Schoolism is neither the first nor the last online art school ever to exist, but might it be your best fit?
I’ve got a full review for that question. Choosing an online art design course over a physical art college is a wise bargain, but we can’t say the same for a particular online course without subjecting it to a thorough review.
I have spent much time with Schoolism to the point of delving into some of the courses. I have also sampled the opinions of others who have used the course.
All the observations have been distilled into the following headings:
- Overview of Schoolism
- What does Schoolism offer?
- Schoolism Pros
- Schoolism Cons
- Is Schoolism Worth It?
- Refund Policy
- Schoolism vs. New Masters Academy (Summary of Differences)
If you have acquired some basic skills in art, continue reading to know if Schoolism can take you further. If you are a complete newbie to art, jump in the review right now, and let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Overview of Schoolism
Schoolism is an online school of art. Bobby and Kei founded it as a collaborative effort about ten years back to help aspiring artists worldwide.
Through Schoolism, beginners learn art and design from the masters in the skill. Schoolism aims to bridge that gap and make art education more affordable to everyone, as it is often too expensive to learn art skills from an institution.
Schoolism doesn’t stop at making art education less costly for everyone. It allows you to learn at your convenience via a monthly or yearly subscription that unlocks the entire video course library. The other route is to sign up for a critique session hosted by an instructor. You get critiques and personalized feedback from the latter method.
You can access the courses and the critique sessions through mobile devices and PC. Signup is an easy process and takes a single page. Schoolism has a free plan ideal for testing the platform. It has limited features, including a dashboard and many free tutorials.
What Is In Schoolism?
Schoolism courses and live classes enable students of all skill levels to become adept in three key areas of art, painting, drawing, and sculpting.
An instructor teaches the techniques needed to master a particular skill, and you can follow along on your screen as he demonstrates with drawings. The lessons conclude with assignments that you can then submit for review.
The lessons come in courses that help you specialize in a particular type of art. There is a lot of content for every profession in art.
Traditional art painters whose hobbies involve drawing with old-fashioned instruments like pencils, charcoal, oil paints, canvases, et cetera, will gain much from courses like color and light workout, drawing portraits in charcoal, landscape sketching in watercolor and gouache, et cetera.
Whether it is landscape painting, portraits, human anatomy, or that of animals, you will get enough lessons delivering bite-sized information that will satisfy your curiosity and fill your knowledge gaps.
Digital painters are not left out. They will learn skills akin to traditional painters, along with how to utilize them in the digital format using the relevant tools.
Popular digital creation apps like Procreate and Adobe Illustrator get a lot of attention, highlighting their unique features and tools and how to manipulate them to recreate lighting effects and other details that give the finished work a lifelike impression.
Comics, video games, and movies are other vast facets of art that traditional art institutions charge a premium for. It takes years of practice and lots of data from pre-launch trials to design avatars and other characters that movie fans and gamers will associate with emotions and lifestyles.
With Schoolism, you can skip the hefty prices and learn how to draw avatars and fictional creatures that you can license to top-rated movie and video companies at high rates.
Of course, there’s much more to explore in Schoolism. Everything I’ve talked about so far in this section is just scratching the surface. There’s much more to uncover, such as the courses themselves, the instructors, learning methods (spoiler: they are many), and whether or not there’s a community.
There are more than 50 courses in the Schoolism online video library. I will highlight the first ten.
- Designing stylized 3D characters in ZBrush
- Pictorial composition workout
- Fundamentals of expressive character design
- Character design and costuming for games
- Environment design workout
- Visual development step by step
- Creating a gallery show
- Speed sketching animals
- Storyboarding for feature animation
- Introduction to blender
- And more
Each course in a specialty starts with the basics of that concept. Also, the instructor shares tips and tricks for gaining certain results in their work with less time and effort.
There isn’t much to complain about here. The videos are high quality, and you get a different instructor for each course. That, in my opinion, means you get to enjoy a variety of teaching styles.
The courses are highly structured, and each lesson has an overview of its exact content. And I noticed that the courses lean towards helping you build a portfolio of projects rather than just teaching you how to draw.
There are enough instructors in Schoolism to form a community of their own. The good thing is you can tell these coaches are experts at what they do from their manner of teaching.
Every one of the instructors has a rich work history. They either head their own studios or have worked for multinational concept design teams—the ones that design the movies and games we are all fans of.
