Illustration Degree

Explore Your Vivid Imagination in Illustration

Learn how technology, marketing,
and business impact your illustration career.

"Illustration students learn to see the concept of a project and learn to tell that story visually. The creative edge combined with the artistic skill set is what our students develop before becoming professional visual story tellers."

Mark Fleming nossi

Mark Fleming
Illustration Coordinator

Career Outlook

3D Modeling Artist

Fashion Illustrator

Book Publishing Illustrator

Package Designer

Comic Illustrator

Editorial / Advertising Illustrator

Illustration Agent or Representative

Political Cartoonist

Creative Services Director

Sequential / Concept Artist

Multimedia Artist / Animator

Sketch Artist

Illustration Courses

Focus on Our Four-Year Program

Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor of Graphic Arts Commercial Illustration

136 curriculum hours



This fundamental course introduces the beginning art student to the principles of drawing. Accurate observations of shapes, forms, contours and tones will be stressed while learning to use a variety of mediums, i.e. pen and ink, graphite pencils, charcoal, marker and colored pencil techniques. Fundamental understanding of perspective drawing concepts, including one-, two- and three-point perspective will also be taught in this course. Students will produce works of art using a variety of drawing techniques i.e: cross-hatching, hatching, scumbling, back-fourth strokes, overlaying colors, stippling and washes.



Students are introduced to the principles of design using a variety of media as they complete projects that emphasize various aspects of composition. They will learn about balance, repetition of shape, positive and negative space, focal point, the illusion of depth and motion.



This comprehensive foundational course teaches students to use perspective to depict spatial and volumetric depth in paintings and drawings, in both traditional and digital mediums. Beginning with simple line sketches and building skills in more complex tonal drawings, students will learn to create a sense of the third dimension with the figure, still life, landscape and structures as subjects. Students examine one-, two- and multi-point perspective methods and learn to add reality with tonal range and light source.



Students are introduced to the principles of color theory utilizing various affects, techniques and mediums to create a comprehensive understanding of color principles. Light, hue, value and saturation are all explored in the course and students will learn many aspects of color relationship, application and how to affectively utilize the many facets of color and color theory in the commercial art field.



Students will study the history of lettering from ancient symbols to today’s digital technology. Students will also study various type families, become familiar with the terminology and practice the art of hand lettering. Students will learn the art of designing with type and become familiar with different ‘moods’ or the feel type can have for different occasions. Students will also learn different styles of type used throughout history. Emphasis on rules for proper letter spacing, word spacing and the arrangement of type for maximum readability will be stressed.



The structure of the human body is taught by observing the skeleton of the human figure. Understanding the bone structure is an essential prerequisite to drawing the human figure accurately with an emphasis on the muscular structure of the human body. Upon completion, students will be able to produce professional drawings of anatomically correct figures, depict chiaroscuro (the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting) in the figure, contrast and emphasize value and placement of the figures by using pencil, charcoal, pastel, conté and other mediums.



For any undertaking in print or digital media, understanding and manipulating vector graphics will be a cornerstone of every student’s academic and professional career. In Adobe Illustrator, students will learn the leading industry-standard software for vector-based design. Upon completion, students will know how to leverage the software to assist in whatever their chosen path of digital or print media: graphic design, web design, interactive design, illustration, or even videography – among other career tracks. To achieve this comprehension, students will create their own designs, many of which will be based on real-world problems students will face on the job. Printing, color, and design techniques (the latter learned in previous courses) will be integrated for the completion of the various projects.



Students will explore the theory of aesthetics and design concepts as it applies to graphics. It will also encompass a detailed investigation into the principles and concepts of effective visual communications through the use of two- and three-dimensional design with a goal of creative problem solving. There is also an emphasis in Information Gathering, Step 1 of the Nossi 9 Step Creative Process and commercial application of designing corporate graphics such as logos and symbol designs.



This course teaches students the core principles of Adobe Photoshop, the industry-standard raster-based photo manipulation program. Similar to Adobe Illustrator in significance and industry dominance, the ability to manipulate raster images will be a persistent theme throughout any career path involving print or digital media. Among the fundamental concepts explored will be file type constraints, image optimization, compositing, image restoration, color correction, masking, typography, effects, layout, print management, elementary animation and video, and even elementary 3D principles among other topics. By the end of the course, students will have a broad enough understanding of Photoshop to competently utilize it in whatever their chosen course of study.



Students will delve deeper into the usage of fonts as a major design element. Real life projects will allow students to “practice” choosing appropriate fonts for the subject/client as well as choosing the correct size and color. Students will learn to properly use space, the typographic grid and hierarchy in their designs. Students will begin to use type as a graphic art.



