The Internet is flooded with online drawing tutorials and courses and some are expensive. How can you tell if a course is good or bad? Are online drawing courses worth it? I can help.
Online Drawing courses are worth it if you want to work at your own pace, save money, and avoid heavy commitments. A student must be self-motivated and disciplined to get the most out of online drawing lessons.
Make no mistake, you will find better teachers online than you are likely to find in most art schools or evening classes. The problem is sorting the wheat from the chaff.
I’ve listed 5 of the best online drawing courses and classes for beginners and intermediates. Some have affiliate links some do not, but these are talented artists I admire and who have the knowledge and skills to offer great advice.
(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)
How I Chose the Best Online Drawing Courses
Choosing the best online drawing course is entirely subjective. It’s only my opinion based on the courses I have discovered and the things that I know are important.
I’m into traditional realism. I think most learners want to draw what they see. Assuming that’s the case, I chose artists I admire, who really are experts in their field, and who teach well.
I chose courses where I can see the benefit for the student. These creators are skilled craftsmen who can draw with the best and are able to pass on their knowledge with clarity and conviction
And what makes me so sure that I am qualified to give my opinion? Good question. This is an example of my work.
It may or may not appeal to you, it is after all, subjective. What matters is I have enough knowledge and experience to be able to make an informed decision on your behalf. At the very least you’ll know where I’m coming from.
1. The Art and Science of Drawing: Basic Skills by Brent Eviston
Best Course for Beginners
If you’re looking for in-depth experience taught by a world-class artist and educator, Brent Eviston’s tutorials and courses are a great place to start.
Over the past 20 years, Brent has taught in his studios, museums, galleries, and schools, and has developed numerous bestselling online figure drawing courses taught to an international student base.
This has allowed him to bring a sophisticated level of education to his online tutorials and courses for beginners.
What does Brent Eviston teach in his drawing course?
This course is intended for beginners who want to learn the basic techniques and skills required to begin drawing. It will provide you with a solid foundation from which you can build as your abilities progress.
You’ll learn the basic principles of drawing, such as the importance of observing and analyzing your subject, and the value of breaking down your subject into its basic shapes before adding the lines and details. He even teaches you how to hold your pencil properly.
This course includes 4.5 hours of video content and is designed to be used on-demand and when it’s needed. It includes 2 downloadable resources, access via a mobile device, and a certification of completion.
The course is designed to be a discovery-based, step-by-step approach to learning through a series of modules. You’ll learn the basic drawing and sketching techniques, and become familiar with the tools and materials needed to create your art.
The goal of this course is to give you a solid understanding of the fundamentals of drawing.
This video-based course is structured to guide you through the drawing process, one day at a time. Each day you’ll watch a video and you’ll be asked to complete the task ready for the next day
Who’s this course for?
This course is designed for anyone who wants to learn how to draw from scratch. It is the first in a series 7 courses that cover every aspect of the drawing process.
The Full Set of Courses include:
- Basic Skills
- Dynamic Mark Making
- Form & Space
- Measuring & Proportion
- Shading Fundamentals
- Shading: Beyond the Basics
Read these posts if you want to know more:
- Is Udemy Worth it? Pros and Cons For Artists and Designers
- Is Skillshare Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers
If you like the Basic Skills course and decide to return for more, open up a new incognito window and search for Udemy again and they’ll offer you a discount again. It should work.
Skillshare gives you a free trial (you must give them your credit card details), but the courses are not yours to keep. Udemy courses stay in your account.
2. Dynamic Figure Drawing by Shane Wolf
Best Course for Figure Drawing
Shane Wolf is a highly acclaimed figure drawing artist and instructor who specializes in anatomy and how it impacts drawing the human figure.
His figures are clean and confident and his art is expressive, unique, and beautiful. If you’re new to drawing or looking to fine-tune your skills, then this is the class for you.
He states that his course is aimed at beginners, I’m not so sure about that. Shane has a very special talent and great teacher but he sets the bar high, I think it will intimidate most novices.
It’s more suitable for students armed with a little know-how beforehand. He even suggests that previous experience in drawing a live model is helpful, if not essential.
His course will inspire those artists who have a grasp of the basics and want to take their drawing skills a step further. Make no mistake, drawing the human figure is a demanding art form. It requires time and dedication to get it right.
Shane spent 10 years perfecting his techniques and students cannot expect to reach his level without being single-minded and dedicated.
What does Shane Wolf teach in his course?
Shane begins by explaining who he is and the approach and philosophy behind his love of drawing the human form.
First, he talks about his materials and how he prepares everything prior to drawing. He talks about light and shade and offers some practical tips and exercises to help you get started.
