The Beginner's Illustration Masterclass
4.0 (133 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
16,379 students enrolled

The Beginner's Illustration Masterclass

Create professional-looking digital paintings and illustrations even if you "can't draw."
4.0 (133 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
16,379 students enrolled
Created by Edu Evolution
Last updated 7/2020
English [Auto], Italian [Auto], 1 more
  • Polish [Auto]
Current price: $83.99 Original price: $119.99 Discount: 30% off
23 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 4 hours on-demand video
  • 20 articles
  • 5 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Assignments
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Create powerful custom illustrations in minutes using free or paid software (Illustrator, Photoshop, GIMP, etc) using simple techniques and basic principles.
  • Understand image creation best practices regarding copyrights and using free stock images, original photos, and royalty-free images.
  • Develop the ability to make illustrations that can be used online, in videos, or for print, even if you CAN'T DRAW.
  • Make unique and inexpensive illustrated gifts for friends and family.
  • Save and make money creating your own illustrations for yourself and others.
  • Avoid headaches if and when you lose your work by learning the proper way to save your files.
  • Learn ways to boost creativity using simple, proven creatvity recipes
  • Gain an understanding of the most useful "art-school" design hacks so your images look more professional
  • Bonus: Learn how to use free tools to make stunning professional-looking social media graphics in under 1 hour.
  • This course requires no special equipment aside from a computer and an appropriate software program like the free program Gimp and/or Illustrator and/or Photoshop. (*Free trials of Illustrator and Photoshop are available from Adobe).

This quick and easy course for beginners will help you make original, custom digital paintings and illustrations using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and/or Gimp (or any similar program) in just a matter of minutes that look professional and can be used online, in videos and animations, or for print purposes such as on a poster, letterhead, even a T-shirt or other products.

*Please note that free 7-day trial versions of Photoshop and Illustrator are available for download from Adobe's website. Gimp is a free program.

Save money making your own unique digital images and illustrations (and stop paying others to do them for you) and develop skills that can help you start making money creating professional-looking images for
You can also use these simple techniques to make unique images and illustrations as free gifts for friends and family.

You also don't need to know how to draw. 

There are actually a HUGE number of graphic designers who CAN NOT draw... but they make up for it by using techniques like the ones in this course and naturally, learning more about layout design, composition, color, typography, and other fundamentals of visual literacy.

You can decide how much time you will spend on each image which will then affect your end results. As you do more and more, you can be cranking these out in a matter of minutes and could actually make a little illustration/digital painting business creating these for others on websites like Fiverr, Upwork, and other freelancing websites.

*New: This course now also comes with the FREE bonus course: Make Easy But Powerful Social Media Graphics: Canva |Stencil

Are you ready to take charge and learn quick and easy methods for creating and editing powerful web images/social media graphics like a professional in just 1 hour?

With this course as your guide, you'll learn how to confidentially and professionally create and manage your OWN unique images for your website, blog, eCourse, eBook, presentations, or social media pages using free online tools.

What Students Are Saying:
"A great course by a great instructor. It was amazing to see the making of an image, with all the techniques, attention to detail, and also to hear the thinking process behind each decision. I found it stimulating and inspiring." -Robin Scanlon

This course was created for:

  • Complete beginners

  • Art hobbyists and novices

  • People who have all but given up on the idea that they might be creative

  • People who think they can't draw at all

  • People who used to draw but have forgotten how

  • People who like easy tips and tricks that give impressive results fast (*like a super easy recipe that looks like you spent hours slaving in a kitchen when really you whipped up something quite easily in minutes)

  • Traditional artists who'd like to get started also working digitally.

  • Children who want to learn introductory digital painting and illustration techniques

  • Art educators who want to learn tried and true techniques that build confidence in students and that will get them making beautiful and unique illustrations in just over an hour with big smiles on their faces.

  • Any artist at any skill level who is open-minded and wants to learn a few cool new tips and techniques to add to their bag of tricks

  • Anyone who wants to learn the most important tools that can be found in virtually ANY imaging program, not just Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. (layers, brushes, erasers, transparencies, colors, etc.)

This course is not for:

  • people who only want to focus on drawing from life or imagination.

  • People who want to know every feature of Photoshop and Illustrator. In this course, I only focus on the most important tools you can start with right away that are also found in virtually every other decent imaging program and tools that will still be around 20 years from now.

