Study Illustration in Boston

Illustrators are storytellers — inventors of enchanting, compelling, fantastical theater and sometimes, masters of convincing illusion. What they create, however, goes beyond narrative and entertainment. The ability to communicate effectively through imagery gives an artist the potential to inform, educate, provoke, and persuade, ultimately shaping visual culture and society at large.

Whether you're excited about producing art for graphic novels or children's books, billboards or packaging, video games or animated films, scientific journals or museum dioramas, you start with the basics. It's about learning how to see and think, how to find a unique and impactful solution, and how to communicate your vision.

Our Minor in Illustration stresses the fundamentals of conceptual thinking, visual storytelling, drawing, painting, and design within the framework of a strong liberal arts core. Through studio coursework you'll explore both traditional techniques and advanced digital technologies. In addition to illustration for publishing and print, you'll have the opportunity to investigate innovative and specialized applications for your talents (for the theater or within the sciences, for instance) through research and creative collaboration. The curriculum addresses the historic, theoretical and practical issues of the profession as well.

Illustration Minor Requirements for BFA Students

Minor Requirements: 6 courses, 18 credits 

Required Illustration Courses:

  • ADIL-S201 Illustration I: Visual Communication

    Prerequisites:

    ADF-S101 and ADF-S166 and ADIL-S223 is recommended(previously or concurrently)

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course introduces fundamental concepts and principles of visual communication, with emphasis on the expression of ideas and storytelling through pictures. Topics include implied and sequential narrative, theatrical singing, and visual metaphor. Informed by lecture, discussion and examples, students explore these concepts through a series of assignments with defined objectives related to audience and function (description, symbolism, narrative, poetic allusion, etc.) Through preliminary studies and sketches, students are encouraged to explore multiple solutions, carefully considering concept, drawing, composition, and technical approach. Students are encouraged to use media and methods of choice.

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

  • ADIL-S202 Illustration II: Process & Practice

    Prerequisites:

    ADIL-S201;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course expands on concepts introduced in Illustration I, with emphasis on visual problem solving, generation of original ideas, and the process of picture making. Sequenced assignment each address a different set of parameters related to a different target audience, a different illustration genre (editorial, entertainment, institutional, educational, advertising, etc.) Emphasis is placed on the need to preserve spontaneity and authentic vitality in task-based creative work with multiple requirements, time restraints and periodic art direction. Students use traditional or digital media of their choice and are introduced to pre-production, formatting and presentation requirements for effective print and digital reproduction.

    Term:

    Offered Spring Term

Choose one of the following courses:

  • ADF-S123 Painting

    Prerequisites:

    ADF S101, ADF S166

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    In this introductory course, students will learn to accurately perceive relationships of shape, form, color and value, and to translate that information through the medium of paint. In a series of in-class and outside projects on canvas, prepared paper and panel, students will explore various approaches to the use of acrylic and oil paint. Emphasis will be placed on the development of disciplined technical skills as well as the exploration of painting's potential as a medium of communication and creative visual expression.

    Term:

    Offered Spring Term

  • ADIL-S223 Traditional Techniques

    Prerequisites:

    ADF-S166 and ADF-S101

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    Students explore a variety of wet and dry medias, surfaces, tools and approaches traditionally used for illustration. Assignments involve observational subject matter, including still life, wildlife, urban and natural landscape, portrait and clothed figure. Media are handled expressively or with precision, and preliminary exercises provide opportunities for experimentation and practice. Final results are evaluated in terms of technical process and proficiency, readability and reproducibility, and successful application of fundamental principles of design and color theory.

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

  • ADIL-S255 Digital Techniques

    Prerequisites:

    Take ADF-S101 and ADF-S166;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    Introduction and exploration of applications used for digital drawing, painting, and sculpting, including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and LightWave 3D modeling software. Similarities, compatibilities, and essential differences between applications are demonstrated. Efficient file management, help menus, online tutorials, scanning, formatting, printing, and presentation procedures are also covered. Assignments are observational (still life, landscape, portrait, and figure) - not invented imagery. Exercises provide opportunities for experimentation and practice. Final results are evaluated in terms of technical process and proficiency, readability and reproducibility, and successful application of fundamental principles of design and color theory.

    Term:

    Offered Spring Term

Choose three of the following courses:

  • ADIL-S223 Traditional Techniques

    Prerequisites:

    ADF-S166 and ADF-S101

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    Students explore a variety of wet and dry medias, surfaces, tools and approaches traditionally used for illustration. Assignments involve observational subject matter, including still life, wildlife, urban and natural landscape, portrait and clothed figure. Media are handled expressively or with precision, and preliminary exercises provide opportunities for experimentation and practice. Final results are evaluated in terms of technical process and proficiency, readability and reproducibility, and successful application of fundamental principles of design and color theory.

