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25 Great Online Courses for Artists & Animators #BrownBag25

  • Reviews
  • Posted by Anahita Tabarsi on August 25 2019

We're continuing on with our #BrownBag25 picks this month, and we thought we'd take a look at some of the great courses out there that our creatives love and have found useful on their career path. A little something to help you all get geared up for 'Back to School' month ;)

We did a call out to our crew and compiled a selection of some of their great suggestions!

Take a scroll through and be sure to add your own favourites in the comments below:

For any Character Designers, Background or Visual Development Artist, I would recommend Schoolism. It is a perfect way for learning how to be better as an artist. A variety of courses that suit your artistic needs. It's the one resource I would surely recommend.

- Praveen Zacharias, 2D Renderer

Teaches core art principles and how to use them in a production.  All teachers are top in the world for animation, VFX, live-action film design in studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney. Some introduction into art programs but focus is more on design and drawing ability.

There is also Schoolism Live - top artist's come to one city and give workshops on how they design for productions or self-produced projects.  Between 1-2 days. Usually get to hang out with the artists during the evenings.

- Samantha Braithwaite, Animator

2. Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW)

SAW has a number of online courses, both free and otherwise, a number of them even have free trial periods so you can try them out and see if they're what you're looking for.

All their courses are highly worth checking out especially if you have any interest in storytelling and improving your art skills. Their focus is on comics but the skills they are teaching can be applied across the creative board.

- Ceili Braidwood, Storyboard Artist

A course for animators who want to learn Toon Boom Harmony, I'd recommend, Toon Boom Trainer. (Note: Toon Boom Trainer is an independent company and not affiliated with Toon Boom Animation Inc.) 

It's run by Adam Oliver, a certified trainer in Toon Boom, he offers a 5-week course on learning the Toon Boom software, from Animation to Rigging, even if you are new to it. I'd recommend the course for any student or professional who is currently learning Toon Boom.

- Praveen Zacharias, 2D Renderer

I'd recommend Shane Olson's 3D Character Workshop. It's very good for learning ZBrush from the ground up and how to create stylised characters using a blockout method.

What I found fantastic about Shane's course is, though expensive, his course is a lifetime membership with a great community. He holds 2 private live streams a week for all his students including creating a character from start to finish for a game pipeline and live Q&A every Friday.

We also have a forum and discord chatroom where everyone can give tips and ask for feedback on their work.

Doing Shane's course has helped me improve my skills as a character modeller, to move into the character team here at Brown Bag from environments :)

I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn ZBrush and stylised character modelling.

- Emma Williamson, Modeller

5. Onion Skin YouTube Channel

Onion Skin on YouTube is one of my favorite animation channels. It really helped me out when I was learning how to rig in Toon Boom for the first time, would recommend to anyone who wants to get past the learning curve!

- Zack Zand, Scene Planning Intern

6. Proko

The Proko academic anatomy courses helped me during school and after school, really detailed and systematic, interesting at the same time.

- Janny Jin, 3D Animator

This website has lessons and tutorials on Portraits, Figure Drawing, Caricature and more. There is also Art Model Poses if you struggle to find model reference.

- Jamie Buchanan, Lead Designer

7. Watts Atelier 

Teaches core art principles like compositions/design/anatomy. All teachers are top artist's in the world for fine art.

There is also an option to get a critique from the teachers but will cost more.

- Samantha Braithwaite, Animator

8. Stan Winston School 

Sculpting and practical effects by top movie effects artists. There is a seven day free trial, where you can dive into their classes that cover puppet making, mechanical effects to monster makeup techniques!

- Samantha Braithwaite, Animator

Both 3D and 2D education led by top industry pros. Their goal is to provide high calibre training that both educates and inspires artists to acheive their personal goals. Their Workshop library offers instruction from hundreds of professional artists covering a diverse range of tools, software, and media. You can find design and drawing tutorials, there are programs that cover sculpture techniques, and that will help you build on your painting abilities. And for all of us animators, looking to expand on our modeling, texturing, animation, effects and compositing skills, their are a ton of great courses that cover all these disciplines.

