How to Achieve Free (or Nearly) Art Education

For Western artists and art devotees, there's a myriad of free (or nearly free) art education resources at your fingertips- you just need to do a little research!

This post was sponsored by Ink Drop Cafe, a webcomic collective that has partnered with several wonderful artist resources including Paper Cat Press, and Shooting-Stars.

What Drives Improvement Most:

  • Regular, concentrated practice 
  • Educated insight into methods and skills
  • Group input, critique, external perspectives
  • Guidance from someone further along than you
  • Exposure to a variety of materials and thought processes
  • Exposure to different styles and types of art
  • Learning how to think critically about your own art

In Person, Live Education Opportunities

  • Local workshops through your library, art guilds, and local art stores- check the community board or ask an employee
  • Figure drawing sessions through local colleges, art guilds- Check the art department's community board, ask a professor, or call the department


  • Drink and Draws
  • Dr Sketchy
  • Urban sketching
  • Sketchgroups through Meetup
  • Local comic shops may be able to recommend other local artists for you to connect with, or facilitate connections
  • Local conventions are a fantastic way to meet other artists
  • Local Watercolor, Art, or Craft Guild
  • Organize something with your friends

At Conventions
  • It's ok to ask artists in the artist alley to take a look at your sketchbook or portfolio, but be respectful of their time- they're there to make money, so consider supporting their work financially or leaving a tip
  • Some conventions (although increasingly rare) offer portfolio reviews from professional guests they've paid to attend
  • Put together a curated portfolio ahead of time- 12 pieces max, and consider having mini comics prepared to leave with artists

Hosted by A Local Business

  • Hands on Creativity
  • Art of the Carolinas
  • Creatives Day

Utilize Your Local Library:

  • Art books from the library
  • Classes and workshops through your local library

Recommended Reading
Note:  If your library is missing these titles, you can always fill out a request form!

Figure Drawing:

Figure Drawing for All It's Worth: Andrew Loomis
Glen Vilppu Drawing Manual (currently out of print, read it here)
Famous Artist Course (currently out of print, covers a wide variety of topics, read it here)

Color and Light- James Gurney
Capturing Motion in Watercolor

Understanding Comics- Scott McCloud
Making Comics- Scott McCloud
Reinventing Comics- Scott McCloud
Brick By Brick- Stephen McCranie
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures
Mastering Comics
Will Eisner- Comics and Sequential Art
Will Eisner-Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative
Will Eisner-Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative
Famous Artist Cartoonist Course (currently out of print, read it here)
5 C's of Cinematography

Perspective for Comic Artists

Animation and Art:
Drawn To Life Vol 1
Drawn to Life Vol 2
Starting Point
Turning Point

On Writing

Alcohol Markers and Illustration
ElectricAbyss: The Art of Heidi Black


Youtube Channels

Lean Into Art
Brandon Dayton
Nattosoup Studio
Holly Brown

Love and Teacup Kisses
Terri Delgado
Bobby Chiu

Holly Brown
Terri Delgado
Nattosoup Studio

Figure Drawing:
Croquis Cafe
Aaron Blaise

Hand Lettering:
Teela Cunningham-Brush Lettering Basics
How To: Calligraphy and Hand Lettering for Beginners!  Tutorial+Tips!
How To: Learn Bouncy Brush Lettering
How To Start Writing Calligraphy
A Basic Guide to Calligraphy
CALLIGRAPHY 101: Different Types of Calligraphy Pens
A Guide to Crayoligraphy: Crayola Marker Calligraphy

Color and Lighting:
James Gurney


Mind of Watercolor
James Gurney
Owings Art
Mr Otter's Studio
Nattosoup Studio
The Frugal Crafter
Sandy Alnock
Hajira Meeks

Alcohol Markers:
Drawing with Jazza
Nattosoup Studio

Art Supply Reviews:
Owings Art
The Frugal Crafter
Nattosoup Studio
Parka Blog

Blogs and Websites

Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog- Watercolor Basics
Parka Blog
Owings Art
The Frugal Crafter
Muddy Colors

Comics and Comic Craft:
Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog- Intro to Comic Craft

Alcohol Markers:
Vanilla Arts
I Love Markers
Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog

Other Great Resources:
Urban Sketchers
Skillshare- month long new member trial

AA Toast
How to be a Con Artist
Artist Alley Network International

Art focused online communities
Ink Drop Cafe's Discord Channel
Concept Art

Other Resources

The Famous Artist Course
The Famous Artist Cartoonist Course

Artist Livestreams

Terri Delgado

Documentaries, Serialized Productions, and Podcasts


Dirty Old Ladies
Lean Into Art
Galaxy of Super Adventures
Art and Science Punks

Archive Only:
Comics Are Great (no longer running, but archive still available)
The Podcaster's Studio (no longer running, archive available)
Self Publishing Podcast (no longer running, archive available)

Fictional but Researched:
Bakumon (manga)
Shirobako (manga)
Kakukaku Shikajika (manga)

Series and Documentaries:

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Art Challenges:
Improvement Hell
24 Hour Comic Day
Hourly Comic Day

Remember that art education can be lifelong!  Feel free to take your time, focus on the subjects you enjoy, or the subjects that inspire you to improve, and make friends with other artists!

I'm sure I missed some amazing resources, so please feel free to email me your favorites!  Don't hesitate to plug your own projects!


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