I will be honest: I did not expect to learn this much about the process of creation in a 37-minute beginner illustration class. They say that an ounce of wisdom is worth a pound of knowledge, and this is exactly what seasoned artist and illustrator Will Bryant demonstrates in his Skillshare class “Illustration for Beginners: Create a Themed Collection.” In this review, let’s have a look at how this course plays out.
Table of Contents
Who can benefit from this class?
The obvious answer is that this class benefits people who would like to increase their illustration and drawing skills, but to my surprise, it applies to quite a wide range of artists as well. I myself am primarily a writer, and I enjoy pairing drawings with ideas when writing to increase clarity. So, I thought I would sign up for one of the beginner classes on Skillshare to help take my illustration to the next level. To my surprise, I got many golden nuggets of wisdom out of this class, which apply to both forms of expression I enjoy using.
I would say there’s a wide range of people who can benefit from this short course – from people who are attracted by the art of drawing to other types of artists who are willing to try something new and learn more about themselves in the process.
How is the class structured?
The class is broken down into seven short and easy-to-follow modules, ranging from 2 to 8 minutes each. The first few modules set the table for the simple project ahead of us: creating a set of three stamps falling under a theme of our choice. During those lessons, we are shown the steps to follow in order to prepare effectively so that when the time comes to begin drawing, everything is already in place and accessible. As soon as we cross the midline of the course, the elements begin falling into place in a very satisfying way. Next thing you know, you’re working with a theme that you like, and your project takes shape beautifully. What I enjoy about Will’s model of teaching is that we can make our project as simple, complex, comfortable, or challenging as we desire. The choice is up to us.
What does the journey look like?
Will’s style of teaching is quite deceptive. At first, you feel you are listening to an average instructor with a regular level of enthusiasm, but don’t let that fool you. His experience in the field and his time-tested approach to creating art absolutely works. And as someone who is, in fact, a beginner in drawing and illustration, I’ve got my money’s worth and then some.
The first lesson, which introduces the project, is beautifully straight-forward. We are being given an overview of the journey ahead of us, and the path is well-defined and easy to grasp, which isn’t something all instructors are able to do. I knew I was going to learn something valuable from the start, which made me reasonably excited to watch the entire thing.
This is the first “real” lesson and also where I felt I was going to get a lot of value for the time I was going to spend here. The whole project rests on the picking of a theme for our stamps, and this is where I began feeling particularly attentive to what Will was teaching. The guidelines he suggests for picking a theme were enlightening to me. We are introduced to a process of decision-making that applies to so many situations we face as artists. I thought it was beautiful how he offered helpful constraints to consider, which made the process of picking a theme a lot easier while making room for a great deal of flexibility at the same time.
Lessons #3, #4 and #5
Here, we are made to connect with our own areas of interest and make decisions that will simplify the execution of our project. I learned a great deal about myself through these lessons, and while there is nothing extravagant about what we learn, the beauty here lies in the simplicity. As an artist, the process of exploring sources of inspiration was always confusing and messy to me, but after getting done with these three lessons, I gained a very accessible method for putting together sources of inspiration that I will be using a lot in the future. The information conveyed here really applies to any kind of creative process and can be adapted to your unique way of expressing your art. If the class had stopped here, I would’ve been satisfied already.
Lessons #6 and #7
In these lessons, everything starts to take shape. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the instructions from lesson #6 were so clear and easy to follow that I had all my mental space available to focus on my project. Surprisingly, the last lesson is a bit of the opposite. Maybe because I am not used to using software to create art, I found that Will glanced over the material a bit too quickly for my level. If you’re not already very familiar with Photoshop or similar software, the learning curve becomes very steep. That being said, anybody with functional experience using this kind of software will do just fine.
Pros and cons
Here’s a list of what I enjoyed from this class, as well as what I think can be made better.
- Extremely easy to follow. Except for lesson #7, I almost didn’t have to go back on any of the material presented in the lessons, and I was able to progress with absolute clarity every step of the way.
- To the point. The material is stripped of any superfluous information that would take your mind elsewhere during your project. It felt like I entered a classroom when I took that class, and when it was over, I felt I had gained a lot of clarity in my journey as an artist.
- The class is the perfect length. My brain never got tired while following the material, and it left me perfectly satiated, like when you finish a good hearty meal and you’re neither too full nor still hungry. It was just right.
- Skipped over an important detail. It wasn’t clear from the preview of the course that I was going to need editing software to complete this project. While even many beginners would likely have some experience working with editing software, it can be a turn-off if you don’t expect it beforehand.
- Relatively low energy. Although the instructor communicates well, I feel a small brush-up on his energy and enthusiasm to teach this class would’ve made a nice difference. It felt at times that he didn’t have the energy to find the right words to express himself. It didn’t exactly distract me from the learning experience, but I definitely noticed a small lack here.
- Could’ve added another lesson. As mentioned earlier, I found that he didn’t spend enough time on the last lesson and went a bit fast there. Offering more guidance on the process of using editing software to bring the project to life would’ve been useful. An eighth lesson dedicated to covering the technicality of using digital tools would’ve made this course complete. In my mind, since it’s a beginner course, it makes sense not to assume people are used to using software to create art.
How much does the course cost?
Courses on Skillshare can not be bought individually – they can only be accessed by signing up for a Skillshare membership. The good news? Skillshare offers e-student.org learners a full month free trial if you use our link (if not using our link, there is normally only a 7-day free trial). As virtually all Skillshare courses will take you less than a month to complete, you can in effect take this or any other Skillshare course for free – or any number of courses that you can finish in a month.
Once your free trial is over, the cost of Skillshare is $165 per year, which averages out to $13.75 per month. This gives you full access to all 34,000+ Skillshare courses. But if you're not happy to continue, you can easily cancel any time before your free trial ends – just go to your payment settings in your account.
If you have no need for a free trial, you can instead get %30 discount on your first year by using this special link instead. With this link, your first year will be just $115.50, averaging out to $9.63 per month. Note that this offer is only valid for new accounts, so it can't be combined with the 30-day free trial.
Black Friday/Cyber Monday offer 2023: Note that Skillshare is running an even better offer for the holidays, with a 50% discount on your membership (expires 30 November 2023).
Overall, this is an excellent learning experience – it’s a simple project that can get you from having no clue to being able to pull a theme together with a decision-making process to fall back on for a great variety of projects. If you are interested in improving your illustration skills in this area, I would recommend investing a small portion of your time in taking this pleasant course.