrait painting in the classical tradition. Techniques for capturing a likeness, handling paint, emphasizing the effects of light and atmosphere, modeling form and mixing lifelike complexions will be covered. Every step from preparing a canvas to applying the final highlight will be thoroughly demonstrated and explained. One session will be spent at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to study and analyze the outstanding portraits in its collection. 

Painting From Inside/Out
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course is all about learning through doing; the majority of our time will be spent painting, drawing and working on developing who you are as an artist. We will explore a range of approaches to self-portrait and still-life, including inner self-portraits, still-life as metaphor and ideas around cultural taboos. Students will be introduced to the application of autobiographical background or cultural themes to their work. The aim of the course is to learn how to think and communicate visually and to bring out who you are as an artist while establishing a strong, personal visual vocabulary. This process will involve sketching, painting, and other forms. There will be visiting artists who will share their work and participate in group critiques. 

The Painting of Light
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course deals with the interpretation of light for the two-dimensional artist. The ability to capture the world around us, in a representational manner, requires a keen sense of observation. We will explore how light visually describes your subject (i.e., time of day, temperature, weather conditions, humidity, color, texture, etc.). To create a sense of reality is the artist’s job—this course will teach you how. It will enable you to calculate the effect your pictures will have. Light is the great designer of our world. Learn how to capture it. 

From Fantasy to Reality: Production/Concept Design
One semester: 3 studio credits
When one imagines a sumptuous story in a fabulous place, often the details are a bit fuzzy. This course will explore how to create concrete designs and plans of interior and exterior spaces that convey narrative content. Basic drafting and perspective techniques utilizing multiple angles, elevations and prop details will be covered. Research skills will be developed by looking into the design of different historical periods. Projects will also include character and costume designs, and cover how to professionally present your ideas and plans to prospective clients and collaborators. The techniques learned can be applied to areas of stage, screen, animation and gaming. 

The Fine Art of Illustration
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course is designed for illustration students who have an interest in the fine arts and believe that a fine arts sensibility should be a part of the illustration form. Great emphasis will be placed on the usage of personal visual language and the development of skill, craft and conceptual ability. These components will be incorporated to produce a body of work by the end of the semester. There will be museum, gallery and studio visits. 

Advanced Watercolor
One semester: 3 studio credits
Using water-based media, this course will help each student think outside of his or her comfort level, and explore ambitions and exciting projects beyond the safe “watercolor picture.” Invention, manipulation and placing our artworks in the world will be stressed in this course, and stretching your imagination will be the key. 

Pictorial Fantasy Illustration
One semester: 3 studio credits
Ideas and concepts will be reinforced through an in-depth exploration of fantasy illustrations in film and print. Traditional reference sources will be used to fashion unusual characters in fairy-tale landscapes. Students will create a glowing picture of strange and compelling creatures and distant worlds. Assignments will be tailored to individual pictorial preferences from child-inspired storytelling to sophisticated image realism. All media can be explored—from colored pencil and gouache to acrylic and oil—to best develop intriguing and suggestive images. Fantasy imagery can be a bold addition to your portfolio. 

Designing Tattoos and Other Emblems
One semester: 3 studio credits
Designing images worn on the body is a complex process with rules different from ordinary two-dimensional design. This course will explore the historical traditions of tattoo imagery and deal with design principles necessary to create impressive “flash” work. These concepts could also be applied to other forms of fashion and industry. Visiting artists and field trips will be included. 

Surface Design
One semester: 3 studio credits
Wallpaper, textiles, stationery, dishware and apparel—there are many applications for your artwork. This intensive course will focus on surface design for illustration. Complex repeat patterns will be created, both by hand and digitally, and students will produce products such as fabrics and giftwrap. Business concepts will also be addressed, including licensing your designs and buyouts. Traditional and contemporary designs will be explored, and students will gain an understanding of the variety of styles, techniques and range of projects available to surface designers. 