In module 3 he moves on to explain his step-by-step approach to drawing a model from life. He talks about the anatomy of the human body, training your visual memory, and how to draw a model in different poses.
It’s then that Shane gets to the nitty-gritty of the course with 4 hours of over-the-shoulder tuition, where Shane stands at the easel and demonstrates his methods, all the while offering his insights, tips, and running commentary.
He rounds things off by explaining how to take care of your drawing
This post will help: How to Protect and Preserve Your Drawings and Avoid Disaster
This course is focused on studying how an accomplished artist works, more than setting tasks for the student. This is why I think an absolute beginner might struggle.
Shane is a superb artist and teacher. He explains everything concisely and in clear understandable language, and never takes it for granted that you know more than the basics.
Shane sells his course on Domestika where you’ll doubtless find it discounted to about $20. Use this code WILDLIFEART-10, it should work, give it a try.
3. Realistic Portrait Drawing by Stephen Bauman
Best Course for Portrait Drawing
I first came across Stephen Bauman when I was scrolling through Instagram, As you do. It made me stop and find out who he was.
I was blown away by his technique. This guy drew the way I wanted to draw but never have. I was in awe, and still am. He is the real deal.
I went straight to Patreon and donated to his page. I am a big fan.
Stephen is trained in the Florence Academy of Art, where he later taught, and you can see by the nature of his studies how he has mastered classical realism. He is one of the best portrait artists in the world, he’s gently spoken, articulate, and always smiling.
If I have any concerns at all, and I feel awkward even saying this, Stephen is very academic and sometimes uses language in a curiously complicated way. I’ll give you an example.
I was listening to one of his tutorials and he described his use of an aqueous dispersant. That was his way of saying that he was using water. It’s nit-picking and maybe it says more about me.
Stephens Portrait course on Proko is aimed at intermediate and advanced students. If you want some more fundamental lessons, check out his Patreon classes and sign up. Alternatively find him on Instagram, as I did, or Youtube.
What does Stephen Bauman teach in his Portrait Drawing Course?
The Portrait Drawing Course on Proko is a training program that helps you draw the human face like a professional.
Stephen completes this portrait over 2 days working entirely from a live model and finishing with realistic rendering. This demo/lesson is a must-have for those wanting to see the entire process and workflow of a professional draftsman in real-time.
There are two versions of the course. The full 12+ hour version where you get to see the entire process of drawing a portrait from start to finish, and the edited version shows only the essentials you need to know.
You will be taught a process not dissimilar to Shane Wolf in the previous course.
Stephen builds the drawing in a series of layers over a basic well proportioned scaffold, and refines each simple shape progressively until in the final stages, he adds the finer detail.
Of course, he explains it better than I ever could.
There are 21 lessons in all covering every aspect of drawing the head.
It starts off by showing you how to block in the proportions using shape design to create a likeness and establish the basic shapes with light and shade
This is followed by lessons on how to organize half tones to keep the drawing coordinated and well-structured.
He discusses the importance of recognizing and developing the planes of the head and explains how to refine the shadows and highlights.
You’ll learn how to soften the edges and use different shading techniques for different effects.
And that’s all there is to it!
|Level 1 – The Atelier Tier||Level 2 – Block-in Bootcamp||Level 3 – Mentorship 1 on 1|
|$10 (£9.60) per month||$25 (£23.40) per month||$75 (£69) per month|
|Access to all pre-recorded videos (300+ hours)||Access to all pre-recorded videos||Access to all pre-recorded videos|
|Access to Discord Server||Monthly live block-in lessons with Q&A||Monthly live block-in lessons|
|Group critiques and contests||Access to Discord||Access to Discord|
|–||Group critiques and contests||Personal 25 mins progress critique via Zoom|
There is a 4th level for $150 (£135) per month that gives you 60 mins of private mentorship
Read this first: Are Proko Courses Worth It? A Review – Pros and Cons
4. Jason Morgan on Patreon and Youtube
Best Classes for Pastel Pencils
I had to think about including Jason in this list, not because he isn’t very good, but because his working methods might make a purist scream.
There was another reason, he’s only on Youtube and Patreon and again I get no referral commission. Frankly, I’m gutted!
But let’s face it, not including someone for mercenary reasons would be wrong, so why do I think his teaching methods are valuable?
He delights in revealing all the tricks of his trade. He holds nothing back, no trade secrets, and no BS. That’s why I like him.
I first came across Jason on Youtube, he bills himself as a wildlife artist and his channel is mostly dedicated to teaching people his approach to drawing and painting the natural world. In truth his passion extends to all living creatures, he paints plenty of pets and domestic animals too.
