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  • Independent Illustration

    Independent Illustration

Program Code:ILU
Duration:4 Semesters (2 Years)
Start Dates:Fall, Winter,
Start dates are subject to change
Credential Awarded:Ontario College Diploma

Program Description

This four-semester program is best suited for you if you have a strong interest in visual arts, visual storytelling and a desire to work in the freelance illustration field.

For acceptance into ILU, you’ll also need a good working knowledge and skill level in the visual arts.

As a student in the program, you’ll have the opportunity to specialize in your area of interest while showcasing your own unique style. You'll develop skills in the traditional artistic realm of wet and dry media (drawing, painting, and sculpture), as well as in digital media, for the creation and final output of illustration. You'll learn a breadth of illustrative applications and techniques for a variety of audiences, including children, web and game users, viewers of journalism and advertising, as well as comics and graphic novel readers. During the course of this program, you'll build a strong portfolio of illustration work for a wide range of practical applications. Additionally, the English and Liberal Studies options will help you develop the strong written and verbal communication skills that are integral to success in the illustration industry.

As a career pursuit, illustration is entrepreneurial in nature. Most illustrators run their own businesses and work as freelancers. Thus, along with artistic and technical skills, you'll learn business and entrepreneurial skills.

Before graduating, you will create your own small business, have a working website and have the accounting, marketing and revenue creation skills integral to launching a freelance career in illustration.

The growth areas of illustration are in the following industries:

  • Advertising/Marketing
  • Film/Animation
  • Interactive/Multimedia/Educational
  • Pre-visualization and Concept Development
  • Publishing: Children's books/Publications

Upon graduation, you'll be prepared to succeed in this industry.

Program Learning Outcomes:

This Seneca College program meets the system-wide standards as set by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

As a graduate, you will be prepared to reliably demonstrate the ability to:

  • Draw a variety of forms including the human, animal, architectural and inanimate in an articulate and aesthetic manner.
  • Create professional quality illustrations using a variety of traditional and digital media appropriate to the desired message conveyed.
  • Critically evaluate the effectiveness of the illustrations in both written and verbal formats.
  • Work effectively within the digital workflow by cataloguing, archiving and creating backup strategies for images and prints.
  • Create legal contracts, dockets and other business documents for each project.
  • Colour calibrate, finish and distribute images in a resolution and format that meets the needs of the client.
  • Develop a portfolio that demonstrates professional creative skills and abilities in illustration.
  • Develop a business plan for the establishment and operation of an illustration services company that adheres to ethical and industry standards.
  • Produce marketing plans and materials such as quality business cards, a website and other promotional materials for both a new and an established illustration services company.

Essential Employability Skills:

Graduates of this program are also expected to demonstrate the essential employability skills learning outcomes as outlined on the Ministry of Training, College and Universities website.

Admission Requirements

Program Eligibility:

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent with:
    • Grade 12 English: ENG4(C) or ENG4(U)
  • OR Mature Student Status (age 19 or older) with the above prerequisite course(s), their equivalent(s), or appropriate Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) Certificate program credits (see Academic Upgrading).

Applicant Selection:

  • In the event of oversubscription, additional selection criteria may be required.
  • A pamphlet with your testing information is available here.
  • Pre-Admissions English Test Exemption - If you have applied to transfer from our Arts Fundamentals (AFD) program, or have completed a College level English course at an accredited post secondary institution in Canada, OR a country where English is the first language, you may be exempt from writing the pre-admissions English test. However, you will still have to complete all program specific requirements (i.e. drawing test, applicant profile, portfolio). If you are not writing the English test, the $55 fee will no longer apply. Please notify Admissions if this exemption will apply to you.


  • Although not required for admission, the following are considered assets:
    • Grade 12 Visual Arts (drawing, painting, illustration);
    • Basic computer skills including, Windows or Macintosh operating system, word processing (preferably Microsoft Word), and spreadsheet software (Excel);
    • College Art Fundamentals Program.

The Importance of Learning Skills:

Student success in college requires well developed learning skills (such as being able to work independently, participate in a team, be well–organized, develop good work habits, and show initiative). These skills are as important as prior academic achievement. While it is expected that applicants would have developed these skills through previous education and life experiences, Seneca offers support to assist students with further development of these important skills. Seminars, workshops and tutoring are available at Seneca's Learning Centres.


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Your Career

The four–semester Independent Illustration diploma program prepares you for success as an Illustrator and entrepreneur. Most illustrators run their own businesses and work as “freelancers" for a wide range of clients across many sectors. As a graduate of this program, you’ll be equipped with a registered small business, a working website and the accounting, marketing and revenue creation skills necessary to run a successful illustration business.

Having studied both traditional and digital media in the program, you’ll be equipped to produce work for a range of audiences, including children, web and game users, viewers of journalism and advertising, as well as comics and graphic novel readers. Whether you’re working on a stretched canvas or a wireless tablet, you’ll have the necessary skill sets to compete in this field.

General Education

One of the general education courses must be a literature course, for which EAC150 is the pre-requisite.

For more information, please visit our website at

Important Academic Dates

Please take a few moments to view Important Academic Dates for your relevant semester.


Semester 1 Course Name Hrs/Wk
EAC150 College English 3
ILU100 Traditional Illustrative Media I 3
ILU101 Digital Tools 3
ILU102 Applied Illustration History 3
ILU106 Life Drawing I 3
ILU107 Business I 3
ILU113 Structural Drawing I 3
Semester 2 Course Name Hrs/Wk
ILU200 Traditional Media II 3
ILU201 Digital Paint 3
ILU202 Creativity and Concept Development I 3
ILU205 Advertising/Packaging Illustration 3
ILU207 Business II 2
ILU213 Structural Drawing II 3
ILU216 Life Drawing - Anatomy I 3
XXXXXX General Education Option 3
Semester 3 Course Name Hrs/Wk
ILU204 Sequential Narration and Comic Illustration 3
ILU300 Traditional Illustrative Media III 3
ILU302 Creativity and Concept Development II 3
ILU304 Children's Illustration 3
ILU307 Small Business Tools:Web Design & Digital Portfolio 3
ILU308 Visual Development I 3
ILU316 Life Drawing Anatomy II 3
XXXXXX General Education Option 3
Semester 4 Course Name Hrs/Wk
ILU400 Traditional Illustrative Media IV 3
ILU401 Interacitve Illustration 3
ILU404 Specialization Studio 4
ILU407 Small Business 2
ILU408 Visual Development II 3
ILU416 Life Drawing - Applied 3
XXXXXX General Education Option 3

Contact Us

For more information, please visit:
Admissions Advisors:
Domestic Admissions Advisor: Bridget De Vries
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 22807
International Admissions Advisor: Salaha Fatima
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 22081
Registration & Records Advisor:
  Sharina Khan
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 33008
Program Contacts:
Program Coordinator: JoAnn Purcell
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 33376
Program Chair: Mark Jones
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 33488
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