The Poster
One semester: 3 studio credits
Think big! Think graphic! Think simple! These are the elements that make a great poster. How you achieve that goal, through traditional or digital means, is secondary. Whether intended for indoor or outdoor use, from a subway station to a bus stop, from a billboard to a brick wall, a poster is a unique form of illustration and design with often only a brief moment to grab someone’s attention and get the message across. This course will focus on simplifying your concepts, illustration and typography to create a powerful, unified design. If you’re an illustrator you will stretch your skills working with type. If you’re a designer you will use your graphic sensibilities to create illustration. Assignments will be in the form of real-world jobs. We will use WPA posters of the forties, propaganda posters, consumer posters of the post-war boom years and counter-culture posters of the sixties, Broadway posters, movie posters, music and concert posters of today will be the basis for assignments. The course will consist of group critiques, in-class exercises, demonstrations and field trips. 

Fashion Illustration and Beyond
One semester: 3 studio credits
For students with an interest in fashion illustration and for illustrators with a fashionable flair, this course will explore and practice the skills needed to produce illustrations for fashion advertising as well as for print media, theater posters, package design, beauty illustration, book covers, licensing and product merchandising. Group critiques will help students identify areas on which to focus in order to achieve a personal style. Working toward portfolio-quality pieces, we will explore the changing role of the fashion illustrator in the current marketplace. 

Puppetry Workshop
One semester: 3 studio credits
Puppetry has always been a metaphoric genre. Puppets are stand-ins and fantasy versions of our reality. Because of this, they clearly relate to the predilections of the illustrator and cartoonist. In this course, students will be asked to design and fabricate their own puppet creations. Puppet construction (hand, string, rod) is expected to reflect the creature’s character and intention. Mold-making and figure construction will be covered; production possibilities will be discussed. 

Digital Environments and Periods
One semester: 3 studio credits
Imagine illustrating compelling digital environments for stories set in the past, present and future. Through pictures, thumbnails, sketches and research, students will gain an understanding of the process for creating settings and environments. Building a portfolio of concept design work for live action, animated film production, video games and graphic novels will be addressed. This course will explore previsualization, mood, layering values, content, metaphor, perspective and identifying the places inhabited by the characters’ created. Concept art, drawing techniques and digital paint to the realization of the final portfolio will all be covered. Students will find solutions working digitally. 

Environments and Backgrounds for Animation and Gaming
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will focus on the needs of a concept artist working in the game and animation industries. We will focus on 2D design and paint of dimensional environments using Adobe Photoshop for concept development and other production art. Learn and apply traditional perspective drawing tools and incorporate Photoshop perspective tools to design spaces. Build blueprints for spaces using isometric design and use those blueprints to draw alternate angles of an environment. Learn to create a mood board to develop color scenarios for application in concept art. Learn to incorporate photo elements and textures into designs to match and enhance the setting. Use aerial perspective and learn skills to adjust lighting to create dimension, mood and drama in a space. Learn file management for the repurposing of design elements and direct use as production art.
Costume, Concept and Environment
One semester: 3 studio credits
This digitally based course will focus on rendered and collaged elements that create accurate fictive worlds. Period costumes and settings will be explored, as well as imaginary and futuristic concepts—all rooted in actual research to add a believability and consistency to student work. Each assignment will be set in a different culture and time period setting to add diversity to their portfolio. This course will appeal to anyone interested in concept art, traditional illustration and image-making. 

The Beauty Mark
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will explore the possibilities of elegant mark making, and this process in relation to content. While calligraphic gesture and line have long been associated with “old-school” fashion illustration, this course will address the genres of sports, landscape, still life and portraiture made with bold and beautiful strokes. 

Not for the Squeamish
One semester: 3 studio credits
The fabric of the body: artists and anatomists. Your body: temple of the soul or soft machine? Serving as a nontechnical survey of the place where art and medicine intersect, from the earliest depictions of anatomy to the virtual human project, this course will gaze at a mountainous variety of approaches to anatomy and medical illustration. We will explore the historical context and influence on contemporary art-making through the lenses of history and aesthetics. Students are required to complete a project by the end of the course. 

