Whether you are a budding artist or a professional looking to branch into new areas, enrolling in art school is a big step. For many, getting to a campus and sitting in class simply isn't possible, which is why e-learning is so vital. With more and more universities taking advantage of today's technology, online learning isn't only for your standard academic topics. There are many qualified online art schools that give students a quality education from the comfort of their own home.
While you may be thinking that you can just watch some YouTube drawing or painting tutorials—which are helpful—there's much more to the education you'll receive by enrolling in a dedicated art program. From top-quality instructors to personalized feedback and criticism, these courses will help prepare you for life as an artist.
Whether you are interested in adding to your skills or earning a full degree, there are plenty of options. Some programs are accredited and lead to a diploma or certificate while others simply let you learn from a top institution without committing to a degree. What you'll want to register for all depends on where you are in your career.
Let's take a look at some of the best online art schools to help take your talent to the next level.
As one of the best animation and visual effects schools in the U.S., Gnomon is known for the quality of its courses. Their physical campus is located in California, but they also provide online, non-accredited courses for California residents and international students. Those enrolled will be able to take advantage of Gnomon's expertise in digital production, particularly how it pertains to video and gaming.
Run entirely online, Schoolism is a subscription service that allows you to enroll in a host of art classes run by top-notch artists who will teach you to draw, paint, and design. While some courses let you move at your own pace and watch the video lessons at your leisure, Schoolism also provides hands-on courses where instructors will critique your work and help you understand where you can improve. Classes include Gesture Drawing, Digital Painting, Watercolor Fundamentals, and Fundamentals of Lighting.
Founded in 2008 by artist Rebecca Guay, SmArt School came about after more than 20 years of experience as a creative and illustrator. There are a wide variety of course mentorships run by professional artists. Those with an interest in science fiction illustration, book design, and gaming will find a host of suitable artists to learn from. Additionally, Guay often brings in art professionals like gallery owners, art directors, editors, and agents to give a real-life perspective on what it's like to work in the art world.
CG Masters Academy
Particularly focused on the games and VFX industries, CG Masters Academy is a top online art school with instructors from Dreamworks Animation, Infinity Ward, and Walt Disney Animation. From character design to the foundations of drawing to storyboarding, their courses help artists hone their skills for working in entertainment design.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
This leading art college has an extensive e-learning program that will allow you to complete a B.F.A., M.A., or M.F.A. in a wide number of creative fields. Online programs through SCAD include Animation, Design Management, Illustration, Painting, and Photography.
The New School
Online programs through The New School allow students to complete select degree programs at their own pace or to complete online courses and certificates in a wide variety of topics. Most classes allow you to take part in the lessons whenever you'd like, so you aren't tied to a specific day and time—great for those who are working while juggling school. Online certificates include Fashion Business, Interior Design, and Graphic and Digital Design.
Short for The Digital Animation and Visual Effects School, DAVE provides online learning related to game production and visual effects. While their physical campus is located on the backlot of Universal Studios in Florida, they also provide two online bachelor degrees in motion graphics and production programming.
The Oatley Academy benefits from the incredible experience of its founder Chris Oately. He's worked for companies like Universal, Hasbro, Electronic Arts, Activision, and Geffen Records, and is currently working as an illustrator at Disney Theatrical Productions. The academy focuses on Visual Storytelling through courses in animation, storyboarding, concept art, and children's book. Offerings on how to market your work through social media or create an impactful portfolio project will help graduates get a leg up in their job search.