Create concepts and images for ads, books, magazines, and the web, using acrylic, gouache, ink, watercolor, pastel, and digital.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree
The illustration major is offered in the four-year bachelor of fine arts degree program. Our BFA curriculum is rooted by the
Core Four curriculum—fundamental courses that are structured to enrich each student's professional development over four years. Course Descriptions
ILL 2000 Introduction to Illustration 3
This course examines the effectiveness and power of illustration through everyday images found in book and magazine illustration, billboard advertising, web design, and surface design. From the sketch process to the development of finished images, students are exposed to a variety of working methods. Demonstrations of pen and ink, watercolor, collage, and acrylic painting are provided. Assignments range from editorial images, packaging, and poster design to more personal and exploratory work.
Prerequisites: Foundation: 2D, Foundation: Drawing 1, Foundation: Media 1, Foundation: Drawing 2 (Foundation: Drawing 2 may be taken concurrently)
AH 3377 History of Illustration 3
This course celebrates artists as storytellers and illustrators. We will examine the history of American visual communication from 1800 to the present day, and course material will combine a chronological overview with surveys of selected genres. Readings, discussions and research projects will concentrate on the results (styles, trends, and subject matter) of changing technology, historical events, contemporary art trends, cross-cultural influences, and changing reader expectations. Discussions will focus on American illustration and ephemera in the Golden Age, Howard Pyle and The Rise of American Illustration. Students will complete in-class examinations as well as short writing assignments.
ILL 3010 Tools of the Trade 3
Tools of the Trade offers hands-on experience for students exploring a wide variety of media through real-world illustration projects and guidelines. Students expand their portfolio by learning trade tips and pursuing acrylic painting, gouache, pen and ink, watercolor, and pastel. Instructional demonstrations are provided on a variety of painting and drawing techniques and are explored through papers and other surfaces.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Illustration
ILL 3020 Concepts and Metaphors 3
The strength of many contemporary illustrations lies in a dynamic concept of metaphor. Through word lists, thumbnail sketches, and research, students expand their ideas to improve their illustration. Students examine art by renowned conceptual illustrators such as Brian Cronin, Seymour Chwast, Philippe Weisbecker, Brad Holland and Anita Kunz. Students create individual images as well as series projects with editorial, advertising, and corporate audiences. Color media and demonstrations are covered. This course encourages further development of both digital and traditional media as well as concepts, research, techniques, craft, and professional presentation.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Illustration
ILL 3030 Digital Illustration 3
Through projects, discussions, and lectures, students acquire a thorough understanding of all aspects of digital illustrations. Demonstrations of Adobe Illustrator CS3 and Adobe Photoshop CS3 are provided. In addition, students learn file preparation standards for production, including file formats, color palettes, and image resolution. The assignments are similar to other illustration classes with an emphasis on concept, creativity, communication, technical achievement, and presentation.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Illustration
ILL 3080 Illustration Topics 3
Building on their initial exposure to illustration in Concepts and Metaphors, students engage in a thorough examination of illustration principles. Topics covered in this course include information graphics, illustrated posters with typography, interpretive promotional series, and mapping. This course is concerned with a variety of different subjects and audience/clients. Projects may include an assignment for an educational poster promoting science and math to high school students and a series of images researching international cultures.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Illustration, Concepts and Metaphors
DE 4000 Professional Practice 3
Professional Practice is directed toward the student’s transition into the professional world. Students create a variety of promotional materials concentrating on their book, including résumés, work samples, and project documentation. In addition to the preparation of materials, students practice interview techniques, survey employment markets and opportunities, and finalize an internship site. Visiting professionals, field trips, and individualized student research provide context for all promotional materials.
Prerequisites: Junior standing
ILL 4010 Internship 3
Internships provide an opportunity for students to gain practical experience in a particular career area and valuable on-the-job skills. Internships may be arranged by the Director of Career Services or initiated by students. All internships must be pre-approved through the Career Services Office. For an internship to be approved, a mentor relationship and learning experience should exist beyond a simple employment opportunity. Three-credit internships require working 135 hours at the internship site and keeping a journal of hours and activities.