Designer Toys
One semester: 3 studio credits
Designer toys have become a trend in modern art, pop culture and personal branding. This course will explore the subject, its cultural significance and history. Students will take a hands-on approach through developing self-expressive concepts, drawing design, fabricating and sculpting, then painting their toys. Understanding production methods, market demands and the step-by- step process from inception to production will be explored. Studio time will be spent working with polymer and epoxy clay. 

One semester: 3 studio credits
The focus of this course is drawing human and animal anatomy from observation, construction and imagination. Draw every session from models (quick poses to catch the action of the muscles of the body in motion, long poses to create detailed studies), and from skeleton specimens of humans and other creatures. Class sessions will include demonstrations of old masters and contemporary drawing techniques, lectures on comparative anatomy and individual instruction to help students achieve their artistic goals. 

Animals and Creatures in Illustration
One semester: 3 studio credits
Are you bored with rendering the human figure? If you find yourself relating more to frogs, insects, jaguars, snakes and other beasties, this course is for you. Real or imagined creatures in visual expression can be an exciting and vital part of your portfolio. Choose from a diversified view of assignments ranging from creating a movie monster poster, designing an alphabet consisting of animals, to portraying a poisonous toad in a rain forest. Projects will be worked on in class with supervision on concepts, use of different mediums and choosing reference sources supplemented with occasional field trips. This course welcomes students in all phases of development who feel this area is an important component of their visual vocabulary. Use of all media is acceptable. 

Illustration: The Genre of Science Fiction
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will provide an in-depth exploration of the contemporary science fiction and fantasy marketplaces, from book cover illustration to game concept design. Emphasis will be placed on figurative narration, draftsmanship and aesthetics of dynamic composition as generated through the integration of the figure and its environment. Assignments will be based upon actual commercial commissions and constraints, leading students through the sketch, reference, preliminary and finishing stages of a project. Imaginative development within these parameters will be stressed. Professionals from the science fiction and fantasy genres will visit as guest lecturers. 

Children’s Book Illustration
One semester: 3 studio credits
Telling a story in pictures is both challenging and immensely satisfying. This course covers every stage in the creation of a picture book: developing an idea and writing it; creating sequential, storytelling images; book layout; solving problems of pacing; presenting a book to a publisher; contracts; and working with an editor. The emphasis will be on the process of making the words and images work together seamlessly, from the first rough storyboard all the way through to a presentation dummy. We will also discuss, in depth, all the work available in children’s illustration and how to look for it. A good portfolio for this market is quite different from an editorial or advertising portfolio. So, we will address the questions of what art directors in this field are looking for, and what sort of portfolio pieces you might need to be competitive. 

ILD-3566 / ILD-3567
Children’s Book Illustration: For the Real World I and II
One semester: 3 studio credits
Beyond beautiful pictures, the real art in illustrating a children’s book is in telling a story, and the real work is in telling it well. More than just pictorial narration, the field of children’s books gives artists the great freedom and opportunity to explore a variety of ideas and themes found in both classic and contemporary children’s literature. These courses will focus primarily on one story (their own or someone else’s), taking it from typewritten text to fully realized illustrations. We will concentrate on such elements as breaking down and understanding a text, character development, composition and storyboards, and the finished dummy in order to grapple with the more complex problems of pacing and point of view. The spring semester will be spent creating the finished illustrated story (approximately 15 portfolio-quality pieces). Time will also be devoted to issues involved in printing and production as well as working in the field. 

Two Eyes, a Nose and a Mouth
One semester: 3 studio credits
Learning to capture a person’s likeness is a skill to which many artists aspire. The caricaturist distorts and manipulates the face to make us laugh. Cartoonists and illustrators use the same method to create familiar or original characters in their narratives. In this course, students will learn the fundamentals of simplification and exaggeration, and how these principles influence the content of an image. We will draw hundreds of faces using slides, magazines, movies and models as our subject matter. We’ll look for the main idea within each face—the particular arrangement of shapes that sets that person’s face apart from all other faces. 

