Course Lists

Illustration Course List

Take a look at titles and descriptions for the Illustration department's courses offered.

IL 100 Drawing as Illustration

This course gives freshmen who are interested in illustration a basic approach to drawing and composition as a means of story telling. Using models, students also explore effects of body and facial expression created by dramatic lighting. This course includes location drawing and explores the use of the camera as a tool in the creation of drawing and composition in illustration.

First year students only

IL 138 Introduction to Illustration

This course is an introduction to the ever-changing and exciting world of illustration in all its capacities. Through lectures and assignments students become exposed to and experience the multiple facets of illustration today, such as book illustration, editorial, sequential art, concept art, character development and others. The relationship of illustration with other fields such as animation, graphic design and painting is examined.

First year students only

IL 200 Sophomore Illustration I

Designed to provide an informative initiation into the discipline of illustration, this course includes information on the history of illustration, and instruction and demonstration of traditional and digital techniques. Students learn to be adept at variety of media and investigate the role of the artist as storyteller, problem-solver, symbol-maker, and social/ cultural reporter.

IL 201 Sophomore Illustration II

A continuation of Illustration I, this course is more challenging. The course includes media demonstrations and a continuation of discussion of historical and contemporary illustrators. Emphasis is on the elements that form strong visual ideas.

Prerequisite: IL 200

IL 202 Visual Journalism

Observational drawing is the foundation for all work and study in visual journalism. In the tradition of the best visual reportage, students travel off campus throughout Baltimore City meeting and recording its people, music, social fabric, and urban landscape. This class blends experiences like Baltimore Symphony Orchestra rehearsals, jazz ensemble sessions, market scenes, and the streets of Baltimore’s ethnic neighborhoods into a rich stew of social politics, on the street and in the community. Historical examples of reportage art including Honoré Daumier, Kathe Kollwitz, Ben Shahn, George Luks, the Ash Can School, Jacob Lawrence, Saul Steinberg, Julian Allen are studied and utilized. Students fill sketchbooks, expand to more finished pieces, and learn how to create art that literally moves.

IL 203 Studio Remix: IL for Kids

In this course, students explore how illustration applies to our youngest audiences. Whether for toys, games, books, apps, apparel, room decor, or any other area, illustrating for children requires both playfulness and thoughtful communication. Projects explore a range of formats, familiar and new, and will challenge students to explore, teach, and play as they illustrate.

IL 203F Stdio Rmx: Fine Art Illust

In this hands-on studio the two realms of fine art and illustration are explored through drawing, painting, mixed media, with digital options. Working from the model, photography, sketchbooks, memory, automatic drawing, and dreams, students explores the cross-pollinations, conflicts, enrichments and influences, of unbridled creativity and collaborative applied problem-solving. Total commitment to drawing is stressed.

IL 203G Studio Remix: Technical Illust

An introduction to Architectural Illustration and Medical Illustration. This course explores methods to depict three-dimensional illusionistic space. Particular emphasis is placed on learning and applying the key concepts of linear perspective through studio exercises and direct observation. The second part of the course introduces students to the creation of illustrations which record and disseminate medical, anatomical, and related knowledge.

IL 203H Studio Rmx: Narrative Color

In this class students learn to use color to create mood, time and place, emphasis, temperature, drama, etc. They explore objective versus subjective color, psychological color, monochromatic schemes, complementary color schemes and other color arrangements. They also learn how to build suspense with color, create empathy, amuse, disturb, delight, etc.

IL 203J Studio Remix: Worldbuilding

Create an imaginary world from a plotting narrative. Examine and experiment with maps and diagrams, both realistic and symbolic; explore and create illustrative and narrative art, including their own diagrammatic thinking. Students compose their own short narratives and develop and critique them as cultural constructs, good art, writing, and interesting assets.

IL 203L Studio Rmx: Storyboards

Students learn to use the language of storyboards, how they resemble and are yet are distinct from other forms of sequential art. Their origins and history are discussed, examples of great story board artists examined and assignments are completed that hone the students skill for working in this format. Storyboards applications to all kinds of motion-based entertainment (film, video, TV, animation, games, etc...) are covered in the course.

