Learn how to become a digital illustrator with 1-on-1 training from industry artists

Apply Now

Course Overview

Are you looking to take your concept design skills to the next level? Do you want to learn how to apply that knowledge toward creating polished illustrations for films, games, and publishing?

Illustration is a form of art used to convey concepts and narratives in a 2D environment. From the golden age of commercial illustration to the luminaries of contemporary art, you will analyze the history of the art in the sci-fi fantasy genre and be guided in applying evolving methods for creating narrative illustrations throughout the length of the course.

The job of an illustrator is equal parts director, concept artist, painter, cinematographer, and more commonly 3d modeler in order to create the illusion of space in a 2D narrative moment.  The goal of this class is to guide you in creating strong portfolio samples that set you on your own unique path to obtain the type of work you want and give you the necessary information to develop artwork that instills confidence in an employer. Traditional artists are welcome.

CG Spectrum gives you direct access and connects you to the best mentors from around the world, delivering a personalized education that gives you the competitive edge you need to succeed.

Next Intake

July 1st, 2019


10 months

Course Delivery


Course Load

20 hrs/ week


Introduction to Concept Art or a portfolio that demonstrates similar learner outcomes.

Apply TodayApply Today

History, Advanced Composition & Painting Techniques

At the beginning of this course, we will examine advanced painting techniques to mimic traditional media with Adobe Photoshop.  Traditional realist painting practices will be demonstrated with custom brush creation and digital painting tools.

The figure (Human or Creature ) is our gateway to understanding the story your image is trying to tell. Students will spend time practicing fine art portraiture and techniques for digital painting but with the mindset of an oil painter.  We will examine paint handling, gesture and compositions from artists such as John Singer Sargent, N.C. Wyeth, Tom Lovell, and Norman Rockwell.

Composition is the most important aspect of an illustration. Whether the work is basic single figure line art or complex multi-figure scenes, the ability to guide the viewer to the most important aspect of the artwork is key to the success of the image. We will focus on the rules of composing an illustration, and how light, color and shape can be used to create dramatic compelling stories.  

Students will familiarize themselves with Daz3D, a free 3D modeling, composition and rendering software that can be used to quickly explore layouts and lighting schemes for your illustration work.

  • Recognize the impact of the Brandywine School on contemporary imaginative art and examine the work of professional IMAGINATIVE REALIST illustrators over the past few decades.
  • Learn advanced techniques for light, value and atmosphere
  • Practice proper reference gathering and implementation
  • Understand the importance of Cinematography and the psychology of color.  Differentiate color schemes and the emotional/ visual punctuation effect they have on an illustration. 
  • Understand staging, grouping masses, avoiding tangents, leading the eye and other advanced compositional techniques
  • Learn to apply advanced digital painting techniques to mimic the textural qualities of traditional oil painting.
  • Demonstrations of mixed media techniques. Painting with traditional media and how it can apply to digital media.
  • Learn to expedite workflow by using 3D software for Illustration.
  • Receive thorough critiques of your work from rough sketch to final paintings.
  • Apply lessons and critiques to build up illustrations to a high level finished presentation.
  1. Course Introduction / History of Scifi / Fantasy Illustration
  2. Advanced Digital Painting Techniques
  3. Light and Value Control
  4. Advanced Staging / Composition 01
  5. Cinematic Storytelling
  6. Gathering Reference 01 – Photographing Models / Maquettes
  7. Gathering Reference 02 – 3D for Illustration – Intro to Daz3D
  8. Advanced Staging / Composition 02
  9. Advanced Color Theory and Application 01
  10. Advanced Color Theory and Application 02
  11. Advanced Traditional Painting Techniques 01
  12. Advanced Traditional Painting Techniques 02 

Entertainment Industry Application

The end goal of every successful illustration is to accurately represent the story and to help sell the product. In Study Period 2 students will dive deeper into creating illustrations for specific purposes and treat every assignment like a real commission with hard deadlines and a focus on time management.  

The artistic and compositional demands for commercial illustration change depending on the industry you are creating content for. We will apply lessons from study period 1 to start developing art for the publishing industry.  Book Cover design, Card Gaming illustration and Marketing Art for film and video games will be discussed.