I'm a practicing award-winning multimedia artist and an Associate Professor of Digital Media who recently taught for universities, international schools, and NGOs in Myanmar from 2016-2019. I co-founded and directed the Film and Digital Media Program at The American University of Rome (2006-2016). I'm now living in Lilongwe, Malawi and am a Digital Media and Animation Specialist for The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA Malawi).

Since 2000 I've been teaching students all over the world using my tried and true custom approach (turning complex information into something simple, memorable, easy-to-understand in as short amount of time as possible) to ensure that you get the most important, relevant, and useful information that can be applied immediately.

New bonus lectures and resources will continue to be added and timely advice will be provided in the discussion forum. I love to help and always respond to inquiries and discussions ASAP.

Please Note: All students who enroll in this course also will receive periodic free and discounted access to my other top-rated current and upcoming courses.

You have a 30-day, 100% money-back guarantee with no questions asked so you have nothing to lose. I make myself available so you will have access to me if you have questions or need specific feedback along the way.

Empower yourself now by enrolling in this digital painting course and join our growing learning community!

Enroll now and let's get started building your digital painting, software, and design skills today.

Who this course is for:
  • This course is for novices as well as beginners interested in learning simple and basic techniques for getting started illustrating on the computer.
  • Advanced traditional fine artists and illustrators looking for ways to take their natural drawing talents from their sketchbooks to a computer environment will appreciate this easy, step by step approach.
  • Please note this is NOT an in-depth Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop or Gimp course. This courses gets you up and running using the most effective tools and does NOT get into ALL the tools and features of each specific program.
Course content
Expand all 64 lectures 04:07:51
+ Introduction and Welcome
1 lecture 01:14
This lesson will explain what you will find in the course and also show a quick preview of the course interface, lessons, and resources.
Preview 01:14
+ Introduction to Digital Painting in Photoshop
2 lectures 07:01

Take a moment to see how to best use this course for your experience level, software access, and interests.

Preview 02:09

In this lesson, we'll have a look at the kinds of images you can make in Photoshop using simple tools and techniques. Whether you prefer to draw from memory, observation, or to use a photograph as your starting point, you can use the tools and techniques covered in this course to make images for yourself or others quickly and easily at your own pace and in your own way.

Preview 04:52
+ Diving Into Photoshop and Its Painting Tools
5 lectures 19:39
In this lesson we will set up a new file. I'll discuss choosing settings for print or the web and which I recommend and use personally when creating my own images in Photoshop.
Learn or Review Setting Up a New File and Choosing Important Document Settings

In this lesson, (optional for those who already are familiar with Photoshop,) I'll go over tools like stylus pens you might consider using if you have access, essential windows and panels you will need, and talk about the basic brush tool and its various settings.

Get the Rundown on Important Windows, Tools, and Brushes in Photoshop
This lecture will give you a quick rundown and heads up on a very important concept and feature that you will find in almost all imaging programs: Layers. In a nutshell, they are like little transparent acetate sheets where you can draw and then stack over and/or under your main background layer. There are many benefits to using layers. Learn more in this lesson.
Layers: An Important Concept to Know in Photoshop, Gimp, etc.

The Mixer Brush Tool is by far my favorite addition to the newer versions of Photoshop. For years I used other programs trying to best get the paint mixing effect you would get in an actual painting studio. No longer! Photoshop's Mixer Brush Tool will get you painting without the toxic fumes and mess to clean up ASAP.

I'll also discuss a few other settings and tips that affect regular brushes as well.

Introducing My Good Friend the Mixer Brush Tool

Most of us have used eraser tools in imaging programs but have not given much thought to how to use them in a more painterly way. What does this mean? Let me demonstrate in this lesson!

Not Your Average Eraser. Painterly Ways to Use This Common Tool in Photoshop

This quiz will reinforce what you learned (or reviewed)

Setting Up Basics and Brush Tools Overview Quiz
6 questions
+ Time For Action. Let's Make a Digital Painting Together!
9 lectures 31:49

In this lecture I'll let you know what you need to get started according to your preferred way of taking this course, by either copying what I do exactly or by choosing your own unique image to work with and just using the techniques I cover.

Choosing an Image to Work With

In this lesson I'll show you how to bring in a photo, scale and adjust it, modify it with the filter gallery (the non-cheesy way), and how to use "Save As" to preserve the various versions of your budding digital painting.

