Friday, November 8, 2013

5 Online Classes that might teach you something new in Adobe Illustrator

This is the illustration I was working on when taking Brad's Skillshare class.

One of the difficulties of working on your own, is that you don't get the benefit of community learning. Back when I was in a studio with other designers, it was easy to shout out, "Hey, does anyone know how to make these holes see-through?" Then a friendly coworker would pop her head up from her computer and show me how. We would be each other's teachers and our design skills developed painlessly and organically. But now if I shout out "How in the hell do I get that stipplish-brushy texture on my illustration?", the only help I get in return is a friendly bark from my dog, who probably thinks I'm going to take him out for a walk.

I've been worried that my designs are in danger of becoming dated because of my isolation. I want to learn more, but the local classes at the surrounding universities are expensive and I really don't want to be stuck in a classroom learning things I already do know. That's why this week was really exciting, because I discovered the website Skillshare.

Skillshare is filled with online classes that teach new skills using videos, assignments, and a community of other students taking the same class. Most classes cost under $30, which make it very affordable. The class I was in is called Communicate with Color, Pattern and Texture taught by Brad Woodward. I loved it! Some stuff I already knew about, but I did learn how to use two tools that had always been a mystery to me (the "widen" tool and the "roughen" tool, both of which I'd rendered useless early on in my Illustrator career). Since I learn best by watching other people do what they are talking about, the videos Brad posted were made it very easy for me to engage in the new information. I would watch a little bit and toggle back to my illustration to try out the new skill. The next thing I knew it was 12:30 am and I was still obsessively tweaking and changing the design. I went from dreading an illustration project, to being on a designer's high about it. Woohoo! This old dog still can learn new tricks!

Here are some other classes that look interesting to me. I haven't taken any of them, so I can't promise they will give you the design magic I got. If you do take one, or know of a good class, please share it.

Patterns for Printed Textiles: Even if you aren't a textile designer, pattern-making in Illustrator or Photoshop is a valuable skill to have. ($25)

Digitizing Hand Lettering: Since the hand-lettered look is "in", I think this one would be helpful. ($29)

Introduction to Photoshop: I know enough of Photoshop to frustrate myself. This might eliminate my need to use the "undo" keys a little less often. ($29)

Beginning Infographics: No one can deny this new design trend for companies and corporations. Might as well learn it on the early side of the trend. ($15)

Stylization Through Simplification: Again, always good to remember those graphic communications skills. ($20)


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