His bio is thin on detail, but as a self-taught professional wildlife artist myself, and a fellow Brit, I would put money down that he is from the same ordinary non-academic background as myself.
Jason has refined his work methods into an easy-to-follow step-by-step approach that demystifies the painting and drawing process.
This is not the tuition you’ll find in an art college. This is a pragmatic, down-to-earth, tell-it-as-it-is, approach to drawing and painting, and I think you’ll love.
He speaks in plain English, with no fancy art jargon to blind you. If you want to know how most professional artists really draw and paint, Jason is your man.
What Does Jason Morgan Teach in his Tutorials?
Jason teaches just about everything you need to know about drawing/painting with pastel pencils along with other mediums. He’s a dab hand at oils, acrylics, and colored pencils too.
He has a wealth of free material on his Youtube channel, so much so, that I haven’t even joined his Patreon channel, not that the price puts me off, but his Patreon membership tariffs are an absolute bargain.
Concentrating on Youtube for a moment, at the time of writing in 2022, his channel has an impressive 83.4K subscribers. Now before you say that there are other artists with far more subs, you must take into account that wildlife art is quite a small niche.
His playlists cover every aspect of using pastel pencils and range from a whopping 81 beginner videos, to art book and art supply reviews, and even image editing. This is comprehensive stuff.
Jason will teach you how to draw fur, feathers, and eyes, he teaches how to make backgrounds, draw with charcoal, underpainting, you name it? He even gives away copyright-free photo references.
I particularly valued his video tutorial about color-picking. As someone who can draw but by cruel irony is also colorblind, this tip was really helpful.
So far so good, so what’s the controversy? Well, where do you stand on tracing? Jason traces his drawings. He explains his reasoning and they are perfectly valid. He’s a professional artist and time is money. He wants to get the mapping done as quickly as possible.
As a pro myself I have every sympathy and I’ve traced plenty of pictures in the past. I know that you can’t trace properly without being able to draw too. It’s a shortcut to an outcome. But do learners want to learn how to trace? Should non-professionals trace at all?
I know that a good freehand drawing will always have more life and movement than a precise mechanical drawing. It’s poor practice on one level and can stifle creativity. It’s pragmatic on another, especially, if like me, you draw slowly.
This is post goes further: Tracing Art – Is It Good or Bad? When Is Tracing Cheating and Is It Ever OK?
For the sake of balance and to be fair, he also teaches you how to use a proportional divider. This is a far better method because it allows you to draw accurately while retaining the spontaneity of a freehand sketch.
He does one other thing that I have learned to avoid. He uses other people’s photo references, with permission and acknowledgments, but I’m not so sure it’s best practice.
I know we’ve all done that at some point but I do question its worth. I know how hard it is to take good reference photos, while at the same time, I also know how intrinsic it is to a sense of pride in your finished work.
It doesn’t matter how good your art is, if you copy another person’s work it will never be truly your own, and that is important. In my opinion.
This is also important: Can You Copy Art and Sell a Painting of a Painting? I Found Out
Those minor criticisms apart, I have no hesitation in recommending that you follow Jason and join his Patreon classes for longer tutorials.
This is his offer on Patreon as of today in May 2022
|Level 1||Level 2||Level 3|
|$4 (£4.20) per month||$9 (£8.40) per month||$18 (£16.80) per month|
|Access to all $4 videos (57+)||Access to all $4 – $9 videos (100+)||Everything plus one exclusive video / month|
|1 new video / month||2 videos / month||Questions answered|
|4 ref photos / month||8 ref photos / month||Group critique|
There is a 4th level for $25 (£23.40) that offers everything plus a personal critique of your work.
5. Dip Pen and Ink Illustration: Capturing The Natural World by Philip Harris
Best Drawing Course for Pen and Ink
I’m so glad I recently found the work of Philip Harris. In this day and age where digital art is dominating so much of the visual art scene, it’s comforting to discover someone who has mastered a traditional drawing skill.
Phillip Harris is a British illustrator and artist known for his evocative nature-inspired illustrations in pen and ink.
He has a traditional style, one that captures the sights, shapes, and textures of his native Devon Countryside. His illustrations are incredibly beautiful, with a spare, clean, and masterful use of line.
If you want to learn how to create artworks that are just as striking, this course is probably for you.
Philip has a style reminiscent of those classic pen and ink illustrations you see in old vintage and antique books and they’re tremendously atmospheric.
