The Best Online Art Classes Available

Uncategorized | 29 Oct, 2019
Wave of colored paint splashing out from a laptop screen to illustrate online art courses

Overview of the Six Best Online Art Classes

If you’re looking to grow your skillsets as an artist, you can feel fortunate that there are so many resources online nowadays that cater to every level of skill. No longer do you have to shell out serious money for traditional visual arts schools or higher education. Regardless of your expertise, there are cost-effective, worthwhile, and robustly praised online art classes available for you at any time.

Here, we’ll divulge some of the most reputable and well-known art lessons online. Whether you’re looking to get into 3D modeling or explore traditional art, online education can provide all the foundational knowledge you need.

We include the top five online art classes for those who want the best, and who has a budget allocated. Also, we include our top ‘freemium’ pick. Freemium means that you can get a ton of value for free (over 100 online art classes and tutorials free of charge). Then, there’s a premium upgrade for those who are loving it.

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Drawing Essentials with Glenn Vilppu

When artists are entering formal training, one of the first problems that instructors notice is that their students lack the necessary knowledge of fundamental art basics. Glenn is a life long traditional artist with decades of experience teaching art lessons to students all over the world.

Now, his digital skills course is a comprehensive six-week program that develops artists’ hand-eye coordination, visual skills, and independent study abilities. Best of all, the concepts drilled in this course are necessary for virtually every creative, industrial, and artistic life path needed in an artists’ life.

The first week of the course focuses on the very basics, developing knowledge of materials, physicality, and successful line and value. Slowly, students learn how to draw from observation and professionally render realistic scenes by the end of the course.

Though some artists may get turned off that the course doesn’t incorporate digital art or immediately marketable skillsets, the fundamental law is that every artist needs “to know the rules before they break them”.

Glenn’s series is distinct from the passive video lecture series since the environment of a real-life art class gets carefully replicated. Students get their work critiqued thoroughly and weekly, alongside with group discussion and direct teaching from Glenn.

Score: 4 out of 5


  • – Private and group-based instruction, along with art critiques, provided weekly.
  • – Basics of fundamental art skills are built up week by week, giving artists every tool they need to succeed in further training.
  • – Access to additional course materials and videos get provided for a lifetime upon purchase of the course.


  • – No training in specific digital, modern, or special art mediums outside of physical mediums get provided.
  • – No career-specific advice or networking skillsets get provided.

CG Master Academy

Computer Graphics Master Academy, or CGMA, is an online art course that gears students for successful careers in the arts, games, and VFX industries. CGMA art lessons get geared towards those that want to develop a robust and industry-based career right out of school.

Featuring training from established industry professionals, a collaborative virtual classroom, and personalized feedback, it should be no surprise why CGMA has started topping the list of digital creators everywhere. Typical subjects include 3D environmental rendering, rigging, environmental design, character design, modeling, storytelling and motion graphics.

CGMA isn’t just focused on new-age skillsets either; in fact, all courses start with a deep dive into the foundations of drawing.

Right now, the most popular course on CGMA is the 3D Environment Arts program – and for good reasons. The duration of the course is twenty-four months and fleshes out the entire process that motivates inspiring world design. Collaborators work one-on-one with students to develop, refine, and craft inspiring environments.

If you’re looking to dive into the gaming industry, CGMA is one of the most highly recommended by former students and peer art organizations across the country.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars


  • – Collaborative teaching gets balanced with one-on-one mentorship for every student.
  • – Courses prepare you for a career in video game, VFX, and digital art.
  • – Foundational drawing lessons are fleshed out with classes ranging from environmental design to character modeling and storytelling.


  • – Expensive tuition costs, (which could be justified based on the Return on Investment)
  • – Not as much of an emphasis on developing traditional art skills and some digital art knowledge gets expected before taking the class
  • – Depending on the course, the cost of tuition does not cover or discount the necessary software

Pencil Kings

Are you looking for a more short term and low-commitment online course solutions? If you’re not into the idea of paying hundreds of dollars for online art courses, Pencil Kings is a well-established art site that is frequented by current art professionals from industrial gaming, VFX, and graphics sectors.