IL 203M Studio Rmx: Portrait

Devoted to the study of portrait work as it pertains to the illustration field. Assignments are based around portrait work in a range of styles from highly realistic and detailed to minimal and cartoonish.

IL 203N Studio Rmx: 3D Character Dsgn

This traditional (analog) character sculpting course teaches students to design characters in 3D. Beginning with character design fundamentals, student learn armature construction, dynamic and neutral posing. Students texture and detail their sculptures and develop them to a professional finish using a variety of techniques.

IL 203P Studio Remix: RISO Lab

A Risograph is a Japanese printing technology that creates imagery combining the aesthetic of analog (silkscreen, lithography) and digital color printing (automation and speed). This Eco-friendly, small run technology has made RISO printing a very popular output choice for artists, graphic designers and printmakers. This course provides students with best practices for proper file preparation, making masters from digital files, output, ink/drum management, printing and registration in the creation of prints, zines, cards, promotional materials and publications.

IL 225 Narrative Collage

During the early 20th century, collage emerged as a populist form that embraced early commercial ephemera. The cut paper effect was further mimicked in mid-century graphics and also rose to prominence in editorial art in the 1970s and 1980s. This course explores a variety of contemporary uses of collage from using found ephemera to creating students’ own collage materials.

IL 228 Character Design

Students will delve into a universe where character is king, and where good character design is taught through an emphasis on idea, shape, structure, and fun factor. The goal: to create characters that captivate the eye, provoke the mind, and pull the viewer into their world. Students will learn how to breathe life into their characters though drawing from the model, studying the anatomy, and observing movement. These ideals will be reinforced by watching them in action through inspiring art presentations, animated films/shorts and video games.

IL 230 Narrative: Words and Pictures

This course deals with how to tell an original story. The basic aspects of narrative structure are covered in this class. Students learn to make their own stories through writing and image making. These include personal narratives, adaptations of classic tales and new fictional creations. Students address how to make sound choices when it comes in expressing a range of aspects that contribute to narratives. Stories have conventional and non-conventional plots, and utilize a variety of materials, both traditional and nontraditional.

IL 236 Photography for Illustrators

Photography can be an invaluable tool for illustrators: it can be used to create references for painting and drawing, it can be incorporated into hand drawn images in collage and digital illustrations, and it can be used to reproduce and modify finished illustrations. This course explores the specific photographic methods most useful to illustrators: how to pose, costume, and light models, how to shoot for imaginary or fantasy images, how to photograph one's portfolio of work, etc. The relationship with photography work of several historical and contemporary illustrators are examined and analyzed, and students complete a series of assignments based on the material covered in class.

IL 238 Digital Illustration

In this course, projects start with sketches and them move quickly to the digital realm. Assignments emphasize traditional illustration skills such as visual problem-solving, rendering, and drawing, while exploring the digital possibilities to execute the artwork. Students spend half of their time in the studio working on sketches and concepts. They spend the second half of their time executing these assignments in digital programs. The emphasis on Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop. Crossing software and mixing media are encouraged.

IL 240 Drawing from the Tablet

Students work in the traditional studio/life drawing manner with models and varying timed sessions (quick sketch through sustained drawing), but work exclusively in digital form using tablets and laptops. Composition, action, dramatic lighting and many other drawing schemes will be employed. Students are supplied with a tablet, but must supply their own laptop.

IL 246 Illustrating the Edible

The illustrated food market is strong and healthy, and the ability to make mouth watering, thoughtful illustrations is a marketable skill. This course explores the nature, preparation, tasting, presentation and culture of food. Students sketch and paint ingredients, as well as cook and draw the food, visiting restaurants, cafés, farms, markets and kitchens. In addition, guests may come and prepare food in the classroom as students draw. The work created is part reportage, part still life, part personal expression and an overall exploration and illustration of the senses. Homework may include visits to specific sites, buying and drawing ingredients and working on articles and assignments. Students experience local food and ethnic cuisines, appreciating the role that food plays in economics, society, family, culture and history.