So few people teach this art form and that’s a pity because it is such a good discipline to learn. You have to be sure of your every line and have total control of your technique, there is little room for error with pen and ink drawing.
Master this and you should be able to draw anything.
What does Philip Harris teach in his course?
First of all, Philip introduces himself and gives you a background to his work. He goes on to teach you the importance of keeping a sketchbook to hone your drawing skills, he advises you to keenly observe the nature around you, and use your notes and sketches as references for your future projects.
Then you’ll learn about the drawing materials you’ll need. This is a minimal outlay. There cannot be a more affordable entry point into the world of illustration.
You’ll need the following:
- Bristol paper sketchpad
- Putty eraser
- A ruler
- Drawing pencil
- Mechanical pencil
- Dip pen nibs
- Dip pen holder
- Indian ink
- Micron Fineliner Pen
Next, he reveals how he finds further photographic references for his illustrations and how he likes to create a mood board to help him with the planning process.
Now the more interesting part of the course begins with practical exercises showing you how to use your pen for hatching, and the basics of adding tone, and volume.
He goes on to use real-life elements from nature such as leaves and flowers, to teach you how to draw freehand and familiarize yourself with outline, form, and shadow.
Next, you’ll use your references, sketches, and photos to map out your first composition in light pencil. He teaches you how to add the main contour lines with pen and ink, how to fill in the tone and texture using various hatching techniques, and how to erase the pencil guidelines safely.
Finally, Philip teaches you how to use a Fineliner pen to tidy up the drawing with neatly ruled borders, prepare your drawing for scanning, and offers tips on how to sell your work online via Etsy.
This will interest you: Is Selling on Etsy Worth it? Pros and Cons for Artists and Crafters
Listen up, if you have any thoughts about turning your hobby into a business, or a profitable sideline, this course is invaluable.
Why? because I’ve been there myself and this is how I started. Pen and ink is the easiest point of entry into the world of selling and printing your own artwork.
These are the reasons why learning to draw in pen and ink is so practical:
- Simple linework is the easiest art to print. You do not need a specialist printer,
- Prints are cheap to produce and the margins are high,
- You can print it onto watercolor paper and hand-tint them for a premium
- You can scan them easily and sell them as perfect digital downloads.
- Sell them as art prints, greetings cards, and coloring books.
- Line work is quick to draw, and time is money,
- Line art can be enlarged without losing quality.
And this is the emotional reason, good line work is beautiful and very satisfying.
Why Buy an Online Drawing Course?
Let’s make sure we are drawing on the same page. An online drawing course is a series of instructional videos where an expert teaches you new, or more advanced, drawing skills. Beginners to advanced.
There are 4 great reasons to try an online course:
You will find many drawing classes on Youtube that are similar but they lack one important component, and that’s structure.
When you learn an art, you need to learn the basics first. Learning the basics is the shortest and surest route to mastery. It helps you avoid getting stuck in bad habits and gives you the foundation for further practice.
In other words, you need to build on what you’ve learned before. The order you learn things is important.
If you’re serious about drawing, you should learn from an expert instructor who can draw exceptionally well.
Not only will you learn better, but you’ll also avoid the pitfalls that come from learning on your own. You’ll skip the frustration, the years of bad habits, and the countless hours of practice that could have been better spent.
I see countless courses online that are made by amateurs who might talk the talk, but who can’t actually draw themselves. There are so many misguided, self-deluding ‘experts’ out there, who can’t do the very things that they teach.
This might interest you: Should You Teach Your Art Skills in Public? (Pros and Cons)
And please don’t make the mistake of thinking a degree makes any difference. Qualifications mean very little. The only thing that matters is the quality of their work. Nothing else.
Good communication skills are important. It’s not enough just to have the technical skills if you can’t explain how to use them.
A teacher needs to be able to explain their ideas in a clear and simple way, taking nothing for granted, there is no room for ambiguity.
Not only that, they must demonstrate those skills in their own work. The proof is in the pudding.
Needless to say, instructors who are experts in both disciplines are thin on the ground.
One other aspect of online learning that sets it apart from other ways of learning is the community.
That may sound like an oxymoron, the last thing it is going to be is a community. In a way but hear me out.
The advantage of learning alone is the confidence it gives you to play and experiment without the fear of failure or exposure.
We all have to learn somewhere but equally, we all compare to others and the thought of displaying your early lack of skill can be overwhelming. This is where the online community comes in. You are one step away. It’s safe
You can post what you are comfortable in showing. The best teachers encourage their students to share and offer feedback. This is invaluable.
How Much Do Online Drawing Classes Cost?
That’s a tough question to answer simply, there are so many variables at play and so many different ways to measure cost.