SPOTS Before Your Eyes
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will outline the basics in how to do small “spot” illustrations, as seen in most daily newspapers and weekly magazines. They are a staple for many emerging illustrators, and their artistry is conceptual and surprisingly abstract. We will explore the history of the “spot” and examine how various artists have contributed to the form. In addition, we will attempt to re-create the environment and procedures necessary to excel in this challenging type of illustration. 

Pop-Up: 3D Paper Engineering
One semester: 3 studio credits
Bring your illustrated ideas to life. Learn how to design and engineer a three-dimensional form of your work using paper as your surface and your tool. In this course, students will learn techniques and mechanisms to realize ideas from 2D to 3D. We will explore 3D paper engineering across all media—from the classic format of children’s pop-up books to unique greeting cards and enlarged 3D sculptural art installations. 

Experiments in Narrative
One semester: 3 studio credits
The purpose of this course is to liberate students from the conventions—and clichés—of traditional storytelling. It is an intensive workshop that encourages experiments in character, content and narrative form through instructive examples of such innovative artists, filmmakers and authors as Akira Kurosawa, Andy Warhol, Jean-Luc Godard, Jack Smith, Kurt Vonnegut, Jorge Luis Borges, the Wooster Group, Matthew Barney and other contemporaries whose imaginations and perceptual strategies continue to influence and refresh our culture. 

Laboratory for Moving Pictures—Adventures in Limited Animation
One semester: 3 studio credits
Storyboard graphics, character development, experimental animation and animatics will be covered in this course. We will perpetrate quick and dirty animation using digital still cameras, Adobe Photoshop, paint, paper dolls, puppets, toy theater, collage and chalkboards—you name it. Work will be created in group and individual projects. Be ready to work for your fun. Familiarity with digital cameras, Photoshop and iMovie is suggested.

Type and Image
One semester: 3 studio credits
If the illustrator understands basic type design, he or she can create impressive visuals: posters, covers, promotional materials, websites. Often the pictorial and the typographic design are at aesthetic odds. This course will cover some design basics to help illustrators and cartoonists understand the relationship between type and image. 

Culture and Cartooning
One semester: 3 studio credits
The impact of cartooning on contemporary culture has been immense. It can be witnessed in the museums when viewing the early work of the pop artists, or seen at the beaches in the designs of current surf culture. This course will examine some of cartooning’s illegitimate sires, and explore why certain notions of “high” and “low” status have been hierarchically assigned to particular imagery. 

Writing for the Comics
One semester: 3 studio credits
First, this course will explore what a story is, the relationship of plot, characterization and theme. We’ll discuss the most common mistakes writers make and how to avoid them. Then we’ll learn specific techniques of storytelling and how to apply them to various comic-strip formats, using examples from the great artists of the past and from contemporary comics. Students will experiment with creating their own characters and stories and learn how to approach material originated by someone else. Finally, we’ll look at the market and the competitive world of professional comics. Throughout, the emphasis will be on what’s practical. There will be guest lecturers and critiques from professional editors. 

How to Storyboard
One semester: 3 studio credits
A storyboard artist needs rough sketches, in continuity form, to assist the film director in planning his or her shots. A strong sense of storytelling is essential to this endeavor, as is an understanding of film terms like zooming, trucking and dollying. This course will teach students what they need to become storyboard artists, showing how to accomplish this in simple sketches, all through the “imagined” eye of the camera. 

Life Underground/Self-Publishing
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will delve into the constantly evolving, exciting developments in alternative comics publishing. More “underground” work is seeing the light of day than ever before, and students will be exposed to some of the most innovative materials being produced. They will also better understand the processes involved to mount similar projects of their own. Practical issues for the cartoonist such as basic contracts will be addressed. 

