The Commercial Illustration Certificate Program encompasses traditional media and applications with Life Drawing, Drawing for Illustration, and Media Techniques courses in graphite, inks, watercolour, acrylics, pastels, and oils. As well as concentrating on these important foundation level courses the students will be given extensive training in up-to-the-minute digital applications with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator as well as Advanced Digital Illustration courses. There will also be emphasis on business and professional practices for the freelance illustrator in the ever-changing marketplace. An exciting History of Illustration course will explore the varied and fascinating story of illustration from the invention of the printing press to the 21st century digital revolution in the industry.

Illustration by Adam Rogers


The Commercial Illustration Program is an extensive program aimed at individuals who wish to pursue a career in commercial illustration, or who wish to update their illustration skills. The program consists of 12 courses that include traditional art training – from Life Drawing and Media Techniques to Drawing for Illustration – as well as working with digital applications like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. This program explores stylistic strategies for commercial illustrators as well as critical business issues such as pricing, contracts, and self-promotion, and students will produce a commercially viable portfolio of work as their graduation project. The emphasis of this program is on developing a personal style and voice, along with honing skills that enable individuals to accomplish traditional and digital storyboarding, advertising, and editorial illustration.

Instructors in the program are working illustration professionals with significant teaching experience in the applied arts who bring the highest degree of industry experience and award-winning credentials to the program. Students will work on projects that emulate real industry situations and learn through a mentorship style of instruction that mimics the art director-illustrator relationship in the real world.


Because the Commercial Illustration Program is designed to accommodate students who wish to explore their options in the communication arts industry, there is no interview required to enter the program. However, the curriculum is extremely challenging and students will require a strong work ethic to pass these courses and advance through the program. Students with previous industry or arts experience who wish to access the more advanced level courses may seek permission from the program coordinator to waive the prerequisites for those courses. Please note that not all courses are offered each term.

Certificate Requirements

Upon completion and passing the 12 required courses in the Commercial Illustration Program, students will automatically qualify for certification. Students will also have the option of submitting a portfoilo of their work which involves sending the student’s final portfolio to a panel of top industry illustrators and client representatives. Students would have up to a year to complete portfolios for this submission.

Lifetime Alumni Benefits

Once a student finishes the 12 required courses for certification, they receive Lifetime Alumni Status. This means that students may retake any course within the Commercial Illustration Program for free, for the rest of their lives, if they wish to reinforce their skills. On top of this, graduates from the Commercial Illustration Program may take any course up to full certification in either the Photography Certificate Program or the Advertising and Design Program (graphic design and advertising art direction) at a 50% discount. Graduates from the Commercial Illustration Program may also take any course in the Digital Media Program for free (production software courses including the Adobe Creative Suite) so that students can upgrade their skills as new versions of software emerge.

Required Courses and Curriculum Structure

Term I

  • Life Drawing I (30 hours)
  • Drawing for Illustration (30 hours)
  • Colour Theory and Application (36 hours)

Term II

  • Life Drawing II (30 hours)
  • History of Illustration: Defining Style (30 hours)
  • Illustration Techniques I: B&W and Water Media (30 hours)

Term III

  • Applied Illustration I (30 hours)
  • Illustration Techniques II: Oils and Acrylics (30 hours)
  • Adobe Illustrator Level I (36 hours)

Term IV

  • Applied Illustration II (30 hours)
  • Adobe Photoshop for Illustration (36 hours)
  • Portfolio Development (30 hours)

Related Non-Credit Courses (optional)

  • Adobe InDesign Level I
  • Basic Digital Photography
  • Basic Digital Workflow (photography)
  • Basic People Photography
  • Adobe Flash
  • Adobe Dreamweaver Level I
  • Marketing for Fine Artists