Nicole’s Classes – Review

If you’ve ever looked into the cost associated with schooling to become a graphic designer, you’ll notice a few things:

  1. Entry into a program may require the completion of pre-requisite post-secondary courses
  2. The program might only be offered full-time or part-time and must be taken at the campus rather than online
  3. It’s freakishly expensive – a 6-month full-time program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (which is in my city) costs $5,870
  4. You’re only learning about three programs in the Adobe Suite: Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop

So what about the rest of us who don’t have that kind of money, time to commit, or already have a general knowledge of those programs in Adobe? Why online learning, of course!

Having taken some online courses through Coursera and Universal Class* (follow the asterisk for a brief note on why I didn’t like these options), I wasn’t jazzed on their formats, so I sought out an alternative when I wanted to learn all about Illustrator. Enter Nicole’s Classes.

nicole-s-classes

Simple and comforting logo, like a cool breeze against your face in the summer.

 

For ease of reading and scrolling to the important bits, let’s make a list of what you’ll want to know.

THE COST

$125.00 USD. This cost me about $165 Canadian with our dollar worth $0.77 for every USD.

THE FORMAT

You install the Nicole’s Classes application which requires your computer to run Adobe Air. Each course was four weeks long which can be done all at once or week-to-week. This is super handy if you need to download the free trial version of Illustrator as it only lasts for 30 days (aka four-weeks plus a couple of days). Homework is turned in for feedback each Sunday and is uploaded through the Nicole’s Classes application. Holly, the instructor, was so much more encouraging and enthusiastic than I ever would have thought. She will not only give you feedback on your work but will answer any questions you might have about things you could have done differently which she’ll answer through the application and email. This was a major plus for me because their customer service is amazing and their instructors seem to be really available for their input.

HOW IT’S TAUGHT

Lessons are available either through video or in a brief text summary. I think that the text is better suited for people who might just be looking for a refresher on a program or already know the tools but just need to learn how to utilize them. I personally watched the video on one screen and would follow along in Illustrator on another screen with the instructor so that I could mimic what she was doing. That’s how I learn best, but reading text or just watching might work really well for others.

WHAT DID I LEARN

I took both Illustrator 101 and 102 which are both led by the same instructor, Holly Hucklesby. I started the course on 101 with zero knowledge of Illustrator, but came out of it being able to design two rather intense infographics for work:

Infographic One

Yeah, dude. I made those stick figure people on my own. Low-tier GENIUS.

 

Infographic Two

It was after creating this that I found out you can generate infographics using programs online, but I still like to make stuff from scratch – it’s good practice!

 

And some silly stuff I did for my homework assignments:

PicMonkey Collage

My homework for Illustrator 101

 

PicMonkey Collage

My homework for Illustrator 102. Guess which one I’m most proud of?

 

I learned about all of the tools in the toolbar and what they do. I created shapes, brushes, patterns, my own fonts, learned to manipulate text and shapes, how to use the pen tool, and discovered really handy tools that lead me to believe ANYONE could be a graphic designer (hello Colour Guide that gives you swatches pertaining to categories like food, nature, and skin tones).

FINAL THOUGHTS

My experience with Nicole’s classes was probably one of the most fun and rewarding educational experiences I’ve had since elementary school. Learning about the tools that graphic designers have via programs like Illustrator excited me and made me want to work in the program as often as possible. Top that all off with an awesome instructor whose enthusiasm for design comes across in her classes and the very reasonable cost, I can’t recommend Nicole’s Classes enough to all of the budding graphic artists out there!

So keep your eyes on my site for Illustrator stuff in the future. I have some ideas in mind for silly little art prints, so I can’t wait for you to see what I’ve learned!

Thanks for reading!

*Coursera: I took a Typography course. That’s already a dry topic on its own, but it was made all the more dry by only having video that explained Typography versus how to make it look best in a graphic design format. I was pretty bummed, but it was free, so I can’t be that upset about it.

Universal Class: I took a course on InDesign meant for beginners. I had already been using InDesign for almost a year, so the class was good for teaching me a few things I didn’t know. I wouldn’t recommend the course I took to anyone who has never used InDesign before as the class is all text-based and doesn’t even require you to use InDesign at any point. It was good for what I needed (just a little bump in my knowledge), but I don’t think it would work for anyone brand new to a program.

 

 

 

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