Free(to access)/Cheap Art Education Resources

Of course, you guys know that this blog, my Youtube, and my Patreon are all helpful resources for upping your artistic game, but today I wanted to share some other great resources (some local, some online) that can help you pursue your art education affordably and at your own pace.

1. Local art stores often offer art classes and workshops-some free, some paid, all cheaper than art school. Ask at the checkout counter and check the community board! Classes usually range from watercolor to printmaking to oils, but some art stores may offer comic classes!

2. Community Education often offers very affordable art classes taught by lifelong professionals.

3. Your local library may offer classes or may host events that include workshops and educational panels. These are usually free to the public!

4. Your local library has an art section, and if they're missing a text you wish to use, you can fill out a library request form and they'll order it!

Recommended Reading Shortlist:

Glen Vilppu's Figure Drawing Manual
Andrew Loomis' Figure Drawing for All Its Worth
Jack Hamm's Drawing the Head and Figure
Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics
The Animator's Bible
Writing Words and Drawing Pictures
Mastering Comics

I have loads more recommendations in the sidebar of this blog!

5. Community colleges often offer art classes at reasonable prices, and may also offer figure drawing sessions to the general public

6. Can be great for meeting other people in your local area who share your interests. This is a great way to find out about drink and draw meetups, figure drawing sessions, and urban sketching groups.

7. YouTube is an amazing resource for free to view art resources, lessons, and tutorials. Many brands have channels that showcase how to use their products.

A few recommended brand channels:

8. Looking for a structured place to start? The Improvement Hell Challenge is one of my favorite art school bootcamp activities. It's designed to take a month, but if you're a beginner, you may wish to devote a week to practicing each type of exercise (so 31 weeks, a little over half a year). I highly recommend it:

9. Youtube also hosts many amazing channels that demonstrate art techniques and explain various art materials.

A few recommended art channels:

10. Art blogs. Not everyone learns well just listening, some need visual reinforcement! Blogs predate Youtube and podcasts, and while they've fallen out of favor as the media of choice, they're still a helpful resource and a wonderful art asset.

A few recommended blogs:

11. Art and Industry Podcasts- these can be great to put on in the background, and listen and learn while you work!

A few recommended podcasts:

12. Industry organizations often host panels, workshops, and meetups that will help you learn the trade AND meet other artists. Many also help organize critique groups!

The Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators
Tennessee Watercolor Society (not in Tennessee? Your local area probably has a local art guild!)
The Society of Illustrators

13. Comic conventions often offer panels hosted by working professional artists-from watercolor to crafting autobiographical stories, all there for the cost of admission (and travel, but seriously local small cons offer these too!)

14. Patreon! Many artists share WIP, work blogs, and work vlogs to backers! This is an affordable way to gain access to their experience, their mistakes, and their process, while supporting their work. You can learn a lot from viewing work in progress!

Some great Patreons to support:

Lean into Art
Senshi Stock
Audra Ann Furuichi
Jesse Hamm (I highly recommend his Patreon, he shares some great blogs and awesome advice here)
Matt Cummings
Elaine Tipping

15. No figure drawing sessions in your area? Lack transportation? There are great online resources to help you practice figure drawing!

  • Croquis Cafe: Want a free place to level up your figure drawing game? Croquis Cafe offers hour+ videos that take you through an entire figure drawing session from warm ups to guided study, to long figure drawing poses
  • Senshi Stock has an amazing pose generator that you can use for timed pose sketches, as well as an amazing catalogue of photo reference on their Deviantart and Patreon
  • Quick Poses offers a similar service, with all sorts of tweakable features, from gender to amount of clothing
  • Line of Action ALSO offers a similar tool, but also has a tool for hand poses as well!
16. Maybe you just want to get into the habit of doing daily sketches, and don't necessarily want to focus on just one thing? Sketch Daily has a reference generator you can use!

17. Twitter can be a wonderful resource for learning about new opportunities, keeping up to date, meeting other artists, and learning how the industry of your choice works!

What most aspiring artists, and artists upping their skill set need most often seems to be feedback from other artists, and a system that holds the accountable for learning new skills, practicing foundational skills, and making time for referenced sketches. While many of the above resources are self propelled, many artists benefit from collaborative education- structured assignments, a set place to meet, classmates going through the same experiences. That's why, even if you opt to go the self-motivated route, I highly encourage participating in at least one group activity or class. This can be something you setup online using Discord, or it can be a class through your local art supply shop, library, or community ed.


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