It’s easy to say that you get what you pay for, but you know what? that’s not true. You pay what the market will bear and some platforms target a more affluent crowd than others and charge more for the same service.
Other sites go for volume. Stack ’em high and sell ’em cheap. They take a small profit from a high turnover. It’s a different business model.
Does paying a premium guarantee a better result? Emphatically NO.
The cost of a course can range from free to many hundreds of dollars.
Free lessons on Youtube are usually teasers, they offer just enough for the potential student to get some value and then they try to sell the course. Nothing wrong with that.
Many students don’t need an entire course, they might be stuck in one particular area and benefit from a free lesson covering that exact problem.
A frugal student could even cherry-pick from various Youtubers and learn a great deal.
You have to bear in mind that a popular Youtuber isn’t really giving their content away. They are using Youtube to make money with ads (more than you think) and to redirect traffic to affiliate links and other offers. It’s not altruistic.
That said most of us will want the convenience of a package that comes with a teacher and a course.
Cheaper courses on sites such as Udemy and Domestika can be insanely good value for money. Buying a top-quality course for $15-$20 is quite normal.
Udemy charges range from $12.99 – $200. With most courses falling somewhere in the middle. That sounds like a lot of money but they regularly offer those courses at huge discounts so you don’t ever have to pay the full price.
Other sites try a different tack and charge $50 – $100 with very modest discounts. They offer essentially the same thing but with different instructors. Proko is a good example of this.
The other way of charging for courses is with a membership fee. The customer pays a monthly or yearly subscription and in return gains access to a library of video courses.
These are 3 well-known platforms with the current prices (2022):
- Skillshare Premium membership is currently $167.88 per year with a 7-day or 30-day free trial.
- Linkedin Learning charges a fixed yearly fee of $240 (it works out at $19.99 per month). Alternatively, you can join a monthly plan for $29.99/m. Both start with a free one-month trial.
- Masterclass has 3 tiers separated by how many devices you want to use. A single device is $180 per year, two devices cost $240, and six devices cost $276
Then there is the other end of the scale, Art colleges. A quick look online and there’s Central Saint Martins offering online tuition. Wow posh art school, doesn’t get better here in the UK.
They have a basic drawing course, the duration is 4 weeks, I can’t find the exact information but going by the FAQs it’s probably 1 lesson per week, for between 1 and 2 hours each. A bit pricey for £360 ($450). But must be a good teacher for that price so I checked.
There was no picture of her or her work on the course page but it had her name Ilga Leimanis and I found her on Instagram.
As I suspected – she can’t draw! The tutor needs a class. What a bloody joke!
This will interest you: Is Art School Worth it? Is it a Waste of Money?
What Are The Best Online Drawing Courses? – Final Thoughts
Although your appreciation of the subject matter and style of a picture is purely a matter of personal taste, realism is not subjective at all. Think of a portrait. Is it a likeness or not? You know instantly how good it is. If one thing is wrong our brain detects it immediately.
We can measure a person’s talent and skill levels by their abilities to draw what they observe.
The only person to stylize on my list is Philip Harris with his pen drawings, but without the ability to draw accurately he couldn’t stylize in such a way.
The courses I’ve picked are my choice and I don’t know if there are better courses out there somewhere, but I do know they are all very fine artists who teach well and are experts in their respective fields.
None of these courses are going to break the bank. They are all affordable and you will learn a great deal.
Pick one and go for it.
If you like the way I draw and want to try things for yourself, this is my basic kit: (Amazon affiliate links)
- Pentel Mechanical Pencils 0.3mm
- Derwent Graphic Drawing Pencils
- Daler-Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge Paper
- Jakar Battery Eraser
- Tombo Mono Eraser Pen
- Faber Castell Putty Eraser
- Blu Tack
- French Box Easel
If you want to sell your art and don’t know where to start, I can show you how I do it. All you’ve got to do is copy the idea
These are a few more articles you will enjoy:
- Is Redbubble Worth it? Pros and Cons For Artists and Designers
- Is Drawing Harder Than Painting? Your Questions Answered
- Is The Procreate App Worth it For Beginners? Get the Facts
- 25 Platforms for Artists to Sell Their Art Online and Make Money
- 19 Ways to Make Money as an Artist Online and Off: No Fluff!
- How to Get Better at Drawing: 15 Ways to Improve Your Art -FAST
- How to Draw Realistically: 11 Expert Tips For Top Results
- How Do You Learn To Draw? 5 Tips To Get You Started
Plus find an ONLINE COURSE that suits you.
My Favorite Drawing Courses are on Domestika