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

  • ADIL-S255 Digital Techniques

    Prerequisites:

    Take ADF-S101 and ADF-S166;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    Introduction and exploration of applications used for digital drawing, painting, and sculpting, including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and LightWave 3D modeling software. Similarities, compatibilities, and essential differences between applications are demonstrated. Efficient file management, help menus, online tutorials, scanning, formatting, printing, and presentation procedures are also covered. Assignments are observational (still life, landscape, portrait, and figure) - not invented imagery. Exercises provide opportunities for experimentation and practice. Final results are evaluated in terms of technical process and proficiency, readability and reproducibility, and successful application of fundamental principles of design and color theory.

    Term:

    Offered Spring Term

  • ADIL-S301 Illustration III: Style & Substance

    Prerequisites:

    Take ADIL-S202;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course examines the elements of visual style, the relationship between style and meaning, and the role and impact of stylistic trends in contemporary illustration. Students explore aesthetics and factors that contribute to unique and authentic style. Art buyer choices and public tastes are analyzed. Assignments are approached professionally, as art direction, and within a set of parameters, students are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities for creative freedom. Assignments include an interdisciplinary collaborative project and the integration of text with image. Students practice with their preferred media as they develop awareness of elements that contribute to the characteristic look that identifies their work.

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

  • ADIL-S307 Visual Development

    Prerequisites:

    Take ADIL-S201 and ADIL-S255 or ADG-S219;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This studio elective explores the basic components of the pre-production process for animation, computer games, film and television - concept, character design, properties and assets, backgrounds and environments. Using a given story sequence and working as a team, students will produce everything from plot analysis to storyboards, maquettes, dioramas, background layouts and matte painting. Both aesthetic and technical issues will be addressed, with emphasis on effective process, including research and generation of ideas. Theories of dramatic staging, atmospheric and linear perspective and anatomy of visual storytelling will be reviewed with attention to narrative sequence, point of view, action, transitions and editing. Students will work with a variety of traditional 2D and 3D media and computer applications for drawing and painting (Photoshop, Painter, SketchUp, Blender, Maya)and be introduced to professional practices and presentation.

  • ADFA-S201 Drawing: Language of Light

    Prerequisites:

    ADF S102

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course is an extensive exploration of the human form and how it is represented in drawing. Refining their drawing skills, students use a variety of dry media (graphite, charcoal, pastel, collage) to articulate figure/plane

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

  • ADFA-S212 Figure Painting: Issues in Contemporary Realism

    Prerequisites:

    Fine Art Program Director Approval needed

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course functions as a lab for students to improve their painting skills. Working directly from the models, beginning and more advanced students will explore technique at their own level. Tri-weekly poses will allow in-depth investigation and complex images to develop. Students can work with the painting medium of their choice. Historical and contemporary painters will be used to further the students progress. Open to majors and non-majors.

    Term:

    Occasional

  • ADG-S201 Basic Typography

    Prerequisites:

    ADF S151 OR ADF S166

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course will introduce students to the creative use of typography in the design process and will provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to design with type.

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

Other courses available per advisor consent.

Learning Objectives

Program Goals

Illustration students must be visually literate; develop a solid understanding and application of the visual principles that underpin the effective communication of ideas; and engage in narrative storytelling through the image, without reliance on text. They must recognize the importance of appropriate visual syntax and the application of design principles and color theory.

It is important that students develop efficient work habits, self-discipline, and time-management skills. Professional success is dependent on an intelligent, deliberative, research-based approach to visual problem solving—the ability to be creative given particular parameters, a particular audience, and time constraints. Students must develop a preliminary process that allows for the exploration of alternative solutions and the input of an art director or creative collaborator. They must be able to find or produce the visual reference (including the use of lighting equipment, figure models, props, and photography) necessary to create convincing invented imagery.

Students should have a functional understanding of human anatomy, linear perspective, atmospheric perspective, light logic, and shadow plotting. The development of strong observational drawing skill, particularly figurative, is essential. Students must produce works that demonstrate effective use of iconography, visual metaphor, and visual allusion, implied narrative and sequential narrative, expressive atmosphere, and dramatic staging. Every student should be technically competent in the use of traditional and digital drawing and painting media, and proficient in the use of at least one. All students should have a functional knowledge of print and online reproduction technology. Students should be able to participate in a process of objective critique, and be capable of articulating a coherent analysis of visual art and design.

Illustration students should have an awareness of the role of the illustrator and the essential nature, function, and impact of illustration in society, both contemporary and historical. Students should be familiar with a variety of illustration genres including literary, editorial, advertising, technical, institutional, and product (novelty merchandise), as well as comps and concept art. They should also be familiar with the nature of related creative professions for which Illustration is ideal training (animation, for instance), as well as closely related professional fields such as graphic design. Students must also understand U.S. copyright law to avoid infringement on the rights of other artists (including photographers), and must know how to preserve and protect the right to their own intellectual property. Ultimately, graduating seniors should be capable of producing impactful, relevant, original, authentic images with a practical application.