Adobe InDesign is used to create both print and interactive layouts for single and multi-page ads, magazines, brochures, and books, as well as other print projects that need exact typographic and layout specifications. InDesign’s interactive PDFs and Apps for tablet devices and e-pubs give designers a range of abilities within this one program. In this course, the student will focus on how to employ InDesign to create interactive page layout applications. From the feature tools used within InDesign to the understanding of basic User Interface design (UI) and User Experience design (UX), the student will gain the necessary knowledge to implement this skill-set within their career.



In this course, students will be introduced to various painting mediums to increase their versatility in the visual communications industry. Projects in watercolor, gouache, acrylic, oil and mixed media will be explored.



This course is a continuation of Graphic Design Fundamentals as it continues to develop an understanding of the creative process. Emphasis is on conceptual execution with diverse projects including simple packaging, ads, posters, print design, and brand identity. The course focuses on how people see and arrange visual information into a meaningful whole. Students will also get a "deep dive" into specialized printing materials and techniques, design terminology, digital design and the business of design.



Adobe Photoshop is the premier program for creating digital paintings and illustrations. It is used for everything from print to web to video. In this course, students will learn to work with brushes and master the settings. Extensive painting projects weekly and large projects will be achieved.



In this course the student will learn a series of steps for creating a printed product. From the conception and execution of a design through editing and production of the finished product, students will learn about various printing processes focusing mainly on offset lithography. Upon completion of this course, the student will have a clear understanding of the four-color printing process and their role as graphic designer in the process.



In this course, students will learn the different genres of illustration markets including editorial, advertising, corporate, technical, book publishing and packaging. Students will be introduced to the business of illustration. Techniques of oil, gouache, marker and color pencil will be presented to the student. Pricing, contracts, kill fees and second rights will be presented. Upon completion of this course, students will have produced four illustrations ready for publication.



This course will explore the history of advertising and examine its role and importance in society. The student will learn the basics of marketing and product positioning with a focus on Conceptualization, Reflection and Refinement, Steps 3, 4 and 5 of the Nossi 9 Step Creative Process. How an advertising campaign develops, from the concept to final executions including newspapers, magazines, direct mail, television, radio and billboards will be explored, including the use of new medias, i.e. online advertising and social media.



In this course, students learn the skills and procedures necessary to start a successful freelance operation by learning advantages and disadvantages of freelancing. They will learn what steps are necessary to protect their creative property and ensure that they are paid according to their skills and demand. Ethical standards, as well as moral standards, will be explored in order that students may understand fair competition in the freelance world. Governmental regulations, licenses, and taxes will be explained.



The course is designed to help illustrators understand the importance of environments and environmental conditions in illustration. The impact and effectiveness in creating the right environment is essential for illustrators to utilize in commercial illustration. Merging the right environment with character, creature and non-organic development can be the difference between a good illustration and a great illustration. Artwork will be created using both traditional and digital mediums and techniques with an emphasis on capitalizing the benefits of both.



This course will explore the human form in a more in depth study as well as application of movement, clothing, lighting and foreshortening. Students will utilize various mediums and experiment with stylization, interpretation and application of human anatomy in visual communications. Concepts of perspective, structure and composition will also be introduced in this course, while exploring the affects that clothing and coverings have on the human form. Some introduction to animal and quadruped structure will also be introduced. Both traditional and digital mediums will be used in this course.



Traditional mediums and the powerful colorization tools of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat are merged for an unbeatable combination in the field of illustration. Savvy professionals today recognize the value of both worlds and in combination they can bring visual skills highly sought after in today’s marketplace.



Students will have the opportunity to explore illustration in the narrative form. Storyboarding video productions, television commercials and feature films are a necessity in the world of visual entertainment. Comic books, since inception, have used sequential illustration to visualize concepts and tell their stories. Students will also explore the concept and development of Concept Art, where the main goal is to convey a visual representation of design, idea and/or mood for use in films, video games, animation or comic books prior to final art.



Students will have the opportunity to further explore commercial illustration in the narrative form. This course will cover advanced typography and illustration in logo development to 3D applications and producing photographic quality illustrations, professional development and exploration in motion graphics. Professional application of concepts will be addressed in the campaign form of advertising. All aspects of graphic design and illustration will be applied to these concepts.