Prerequisites: Professional Practice
ILL 5010 Advanced Illustration Seminar 3
Advanced Illustration Seminar prepares students to become more independent and to develop a process of critical thinking and in-depth research in their practice. Through critical readings, individual and group discussions, and writings, students acquire a better understanding of illustration and the responsibilities of illustrators. Assignments include the creation of a comprehensive series of illustrations based on themes of contemporary culture and a self-directed project.
Prerequisites: successful Junior Review
ILL 5100 Senior Project 6
Senior Project is a semester-long project developed by an individual student in consultation with a faculty member. Senior Project can take the form of a research project, an in-depth illustration problem, or the development of a particular strength, style, or need. At the beginning of the semester, students are required to develop an appropriate proposal, timeline, and goals for their project. The resulting illustrations can address specific audiences and/or markets such as children's books, editorial, corporate, CD covers, and book jackets. Projects may also be based on personal themes.
Prerequisites: successful Junior Review, Senior standing
Select two of: 6 ILL 3040 Illustrated Notebook 3
Illustrated Notebook helps students find their voice by using the sketchbook and artist/designer journal to expand on personal themes and concepts. Projects are based on nonfiction and fiction texts as well as individual experience and history. Students then develop the notebook ideas into finished illustrations. Inventive approaches are encouraged through demonstrations, discussions, and critiques.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Illustration, Concepts and Metaphors, Digital Illustration (Digital Illustration may be taken concurrently) ILL 3050 Editorial Illustration 3
From mainstream to independent magazines, editorial art has made a huge impact on the covers and pages of modern publications. Through lectures and demonstrations students acquire a thorough understanding of the editorial market and its potential for inventive and imaginative images. This course includes a variety of projects, including illustrating articles and feature stories with topics such as lifestyle, health, finance, short story, nonfiction, and opinion editorial. Project formats include spot images, web images, full-page spreads, and covers.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Illustration, Concepts and Metaphors, Digital Illustration (Digital Illustration may be taken concurrently) ILL 3060 Children's Book 3
Students examine the elements that make up a children’s book and how to communicate to a specific audience through their art. Emphasis is on concepting, storyboards, dummy books, and sequencing. Demonstrations of media and discussions of process are covered. A series of projects are assigned examining the various stages of illustrating a book, from the sketch phase to final illustrations. Professional knowledge of the publishing industry is researched and discussed.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Illustration, Concepts and Metaphors, Digital Illustration (Digital Illustration may be taken concurrently) ILL 3070 Illustration and Products 3
This course explores a variety of venues for product design, including apparel graphics, sporting goods, stationery, and home products. Students create graphics that define and accompany final products from sketch to production. Beginning with research by developing concept boards, students develop their ideas and focus on placed graphics within a product line. Students learn industry-standard processes, including audience research, concepting, presentation, and production, and create a substantial and diverse product design portfolio. This course provides students the opportunity to explore their own interests and apply their own aesthetic style to concepts, final pieces, and their own brand of merchandise.
Prerequisites: Introduction to Illustration, Concepts and Metaphors, Digital Illustration (Digital Illustration may be taken concurrently)
First-Year Studio Foundation 15 FDN 1111 Foundation: 2D 3
This course is an introduction to creative thinking that develops skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. There is an emphasis on learning new ways to read and see the world and how to report on it. Students learn basic two-dimensional principles through the use of various media, tools, materials, and processes. As a result, students develop a visual and verbal language for analyzing, organizing, shaping, and communicating two-dimensional form and meaning.
FDN 1112 Foundation: 3D 3
This course is an introduction to understanding of visual creation for the development of knowledge, imagination, and perception. Students are introduced to basic three-dimensional concepts as well as materials and technical production processes. Classroom activities include shop demonstrations of tools and techniques, information, lectures, and discussions appropriate to promote the balanced fusion of practice and theory.
FDN 1211 Foundation: Drawing 1 3
This course is an introductory drawing course designed to prepare students for study in all majors of the College. Students develop basic drawing skills, including the ability to perceive and express visual relationships, organize a two-dimensional composition, and depict and manipulate form, space, and light. Students work from direct observation of still life, interior spaces, and landscape.