Ready? Let's Start By Placing a Photo, Modyfying It, and Saving As
Here is a gigantic list of places to find free images and more for your projects.
75+ Resources to Get Free Images, Music, and Videos For Your Projects

In this lesson we will finally get started painting in a layer just below our photo's layer.

Time to Add Our Underpainting. Let's Roll.
In this lecture I'll make a new layer and starting painting OVER my photograph. When I get really absorbed in my illustrations, at times I may have up to 10 or more over and under paintings where I adjust and play around with the opacity settings. You can be as simple or complex as you'd like. In this course, I'll keep it simple.
Now Let's Add an Overpainting (You Can Have as Many of These As You Want)

In this lesson I'll show you how to add a black line drawing layer if that is the kind of look you are going for. Otherwise, if you want your image to look more painterly and less like a comic, stained-glass window, German-Expressionist piece, etc. then you can skip this step.

Line It Up! Adding a Black Line Drawing Layer to the Mix
In this lesson I will "eat away" at my photograph with a "spluttery" eraser so that the under-painting will begin to show through. You can control how little or how much this is the case as well as the opacity settings of all your layers. The combinations and variations are endless!
Deconstruction Time. Erase and Eat Into the Original Photograph
Now we will have some fun with three very useful tools: dodge, burn, and sponge to create some finishing touches.
Polishing and Finishing Up: Using Sponge, Dodge, and Burn Tools to Finalize

In this case study lesson set to music, I'll show you how I make an illustration using the techniques in this course. Please note, in this particular illustration, I made my lines layer first, then added the underpainting and overpainting. You can do the steps in any order that feels right to you.

Timelapse Illustration With Steps Variation -Review and Case Study
If you have been following along so far and feel comfortable, please select a photo to use as your guide and begin creating your own digital painting based on it using the techniques you just learned.
Now It's Your Turn. Create Your Own Digital Painting
1 question
+ Intermediate and Advanced Ways You Can Use These Techniques (Case Study)
7 lectures 57:57
In this lecture I'll show you a slightly more complex way to work with the techniques discussed in this course. In particular I'll show you a selection of images I illustrated for the childrens' book, Lori Leak Travels to Paris by Barrett Clemmensen Powell.
Advanced Ways of Working With These Techniques: Case Study- Childrens' Book Art

In this lesson you will tour all the layers that went into a Lori Leak illustration. I'll talk about my image-making process and give you hints so you can get started making more intermediate to advanced digital paintings using similar methods.

Under the Hood: Inside a Lori Leak Illustration (Case Study)
I can already hear you ask your next question. "How do I cut, paste, and collage photos in Photoshop like you did in the Lori Leak illustrations?" This lecture will walk you through the process step by step.
How to Easily Cut, Paste, and Collage Photos Into Your Images in Photoshop

Use these new custom brush tools in Photoshop to really get the textures  and look you are are going for. This is a case study on how I use  hundreds of brushes when animating in Photoshop, where I get them, how to change their settings, and how to get started using them. (*See blog post under the resources tab for easy brush installation instructions.)

New: How to Up Your Game With Stunning New Photoshop Brushes

In this case study lesson I'll show how you can use the basic techniques covered in this course to make more advanced illustrations and even animations.

New- Under the Hood: Inside Illustrations and Animation for the UN- A Case Study

In this lecture I'll show how I return to past images to make them better as well as discuss ways you can keep from fussing over making one "perfect" image and driving yourself insane.

New: Utilize the Power of Time to Make Better Designs -Case Study

In this lesson I'll show you some tips for making characters look more consistent from image to image as well as how to more quickly change a facial expression, body type, or mood when you have a tight deadline and don't have the luxury of time to redraw.

Smile! Quickly Change Your Character's Mood, Face, or Body With Liquify Tools
+ Mastering More Image Editing and Creation Skills in Photoshop
6 lectures 30:02

Learn how to make your life MUCH easier just by setting up your projects for print (larger files/higher quality) even if you only initially need images for the web or screen (lower quality/ lower file sizes). This lesson also covers important saving basics which will save you hours, days, or weeks of frustration if the unthinkable happens: you lose files due to file corruption or computer/device failure.

Saving Projects For Print VS. the Web: How Not to Shoot Yourself In the Foot

 In this lesson I'll discuss that while software programs are cool and can fix a lot of things, it's ALWAYS better to get good lighting for your photos from the initial get-go.