Exploring 3D

In this course, 3D will be explored for commercial use such as building and animating logos. Students will learn how to illustrate product in 3D and that will replace the use of photography. This course would also explore practical use of 3D in the realm of concept art. A variety of programs will be explored to create a diverse number of projects and concepts.



Students will research advertising agencies, design studios and corporations and inquire about their illustration needs. Projects will range from annual reports to products and posters.



Students are introduced to the world of book illustration for the publishing world. For Children’s PB or Graphic Novel (children to adult target ages), historical and religious books, all genres will be researched by students and evaluated. From this exercise, students will choose their direction of expertise and interest.


Illustration for Stock Art

In this course students will be challenged to explore, research, and create for the stock illustration industry. Students will gain the understanding of how stock is searched, utilized, and purchased. The projects will require students to setup appropriate accounts to sell their art after the creation process. They can manage their accounts online while learning to use keywords and descriptions appropriately to sell their art to the live market place.



Students will be providing illustration solutions to the editorial needs of newspapers, magazines and corporations, both on a local and national level. Political satire and bringing visual life to the written word are examples of the areas to be explored.



This course will introduce students to digital sculpting and how it can be used in various forms of illustration. Digital sculpting is being used more and more by various companies and artists because of its speed and functionality. Students will be taught primarily in ZBrush but will also be using Photoshop to concept their artwork and produce finished pieces. The main purpose of this course is to give students a strong introduction to ZBrush and have them learn how to move around the interface confidently.



With the demand for motion graphics in all aspects of marketing, communication and content production on the rise, the ability to manipulate graphical assets with respect to a timeline is invaluable. Whether a graphic designer, web developer, videographer or anyone in any creative field, knowledge of graphical animation and presentation will improve the information provided and enable designers, developers or supervisors to make better decisions. This course is designed to expose students to conventional animation practices used in the creation of professional motion graphics content. Animation fundamentals and elementary concepts such as basic editing, compositing, filters and effects, color correction, typography animation, motion tracking, chroma key footage manipulation, rotoscoping, masking and easing will be explored using industry-standard software and techniques.



In this course, students will create a cohesive body of illustrations best represent each student’s interests and strengths. Students will use the media with which they are most confident. Emphasis is on the individual style that most fits the student’s artistic personality. Upon completion of this course, students will have created imagery suitable for use in a promotional campaign.



The focus of this course is to provide students with the essential skills for professional copywriting and editing. Students will learn how to recognize the purpose behind any piece of copy, use creative skills to make their copy reach target audiences, apply technical specifications to any piece of copy through the use of style sheets and format spoken English into acceptable professional copy.



Independent study courses are individually designed to meet specific needs of students. They may vary from one to four semester hours of credit. They may be in any subject area a student needs in order to complete degree requirements. Independent study courses must be approved by a member of the faculty, the student’s department coordinator and by the Vice President of Academic Affairs.



This course provides students who are about to graduate an opportunity to explore the presentation and interviewing techniques used to find employment. Positive self-image and goal setting concepts are reintroduced. Students are expected to create communication materials for self-promotion and develop strategies for networking and community involvement, including internship opportunities. Students must participate in a formal portfolio presentation of their work to the community and to their fellow students. They are given instructions in portfolio presentation and preparation for career opportunities.



This course is designed to provide the student with instruction in two major areas of the English language – writing and oral communication skills. Writing techniques using correct English grammar will be emphasized and will be applicable for different environments including corporate, business and professional settings. A variety of public speaking techniques will also be taught. The student will learn what is appropriate for each situation in which, as a professional artist, he might find himself.


American History

This course examines history in America. The course will be a combination of lecture and discussion. 



This course provides a broad coverage of the history of art from prehistoric cave painting through modern times. Students learn from lectures, slide presentations, outside reading as well as reading the assigned class textbook. The students in this course are taught art appreciation, art history, terminology, artists and art styles and the characteristics that distinguish individual artists and styles. At the conclusion of this course students are expected to be able to identify different art works and then name the period, the style, its characteristics, influences and the artist.



Success Strategies is a course in goal setting, techniques of note and test taking, problem solving skills, time management and critical thinking skill development. The course is designed to help each student improve his learning skills. In addition, students will acquire skills necessary to succeed as commercial artists. Life enhancing principles are also a major aspect of this course.



This is a survey course of the science of psychology. It covers the key terms of most of the psychological concepts from brain biology to abnormal, motivational and developmental psychology. This course surveys a broad field of study. A study of the thinking and research behind various fields of psychology will lead to a discussion of how each field applies to human events in the everyday lives of people. An examination of how psychology applies to advertising, graphic arts, illustration and photography will be made.