Students will use various techniques from hand painting and photo-bashing to 3D paint-overs to complete assignments with a focus on delivering high level finished content.

Your mentor will continue to share examples from the history of imaginative realist art when relevant to the creation of producing high-level artwork.

Students will complete this study period with portfolio samples for highly competitive, in-demand avenues for commercial illustration.

  • Receive thorough critiques of your work from rough sketch to final paintings.
  • Apply lessons and critiques to build up illustrations to a high level finished presentation.
  • Students will create multiple pieces of art focused on various markets of commercial illustration.
  • Assignments will be treated like real commissions with hard deadlines so students can learn to work under pressure.
  • Focus and time management will be discussed and applied to projects. Techniques for working rapidly under pressure will be reviewed.

Portfolio Prep and The Business of Illustration

In our final 12 weeks, we will examine the business end of a career in the arts. It’s not all about rendering spaceships and monsters!

As students learn about career development they will also select one of the illustration types covered in Study Period 2 and develop three focused illustrations aimed at a specific market.  Students will be provided art briefs for their chosen projects or at the discretion of the mentor, some students may be allowed to take a more self-directed approach and work independently on their chosen projects.  Live sessions will cover guidance and critique of assignments as well as a lecture on the business of illustration.

This study period will be the culmination of everything students have learned to date from their course work. These will be intensive sessions with a high expectation of excellence to the best of the student’s ability with elements of design, creativity, effort and craftsmanship.

  • Receive thorough critiques of your work from rough sketch to final paintings.
  • Apply lessons and critiques to build up illustrations to a high level finished presentation.
  • Review the business of Illustration, including self-promotion, contracts and life in the arts.
  • Students will work on focused self-directed personal illustrations aimed at the industry they would like to work in.
  • Finding your voice in order to create something new, unexpected and engaging.
  1. Personal Project 01
  2. Business of Illustration 01
  3. Business of Illustration 02 – Pricing & Contracts
  4. Personal Project 02
  5. Portfolio Presentation / Professionalism
  6. Self Promotion
  7. Approaching Art Directors
  8. Finding your Audience
  9. Personal Project 3
  10. Staff VS. Freelance
  11. Creating your own Intellectual Property
  12. Continued Skill Development Practices
Advanced Digital Illustration

What you get

  • Access to world-class mentors
  • Live weekly classes
  • Weekly recorded critiques
  • Custom built curriculum
  • Original video content
  • Access to online learning portal
  • All software needed for the course
Mentor of Advanced Digital Illustration

Meet Eric

Eric Wilkerson

Mentor of Digital Illustration

Eric Wilkerson is an Illustrator who has worked in film, commercials, video games, and the publishing industry.  As a professional Illustrator for nearly twenty years, Eric has worked as a freelance and staff artist, having held both lead and senior positions.

He has provided concept art, matte painting, and art direction services while working in-house for casino/mobile gaming studios and advertising agencies.

Eric has worked with companies such as Activision, Disney Publishing, Scholastic, Random House, Upper Deck, and Weta Workshop.

Lauren Wakley

CG Spectrum has a way of mentoring students that I haven't experienced before. My mentor is always pushing me in order to become industry ready. CG Spectrum mentors are always available for feedback and take a proactive approach to teaching their students.

Liam Jones

The very personal learning experience I had through CG spectrum encouraged me to dig deep with questions and figure out how to really improve. I got the attention I needed from my mentor and broke through the frustrating plateau I had been at before starting. Looking back on my old artwork, I'm extremely satisfied with how far I've come.

Erica Hornakova

I have nothing but great memories of CG Spectrum! I was a bit unsure when I signed up for the course, but it changed my life. I had a great mentor who would always push me to do better and I learned valuable things each class.

Ryan-Tinder James

During my time at CG Spectrum my skill as an artist and concept artist specifically, rose to new heights I'd never imagined possible. I fell deep into the rabbit hole during this course, only because CG Spectrum offered so much extra information. This left me ready to kick start my career.


Spaces are limited! Apply now to reserve your spot.