Comic-Book Storytelling Workshop
One semester: 3 studio credits
Stories have a basic, clear format. Within that structure is an exponentially expanding set of narrative choices that the author can make. Add to that the myriad devices used in constructing works using words and pictures and it’s often difficult to know where to begin telling a story. This workshop will examine the theories behind storytelling using practical exercises to help students recognize and use the components of a good story. 

Short-Form Comics
One semester: 3 studio credits
Any story, however sprawling it may seem, can be told in six or fewer comic panels. In this course, students will employ a full bag of tricks—expressive figure drawing, dynamic composition, stagecraft, verbal concision and narrative condensation—to create comic short stories of maximum impact. Challenges will include: adaptations and deformations of poetry and literature, developing visual metaphors, writing from logic and structure, and other techniques for coaxing personal truth from the back of your head onto the paper. Projects will be useful for comic strips, minicomics and anthologies. 

Web Comics
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course will focus on the mechanics, as well as the most common obstacles, in producing a consistent web comic. The goal is to have your works online in a professional format. For many, this is the future of promotion and presence in the cartooning world. 

Character Design
One semester: 3 studio credits
Beyond making nice drawings, a good character designer builds each work from the inside out, tailoring the designs to emote and perform. In this course, students will be guided through each stage of the design process, including ideation, research and development of shape languages, posing, expression sheets, turnaround drawings and creation of color style guides. Special attention will be given to how these design principles relate to film, animation, games and comics. 

Personal Comics
One semester: 3 studio credits
Personal comics can trace their roots to the first wave of alternative comic books in the 1970s. From there, later waves of cartoonists sought to deal with personal content and literary themes and created an entire comics industry, which is still flourishing today. This course will include “turning yourself into a cartoon character” (the comic alter ego) dealing with personal issues, personal history and personal narrative—looking for truth through comic storytelling. Comics can be viewed as a literary form—as serious or as funny as any other kind of fiction or nonfiction. The personal approach to comics in this course is similar in intent to the creation of a short story, but with the added dimension of drawing in a personal, expressive style. Comics are ideal for dealing with emotional content and personal issues. Biography, social satire, painful and happy memories—they’re all material for personal comics. 

Design and Build Comics
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course takes an innovative approach to creating the ultimate piece of self-expression and promotion: the mini-comic. We’ll challenge the boundaries of comic, commercial and fine art. Taking a historical approach, we’ll look at design in a variety of media, including film, advertising and book arts for inspiration. From collage to digital arts, students will be encouraged to break out of traditional comics media. The finished project could be anything from a map, to a deck of cards, to a fake travel brochure. The end result will showcase your unique artistic vision. 

Advanced Digital Coloring and RenderingOne semester: 3 studio credits

Coloring is a key narrative and graphic component of modern comics, on par with penciling and inking in terms of importance. Skilled colorists are in high demand in the comics and animation industries. This course will seek to acquaint students with the Photoshop tools and techniques employed by working professionals to develop their instincts for color, and to apply those in support of narrative sequences, as well as to focus and direct attention, reinforce the composition, and suggest atmosphere and emotion, among other considerations. Classes are a mix of lecture, demonstration, student work time and critique, with guest speakers from the publishing and animation industries.


uilding Fictional Worlds: Creating a Bible
One semester: 3 studio credits

This course will introduce the creative information needed to build an intellectual property and impart the basics of classic story structure while improving storytelling skills. Students will create a draft of an entertainment intellectual property “bible,” including a pilot script, ideas for extending the story into a series (or for sequels, historical, main character profiles) and the “rules” of the fictional reality. 

