Digital Illustrator Specialization

Learn illustration online for a career in film, games, and publishing

Student work by Oliver Harbour


Become a digital illustrator with expert training and mentorship

Discover how to create professionally polished art for films, video games and publishing! The Digital Illustrator Specialization helps you build critical job skills and a portfolio to impress employers.

Why study digital illustration with us:

  • Be mentored by an award-winning artist
  • Learn industry standard tools and techniques
  • Additional career support and a focus on job skills
  • Choose 1-on-1 or small group classes (max. 4 students)

With mentorship from an established artist and a curriculum focused on job outcomes, you'll master complex illustration techniques and learn how to communicate effectively through art, creating work that captivates and inspires. 


Industry Certificate


9 months


20 hrs weekly

Skill level


Start date

August 5th, 2024
September 9th, 2024
October 7th, 2024


Group Class: $9,999 USD
Private Class: $13,999 USD
Ask about our payment plans

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Why study with us

Learn illustration from an award-winning artist who has worked with major film and game studios

Whether changing careers or upgrading your skills, our specialized expert-led illustration programs help you build practical job skills that serve throughout your career.

Flexible Scheduling

Plan your studies around your work and family commitments

Industry Mentors

Learn from mentors who have worked on major films and games

Job-Ready Skills

Build practical, relevant job skills that studios are looking for

Payment Plans

Options to help you pursue your passion and start working sooner


Professional training to launch your career as a digital illustrator

Term 1: 12 weeks

Composition and Painting

Discover how to use your human or creature figure to convey the story of your artwork. Explore advanced painting techniques to mimic traditional media, and practice fine art portraiture and digital painting. Examine how famous artists approached paint handling and gesture. Then experiment with composition to guide viewers to the action, and see how light, color and shape enhance your story.

  • How to manipulate light, value and atmosphere
  • Gather quality reference material
  • Receive constructive critiques
  • Speed up workflows with 3D software
  1. Course Introduction & History Lesson
  2. Advanced Staging & Composition 01
  3. Gathering Reference - Models and Maquettes
  4. Light and Value Control
  5. Advanced Digital Painting Techniques
  6. Cinematic Storytelling
  7. Gathering Reference - Using 3D
  8. Advanced Staging & Composition 02
  9. Advanced Color Theory & Application 01
  10. Advanced Color Theory & Application 02
  11. Advanced Traditional Painting Techniques 01
  12. Advanced Traditional Painting Techniques 02
Term 2: 12 weeks

Industry Application

The end goal of a successful illustration is to accurately tell a story and sell a product. Explore various commercial markets and learn about creating book covers, card gaming art and marketing art for film and games. Experiment with hand painting, photo-bashing and 3D paint-overs. Assignments are treated like real commissions with hard deadlines so you learn to work under pressure.

  • How to turn rough sketches into final art
  • Manage time and meet deadlines
  • Create art for various markets
  • Work with specific client briefs
  1. Book Cover Illustration 01 - Rough Sketches and Worldbuilding
  2. Book Cover Illustration 02 - Creating a Dynamic Composition
  3. Book Cover Illustration 03 – Level up your Rendering
  4. Book Cover Illustration 04 – Finding your Voice & Cover Art Guest Speaker
  5. Trading Card & Gaming Art 01 – The Responsibility of Card Art Design
  6. Trading Card & Gaming Art 02 - Gaming Art & Visual Hierarchy
  7. Trading Card & Gaming Art 03 – Reference Gathering for Fantasy Art
  8. Trading Card & Gaming Art 04 - Polishing Your Art & Magic: The Gathering Guest Speaker
  9. Promotional Art and Keyframe Illustration 01 – Intro to Toy, Game & Film Illustration
  10. Promotional Art and Keyframe Illustration 02 - Composing a Movie/Game Poster & Guest Speaker
  11. Promotional Art and Keyframe Illustration 03 – Keyframe Art & Cinematography
  12. Promotional Art and Keyframe Illustration 04 - Animation Color Keys & Lighting
Term 3: 12 weeks

Mentored Studio: Illustration

This final term is dedicated to getting you job-ready! With your mentor’s guidance, you’ll polish your best pieces for your illustration portfolio and learn how to develop your competitive edge, market yourself, and make the best possible impression in front of employers. You'll also receive additional 1-on-1 career support, portfolio reviews, and industry insights from CG Spectrum's Career Coach.

  • How to polish your portfolio to impress employers
  • Be more confident with negotiation
  • Network & self-promote effectively
  • Tap into the hidden job market 
  1. Career Pathways
  2. Industry Overview
  3. Portfolio Upgrade
  4. Networking and Online Presence
  5. Resume and Cover Letter
  6. Job Hunting
  7. Freelance Work
  8. Interviews and Pitching
  9. Personal Projects and Challenges
  10. Working in a Studio
  11. Contracts and Negotiations
  12. Personal Roadblocks
Course structure

Your Pathway to the Industry

The 9-month Specialization Course is the second half of our Career Track, preparing you for your first day in the industry. Your future awaits!

