I'm a fan of Skillshare, but it's not perfect - their classes mostly cater to beginners, and they have a limited amount of content for intermediate and advanced digital artists.
On top of that, sometimes I would rather purchase a course outright so I can download and watch it multiple times over in the future, than continue to pay a monthly subscription fee in case I want to re-watch part of a course.
So, sometimes Skillshare just wont do - but there are many other learning platforms out there and no way to tell which ones are worth your time and money, and whether they really offer more to digital artists than Skillshare does.
But you're in luck - I've watched a lot of courses on a bunch of platforms by now, so I've written down my thoughts here! This article is a list of my favorite Skillshare alternatives, that provide video tutorials and online courses on various aspects of learning digital art.
If you want to improve your drawing and painting fundamentals, I think Proko and New Masters Academy are the best platforms and good alternatives to Skillshare. If you want to develop the skills needed to work in the entertainment industry, Schoolism and Artstation provide higher-quality education at affordable rates.
Also, if you like Skillshare's classes but simply dislike Skillshare's subscription payment system, Udemy offers many of the same courses with one-time payment, pretty low prices and lifetime access.
Keep reading for a deeper dive into these platforms and what they each offer, how they compare to Skillshare, and how I think aspiring digital artists should utilise them.
What is Skillshare and what are the benefits of using it?
Just so we know what we are comparing against, lets briefly talk about Skillshare:
<yellow-bg>Skillshare is a subscription-based online learning platform that hosts a wide variety of classes for people looking to improve their skills in everything from art and design, to business management.<yellow-bg>
Skillshare has quickly become one of the most popular websites for learning new skills and building knowledge, in no small part because of their sponsorships of YouTubers - if you frequent the digital art side of YouTube you will have definitely heard of Skillshare!
In my opinion, most of Skillshare's content is well suited to beginners, some is suitable for for intermediate artists and very little of it is for advanced artists. If you're a beginner, Skillshare will serve you well!
If you've never tried Skillshare before, click here for a 1 month free trial and go try it out!
Skillshare is an affordable way to access high-quality online courses. For just $19 a month, or $99 a year, you can dip your toes into a lot of classes by a variety of instructors.
Unfortunately Skillshare has plans to slowly phase out its monthly plan - it may not be available where you live.
The courses are usually broken into small segments of 5 to 10 minutes, so you can watch a piece here and there with ease. Also, because subscribing gives you access to the whole library, you can jump in and out of all the courses on the site - it's a great way to explore many different creative activities, quickly and cheaply.
But if you don't have much time, you'll end up blowing through multiple months of subscription payments before learning what you want to about your desired skillset.
If you want very in depth and technical courses that you can refer back to over and over again, Skillshare is probably not going to be cost-effective as you'll have to stay subscribed to rewatch the courses.
If you have the spare time to binge a load of beginner's courses that you are interested in, Skillshare is very cost-effective. If you don't have much time to spend learning - say an hour a week or less - or are looking for more advanced or technical content, Skillshare probably isn't the best solution for you.
Now that's done, lets have a look into the alternatives and why you might opt to use them instead of Skillshare.
Udemy is the first place that comes to mind as an alternative to Skillshare, and that's because most of the good courses that are on Skillshare can also be found on Udemy!
The biggest difference between Skillshare and Udemy is that while Skillshare is subscription based, courses on Udemy are purchased individually for a one-time fee and lifetime access.
Why is Udemy a good alternative to Skillshare for Digital Artists??
Udemy has a much larger catalogue of courses and range of instructors, so there is a higher chance of finding a course here for learning a specific skillset, compared to Skillshare. Udemy also has a slightly higher average skill-level for its instructors, with more intermediate and advanced content than Skillshare's beginner-focused classes.
There are more reviews on Udemy than Skillshare because it just gets a lot more traffic and users, and a lot of instructors let you preview quite a lot of the course content for free before purchasing.
On Skillshare you can only watch the intro video of a course if you are not subscribed, so Udemy lets you get a better feel of their content before having to spend some money.
Udemy classes are usually $15 to $30 when on sale
But the key difference is that you purchase courses outright on Udemy for a one time fee, typically between $15 and $30 dollars.
