School of Illustration

Take your passion for illustration to the professional level by earning a four-year Illustration degree from Academy of Art University.

Inspire the world with your boundless imagination. The School of Illustration offers an innovative curriculum that blends digital technology with classical training to meet the marketplace’s growing need for trained artists in both areas. Your studies will take a contemporary approach to traditional techniques with an emphasis in drawing, composition, and storytelling. When you become a student at one of the best illustration schools, you’ll develop a keen attention to detail, gaining portrait, clothed figure, and live animal drawing skills and a deep understanding of anatomy and design.

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What We Teach

The School of Illustration gives you the necessary skills to create a professional body of work, as well as the business and marketing savvy required to succeed in your career. Attend the best illustration school and develop expert technique, focusing on the subtleties of color, expression, and environment to convey creativity professionally and beyond.

Digital Media
Nothing is evolving faster for artists than the world of digital technology. To be competitive, this major focuses on how to use all the current digital tools to create both vector and bitmap illustrations that can be used in print, apps and Web publishing, and comics.
Graphic Novelist/Comic Book Artist
Create and sell your own stories as a comics artist. Give yourself an advantage by attending one of the best schools for illustration. Layout artists draw pages for comics, inkers create line art for comics, colorists and lettering artists fill them in, and writers provide the story framework.
Clothed Figure Drawing
The devil is in the details and the best illustration colleges can give you the creative edge you need. Thus, when you’re an undergraduate at the Academy of Art University, you will learn how to take your figurative work to new heights using techniques that help convey character, attitude, mood, spirit, and values. You will fine-tune your ideas through design, and by displaying an understanding of anatomy and body design, construction and history of costume, structure, staging, and color
Illustrators tell our stories in pictures. We will teach you the fundamental principles of visual storytelling to enable you to master the art of making your work come to life. You will research and conceptualize a moment in time; use color, industry techniques, and materials; and utilize everything from the humble pencil to paint, mixed media, and digital tools, to realize your vision.

Student Experience

BFA School of Illustration student Shiella Witanto journeyed from Indonesia to pursue her dream of being an artist. Throughout her time at one the best colleges for illustration, Sheilla has seen her art work and ability to tell stories with pictures develop. As a student, she has participated in many exciting events at the Academy of Art University, including exhibitions, and continues to cultivate her skills and talent as an illustrator.

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Your dream is within reach. Follow your heart and get started on the career of your dreams.

Featured Alumni


Our faculty makes the difference. They are illustration industry veterans who help bridge the needs of the illustration industry with the curriculum and experience our students get.

Alumni Success

Red Bull Doodle & VR Art Gallery Event

Red Bull’s 2017 doodle contest celebration and award ceremony was held in San Francisco at the Academy of Art University. School of Illustration BFA, Shiella Witanto was named a western region finalist and participated with winners across the globe to help create an immersive Virtual Reality gallery.

Industry Partnership

Write Brain Books

As a student in the School of Illustration, you will have ample opportunity to work with WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS, which has been a partner to the school for more than half a decade.

Careers in Illustration

As one of the top art and design colleges with illustration majors in the country, Academy of Art University illustration graduates have a range of academic opportunities to choose from. Our facilities, faculty, and hands-on learning approach make us one of the best illustration schools and are designed to provide you with the tools you need to succeed as a professional in this industry.


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Or call 415-274-2222 to request more information about this program.
Book Cover Artist
Create narrative art for book covers as a book cover artist. You'll conceptualize and execute eye-catching imagery for cover layouts, and communicate story notes in a single image.
Children's Book Illustrator
With the vibrant children's book market, you'll be able to create illustrations for a wide range of audiences and story styles as a children's book illustrator. With an emphasis on storytelling, a diversity in approaches and styles makes this a flexible and exciting career path.
Comics Artist
Create and sell your own stories as a comic artist. Layout artists draw pages for comics, inkers create line art for comics, and writers provide the story framework.
Interactive Illustrator
In the emerging market of interaction design, the interactive illustrator creates art for inclusion in digital mediums such as smartphones, computers, and tablets. Understand and influence user behavior with a strong illustrative style and give life to interactive experiences.
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Learn Online

We are proud to be one of the best illustration schools, not only for on campus learning but online illustration programs, too. Our revolutionary online courses provide the same rigorous visual arts education that we offer on campus with greater flexibility. Our online programs are purpose-built to deliver art and design courses centered on the development of your skills. Study on your own time, at your own pace. Combine online and on campus classes.

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