New York City College of Technology Communication Design Department

COMD 3313: Introduction to Illustration Syllabus • Professor J. Longo • Fall 2023

Course Overview: ​​This course is a practical introduction to the diverse and sprawling field of illustration. Focus will be placed on process/development work and professional practices and execution. This course is presented within contemporary and historical context.

The course includes projects and lectures in a variety of illustration genres including:

  • Product Design and Packaging 
  • Advertising/Social Media
  • Storyboard/Concept Art
  • Animation/Character design/Previs/Props
  • Book Illustration/Games/Narrative-Sequential-Comic
  • Editorial Illustration/Political-Humor Cartoons
  • Institutional Illustration 
  • TV & Film

A variety of materials will be introduced through lectures and demonstrations for use on assignments such as: digital painting, pencil, pen and ink, brush, colored pencil, brush and paint, and collage. 

Critical concepts such as: Conceptual Development, Working on Assignment, Composition, Contrast, Value, Point of View, and Color theory will be introduced. 

3 Credits, 4 Hours (1 lecture, 3 lab) ENG 092R (ESOL 032R) and/or ENG 092W

(ESOL 031W) as required.

Attendance (College) and Lateness (Department) Policies

A class roster roll will be taken at the beginning of each class. Only two absences are allowed. After two absences, a student may be withdrawn because of unsatisfactory attendance (code WU). Students arriving after the roll is taken will be marked “late.” Students will be notified at the earliest ATTENDANCE cont: opportunity in class after they have been absent or late. After four latenesses, a student will be asked to withdraw from the class (code W) or may be withdrawn from the class (code WU).

Academic Integrity Standards

Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.

Academic Integrity and Expectations

You are responsible for reading, understanding and abiding by the NYC College of Technology Student Handbook, “Student Rights & Responsibilities,” section “Academic Integrity Standards.” Academic dishonesty of any type, including cheating and plagiarism is unacceptable. “Cheating” is misrepresenting another student’s efforts/work as your own. “Plagiarism” is the representation of another person’s work, words or concepts as your own.

In-Class Structure/ Timeline

  • Submit homework before class for peer and instructor review 
  • Meet with students as a group or individually to review work and offer feedback 
  • In Class Lecture and / or Demo 
  • Give new assignment & homework 
  • Work in class

Grading System

  • Sketchbook 20%
  • Individual Assignments 40%
  • Final Project 20%
  • Participation 20%

• Projects given as homework assignments are due to be received digitally before the beginning of class, otherwise they are considered late.

Any missed assignments will earn a zero. Assignments received after the deadline will drop a full letter grade, and will only be accepted within 1 week of the due date. After that time period, any late assignment will earn a zero.

• A final portfolio of all projects will be handed in with the final project at the end of the semester. Students have the option to revisit earlier projects and revise them based on critique.

Make-ups: If a student finds they will not be able to present or hand in a project on the scheduled day, it is their responsibility to notify the instructor PRIOR to the due date and request alternate arrangements. Points will be deducted for late assignments and missed critiques.


You are expected to work on sketchbooks and assignments for at least four hours a week outside of class. You will find that assignments will take a lot more than that to be successful. Students are encouraged to utilize tools posted in the Class Resources section for extra help.


Each student will present their work weekly for critique using appropriate design vocabulary.

The critique is a neutral dialogue. Students will present their work and discuss the strengths and weaknesses, expressing what works and what doesn’t work in relation to the assignment guidelines. Peer responses will be given. No personal likes or dislikes are discussed without elaborating the “why” of it. Design-specific terminology should be used at all times.


Communication is at the heart of everything you do as a creative professional. Whether you go on to become a designer, illustrator, art director, game designer, or any one of the numerous careers that the COMD department is preparing you for, your number one goal is to communicate, and to do it visually. To be able to communicate visually you also need to be able to communicate verbally. One of the most important and overlooked skills in our industry is to be able to express yourself clearly so that other people understand what you are saying. 

With that in mind you should always try to express yourself as clearly as possible in this (and all) of your classes. Within this class you are expected to communicate with your classmates and with your professor. If you are going to miss a class it is your responsibility to let the professor know. If you are sick and miss a class when an assignment is due you will get a zero unless you contact your professor. 