Lighting Is Key, Or... You Can't Fix Everything Later on the Computer

 This is a quick crash course lesson that will introduce you to 8 simple rules that can have a HUGE effect on the quality, look, and feel of your images. I've tried to mimic a lesson I give my own university students by using Photoshop to draw visual examples for you as if using the classroom white board.

From So-So to Pro: Follow These 8 Simple Rules For Better Images Every Time

Everyone makes mistakes. I'm here to stop you from at least making some common amateur imaging mistakes. Chances are, you ALREADY know what works and what doesn't intuitively. Have a look at some typical image faux pas so you can approach your next design tasks with more and more confidence.

The Top Amateur Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

I'm all for exploring and having fun with the special effects and filters available in your imaging program. Go ahead! Get them out of your system. (I'll wait for you...) You're back? OK. So in this lesson I'll explain that while filters and special effects can be fun to play with, they are NOT always your friends when you are trying to make professional looking images.

Preview 04:37

Here are THE top things to keep in mind when creating as well as evaluating design.

Resource: Important Design Principles To Consider for Making Images

This quiz will test what you learned so far.

Let's Review: Essential Skills
5 questions
+ Easy Ways to Start Illustrating in Adobe Illustrator
12 lectures 43:52

In this lesson we'll take a look at the most common Illustrator windows and tools, learn more about Illustrator and why it's different than Photoshop, and how to get started drawing and setting up a new file.

New to Adobe Illustrator? Here's the Crash Course to Get You Started.

Before we get started drawing, first we'll need to find a photo to use as a guide. You CAN'T just draw over someone else's copyrighted photo. You should use your own original photo or a royalty free photo where you will have permission from the author to use their work.

Important Copyright Issues You Need to Know & Choosing a Photo as a Guide

This quiz will test your knowledge of the topis covered

Illustrator Basics and Copyright Issues Quiz
7 questions

In this lesson I'll show you how to place your Photo in Illustrator, lock it down, and have it set up so you can begin drawing.

Placing Your Photo as a Guide in Illustrator

 In this lesson we'll set up a new layer for our black and white line drawing. I'll also explain a bit about the brush tool and settings so you won't get the usual "Illustrator Newbie" headache when first trying to draw.

Setting Up Your Brush and Making a "Drawing" Layer in Illustrator

In this lesson I'll show you how easy it is to make your black and white line drawing. You can draw with a mouse or use a stylus tablet like the one I use from Wacom.

Draw the Black and White Line Drawing in Illustrator

Skip this lesson at your own later peril. If you take a few minutes to learn how to save your files properly (in many locations and under different names VERY often) you will save yourself from losing all your work. Bad things happen to good people on computers, so make sure you always have a safety net.

Pause Here to Learn How to Save Properly and Save Yourself Pain and Suffering

In this first coloring option, I'll show you how to easily add color using Illustrator's brush tools and a new layer under your black and white drawing layer.

Adding Color: Option #1. Coloring With the Brush Tools in Illustrator

This lesson will show you how to use the Live Paint Bucket Tool as an option for coloring in your drawing.

Adding Color: Option #2. Use The Live Paint Bucket Tool in Illustrator

This lesson will show you a third way to color in your drawing that some people find to be the easiest way. I'll show you how to save your file so you can bring it into Photoshop and color it there using the paint bucket and brush tools.

Adding Color: Option #3. Cheat and Go Color It In Photoshop
Learn how to save a final version for the web in Illustrator and how it can be really useful to have multiple versions of your drawing for both print and the web.
Saving a Final Web Version in Illustrator

 Learn how to save your final drawing for the web in Photoshop.

Saving a Final Web Version in Adobe Photoshop

This quiz will help you review what you've learned so far.

Let's Review: Illustrator Essentials (And a Little Bit of Photoshop)
6 questions

This is how to give credit when you use images that have a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Photographer Credit for the Hamster Image
Using a photo you took or a royalty-free image, it's time to make your first Illustrator illustration.
Now It's Your Turn. Create Your Own Illustration in Illustrator
1 question
+ 5 Simple Recipes For Beating Creative Blocks
8 lectures 16:17
Here you'll get a chance to use word association and list-making to help unblock your creativity and/ or solve a problem.
Recipe#1: Try Word Association and Listmaking to Tackle a Problem
This activity uses reverse psychology to help you come up with ideas by NOT TRYING to come up with an idea.
Recipe #2: Go Outside and Play (And DON'T Think of an Idea!)

