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  1. #1
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    Canadian Illustration Colleges/Universities

    I'm looking at colleges and universities in Canada offering the best illustration programs, but I've been having a hard time...
    I plan to go into illustration in order to do conceptart, and maybe comics if I'm lucky. I live in Ontario, but I'm currently open to moving anywhere in Canada for my education. I'm in my final year of highschool ready to rumble.

    I've been giving myself hell trying to decide on schools, and now I just have all around negative perceptions on quite a few schools. I'm going to tell you guys what I've heard so far, but I'd like you guys to prove me wrong/convince me I'm just being too gullible to every opinion out there.

    ACAD (Alberta) - I hear good stuff, but it seems few people know about this school.
    Emily Carr (BC) - "Art Farts" popping out students who fall off of the industry's map, never to be seen again. Really saddens me because I'd love to move to BC.
    NSCAD (Nova Scotia) - Apparently the school is broke, and is considering merging with another school. Haven't heard anything bad about it though. I just don't want to arrive to half of the staff laid off and learn illustration from the janitors.
    Sheridan (Ontario) - I keep hearing that the animation is amazing, and I even watched some of the studios first hand, but I always hear that the illustration end is incredibly lackluster.
    OCAD (Ontario) - I hear loads about them not teaching any technique, short amounts of studio time, and incredibly pretentious community.
    Max the Mutt (Ontario) - I've never heard any opinions on the school.

    So, where shall I go? What schools can I apply to?
    Thanks in advance guys, I appreciate it immensely.

    Last edited by CTrance; November 30th, 2012 at 01:19 AM.
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  2. #2
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    OCAD you just about nailed it.
    Their illustration program is a joke. I actually heard an illustration professor from the school recommend a student to go elsewhere. I mean, that, i've never seen that. I was majoring in their Fine arts, so I don't know why they call it "technique", theres just no instruction on anything. The faculities are open to like 12 pm, so aslong as your willing theres enough studio time. If by that question you mean classes focusing on skill building? Well, then no, there aren't much classes on that. half my time was divided on essays and art history. (necessary evils, I understand but should not have overshadowed drawing/painting) Community, uh? People were nice enough. Hipsters, but I don't mind hipsters truly. There were alot of people with rich daddies who missed their ponies but they were nice.

    Honestly if you have more indepth questions just ask.
    All the other schools I haven't been so my opinion on them are total conjecture. Sheridan's animation looks completely legit though and I'm applying next year. Their illustration looks to be building speed, I don't know if it'll match their animation reputation but I've seen good things.

    P.S You can edit the title.

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  3. #3
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    I am finishing up my 4th year at Sheridan's Illustration program and i can give you the low down from what i experianced.

    In contrast with OCAD we are 100% studio time and skill building. There are 4 years, 2 semesters each, 6 3-hour classes each week (For 14 or 15 weeks, i always forget this).

    There are 2 required electives each semester outside of your studio courses. These are there because the government requires you earn a bunch of university level credits to get a Degree. So in those you learn Research, Psychology, Art History, Philosophy, Short Story... i'm forgetting a bunch, but you get the picture.

    Now you have to understand i am one of the last years to do the "Two Streams" approach where you pick either scientific and technical illustration or interpretive. When you enter the program will be stream lined into one. I hear there is a system of picking and choosing classes. Not sure how that will effect your education so research that. Maybe get a hold of a department head and have them explain it to you. I haven't been paying much attention to it because, hey! I'm leaving in April!

    It's all really hands on. There wasn't a single studio class in 4 years that didn't have you produce several works of art. Multiply that by 6 classes and you are doing a ton of work learning lots of techniques. Expect at least 4 hours of homework per class each week to do a reasonable job.

    A short list of things we've covered:

    Acrylics, figure drawing, digital painting, 3d modeling, 3d scultping, 3d printing, basic design, exploded diagrams, Art Buisness pracitices, colour theory, mind mapping, photo editing, etc.

    You will learn photoshop in and out, adobe illustrator in and out, if you go tech you will be introduced to Zbrush and sculptris and cinima 4d,

    Don't look at my painting skills and discount the program... I'm a lousy painter... I'm much more at home in digital art... That's why i went tech.

    Oh btw... You get CS6 Master collection extended for....... 300$ which is included in your tuition! It's yours to keep forever.

    Gosh what else am i forgetting? The campus is nice and there are lots of good places to get food. Everyone complains about the small library but i've always found what i needed. There is a residence which is great, but places4students has lots and lots of student housing near by. (As always with dealing with landlords... research, be careful etc)

    Disability services has helped me immensely while i've been here. If you have any sort of learning disability connect with them as soon as you apply.