IL 247 Concept Art

The origins and multiple applications of concept art, from its origins in scenography, production design and costume design to its current forms for film, television, animation and video games are investigated along with the confluence of the visual arts and the performing or movement based arts. Students learn the basics of this practice through assignments that involve a variety of stylistic approaches.

IL 254 Hand Letters

Letter-forms express more than information, they can also convey sensibilities, ideas, and emotions. This course gives students basic language on letter-forms and, through a series of drawing workshops, prepares students for directed lettering projects from the legible to the abstract.

IL 262 Painting Tech for Illustrators

In this course, students explore painting within the context of illustration. Assignments include painting from the nude and clothed model, still life, and plein-air painting, as well as illustration assignments such as character design, environment design, and editorial illustration. Emphasis is placed on analyzing color and light, as well as palette and brush techniques.

IL 263 Drawing Tech for Illustrators

Students explore the aspects of dry media techniques best suited for narrative art. The storytelling possibilities of color, lighting, composition, and perspective are examined and practiced in class and homework projects. Students learn traditional rendering techniques in graphite, charcoal, pastel, and conte. Assignments include a variety of topics such as portraits, nude and clothed figures, interiors, cityscapes, and landscapes. Approaches range from reality to fantasy.

IL 266 Book Illustration

An introduction to the art of the illustrated story students learn traditional parts and functions of illustration when it pertains to books as well as the fundamentals when it comes to choosing the themes to visualize in a narrative. A basic history of the illustrated book is covered with both historical and contemporary examples examined. Different types of illustrated books are addressed; graphic novels and comics are not included in this course.

IL 272 Sequential Art

An introduction to the art of comics. The art of making effective, strong and original layouts is emphasized in this course. Students acquire a basic understanding of the history of the medium current trends, orthodox and experimental narrative techniques that are possible. Concentrating on the visual narrative structure, students learn how to created clear panel-to-panel transitions and dynamic layouts.

IL 307 Imaginative Realism

In this course students learn how to create convincing illustrations of scenes that don’t exist in the real world. Students learn to use color and light to realistically portray scenes from fantasy to the future, from historic to prehistoric. Concept artists and character designers learn to visualize their ideas and express them on page or screen. Projects involve envisioning a scenario, gathering research, designing a scene, and creating a finished illustration. A basic knowledge of painting, digitally or with traditional media, is required.

IL 315 Non-print Editorial Illustra

Where is the editorial illustration market headed? With the evolution and transformation from print to digital, images are being asked to perform more and more dynamically on line. For example, the Google masthead now incorporates movement. The stagnant printed image may never go extinct; however new ways in which illustration can communicates are continually changing. This course addresses movement within an image using animated gifs to communicate ideas and to tell stories. Unlike print media, tablet and Internet magazines allow for this subtle movement. This is not an animation class in the traditional sense, but an evolution of editorial image creation to further address the shifting digital platform.

IL 324 The Art of Sci Fi Production

This Illustration and interdisciplinary studio seminar course deconstructs varied approaches to understanding the depiction and historic production of science fiction narrative in literature and media. Students from across the MICA are encouraged to explore representative and object-based approaches supported within the class. Using their choice of media and material context, students develop a series of projects that address science fiction imagery, production design, concepts, 3D objects or props consistent with science fiction narratives. The practice of representing this content develops conceptual skills and pictorial methods thriving in the media that surrounds us. Students research models of futuristic content while using already familiar traditional media, learning new tools, materials, and contexts. Students work in a studio for a majority of the course with time reserved for lectures, slide presentations, selections from cinema and intensive critique of the work produced.