This activity will help you get started using your dreams as creativity-boosting tools.

Recipe #3: Start Becoming More Creative While You Sleep

This activity will get you started loosening up and generating more ideas which will naturally lead to better ideas.

Recipe #4: Sometimes More is More

Here is an exercise to help you bring "new experiences to old places." Inject a bit of creativity into your regular daily routine starting today!

Recipe #5: Make the Ordinary Extraordinary

This quick animated lesson will help give you some creative block destroying tips for what to do when you feel stuck in a rut. It's all about changing things up.

New: Destroy Creative Blocks By Changing It UP

In this Case Study lecture I'll show you how I make my cartoon series, "Out There Doodles" by keeping a sketchbook full of text snippets, scribbles, doodles, and other ideas that I then further develop later on the computer.

New (2020): Keeping Sketchbooks and Journals: Enhance Your Creative Process

In this current economic funk set to stay for years thanks to the global Covid-19 Pandemic, it makes more sense than ever to not put all your eggs in one basket. Why not experiment with creating several or more income generation streams and start creatively earning money using online tools?

7 Ways to Turn Your Creativity Into Cash (With and Without Your Illustrations)
+ Now What? Resources For Those Who Want To Start With Freelancing
3 lectures 04:06

In this lesson (from my full course, "Freelance Success For Artists") I'll talk about why I love freelancing and how I have made freelancing a big part of my work life. I've found the right balance after many years of personal experience as well as advising students and my goal is to help you do the same.

Why Start Freelancing?
In this lecture we'll go over what you REALLY need to be a successful freelance artist or designer to both make your clients happy while not losing your soul, dignity, or temper in the process.
Activity: Do You Have the Right Personality to Survive & Thrive as a Freelancer?
This is a recording of a LIVE 1 hour interview about freelancing for artists and creatives I did on September 12, 2017 with Essitino Artists.
Extra: Freelancing 101 For Artists LIVE Interview
+ Resources, Extras, and Conclusion
11 lectures 35:52
Join us online and become inspired to make more and better work daily.
Join Our Private Facebook Group: Creativity Is Contageous

Here is a cheat sheet that will walk you through the same process we used in Illustrator and Photoshop to make easy illustrations, except this time in the free program Gimp.

Extra: (The Gimp Cheat Sheet) -Use These Illustration Techniques in Gimp

Here are more of my favorite FREE and intuitive tools that will have you  making animations, illustrations, and more. Get a taste of what is  possible in under 10 minutes and be up and running ASAP.  [This lecture  comes from my full course, Skyrocket Your Creativity: 7 Easy Ways.]

Extra: 5 Easy & Free Tools That Will Free Your Creative Soul

Learn simple, effective techniques to make beautiful social media & web graphics using Canva or Stencil in under 1 hour.

Bonus FREE Course: Make Easy But Powerful Social Media Graphics: Canva |Stencil

Software programs and versions come and go. This video demonstrates the most essential tools you need, regardless of which imaging program you are using. Here are the only tools you need to know that will not change, even 20 years from now.

Extra: The Only "Evergreen" Tools You Need to Know in Any Imaging Program

In this extra bonus case study lesson, see how easy it is to display and sell your favorite finished digital paintings and illustrations by creating your own FREE online store. See how an online store can make
you more discoverable, and how it can cause new fans and future freelance clients to find and contact you later.

Extra: Take Your Best Digital Paintings & Start Selling Them Online (Case Study)

In this extra bonus lesson, see how easy it is to link up your new online store to your website and social media pages and how they all work together to generate web traffic, make you more discoverable online, and how it can cause new fans and future freelance clients to find and contact you later.

Extra: Link Your Online Store to Your Website and Social Media Pages

Here are some resources so you can be sure you are set up correctly for making children's books for a variety of platforms including Amazon KDP and Lulu

Children's Book Templates: For Amazon KDP, Lulu, and More

Use these color secrets to help give your designs an edge.

Color Secrets (Cheatsheet) -Explode Your Art
Thanks so much for taking this course. I hope to see you in my online classroom again soon. Best wishes and please stay in touch! Kristen
Thank You For Taking This Course!
This lecture will point students towards freebies and discounts, other courses and books, as well as show how to stay in touch.
Bonus: Freebies and Discounts