Students will examine common uses of mathematics in everyday life. This course will also focus upon mathematical applications involving choice, voting systems, routing and networks, project scheduling, descriptive and inferential statistics and probability.



This course presents students with a survey of Western Civilization from the ancient world to contemporary culture. Through discussion and appreciation of historical works, students will draw connections between the origins and influences of Western Civilization, as well as an understanding of its role in shaping cultures.



This GE requirement was established, in part, because of the potent influence of science on society. Therefore, a major objective of this course is to help develop an understanding of the nature of science, including its philosophical basis, power and limitations. The content of the course is centered on life and its relationship to the environment.



This class is designed to enhance the student’s understanding and exposure to literature. Readings will come from PDF files on Moodle as well as from handouts from the instructor. A novel reading is required and each student will read and analyze a different novel from a list provided by the instructor. Readings from different genres and cultures will include short stories, poetry and drama. Essays to analyze the readings are the method of assessment as well as tests over the readings and background materials.



This English class will include intensive grammar review as well as writing assignments to complete a portfolio. Illustrations are encouraged to enhance the writing and the portfolio (these can add points to the grade). A resume and a cover letter are a separate part of the writing. A research paper is required and must have the correct documentation and analysis format. Professional presentation of final portfolio is required for completion of this course.

Accepting Students for May and September 2022 Semesters
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Who You’ll Be Learning From

Mark fleming headshot

Mark Fleming

Illustration Coordinator

Mark Fleming was honored as the “Best Portfolio” graduate in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale. In 1991, he joined the second largest company in Tennessee, Nashville’s J.C. Bradford & Co. As the...
Mark Fleming was honored as the “Best Portfolio” graduate in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale. In 1991, he joined the second largest company in Tennessee, Nashville’s J.C. Bradford & Co. As the Creative Director, Mark was responsible for the design and development of the company’s advertising and marketing efforts. He was promoted to Manager of Marketing Services, overseeing relationships with advertising agencies, printing companies and vendors to support 86 offices, 1,300 brokers and 300,000 clients. After a successful nine-year run at J.C. Bradford & Co., Mark left to start Creative Avenue in 1999, growing the customer base from a handful of clients to more than 300 today. Creative Avenue offers a wide variety of services from graphic design for print, illustrations and graphic design of websites. Today, Mark meets the challenges of a changing industry by staying current in graphic design with Creative Avenue, being the Illustration Coordinator and an instructor at Nossi College of Art all while painting in his studio for Fleming Paintings. His role as the Illustration Coordinator and instructor at Nossi College is helping influence the next generation of commercial artists, designers and illustrators. He teaches a variety of classes from alternative mediums—which include watercolor, gouache, acrylic and oil painting—to figure and anatomy. A variety of other classes taught include Adobe Illustrator for layout and illustration. He also teaches basic and advanced photoshop from basic photo manipulation to advanced matte painting for film. Mark's role as an illustrator is vast, as he has created digital animations for companies to stand alone spot illustrations for books, publications and brochure materials. His fine art works have been in galleries and private showings. He is continually training with new creative concepts and trying new media, to stay current in the industry. Mark continues the dream of living and being a creative individual; an artist.


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Maureen obrien headshot

Maureen O'Brien

Illustration Instructor

Maureen O'Brien studied Illustration and Design at Kendall College of Art and Design/Ferris State University in Michigan (BFA) and the Hartford Art School/University of Hartford in Connecticut (MFA)....
Maureen O'Brien studied Illustration and Design at Kendall College of Art and Design/Ferris State University in Michigan (BFA) and the Hartford Art School/University of Hartford in Connecticut (MFA). Working out of her home studio in Franklin, Tenn., she provides Illustration and design for corporate, editorial and advertising clients, specializing in stylized realism/humorous & conceptual as well as children's books & magazine illustrations in a variety of traditional, digital & mixed media. She is also an adjunct professor of graphic design, illustration & foundations. Maureen has and continues to work for clients including: Kellogg Co, Nestle Foods., Thomas Nelson Publishing, Guideposts 4 Kids Magazine, Herman Miller, WORD Music, Baptist Hospital, Chemtron RiverBend, Christian Woman Magazine, Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Baker Book House, Eerdmans Publishing, Kregel Kid Zone Children's books, Dalmatian Press, SCHUBI Lernmedien AG, Culture Magazine, Lifeway Publishing, Home Life Magazine, Mature Living Magazine, Broadman & Holman publishing.


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Accepting Students for May and September 2022 Semesters

Get informed about attending art college.

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