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:

    Take ADF-S102 ADF-S166;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course introduces fundamental concepts and principles of visual syntax with emphasis on the development of visual literacy. Topics include staging, lighting and atmosphere, implied and sequential narrative, iconography and visual metaphor. Informed by lecture, discussion with defined objectives and considerations, and examples, students will explore these concepts through a series of assignments related to audience and function. Through preliminary studies and sketches, students explore multiple solutions with consideration of concept, drawing issues, composition and technique. Students are encouraged employ their medium of choice and utilize methods learned in Traditional Techniques.

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

  • ADIL-S202 Illustration II: Process & Practice

    Prerequisites:

    ADIL-S201;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course expands on the process of the concepts and principles introduced in Illustration I with emphasis on idea generation and picture making. Assignments emphasize all aspects of preliminary stages and final art. Each assignment addresses a particular market and target audience with special emphasis on traditional narrative illustration that involves clothed figure models, other visual reference, and theatrical staging. Students will practice problem-solving within a defined set of parameters, using a medium of choice and utilizing approaches learned in Traditional Techniques and Digital Techniques. Emphasis is placed on the need to preserve spontaneity and vitality in task-based creative work. Various pre-production, formatting and presentation requirements for effective print and digital reproduction are also demonstrated.

    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:

    Take ADF-S102, ADF-S166;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    In this course students will explore a variety of wet and dry media traditionally used for art reproduction. A range of approaches, from precise to expressive, will be explored. Assignments will involve a wide range of subject matter (still life, wildlife, landscape, and human figure) drawn or painted from direct observation, photo reference, and invention. Students will explore fundamental principles of design and color through composition, with an emphasis on technical experimentation and practice.

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

  • ADIL-S255 Digital Techniques

    Prerequisites:

    Take ADF-S101 and ADF-S166;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course builds on the introduction to digital media presented in the Foundation curriculum. Students will work primarily from direct observation utilizing drawing,painting and photo manipulation software,vector-based graphics software as well as Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Corel Painter. The course includes an introduction to 3D modeling software. Similarities and compatibilities among-and essential differences between-applications are emphasized. Basic scanning, formatting, printing and presentation procedures will be covered with emphasis on file management, and the use of Help menus and online tutorials. Practice and experimentation will be emphasized, and issues of color and composition will be addressed.

    Term:

    Offered Spring Term

Choose three of the following courses:

  • ADIL-S223 Traditional Techniques

    Prerequisites:

    Take ADF-S102, ADF-S166;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    In this course students will explore a variety of wet and dry media traditionally used for art reproduction. A range of approaches, from precise to expressive, will be explored. Assignments will involve a wide range of subject matter (still life, wildlife, landscape, and human figure) drawn or painted from direct observation, photo reference, and invention. Students will explore fundamental principles of design and color through composition, with an emphasis on technical experimentation and practice.

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

  • ADIL-S255 Digital Techniques

    Prerequisites:

    Take ADF-S101 and ADF-S166;

    Credits:

    3.00

    Description:

    This course builds on the introduction to digital media presented in the Foundation curriculum. Students will work primarily from direct observation utilizing drawing,painting and photo manipulation software,vector-based graphics software as well as Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Corel Painter. The course includes an introduction to 3D modeling software. Similarities and compatibilities among-and essential differences between-applications are emphasized. Basic scanning, formatting, printing and presentation procedures will be covered with emphasis on file management, and the use of Help menus and online tutorials. Practice and experimentation will be emphasized, and issues of color and composition will be addressed.

    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 illustration. Taken concurrently with History of Illustration, students will explore aesthetic and historical references from both the fine and applied arts with emphasis on the expressive and conceptual use of stylistic elements. Assignments include an interdisciplinary collaborative project and the integration of text. The topics of art direction and audience will be discussed, and the choices of art buyers and the tastes of the general public will be analyzed. Students will practice their preferred media and technical approach as they develop awareness of elements that contribute to the characteristic look that identifies their work.

    Term:

    Offered Fall Term

  • ADIL-S307 Concept Visualization

    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.