IL 325 Illustrating the Edible

The illustrated food market is strong and healthy, and the ability to make mouth-watering, thoughtful illustrations is a marketable skill. This course explores the nature, preparation, tasting, presentation, and culture of food. Students sketch and paint ingredients; cook and draw the food; visit restaurants, cafés, farms, markets, and kitchens. In addition, guests may come and prepare food in the classroom as students draw. The work created is part reportage, part still life, part personal expression, and an overall exploration and illustration of the senses. Homework may include visits to specific sites, buying and drawing ingredients and working on articles and assignments. Students experience local food and ethnic cuisines, appreciating the role that food plays in economics, society, family, culture, and history. Fulfills a 300-level IL elective. Preference is giving to junior IL majors.

IL 328 Advanced Character Design

This course challenges students to utilize their illustration skills to create characters for one of three genres: film, animation, or video games. The course is structured like a professional environment, with three groups working together on a project of their choosing, so emphasis on teamwork, professionalism, and consistency of design and style play a key role. Each assignment requires the student to do visual research as well as explore the design of their characters from many different angles, and in a way that truly explores the individual characters in depth, I.E. movement, facial expressions, details, environment, etc.

Prerequisite: IL 228

IL 333 Fantasy Art

This course delves into the world of fantasy subjects: fairy tales and folk tales, myths and legends, sword and sorcery and heroic fantasy, science fiction, horror, and supernatural tales. Students become familiar with the visual vocabulary specific to these genres. The origin of fantasy art and its relation to symbolism, visionary art, and surrealism will be examined, and the work of the great fantasy illustrators will be discussed. In addition, the assignments emphasize awareness of the roles that fantasy art and escapist literature, film, animation, and games play in society.

IL 335 Eros

An exploration of sexuality and eroticism as an art topic. Students produce work that addresses pertinent aspects implicit in the subject, such as gender identities and roles, the spectrum of sexual orientation, concepts of beauty and aesthetics, paraphilias and taboos, and censorship and socio-cultural context. The work of both historically (Aubrey Beardsley, Felicien Rops, John Willie, Vargas, Tom of Finland) and contemporary (Chris Cunningham, Jean Paul Goude, Dimitris Papaioanou) artists examined and analyzed.

IL 338 Advanced Digital Illustration

Adobe Photoshop and other programs have become increasingly sophisticated, allowing artists to create illusions and mimic effects previously possible only with traditional techniques. From flat bold colors to subtle textures to the illusion of watercolor and colored ink line work, this class focuses on advancing technical skills in digital programs using a variety of in-class demos, exercises, projects and assignments, and step-by-step instructions. A basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop is necessary.

Prerequisite: IL 238

IL 340 Junior Illustration I

The object of this course is to provide a solid grounding in creating sophisticated ideas for images, the procedures and practices of illustration, and the development of a personal vision. Students learn about representational, narrative, and conceptual approaches to problem solving and how they apply to the practice of illustration in the 21st century. Techniques and professional practice are discussed.

Prerequisite: IL 201

IL 341 Junior Illustration II

This course is a continuation of IL 340 and the further development of a personal style and approach to illustration. Students begin to consider directions that will lead to their senior thesis. Informal discussions are held on the business of illustration, professional practices, client relations, studio practices, and self-promotion.

Prerequisite: IL 340

IL 344 The Lab

Artists are emerging as authors and entrepreneurs in a variety of new markets and media. New methods such as print-on-demand books, the wave self-publication and festivals that facilitate distribution, prototyping, high-end output devices and laser cutters, and creative directions such as bodywear imagery, instructional, political or socially inspired projects, weblogs and archives, games and animation, and literary works are a few of the directions being taken to create content and get ideas out in the world. In this class, students learn how to actualize one idea or theme through creating, planning, prototyping, branding, documenting, marketing, and exhibiting it to an appropriate commercial, institutional, or cultural venue.

IL 346 Seq Art & Character Dev

For students who have already taken Sequential Art and or Character Development, this course combination allows for continuation/expansion of projects already started. Students may concentrate in either or may create work in both areas of study. For students who have never taken Sequential or Character Development, coursework is to be done through introductory assignments. Students develop original characters and bring them to life in innovative narratives. In addition, students’ work is inspired by weekly presentations and discussions of the history and convention of Comics. Students are challenged to develop their own unique styles.