If you have a question or are confused about something COMMUNICATE! Ask a question, send an email. Ignorance is not an excuse.

Essentials for Class

  • Sketchbook – Moleskin 8 x 10 or larger
  • Favorite drawing pencils 
  • Ruler and/or triangle 
  • Kneaded eraser 
  • Graphite transfer paper or light box 
  • Brush pens (Sakura or Pentel recommended) — or, get an assortment of brushes for ink only (sixes #1, #2, and #3 are a good start) and waterproof black ink 
  • Felt pens (Micron recommended) 
  • Bristol board 
  • Cloud storage, so that assignments are accessible for work in class 
  • Scanner or digital camera 
  • Adobe PS strongly recommended 
  • Drawing tablet strongly recommended

Graded Assignments

Appearances matter. Work should be presented online neatly and with care.

Recommend creating a consistent file-naming formula:

ClientName _ClassProject/Assignment/Title_Name+Date.FileFormat

  • COMD3313_AdvertIllo_THerangel825.pdf  (2nd Ver.) COMD3313_AdvertIllo2_THerangel825b.pdf 
  • COMD3313_FP-BookIllo_MVargas10145.psd  (4th Ver:) COMD3313_FP-BookIllo_MVargas10145d.psd 

Weekly Schedule 

AUGUST 25, 2023 | WEEK 1

  • Introduction: Review academic policies, go over syllabus. Discuss our relationship to illustration.
  • Introduction to Sketchbook Practice.
  • Introduction to Critique Practice.
  • Lecture: Ideate, Brainstorm, Research, Develop
  • Assignment 1: Beverage Label Illustration
  • Sketchbook Assignment 1: #MeetTheArtist

SEPTEMBER 1, 2023 | WEEK 2

  • Lecture: Illustration Process • Roles in Illustration 
  • Assignment 1: Beverage Label Illustration
  • Class Site Assignment 1: Illustration Heroes
  • Ideation Assignment 1: Mull 3 Compelling topics
  • Sketchbook Assignment 1: 15 Thumbnails, Choose Your Own Project

SEPTEMBER 8, 2023 | WEEK 3

  • Lecture: Consider The Pencil + Concept Development
  • In-Class Quickfire: Grayscale w/Pencil + 4 Product Sketches (Album, Interior Spread, Book Jacket, Ad Banner)
  • Sketchbook Assignment 1: Editorial Intro: Three thumbnails of your Compelling Topics in the dimensions of 4˝ x 7˝ 
  • Sketchbook Assignment 2: Creative Artist Selfie: Use a pic to take your image somewhere fun, fantastical or creative.
  • Sketchbook Assignment 3: Pencil Quilt (consider how you will ink it)


SEPTEMBER 22, 2023 | WEEK 4

  • Lecture: Introduction to Ink + Inking Techniques + Ill. Design Concepts
  • Class Quickfire: Four Tin-Tin (Hergé) Environments
  • Assignment – MidTerm Phase 1: Four Advanced Sketches (in proportion to 8.5˝ x 12˝)
  • Sketchbook Assignment 1: Ink Your Quilt (Use Lab for this + demo)
  • Sketchbook Assignment 2: Silhouettes (2 objects or 1 scene)
  • Sketchbook Assignment 3: Contour 3 Everyday Objects


OCTOBER 6, 2023, 2023 | WEEK 6 (CLASS 5 SHIFT)

  • Lecture: Value: Contrast + Greyscale + Value w/Ink + Uses of Value
  • Class Review: Homework
  • Assignment – MidTerm Phase 2: Choose 1 of your 4 Advanced Thumbnails to Advance to full-size 8.5˝ x 12˝ IN PENCIL
  • Sketchbook Assignment 1: 5 “Acceptable” Value Studies

OCTOBER 13, 2023 | WEEK 7 (COMBO W6 & W7)

