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Online Learning Tools for Production Designers

With the recent disruptions to our industry due to COVID-19, many colleagues are left wondering what to do with their new-found time. When we work on productions it can be difficult to find the time to develop some of our most basic skills, but since many of us are now forced to step away from produced work, this is the perfect moment to practice and learn. Here is a collection of online learning platforms that can bring training and the joy of practice to your home.


Linked in Learning

This is a subscription based website that gives you access to thousands of video tutorials on a wide variety of subjects. There are videos on how to use many kinds of softwares, like Photoshop, Illustrator, Excel, and Vectorworks. There are also tutorials on studio skills, like drawing in two point perspective, painting with watercolors, and photography basics. The program allows you to save courses you are interested in for later, so you could start by simply browsing and collecting lessons, and then revisit this list at your leisure. Here are some recommended places to start:


Open Culture

Open Culture is a totally free educational and cultural resource. It features a collection of links to free audiobooks, online courses, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and movies. One section of the site which could be particularly interesting to our community is the Free Art and Art History Courses, where you can browse resources related to art and design.


Adobe Creative Cloud Tutorials:


The Adobe family of softwares are immense and powerful. Many of them are the industry standard in each of the various fields they cover and can be useful to add to your tool belt. Through the creative cloud tutorials, Adobe offers courses in each of their programs. These courses range from beginner to advanced, and are free to anyone who already subscribes to the creative cloud. If you have been wanting to finally learn photoshop or discover how to edit your design-reel with premiere, this could be a great place to start!


The Sketchbook Project

​​There is a library in Brooklyn that houses an enormous, international collection of hand-illustrated sketchbooks. Here is how it works: participants are invited to order a blank sketchbook from their website and then choose a topic and fill it with art. The sketchbooks can then be sent back to the library, where they will be catalogued and put on the shelves. The books can also be digitized, and those that are can be accessed via their online database.


Sketchbook Skool

​​Sketchbook Skool is a virtual art school that allows you to take courses with professional artists and share your work with a community of students who are taking the same courses you are. Through the Skool, you can watch videos, learn techniques, and complete homework assignments designed to help you practice. Some of the courses include pencil drawing, watercoloring, urban sketching, and learning to use Procreate on your iPad.


New Masters Academy

The New Masters Academy is a subscriber resource library of art courses. It features a wide variety of drawing, painting, and sculpture classes that go from a beginner level all the way up to more specialized, advanced classes. Some of the courses include the “Color Theory Bootcamp”, “Introduction to Landscape Painting”, and “Human Anatomy for Artists.” They also have an online collection of figure drawing videos, which is a great place to go and practice timed figure drawing online. Many of these are available for free online.



Masterclass is a subscription-based platform that has created online classes taught by renowned experts of their respective field. One of the main fields in which they offer courses is in filmmaking, where they have sections taught by Ron Howard, Jodie Foster, Spike Lee, Werner Herzog, David Lynch, Mira Nair, and many more. There are also design specific courses: Frank Gehry teaches Design and Architecture, and Annie Leibovitz teaches Photography.


TED Talks

The TED Talks have become world famous. Beginning as an intimate get-together of expert presenters, TED Talks have grown to include TEDx Talks; events that take place around the world all the time. These varied presentations are filmed and available online, and include multitudes of topics all with the mission to spread ideas worth thinking about. Here are a few places to start:


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