ZBrush for Illustrators
One semester: 3 studio credits
Pixologic ZBrush has gained a reputation over the past several years as the go to 3D software for non-3D artists because of its natural feel for sculpting. It is a powerful tool for traditional artists, allowing them to create reference for their paintings, drawings, Photoshop work and even physical sculptures. This introductory course into the world of ZBrush is specifically tailored for illustration and how 3D models can be incorporated into 2D work, bypassing some of the more complex aspects of 3D. Students will learn the basics of the program by sculpting out a model, painting it, lighting it and rendering it out and sending it into Adobe Photoshop to create a finished digital illustration. Learning this program will open many possibilities to each student’s creativity. 

Digital Comics Process and Technique
One semester: 3 studio credits
Making comics from script to finished color using an all-digital process is the focus of this course. Emphasis will be on advantages the digital environment presents—instant access to transparency, cloning, photo reference and precision graphic design tools. We will utilize an Adobe-centric workflow by drawing layouts and lettering in Illustrator; penciling, inking and coloring in Photoshop; and compositing inks, color and lettering in InDesign. Students will examine type design issues specific to comics, and create their own hand-lettering fonts using Fontographer. All work will be done on Mac Pro computers with Wacom 22HD Cintiq tablets. 

Mixed-Media Comics
One semester: 3 studio credits
Are you getting tired of the narrow scope of comics drawn with black ink and colored in Photoshop? In this course students will instead make comics using a wide range of media. We will study examples from art forms that include collage, cut paper, photography, costume, motion pictures, diorama, graphic design, puppetry, animation and performance. Students will create a series of art objects in order to try out different media, and then use those objects as the basis for making one-page comics. Emphasis will be on using physical art materials; digital tools will also be used to manipulate images. 

Outside the Box
One semester: 3 studio credits
Discovering new narrative possibilities within illustration and comics is the focus of this course. With an emphasis on sketchbook drawing, students will explore a spectrum of visual approaches toward developing and publishing self-generated comics and illustration projects. Guest lecturers and class presentations will expand students’ familiarity with the history and vast possibilities of sequential art, and provide a framework for to uncover their potential. This course will help students develop the skills to transform personal projects into published works within and beyond traditional outlets. 

FID-3862 / FID-3863
Printmaking: Silkscreen and the Artists’ Book
One semester: 3 studio credits
Using silkscreen, students will explore various ways to present print as sequential images—artists’ books, themed portfolios and comics, even fanzines. The course will cover the process from concept to finished and bound multiples. Methods of making color separations for multicolor prints using traditional hand-drawn and modern photographic techniques will be included. Bookbinding techniques will be demonstrated, such as Japanese bookbinding, accordion folding and signature binding. Large-scale digital output is available. 

FID-3866 / FID-3867
Advanced Etching and Monoprint as Illustration
One semester: 3 studio credits
This course is for students who already have a basic foundation in etching and monoprint techniques and want to take their skills to the next level. Advanced techniques such as three-plate color registration prints, transparent color roll-ups, viscosity printing, hand applied and blended surface color techniques, spit-biting, and a refinement of black-and-white techniques for line work, including hard ground, aquatint and soft ground will be covered. 

FID-3883 / FID-3884
Printmaking: Graphic Image Silkscreen
One semester: 3 studio credits
Silkscreen is ideal for making bold, iconic images. This course will cover all aspects of the silkscreen process, including making separations by hand and by computer and printing on various media. Students will learn how to use silkscreen as a tool for strengthening their image-making abilities and color sense. 

Advanced Cartooning and illustration Electives for no credit 

Advanced Painting
One semester: no credit
This course is an in-depth study of painting materials and techniques. We will be painting the figure as a way of understanding composition and anatomy, with particular attention to light, form and color. Additional critique of outside personal projects will be addressed and development of your personal visual vocabularies will be encouraged. 

Advanced Drawing for Illustrators and Cartoonists
One semester: no credit
This course will be a place where the student can develop both observational and conceptual skills. Models will be available for those inclined toward direct representation; for those concerned with more stylized or abstract directions, critique and encouragement will be offered. A veritable one-room schoolhouse, this course is designed to enable the student to gain the greatest personal growth in relation to their drawing abilities.


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