  • Lecture: Value: Contrast + Greyscale + Value w/Ink + Uses of Value
  • Lecture 2: Then & Now 1: Evolution of Art & Illustration via Print
  • Class Review: Homework
  • Assignment – MidTerm Phase 3: Ink your penciled 8.5˝x12˝ Poster
  • Sketchbook Extra Credit: Any Inktober Entry Oct.1 –Oct.12


  • Lecture: Then & Now 2: Print Creates the Current Field for Illustrators
  • Lecture 2: Introduction to Editorial Illustration — Concept Is Key!
  • Assignment – MidTerm Conclusion: SCAN your poster
  • Sketchbook Assignment 1: Any Inktober Entry Oct.1 –Oct.13
  • Sketchbook Assignment 1: Draw The News/ revisit Compelling Topics: Source & Supply 3 News Stories > Create 3 Editorial Illustration Advanced Thumbnails per story (digital or analog) in 6˝ x 10˝dimensions.


  • Lecture: Color Introduction + Advertising/Packaging
  • In-Class Quickfire: 4 Product Sketches (3-D Packaging, Expanded Book Jacket, Beverage Bottle, Exploded View)
  • Assignment 1 – Advance Editorial: Choose 1 Thumbnail > Pencil 6˝x10˝ 
  • Sketchbook Assignment 1: Product Packaging + Functionality + Contents

NOVEMBER 3, 2023 | WEEK 10

  • Lecture: Intro to Digital Coloring
  • Lecture 2: Digital Illustration & Web Design & Social Media Careers
  • DEMO: Digital Starts: Scanning, Adjusting, Coloring Mid-Term Project -Photoshop Layers -Vector Conversion
  • Assignment 1 – Final Editorial: Inked 6˝x10˝ Editorial Illustration + Limited Color Palette
  • Sketchbook Extra Credit: Any Inktober Entry Oct.13 –Oct.31 

NOVEMBER 10, 2023 | WEEK 11 

  • Lecture: Book Illustration & Understanding the Beats of a Story
  • Lecture 2: Comic + Political Cartoons + Humor
  • In-Class Quickfire: 6 Simple Story Beats
  • FINAL PROJECT ASSIGNMENT #1: Narrative Illustration Phase 1: Story Selection +Thumbnails for Cover +At least 4 Interior Illustrations done via Sketchbook Assignment 1: Sketch 4 Cover Options, at least 3 sketches per interior pages.
  • Portfolio Prep: Make sure EVERY ASSIGNMENT is turned in.

NOVEMBER 17, 2023 | WEEK 12

  • Lecture: Point of View
  • Lecture 2: Previs > Premiere: Arts & Entertainment Illustration Careers
  • In-Class Quickfire: 4 Perspective Tests + 2 KeyFrame Tests:  Establishing Shot, Camera Movement
  • Portfolio Prep: Make sure EVERY ASSIGNMENT is turned in.
  • FINAL PROJECT ASSIGNMENT #2: Narrative Illustration Phase 2: PENCIL! Finalize Cover into Actual Sized Pencil AND Begin Penciling full-size pages.
  • Sketchbook Assignment 1: Environment Sketch
  • Sketchbook Assignment 2: Character/Costume Design: 1 Character 2 poses


DECEMBER 1, 2023 |  WEEK 13

  • Lecture: Gaming & Animation Careers
  • In-Class VizDev Quickfire: 3 Backgrounds + 3 Objects
  • Portfolio Prep: Make sure EVERY ASSIGNMENT is turned in.
  • FINAL PROJECT ASSIGNMENT #3: Narrative Illustration Phase 2: INK! Finalize Cover into final inks AND begin Inking full-size Interiors

DECEMBER 8, 2023 WEEK 14

  • Lecture:  Illustration All Around us: What Remains + Last Requests
  • In-Class Quickfire: Technical Drawings +  
  • Portfolio Prep: Make sure EVERY ASSIGNMENT is turned in.
  • DUE: Final Project : Finished Drawings (Ink & Pencil starting on digital)
  • Work in Class on Final Project/Final Portfolio

DECEMBER 15, 2023 | WEEK 15

  • Final Portfolio DONE: EVERY ASSIGNMENT is turned in.
  • Final Presentations
  • Get Ready to do it all again!
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