    You do a summer internship here and since you're interested in comics, i will have you know i went to a comics studio and worked on several books. It's fascinating working in a real studio environment. It's also a nice treat to be able to go to a comic book store or chapters and find your name thanked in the back of a book!

    if you want to see my portfolio check this link

    Jonathan Barker illustration (LINK)

    "Good art is just the basics done really well over and over again." - Jonathan Barker

    Watch out for the dream killers. They'll tell you to quit, they'll say you'll never make it, they'll say you're crazy, they'll say they have your best interests at heart... And if you listen to them they're right.

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  5. #4
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    Hey hey! I see ECUAD on the list, and such bad words!

    The illustration program here was started just 4 years ago, but it is getting better fast! Also, a chap who's working for ubisoft atm as one of the concept artists for AC3 is from here too, sorry, can't ever remember his name!

    You will always find some like minded people in each and every school, be it artsier or not. Afterall the quality of school doesn't make you superb, but the time and effort you put into getting better yourself.

    And Vancouver is one of the best areas when it comes to making connections to the industry. Seattle is close too. Think about that.

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    Another Vancouver option would be Capilano University with its IDEA program. Through, it's more of a blend of design and illustration but maybe something worth checking out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dunnstar View Post
    OCAD you just about nailed it.
    Their illustration program is a joke. I actually heard an illustration professor from the school recommend a student to go elsewhere. I mean, that, i've never seen that. I was majoring in their Fine arts, so I don't know why they call it "technique", theres just no instruction on anything. The faculities are open to like 12 pm, so aslong as your willing theres enough studio time. If by that question you mean classes focusing on skill building? Well, then no, there aren't much classes on that. half my time was divided on essays and art history. (necessary evils, I understand but should not have overshadowed drawing/painting) Community, uh? People were nice enough. Hipsters, but I don't mind hipsters truly. There were alot of people with rich daddies who missed their ponies but they were nice.

    Honestly if you have more indepth questions just ask.
    All the other schools I haven't been so my opinion on them are total conjecture. Sheridan's animation looks completely legit though and I'm applying next year. Their illustration looks to be building speed, I don't know if it'll match their animation reputation but I've seen good things.

    P.S You can edit the title.
    Yeah, I think it was you that I read part of this info from actually, because your username/avatar seems very familiar. No plans to go to OCAD now unfortunately...
    Thank you Dunnstar!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonny Dark View Post
    I am finishing up my 4th year at Sheridan's Illustration program and i can give you the low down from what i experianced.

    In contrast with OCAD we are 100% studio time and skill building. There are 4 years, 2 semesters each, 6 3-hour classes each week (For 14 or 15 weeks, i always forget this).

    There are 2 required electives each semester outside of your studio courses. These are there because the government requires you earn a bunch of university level credits to get a Degree. So in those you learn Research, Psychology, Art History, Philosophy, Short Story... i'm forgetting a bunch, but you get the picture.

    Now you have to understand i am one of the last years to do the "Two Streams" approach where you pick either scientific and technical illustration or interpretive. When you enter the program will be stream lined into one. I hear there is a system of picking and choosing classes. Not sure how that will effect your education so research that. Maybe get a hold of a department head and have them explain it to you. I haven't been paying much attention to it because, hey! I'm leaving in April!

    It's all really hands on. There wasn't a single studio class in 4 years that didn't have you produce several works of art. Multiply that by 6 classes and you are doing a ton of work learning lots of techniques. Expect at least 4 hours of homework per class each week to do a reasonable job.

    A short list of things we've covered:

    Acrylics, figure drawing, digital painting, 3d modeling, 3d scultping, 3d printing, basic design, exploded diagrams, Art Buisness pracitices, colour theory, mind mapping, photo editing, etc.

    You will learn photoshop in and out, adobe illustrator in and out, if you go tech you will be introduced to Zbrush and sculptris and cinima 4d,

    Don't look at my painting skills and discount the program... I'm a lousy painter... I'm much more at home in digital art... That's why i went tech.

    Oh btw... You get CS6 Master collection extended for....... 300$ which is included in your tuition! It's yours to keep forever.

    Gosh what else am i forgetting? The campus is nice and there are lots of good places to get food. Everyone complains about the small library but i've always found what i needed. There is a residence which is great, but places4students has lots and lots of student housing near by. (As always with dealing with landlords... research, be careful etc)

    Disability services has helped me immensely while i've been here. If you have any sort of learning disability connect with them as soon as you apply.