There are dozens of different four-week courses focusing on traditional art, digital painting, anatomy, classical animation, storyboarding, and much more. Many of the lessons get geared towards digital artists. However, there are plenty of resources for traditional artists or those that want to refine the basics. Most courses run for under one hundred dollars are feature weeks worth of video instruction, daily assignments, study guides, and two thirty-minute coaching call recordings each week.

Pencil Kings is an affordable yet high-value solution for artists at any level of skill to advance their skillsets.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars


  • – Dozens of very affordable courses teaching everything from basic shading to digital animation.
  • – Private coaching calls provided for most courses.
  • – Trusted by industry-bound animators, professionals, and peer organizations.


  • – Lack of group calls and lack of live lessons, meaning that it could be hard to stay on task if you’re not great at motivating yourself to work hard.
  • – Geared more towards digital and games artists than traditional artists.

Vitruvian Studio

Among professionals, Vitruvian Studio is one of the most reputable, accessible, and well-established resources in the online art course community. Unlike other courses, Vitruvian gets geared towards artists who are experienced in traditional art and rendering, yet wish to deepen their core understanding underlying the practice.

The Vitruvian Studio site hosts over a dozen different courses focusing on fundamental art, cast drawing, portraiture, anatomy, and still life painting among other skills. Additionally, materials kits can be bought from the online site with steep discounts when coupled with a full course purchase.

Many users state that Vitruvian Studio has a better value proportionate to the instruction received than other similar courses. Currently, the most popular course is their Cast Drawing course, which helps artists develop their observational drawing skills and has represented a staple of the Western artistic diet for centuries.

Interestingly, every course can get purchased with an optional add-on critique extension. That means that you can either skip out on the often prohibitively expensive cost of critique without missing the primary lessons. Among all of the traditional art classes offered online, Vitruvian Studio provides endless ways to mix and match materials and lessons.

Score: 5 out of 5


  • – Over a dozen inexpensive courses, chocked full of high-value lessons.
  • – Successful and established traditional artists teach all classes.
  • – Material kits and critique add-ons serve as optional purchases that can get used in addition to the core course at a low cost.


  • – Courses get primarily geared to experienced artists and industry professionals.

Ctrl + Paint

If you want to skip the cost of art lessons altogether, you’re lucky you live in the digital era. The Ctrl + Paint team dedicates themselves to providing skills-based knowledge, most of which is free of charge.

In terms of value, there is no better option than Ctrl + Paint for those wishing to develop their skills in an online setting before committing to a paid, several weeks long course. Put simply, Ctrl + Paint is a free learning resource dedicated to digital art – each video in the course covers a different concept, which allows users to mix and match to maximize their learning incrementally.

Just like traditional courses, the lessons are all organized into a progression from simple to more complex topics. With each video only five minutes long, artists can learn the fundamentals they need to explore digital art topics on their own time more successfully.

Ctrl + Paint covers both the fundamentals while also diving into aesthetics, design, theme, palette, and specific technologies prevalent in the digital art field.

Score: 4 out of 5


  • – All videos, lectures, and series are provided free of charge with no ads or sign-up required.
  • – All digital art skills are presented, with each lesson plan premiered in a linear fashion.
  • – An excellent option for those who want to try out digital art without committing to a paid course..


  • – No options for personal instruction, one on one coaching, or interfacing with artistic professionals through the website.
  • – Focused primarily on digital art skillsets with a lack of material for traditional media.

Best FREE online art classes

We’ve covered our five favorite providers of online art classes. There’s one more notable online resource to mention…

Paint Basket Online Art Lessons

The online art classes from Paint Basket are the most inclusive, easy to follow and time effective on the web. There are tutorials covering all the most common art forms such as:

  • – Watercolor painting
  • – Oil painting
  • – Acrylic painting
  • – Pencil drawing
  • – Pastel drawing

For those who want something a bit different, there’s scratchboard drawing as well as pen & ink drawing, and other less usual methods. Did you ever buy a course, ebook or tutorial and then never use it? What a waste of money, we’ve all done that!

Paint Basket offers months of free, high-quality content, with nothing held back. They know that a small percentage of raving fans will become a VIP member. Isn’t that great? How often can you test ride a product or service, to make sure that you’re really committed before you spend money?

This high integrity approach to teaching the world to draw is fantastic. We won’t list the pros and cons since you don’t need to pay anything before deciding.

Check out Paint Basket now.

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