The lead instructor in Schoolism is Bobby Chiu. He is one of the co-founders of Imaginism Studios. Bobby also played a major role in designing the characters of Alice in Wonderland.
Airi Pan is another outstanding coach in Schoolism. She, too, has countless digital art creations that numerous movie companies have used in their productions. The list of companies she has worked for is long. Talk Netflix, Pixar, and Warner Brothers, to name but a few.
As I said before, Schoolism offers online courses and live classes. They are packed with demonstrations you can follow on your drawing pad. But that’s not all.
There are critique sessions where instructors personally review students’ work and point out flaws in them. These critique sessions come up regularly, and a course you are on might have its own pre-recorded critique session.
Critique sessions are essentially Schoolism’s take on live classes, except that you don’t join live conferences with instructors and your fellow students.
The critique sessions have set dates and last from 9 to 14 weeks. They are courses in themselves broken down into pre-recorded lectures that drop at the rate of one per week (or every two weeks).
Every lecture concludes with an assignment that you must attempt and submit the week following that lecture. After you submit your assignment, you will get a personalized response video where the instructor shows what you did well, where you flopped, and what they (the instructor) might have done differently.
By the time you get the final lecture (you will still have access to the previous ones), you will have watched the entire course, and the whole course material will be yours for another two weeks, after which your access to it will end.
If you hand in all of your assignments on time, you will receive a final grade and a certificate of completion will be mailed to you.
There are webinars which are live broadcasts by instructors. These webinars go behind the scenes of what the experts in the art industry do to ensure their drawings or paintings come out great. They also offer a chance to interact with the coaches in real-time.
Interviews are another resource Schoolism provides. They are basically what the name suggests. Every instructor has their own pre-recorded interview where they go into much detail about how they started their drawing careers, the challenges they overcame, and where they are now in their careers.
Interviews are provided for free when you sign up for Schoolism’s free tier.
Schoolism provides a study group that is hosted on Facebook. The community is home to both instructors and students. So occasionally, you can get drawing challenges, portfolio reviews, etc., in the community.
You can chat about your courses or comment on other people’s posts, share your project updates, engage in live events, or just ask questions about anything art. You will definitely get a fitting response.
The community is your only chance at getting any comment at all on your drawings if you don’t register for a critique session.
Pros of Schoolism
Quality, No-Fluff Videos
All Schoolism courses meet high standards of pixel sharpness, with all videos coming at 1080p resolution. You can adjust the quality to suit your network strength.
Voice clarity is satisfactory, too, and if you like, you can turn on subtitles for a better viewing experience.
Overall, the teaching style is professional but not overly formal. Every word counts, and you are not getting unnecessary stories or other fluff.
Many of the instructors have a down-to-earth manner of teaching and often show you how a beginner would approach things versus an expert. The overall teaching style feels like the coaches are putting themselves in your shoes and coming down to your level.
Prepares You For Jobs In Art Fields
Schoolism goes way beyond teaching you how to draw as, maybe, a hobby. Schoolism courses mostly focus on digital art and, as such, prepare you with the skills that give you a competitive edge in the online job market.
If you are a freelancer or planning to secure employment in a major media company, Schoolism can go a long way to help you achieve your career goals.
Schoolism might not refer you to companies with vacancies, but it will enable you to build a portfolio convincing enough for clients to hire you when you pitch your services to them.
Provides A Learning Structure
It is not a place where all the lessons are piled on each other with no clear connection or pathway to follow.
Schoolism organizes all of its content into skill sets for major specialties in art. If you want to master portraits, there is a course for that. The same applies when you want to learn storyboarding or some other domain in art.
You will benefit a lot from the Schoolism course structure if you don’t have the time or motivation to put a study plan together yourself.
However, the number of courses can seem overwhelming, so it is always a good idea to pick one course and stick to it.
Gives Access to Past Critiques
Schoolism is one of the few course platforms in art or any other category that gives access to past critique sessions.
With this feature, if a particular course has had critique sessions before, your subscription unlocks access to it.
Critiques are a good way of learning from other people’s mistakes, and with the option to view past ones, you can learn from those mistakes faster.
Provides Interviews With Instructors
Few, if any, venture into a new career with all the tools and skills they need. They did their best with what they had and overcame their challenges.
Nevertheless, no matter how successful you are in your present career, sometimes, you might wish you had known certain things earlier.