    You do a summer internship here and since you're interested in comics, i will have you know i went to a comics studio and worked on several books. It's fascinating working in a real studio environment. It's also a nice treat to be able to go to a comic book store or chapters and find your name thanked in the back of a book!

    if you want to see my portfolio check this link

    Jonathan Barker illustration (LINK)
    That was really re-assuring actually man. I'm glad to know that the illustration program is more than what I've heard of it in the past. When I went to the campus and saw the illustration areas, I was wondering what people were so let down about. By the way, your photoshop paintings of those sci-fi ships and robots are amazing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Eelis Kyttänen View Post
    Hey hey! I see ECUAD on the list, and such bad words!

    The illustration program here was started just 4 years ago, but it is getting better fast! Also, a chap who's working for ubisoft atm as one of the concept artists for AC3 is from here too, sorry, can't ever remember his name!

    You will always find some like minded people in each and every school, be it artsier or not. Afterall the quality of school doesn't make you superb, but the time and effort you put into getting better yourself.

    And Vancouver is one of the best areas when it comes to making connections to the industry. Seattle is close too. Think about that.
    Sorry, I didn't mean to offend anyone hahaha. These are just what I've heard before, and when I heard that about EC it saddened me :/
    Emily Carr is one of the main school I was shooting towards, but what people have said worries me, and I wanted another opinion.

    I'll definitely still be shooting for EC still as one of my top 2 for sure!


    Quote Originally Posted by OfficialLamp View Post
    Another Vancouver option would be Capilano University with its IDEA program. Through, it's more of a blend of design and illustration but maybe something worth checking out.
    That interesting, I'll have to look further into it. Is there anything else I should know?

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  9. #7
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    No worries! You didn't offend me at all, I was just playing with words. I have to say that ECU's foundation year isn't really worth it. On the second year you start to specialize and can finally pick up those illustration courses. If you are accepted you can finaly get into the full-time illustration program on the third year. They have some really nice teachers in that major, so it is quite good.

    The worst bit is to make through the first two years!

    But as said, also think about the place where you would be studying. Vancouver definitely gives many many many opportunities to connect with professionals and to build up the network. That alone can justify a bit poorer education.

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  10. #8
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    those sci-fi ships and robots are amazing.
    Why thank you!

    "Good art is just the basics done really well over and over again." - Jonathan Barker

    Watch out for the dream killers. They'll tell you to quit, they'll say you'll never make it, they'll say you're crazy, they'll say they have your best interests at heart... And if you listen to them they're right.

    Website
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  11. #9
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    ACAD is a really good school and their VC program is top notch. I know personally several people who came out of there and are working illustrators. Some recent big names like Sam Weber and Matt Rhodes came out of ACAD and Matt Rhodes got hired straight out of school by Bioware. The same thing happened to two other guys I know. I studied at ACAD back in the 90's so things have changed but one thing that has remained consistent is that the workload is heavy and results oriented. For any school, I'd check out the Alumni and the instructors work. ACAD's campus is designed like a prison block and very 1970's but you still have access to all of SAIT's dorms, gym, misc facilities next door. It's in trendy part of town and the best part is Alberta's taxes are so much lower than Ontario's that you might think that you are no longer in Canada! PM me and I can send you links to some ACAD grads work and you can contact them directly with your questions. One thing that is a drawback here is that there is next to nothing when it comes to industry here so Eelis's point about networking and contacts in Vancouver are very applicable. In BC, don't forget Vancouver Film School. They are more entertainment oriented than Emily Carr.

    Hope this helps you some.

    Cheers!

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  12. #10
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    ACAD ftw!!! I graduated from their VCD/Illustration stream in 2010; the above post pretty much nailed it! Lots of work, but their focus on drawing skills and relentless practice is really the only way to get the skills that won't collapse when you get pushed out of your comfort zone.

    Some more recent grads whose names you might recognize would be Riley Rossmo & Fiona Staples (if you read comics), Matt Rhodes (as mentioned above)...Sam Weber and his wife Jillian Tamaki are pretty much art stars and occasional instructors at schools in New York and Ontario, but the guys who taught them are at ACAD. Even Cary Nord (the original artist on Dark Horse's reboot of Conan) went to ACAD for a year with the intention of going through illustration, but got recruited by DC beforehand. ^^;

    Facilities are the only real downside to the school (as far as it being an architectural brick of sad), but the view is nice and it's a two-minute LRT ride away from Kensington (aka the coolest neighbourhood in Calgary).

    All Her Engines sketch blog: http://mariellavee.blogspot.com

    "I'd help a dalmatian if it was on fire: 'Roll over, boy! Roll over for your life!' "
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