IL 347 Advanced Concept Art

This course places its focus on the art of world-building, and using thinking and ideation skills just as much, if not more, than pure illustration or rendering skills. This course teaches students how to think about designing their own “world” in a meaningful and imaginative way through maps, real-world visual research, environment mood pieces, drawings of details like flora and fauna, character design, vignettes of daily life, and key scenes. The student has to present a “design bible” or style guide, an accurate representation of the types of work a concept artist might actually be asked to do in the film, video game, and theme park design industries.

Prerequiste: IL 247

IL 350 Illustrating Opinion

This course promotes illustration and design as a tool for persuasion and criticism. It examines, through historical and contemporary images (European and American propaganda from the ’30s, protest posters from the ’60s, the New York Times op-ed page during the ’70s, and alternative comics today), the practice of making images that engage the outside world. Students are encouraged to debate current political, ecological and socio-cultural issues as they unfold in real time during the course of the semester.

IL 351 Illustrating for Surface Dsign

An exploration of the surface design market for illustrators; how to create a collection of repeating patterns, practice hand lettering, and learn to make product mock ups for portfolios covered. Student evaluate what succeeds in the current market and what new avenues there are to fill! This course is a great fit for anyone interested in creating artwork for licensing and products such as journals, greeting cards, textiles, and home goods. Platforms available to have students designs manufactured and ultimately create a final illustrated product to be sold in a pop-up shop.

IL 366 Advanced Book Illustration

Students are expected to have knowledge of all the basic concepts involved in illustrating a story. In this class the students tackle the advanced aspects of book illustration, including styles, market, reproduction, etc. Students will work on independent projects and explore the subject in depth. A wide variety of illustrated books are addressed. Graphic novels and comics are not included in this course.

Prerequisite: IL 266

IL 372 Advanced Sequential Art

Students are expected to demonstrate knowledge of all the basic facets of visual storytelling. This course explores advanced aspects of drawing one’s own narratives in long-form sequential art. The focus is on perfecting individual approaches to media, color, lettering and formats. Students explore current trends in the publishing marketplace relative to comics and graphic novels, develop and present professional portfolios and/or book proposals geared to the format, and synthesize various exercises and assignments into a final long-form project.

Prerequisite: IL 272

IL 393 Lifestyle Illustration

Focuses on the methods, manners, techniques, and presentation utilized by the illustrator interested in lifestyle and fashion projects. The role of the illustrator in the world of lifestyle and fashion has broadened and changed a great deal in the past 50 years. The illustrator is tasked with not only presenting conceptual work for design, but also commenting on behaviors and attitudes. Although fashion has had a longer history as practice, lifestyle provides a broader umbrella as a means of forging a sense of self and creating cultural symbols that resonate with personal identity, reflecting pop culture and communicating desires, fantasies, and general visual luxury. The topic is approached from the standpoint of the casual observer and the active participant, tasked with recording the world around us and imagining what’s brewing beneath it.

IL 400 Senior Illustration I

In this course students start to prepare the final body of artwork to be produced while in the Illustration Department, building their portfolio to achieve a personally rewarding and commercially viable group of images. Working closely with instructors and peers, students create weekly projects that are reviewed in individual and group critiques. There are visiting artists, critics and lecturers and field trips to places of interest.

Senior level Illustration majors only

IL 401 Senior Illustration II

A continuation of IL 400 and completion of the student’s senior year. Students are encouraged to complete their portfolios and prepare a cohesive body of work to present to future clients. Students will present their work and participate in the campus-wide Commencement Exhibition and the MICA Illustration Showcase, a portfolio review by art directors and designers.

Prerequisite: IL 400

IL 405 Professional Development

This course focuses on the transition from student to professional artist. Career choices available after graduation are explored including employment, freelance and entrepreneurial opportunities. Topics essential to the professional artist are considered, including careers, copyright, financial concepts, marketing, studio practice, continuing education, professional networking, pricing, and ethical guidelines and more. Senior IL majors only.

Junior & Senior Illustration majors only