5 Ideas for Your Next Illustration Project

At Skillshare, we believe that learning by doing is the most engaging way to both learn and teach. That's why all of our classes include a project that encourages students to apply and practice the new skills they learned. Here are some of our favorite illustration project assignments that can get your creative juices flowing.

1. Create an art print from your doodles

Remember those doodles you got in trouble for drawing in class? Whether you knew it or not, that was the first step to what would turn into your next illustration project. In his class on creating an art or screen print from doodle illustrations, Jon Burgerman encourages students to let their pens run wild and adopt an entirely spontaneous doodle into an art print.

This assignment perfectly demonstrates the heart and beauty of illustration: you don’t need to be an expert to create something beautiful. Here are some projects that were inspired by Jon’s class:


2. Create an illustration inspired by a word pair

Sometimes, words are enough to spark the creativity inside you. Roman Muradov’s assignment does just that by nudging you to bring together two unrelated words in a single image. Come up with separate lists of words (or use the one that Roman offers in his class) and choose two from each list. Roman recommends using words that don’t exhibit an inherent creative potential, at least at first glance. Although it may seem counterintuitive to rely on random words, you’ll be surprised by what can come out of this non-traditional creative process.

If you’re having a hard time imagining what it would look like, see some of our favorite student projects:

3. Illustrate an idiom

In his class on editorial illustration, Mikey Burton instructs students to illustrate a fun phrase that doesn’t mean what it says, such as “it’s raining cats and dogs” or “you are what you eat.” The literal meaning of the words can serve as an inspiration as you think of playful and clever ways to portray the phrase.

You can get really creative with this project, so feel free to explore different ideas and concepts as these Skillshare students have done:

4. Draw and design a playful character inspired by your favorite food

It’s not surprising that artists and designers find inspiration in day-to-day objects, including food! Jonathan Ball gives a brilliant assignment in his class on vector illustration, encouraging students to design a character based on their favorite food. Start off by naming your character: Dillon the Pickle? Louis the Scholarly Carrot? Or Cheesus? Even if you’re not done, you can share your sketches and rough drafts on the class project gallery and get feedback from our supportive community.

5. Illustrate your interpretation of the word “quiet” or “loud”

After Brad Woodard walks his students through some key design elements of digital illustration, he encourages them to use those tips to illustrate the word “quiet” or “loud.” This leaves open a wide array of interpretations, but just enough to get you thinking what the best way is to visually represent such an abstract concept.

Here are some ingenious ways that Skillshare students decided to approach this project:

Whether you're in the process of brainstorming, designing, or sketching, it always helps to share your work with a creative community that can offer you feedback and encouragement along the way. If you're itching to showcase your amazing work, join one of our illustration classes and post it in the Project Gallery!