Course Lists

Illustration Course List

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.

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.

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 course 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. Students fill sketchbooks, expand to more finished pieces, and learn how to create art that literally moves.

IL 203 Illustrating for Kids

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

IL 203H Studio Rmx: Narrative Color

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, and delight.

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 203M Studio Remix: 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 207 Digital Illustration I

This course allows students to explore various drawing and painting techniques using Adobe Photoshop and Procreate software. Through hands-on exercises and projects, students will learn digital painting techniques in Photoshop and discover how to seamlessly blend traditional and digital methods to create compelling artwork. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the unique capabilities of each software platform and developing best practices for workflow efficiency. Additionally, students will learn how to create images suitable for both screen and print media. This course meets for half a semester.

IL 208 Digital Illustration II

This course provides students with a comprehensive introduction to Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign, focusing on their applications in illustration. Through hands-on exercises and projects, students will learn the basics of creating vectorized artwork using Illustrator and understand the significance of vector images in the contemporary art market. Additionally, students will explore how to combine type and image with the introduction of Adobe InDesign. Project examples include illustrated posters, billboards, packaging, and more. This course meets for half a semester.

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 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 learn how to breathe life into their characters though drawing from the model, studying the anatomy, and observing movement. These ideals are 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 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 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. Course may not be repeated.

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 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 306 Painting for Visual Develpment

This painting course is targeted for Illustration students intending on pursuing film, TV, and game production. It is an in-depth painting course to prepare students to master specific painting skills required for concept art and visual development careers. The structure consists of specific lectures and assignments that consider shot composition, drawing in different lenses, background design and more. Part of the time is dedicated to painting from life, either from a model, still life, or outdoors. The work created is primarily digital since most professional pre-production work requires painting digitally; however, traditional media may be considered.

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 308 Lyrical Illustration

This course will utilize poetic texts emphasizing imagery, rhythm, and musicality to express emotion and ideas as the basis for image-making. We will explore language in its condensed form as a means to create images that push past direct representation and are rooted in intuition, spontaneity, and expressiveness. This course is intended to support portfolio building that bridges conceptual and narrative thinking.

IL 310 Making Graphic Novels

Graphic novels have become the most common form of expression of sequential art. Basically long, self-contained stories, they are currently published in many genres. This course deals with students making a semester long project where they develop their own original stories and characters. Examples of significant works, both historical and contemporary, are read and discussed, and the interaction between the US, European and Asian markets and styles are also discussed. By the end of the course the students are expected to have completed a narrative at least 30 pages long.

Prerequisite: IL 272

IL 312 Experimental Comix

Comics have been growing as an artistic form of expression since their inception about 150 years ago. Currently, some unexpected mediums and formats are used in the creation of sequential art. These include non-traditional materials such as: painting, collage, fumetto, digital art, etc. and art styles influenced by Expressionism, Symbolism and Pop Art and others. The methods of distribution also have expanded: from zines and self published comics, to artist books, to web comics. This course addresses the expanding and multimedia world of comics through assignments and lectures. Students gain a broad appreciation of the state of the medium.

Prerequisite: IL 201 and IL 272

IL 313 Sketchbook Intensive

A semester long exploration of media, techniques, and idea generation. Students develop a mature sketchbook practice that expands thinking across multiple genres, and strengthen and deepen their artistic voice. Exercises enrich skills that are the basis and touchstone for future work. With a focus on process and output in lieu of critique, students are expected to draw and write daily. Weekly assignments, prompts, and practical development that explore daily life, imagination, and the relationship between words and pictures allows students to develop and complete multiple sketchbooks throughout the semester.

IL 314 Illustration Time Machine

This course will examine historical events and movements through a contemporary lens as the basis for portfolio building. Students will develop strategies in visual research including, but not limited to site specific visits, historical archives, online repositories, and more. Topics included are costuming, architecture, geography, and sociology. Projects will range from single illustrations, field guide sketches, and short series.

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 online. For example, the Google masthead now incorporates movement. The stagnant printed image may never go extinct, however new ways in which illustration can be communicated is constantly 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

Deconstructs varied approaches to understanding the depiction and historic production of science fiction narrative in literature and media. Students are encouraged to explore representative and object-based approaches supported within the course. 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. And they 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.

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 are examined, and the work of the great fantasy illustrators are also discussed. In addition, the assignments emphasize awareness of the roles that fantasy art and escapist literature, film, animation, and games play in society.

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 Illustration &Entrepreneurship

This class explores the relationship between artist and entrepreneur through the creation of a fully realized creative product. Students learn to bring a product proposal from pitch to production to marketplace. This includes considering manufacturing as well as hand made options. Students will learn about pricing, budgeting, packaging and merchandising for optimal presentation. The class culminates in a pop up shop in the MICA Store. This class teaches students the skills to begin selling their work in brick and mortar as well as online marketplaces.

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 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 course, the students tackle the advanced aspects of book illustration, including styles, market, reproduction, etc. Students work on independent projects and explore the subject in depth. A wide variety of illustrated books are addressed, however 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. Course may not be repeated.

IL 399 Special Topics in Illustration

Students examine a series of case studies in recent artistic production, generally organized around a common theme; the central theme varies from year to year and instructor to instructor. The topic is announced each semester in the schedule of courses.

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 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 present their work and participate in the campus-wide commencement exhibition, ArtWalk, 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.

Prerequisite: Junior or Senior Illustration major