Schoolism’s instructor interviews show the coaches discussing how the journey to their present height has been, as well as what they wish they had known earlier.
Listening to these interviews will give you the confidence you need to set out in your art career, even if you have not had everything planned out. You will avoid a lot of what-ifs and had-I-known moments and progress much faster.
And you know the best thing? These interviews are part of the free tier on Schoolism.
Certificate of Completion
Schoolism awards you a certificate of completion if you attended their critique sessions and completed all their assignments.
While a certificate of completion may not do much to win an employer’s heart as it is not accredited, it can be powerful proof that you’ve been busy adding value to yourself. Few, if any, employers can overlook that.
Cons of Schoolism
Direct Feedback Costs More
Schoolism, like some other online art schools, offers critiqued sessions with instructors. These critiqued sessions make for better learning than merely watching the courses alone.
But you will pay a much higher subscription fee if you fancy submitting assignments and getting personalized instructor feedback.
Aside from the high cost of the critiqued sessions, there is little else to worry about if Schoolism is your choice.
Is Schoolism Worth It?
Schoolism is currently among the most recommended online art schools if you don’t want to shell out your yearly income for a physical art institution.
I highly recommend Schoolism because it offers a complete learning experience, which can take you very far if you diligently study. But you must have leveled up on the basic art skills first.
Whichever course you pick, you are certain to get up-to-date training on high-demand art skills. That will help you to build a solid reputation and get more offers and referrals.
The instructors are top-notch, and there really isn’t anything you are missing out on if you skip a physical training college in favor of Schoolism.
In addition to the very comprehensive training you will get on Schoolism, you will build your portfolio to have the relevant work history to back up your claims when you start applying for jobs.
Schoolism starts free, but after exhausting the free tutorials and interviews, you must select from one of the following options if you want to advance.
- The webinar plan costs $22.95. It includes all free tutorials and interviews plus access to all of Schoolism’s live webinars.
- The Schoolism monthly plan unlocks all courses, video lessons, peer feedback videos, assignments, and live webinars for $29.95 monthly. Alternatively, you can pay $299.40 for the yearly subscription.
- Critique sessions offer all of Schoolism’s features and personalized instructor feedback for $998.
If you registered for a critique session but cannot continue due to some emergency, you can ask for a refund, and the money will be paid back in full or in part, depending on the following factors.
- If the session has not started, you have up to two weeks before its commencement for a full refund.
- If you submit a refund request within (not before) the last two weeks before the session starts, a $25 admin fee will be deducted from your payment, and you will receive the rest.
- Submitting a refund request after the session has started will only earn you a partial refund. The fee for each class activated for you will be removed from your payment along with the $25 admin fee.
- After lesson seven is activated, the door closes for refunds.
No refunds are issued for Schoolism course subscriptions, although you can email the support team for special consideration.
Schoolism vs. New Masters Academy
Schoolism vs. New Masters Academy is another popular comparison online, as the two platforms look very similar.
And, of course, they are similar in many ways. New Masters Academy (NMA) is on par with, if not better than Schoolism, in terms of instructor quality. You get a similar level of depth with the courses on both platforms.
Everything else looks the same, too: critiques, live sessions, community, learning assistants (3D models, reference library, et cetera).
You can get my full review of NMA here.
But the two mega courses maintain certain clear-cut differences. First, Schoolism is more modern in style. NMA leans heavily toward the traditional painting system with oil paint, brushes, charcoal pigments, etc.
Schoolism focuses more on digital art. NMA does have digital art courses, but the techniques are taught using physical painting and can be hard to translate to a digital context.
And while both art training schools feature critiques, Schoolism goes a step forward and allows you to access past critique sessions.
Nevertheless, NMA is the more beginner-friendly of the duo as it has a ton of foundational courses in relation to NMA.
Is Schoolism Good for Beginners?
Schoolism is not my recommendation if you are a complete newbie to drawing and have not acquired such basic skills as perspective, 3D modeling, the physics of light and color, et cetera.
For the elementary skills, you will be better off with NMA.
How Much Does Schoolism Cost?
Schoolism costs about $299 and $998 for the course subscription and the critique sessions, respectively.
How Do I Cancel My Schoolism Subscription?
For the critique sessions, send a refund request to the support team at least two weeks before the session starts to avoid any deduction.
For the courses subscription, it’s a 50-50 game.