- Samantha Braithwaite, Animator

10. The New Master Academy

Boasts over 4000+ video tutorials, taught by top industry professionals and top profession teachers. Teaches core art skills and how to use them in a production and self-produced projects. You can learn how to draw, paint, and sculpt anywhere at your own pace.  The fees are reasonable, and you get unlimited access to interactive video courses taught by the world’s best artists with assignments, art references, personalized coaching, and more.

- Samantha Braithwaite, Animator

11. MasterClass

Writing, Directing, Acting, Design, Storytelling, Composition, and Creative problem-solving, taught by some of the world's greatest minds.

There is also how to cook and play tennis!

- Samantha Braithwaite, Animator

12. Barnstone Studios

Study under the instruction of Myron Barnstone, an internationally renowned artist and founder of the acclaimed Barnstone Studios School of Art. This online resource teaches composition tools I haven't seen anywhere else.  Teaches core design skills and colour skills based off of Fletcher's book Color Control.

- Samantha Braithwaite, Animator


Hot tip, Lynda is free with Toronto Public Library Card

Login to (now LinkedIn Learning) to find great tutorials covering a wealth of topics including Toon Boom, Harmony, Flash, Illustrator, etc. They have 1000s of videos to stream, and courses for every step of your career, or just general personal development.

- Samantha Braithwaite, Animator

14. Ilustración, nudo y desenlace

Basically, this is a website where professional people upload really cheap online courses about what they do. And it is a bit like a social media channel cause you can follow their profiles.

- Blanca Soborino, 2D Designer

15. CroquisCafe

A great resource for gesture drawing. They upload videos weekly with different models and themes. It's really helpful.

- Blanca Soborino, 2D Designer

16. Quickposes

This site is super cool cause you can adjust the time you want to see the images for and also the themes.

A great tool for art students, illustrators or anyone who wants to focus on improving their drawing skills.

- Blanca Soborino, 2D Designer

17. Gumroad

Artists create their own tutorials and sell them here, loads of great resources.

- Oliver Howe, Layout Artist

18. YouTube

YouTube is a treasure trove depending on what you're looking for - Blender Guru and FZD School are two of my favourite channels.

- Oliver Howe, Layout Artist

An informative YouTube channel hosted by animation artist Laura Price. Great resourse for animation tutorials and info about the animation industry.

- Matthew Howorth, 2D Designer

20. Minkyu Shiyoon

This one has literally just started, it's hosted by two really successful character and visual development artists who worked on Moana, Big Hero 6, Frozen, etc.

- Matthew Howorth, 2D Designer

A podcast which is hosted by the Bancroft Brothers, who were animators at Disney in the 90s, and they have tons of industry professionals on to be interviewed.

- Matthew Howorth, 2D Designer

22. Stylus Rumble

I frequently follow the blog and online tutorials from 2D animator Tracy Strong, also known as Stylus Rumble. Her YouTube channel focuses on many parts of the animation pipeline such as rigging, BG design, and animation, her tutorials are easy to follow and she is quite amusing in her playful demonstrations, give her a follow!

- Paula Hepburn, Scene Set Up Lead

A site where you can pose a 3D mannequin much like the real ones, to practice any pose you can think of. A great help when you need to reference a complex action for a drawing.

- George Crosbie, 2D Designer

24. SketchDaily References

Here you can customise a series of images to practice drawing from life. Pick from people, animals or buildings and play them in sequence for a study session that can be any length you need.

- George Crosbie, 2D Designer

25. Coursera

I subscribed to Coursera earlier this year to brush up on my graphic design skills. Loved the online courses they offered that came with video streams from accredited instructors, weekly reading assignments, and fun assignments that were peer reviewed. Coursera has a monthly subscription fee you can cancel at anytime, and at the end of your course you get a diploma that is recongnized on LinkedIn, to help share you newly learned skills. They have over 2700+ courses to choose from and 250+ specializations. Dive in and learn!

- Rhya Tamasauskas, Marketing Director, Social Media

There you have it - got your own favourite courses/resources? Pop them in the comments below!


Anahita Tabarsi

Anahita is Brown Bag Films' Marketing Director, Digital & Social and drinks more than five coffees a day...

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