Pathway illustration for Specialization 9 Month Course
Meet Your Mentor

Eric Wilkerson

Clients include Wizards of the Coast (Magic: The Gathering), Weta Workshop, Marvel, Upper Deck, Dark Horse Comics, Scholastic, and Disney Publishing.

Eric is a New York Times bestselling Illustrator, 2020 Chesley Award Winner for best hardback book cover sci-fi illustration, and has been featured in multiple volumes of Spectrum Fantastic Art, Expose, and Imagine FX. He was also a finalist in the ARC International Salon. Over the past decade he's created art for film, TV, advertising, publishing, animation, comics, video games and even costume design. 

Student Showcase

Our students are trained to create high-quality work

With a focus on portfolio preparation, we help students craft impressive, high-quality work that stands out in a competitive industry. See what they are creating.


Studios that hire our students

Our commitment to job outcomes and a focus on career development have helped graduates find work at studios worldwide.

Frequently asked questions

Got questions? We've got answers.

Learn more about the prerequisites for this course and the digital illustration careers you could explore in the future. For general questions about studying at CG Spectrum, visit the main FAQ page or contact us.

This course requires the successful completion of the Concept Art and Illustration Foundations career track or a portfolio submission demonstrating professional experience and an accompanying reel/resume.

You must know the difference between concept art and illustration (as you will need to decide between taking this specialization and the Concept Artist Specialization) and demonstrate competent use of perspective, anatomy, color, and colorization in Photoshop, linework, composition, and iterative design as these skills and knowledge are all required in this more advanced course.

Age Minimum
he general minimum age to be able to enroll in our industry certificate courses is 16. We require parent or guardian consent during the enrollment process for applicants under 18.

Students under 16 will require a further assessment before they can officially enrol. This may include an interview with a course advisor and the creation of a study plan to ensure they have considered how they will manage a college-level workload.

English Proficiency
We expect our students to have a good understanding of written and spoken English. There’s no specific ’level'; however, you must be able to understand video tutorials in English (no subtitles) and speak with your mentor in English during your live Q&A session.

Computer Literacy
To be successful in this program, you will need basic computer skills and a computer that meets the minimum specifications (see next question).


You will need to purchase Photoshop (photography plan only) for the length of your studies. 


You will need a computer that meets the minimum system requirements for Photoshop, and a graphics tablet (see digital painting software and equipment).

On completion of the Digital Illustrator Specialization you will have greater confidence in your abilities and a portfolio to show employers.

You will also have personalized career services with our Career Development Manager which can help when applying for junior illustrator jobs such as:

Discover more about these jobs, tips, and salary expectations on our careers page:

This Digital Illustrator Specialization builds upon the skills offered in the Concept Art & Digital Illustration Foundations course and completes our career track offering. Students who are serious about pursuing a career in illustration have an opportunity to explore the world of digital painting more deeply, study composition more intensely, and progress further with creative techniques, including 3D paint-overs.

The Specialization course also offers an entire term dedicated to getting students career-ready. This includes building necessary job skills while working on your professional portfolio, with support and feedback from your mentor every step of the way.

While CG Spectrum's advanced students have a high job success rate (83%), we cannot offer guaranteed employment as the film and game industry is competitive, and there is no way of knowing what the market will demand when it comes to digital illustration.

The students who experience the greatest success are those who take responsibility for their careers, put in the hard work to raise their skills to industry standards, leverage their mentor's invaluable expertise, and take advantage of every opportunity to excel.

Taking an advanced digital illustration course not only keeps students focused while they grow as artists and build their portfolios, but it also increases their social scope as they make more contacts with more time and work, a key component in securing a job. 

To help students find employment, we have a range of career services and a dedicated career coach who regularly hosts exclusive career-focused webinars, Q&As, artist interviews, and workshops for CG Spectrum students and graduates and is available to answer career-related questions.

The Specialization course also dedicates a full term to career and industry preparation. With your mentor's guidance, you'll refine your professional portfolio, build essential job skills, and learn how to market yourself.

If you have any questions about our career services as they relate to your personal career goals, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

As with any venture, it will be what you make of it! The best animators are constantly growing, evolving, and learning new skill sets. 

A specialized illustration course is an excellent way to sharpen one’s skills, open doors to exciting new methods and practices, refine your showreel, and continue to grow and network as an artist and member of the digital painting community.

The benefit of doing the Digital Illustrator Specialization at CG Spectrum is receiving mentorship from an industry professional who can share their workflows and techniques with you. If you choose the 1-on-1 private mentorship option, there is also some flexibility to customize the program to meet your particular needs and career goals.

You can also get additional support from our career coach if you are looking to take the next step in your career, whether that be a promotion or switching your specialization.