The Best Illustration Assignments

  • SVS OG

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    Art by Ariel Landy

    We talk a lot about portfolio and creating portfolio pieces, but we haven't talked enough about assignments and exercises you can do to really level up your craft and help give you some concrete things to try. In this episode we share about some common assignments that we dislike, and then share our favorites and why you might want to try them out.
    Our most recent episode is up and ready for listening. To listen or to see the shownotes, click here.

    What are some of your favorite/most helpful illustration assignments you have received? Please feel free to share and discuss with each other in this thread!

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Cool illo by Ariel! This podcast has some COOL assignment ideas. Let me know if you guys decide to try any of them!

  • Pro

    @Jake-Parker Ohhhh that sounds interesting! I can't wait to watch that one!

    Off the top of my head, my favorite assignments in college (or those that influenced me the most):

    1. Character design class: Create a fan character for 3 different existing animation shows or movies of different style (realistic, cartoony, UPA). I made fan characters for The Mysterious Gold Cities, The Secret of Kells and Kim Possible. This was an extraordinary assignment to teach us character design and how to match the style of a production, which is excessively important in the animation field of course. To me, at that point I was still drawing in a manga style but wanting to get away from that and not knowing where to start. This assignment allowed me to explore different styles by doing them myself, and I learned for the first time that I love drawing flat, very stylized art like the Secret of Kells. My entire current art style can be traced back to this assignment.

    2. Perspective class: "An extraordinary event in an ordinary room". This was the topic of my first ever perspective assignment. When you start perspective, it's quite technical and you do boring stuff like drawing boxes. This assignment was for us to draw a regular living room or bedroom in a 1-point-perspective with accurate measurements of all the furniture - an assignment that could easily have been exceedingly boring. Instead, the teacher gave it a twist with the challenge of depicting something weird and out of place happening in this regular room. One student drew a hippo in the middle serving as a coffee table, another a kid drawing all over the walls. I drew a big orange tree growing in the middle of the living room.

    The one assignment I wished I had in college in the dream portfolio assignment!

  • SVS OG

    Perfect timing! I have been looking for exactly this topic to give me more structure to my learning. Can’t wait to listen

  • Moderator

    @Will-Terry, I think that you are going to have to tell Jake which piece he was working on that you said sucked, so he doesn't develop a complex 😜.

    Great episode guys! I'm on my second listening. 👍

  • Another podcast with perfect timing. I was going to sit down this week and plan out my portfolio revamp, so.....yeah, I'll definitely be using some of these! Thanks guys!

  • At 28:24 (re: stopping to do something else) - Ha, ha! I was in a graphic design class that gave the assignment to combine two words and illustrate it. A classmate did one called Procrasacleaning (procrastinate + cleaning), and drew a comic that said something like: my apartment is never cleaner than when I'm supposed to be studying for finals.

  • I laughed at the part about self-portraits. Slightly off-topic but I had an assignment once where we had to draw each other. The person I drew was not happy with how I drew her (my drawing skills were very, very, very beginner) and she was offended.

  • Im doing Will Westons courses online and one of his assignments is draw 300 heads

    In it you pick an animated film from the 90s or later and draw as many expressions from it as you can find. There has to be 300 heads drawn by the end of it.

  • As always, great podcast gents!

    I liked the points you all made regarding the comparison of artists and musicians, etc. Personally, I always felt that art was somehow different, or perhaps I was trapped in thinking like this.

    I felt like I needed to create something beautiful all the time, but that’s never the case.

    So last night, I just started drawing out of my head. I bounced from idea to idea and created a label of each when I was done. Sure, the sketches are far from beautiful; however, I enjoyed this process very much.

    So without further ado, here it is. As a comparison to something that took me many hours, I added a piece I did for Inktober below.



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