FDN 1311 Foundation: Media 1 3
Students are introduced to the digital resources at MCAD while exploring digital media and laptop computing. Areas covered include the Service Bureau, student servers, Media Center, and digital resources. Students discuss media and media artists as well as study various software applications including Adobe Photoshop and web-development tools.
FDN 1212 Foundation: Drawing 2 3
This course is an observationally based drawing course designed to reinforce and develop the basic drawing skills established in Foundation: Drawing 1. Students work with a variety of subjects, including a substantial amount of drawing from the figure. In addition to working from direct observation, students explore drawing as a tool for invention, conceptualization, and idea development. The course also affords students an opportunity to investigate drawing materials in more breadth and depth than in Foundation: Drawing 1.
Prerequisites: Foundation: Drawing 1
First-Year Liberal Arts Foundation 12 AH 1701 Introduction to Art and Design History 1 3
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the major stylistic, thematic, and historical trends in Western art history from prehistoric times through the nineteenth century. This course is designed to encourage a critical understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. The final section of this course deals with the emergence of modernity in art. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion. Students will take in-class examinations and complete short essay assignments.
AH 1702 Introduction to Art and Design History 2 3
This course introduces students to issues in contemporary cultural theory, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics include anti-aesthetic challenges to modernist aesthetics, the rise of consumerism, the proliferation of the designed object, and the transition from source-oriented media to user oriented media, among others. The course is a roughly equal mix of lecture and discussion. Students will produce short writing assignments and will complete written exams consisting of identification and essay questions.
EN 1100 Reading and Writing 1 3
Effective writing requires innovative thinking and creative engagement. Students in this course focus on building a writing portfolio by developing college-level writing skills and using these skills to produce a variety of assignments. Regular writing workshops will allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Assigned course materials will explore a variety of texts and objects. By the end of the course students will have the foundational skills to be reflective and eloquent writers. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, group work, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, directed group work and research assignments, and a portfolio of seven essays.
EN 1200 Reading and Writing 2 3
Key to the creative and critical nature of college-level writing is the idea that students explore a topic by developing a thesis that changes as they ask questions, explore ideas, and conduct research. To that end, this course extends and concentrates the thinking and communication skills introduced in Reading and Writing 1. The foci of this course are developing a thesis; engaging in critical and sustained research; and drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading a finished research project. As a result, students will become increasingly adept at utilizing a wide variety of research tools, from published books to online search engines. The final project will be a completed research paper and a visual presentation using programs such as PowerPoint. Class sessions are composed of seminar discussions, research exercises, presentations and debates, and writing workshops. Course requirements include participation, presentations, a research journal, a major research paper and a final research presentation.
Second-Year Studio Foundation 4 FDN 1411 Ideation and Process 3
Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as the artist/designer makes a series of decisions to guide its creative evolution. This course is designed to help students explore the development of new ideas and their own process of making. Students also create visual tools to track their creative process from idea through construction and then to post-production analysis. The course consists of discussions, critiques, exercises, and visual logs.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing FDN 1412 Sophomore Seminar: Contemporary Practice 1
Practice is more than working methods: it’s the context, marketing, and creative space that maintain creative work. This course is designed to introduce students to the variety, tools, and foundations of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create a professional presentation of their work as well as hear from guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing
varying Studio Electives 26
Illustration majors take 26 elective studio credits in any media they choose.
Liberal Arts Electives
varying Liberal Arts Electives 24
Illustration majors take liberal arts electives in the following distribution:
Art History (6 credits)
Scientific Perspectives (3 credits)
Economic and Mathematical Systems (3 credits)
Global Perspectives (3 credits)
Political Thought and Ethics (3 credits)
Creative and Professional Writing (3 credits)
Liberal Arts Capstone Course (3 credits)
On-site internships at organizations such as galleries, ad agencies, and cultural institutions—both local and international—allow students to l
earn about the industry, enhance their skills, network, and build their portfolios. Previous students have interned at the following organizations, among many others:
Aesthetic Apparatus ▪ Black Collar ▪ Burobraak, Amsterdam ▪ Clockwork Creatures, Maryland ▪ Dick and Jane Letterpress ▪ HBO, New York ▪ Penguin & Fish ▪ StoneArch Creative ▪ Target ▪ Wine & Canvas