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Introduction to Digital Illustration

Course Times & Enrolment

(Code DM009-103) • (0 classes) Course location to be confirmed •
Sorry, this course is cancelled

Course Summary

This course introduces students to the use of digital media and techniques to develop illustration projects, from literary sources to investigating alternative visual illustration and ideas based on themes and texts appropriate in a contemporary illustration design practice. Students will be introduced to the use of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator through practical hands-on demonstrations. Support will be given to students as they work through a series of digital illustration briefs, which explore the planning and development stages of a personal project, exploring the world of digital illustration through both the practice and theory.

Please be aware that all of our digital courses that employ the use of computers and Adobe software are delivered on Apple Mac computers.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Apple computers would be advantageous.

Special Information

Material you will need to bring to the first class:

  • Sketchbook / notebook,

  • Drawing pencils / pens,

  • Memory stick min 8GB.

In addition to the course fee, students are expected to provide the following list of indicative tools, materials and equipment:

  • Sketchbook / notebook,

  • Drawing pencils / pens,

  • Memory stick min 8GB.

Content of Course

Students will explore digital illustration through a series of set briefs and self-directed projects to create a varied and diverse body of work.

Workshops will include:

1. An introduction to Adobe Photoshop and pixel-based image creation. Scanning and editing imagery and drawing straight to digital. Working with the basic tools of the program such as layers, digital drawing and image manipulation.

2. Setting up documents for screen and print, and exploring the differences between the formats.

3. The introduction and use of a drawing/painting ‘tablet’ to work in conjunction with Adobe software.

4. An introduction to Adobe Illustrator and vector-based image creation. Tracing images and working from source materials.

5. Understanding terminology relating to design software.

6. Understanding workflow, from understanding a brief, to pitching initial ideas, developing them and then implementing into a successful conclusion.

7. Developing contextual awareness of contemporary and historical examples of illustrators working in digital and non-digital media.

8. The opportunity to develop and resolve a personal project.

Teaching method(s)

Students will begin most lessons with a short introductory presentation exploring design theory and contextual references relevant to the various stages of the course. Within the first few sessions of the course students will focus on developing their Adobe skills, learning to navigate, understand and utilise the digital processes through a series of directed tasks and exercises. They will then apply the knowledge gained to work on more projects and briefs throughout the second half of the 10-week course.

Students will leave the course with a body of work that is an exploration of a multitude of technique and styles. Each student’s portfolio will be filled with examples of the many different applications of illustration, created using contemporary digital techniques.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Employ a range of digital techniques and implement them using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop software.

  • Generate ideas in response to a design brief with reference to appropriate sources and understanding illustration workflow, from research and inception of initial ideas, through development to final illustrations.

  • Resolve and present a series of finished pieces of work alongside initial ideas and documented development stages.


Core Readings


  • Davis, E., 2018, Why Art? Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics

  • Ware, C., 2001, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. London: Jonathan Cape

  • Zeegan, L, 2005, Digital Illustration: A Masterclass in Digital Image-Making. Brighton: Rotovision

  • Various, 2014, A Graphic Cosmogony. London: Nobrow

Web Sources


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.