You get lifetime access to the course, and with some courses the instructor will even let you download the videos. You can take your time with the course material without worrying about a subscription running out like Skillshare - and you can re-watch it again in the future whenever you like, or refer back to specific parts when you get stuck on something technical.
Having said all this, if you are looking for intermediate and advanced courses about digital art specifically, then I would skip Udemy and look into some of the next alternatives.
If you want to explore a few new creative disciplines, Skillshare's monthly subscription will let you just pay $19 for a month to bounce between many courses and try a little of everything - to do the same in Udemy would cost hundreds of dollars.
Udemy is best suited to purchasing one or two comprehensive course for beginners, in a discipline you are sure you want to develop skill in.
Most digital artists who aspire to work in the entertainment industry will already know about this site and their tutorials, but hobbyists might not be so informed.
Artstation is the goliath of digital art community websites. It offers a whole package of everything that an aspiring professional artist could want, including plenty of high-grade courses and tutorials in 'Artstation Learning', under a single monthly subscription fee of just $10 a month.
Artstation Learning is free for the rest of 2021! Go now, and learn what you can!
And what's more, Artstation Learning is currently free, for the rest of 2021! Hoorah! Take a look at it right now, and get your learning in while it's free
In addition to the Artstation Learning subscription service, they also have a marketplace with one-time purchase tutorials typically priced between $10 and $20.
Both together means that Artstation offers a massive catalogue of tutorials, covering basically everything you could possibly want to learn within a digital art skillset, taught by industry professionals with years of actual working experience.
Not only that, but Artstation offers a lot more in their subscription - your own portfolio website with a blog and store to sell prints of your art, and a few other bells and whistles thrown on top.
Artstation's value for money is extremely high. The main downside is that there is a lack of beginner courses, and of course the content is hyper focused on digital art - this is a platform made for intermediate and advanced digital artists, and anyone outside of that will struggle to find appropriate courses.
If you are an aspiring professional digital artist, Artstation is the first place you should look for courses and tutorials, and also the first place you should go to for other things like references and inspiration too!
Proko.com courses have traditionally been in anatomy, figure and portrait drawing instruction by Stan Prokopenko himself, but they have recently been diversifying their offering with ore instructors and more topics, from oil painting, to sculpting, to character design.
Proko's courses tend to concentrate on fundamental art skills, so are very useful for the budding digital artist.
Proko makes some of the very best figure courses online
This high quality does come with a higher price tag though - their courses range around $25 to $300.
For that larger fee, Proko offers lifetime access for all of its courses, and the ability to download them so you can watch them offline - no risk of losing internet connection or even buffering during a video lecture like there would be with Skillshare.
Proko is my no.1 recommendation for artists who want to improve their figure drawing and anatomy knowledge - their courses in those skillsets are unmatched in my opinion.
Schoolism is another learning platform designed for aspiring professional digital artists, with similar material to Artstation.
Where Artstation has chosen to have a very diverse and large catalogue of tutorials, Schoolism instead offers a very narrow selection of classes, aimed specifically at digital painters.
In taking that approach, Schoolism has created the perfect platform for those that want to be become professional digital painters.
There is a lack of absolute beginner material here, so you will have to understand the basics of digital painting with a tablet in something like Photoshop, Procreate or Krita before you can really make use of Schoolism. I think the courses are more suited to intermediate artists than beginners.
Like Skillshare, Schoolism has a monthly subscription to access all of its material, but it's a bit more expensive at $29.95 per month (vs Skillshare's $19) or $299 for a year of access (vs Skillshare's $99).
For $998, you can also sign up to get personalized feedback from the instructor on your weekly assignments for one of the classes.
Too expensive for most of us, but since many of the classes are 1 or 2 months long, those that can afford it will be able to get quite a lot of invaluable feedback on from experienced professionals.
Schoolism courses are more expensive than Skillshare, but they're also tailored for becoming an industry professional at digital painting. The course library is small and focused on refining the skills of digital artists who want to take their craft one step further than somewhere like Skillshare will get them.
Cubebrush's marketplace is very similar to Artstation, and you'll actually find a lot of the exact same courses and tutorials sold here, for the same prices.
Cubebrush, just like Artstation, is designed to cater to those who want to work in the entertainment industry as digital artists. They have courses that tackle traditional art, 3D modelling, digital painting etc for beginners up to advanced artists.
I personally think their marketplace is a little hard to navigate and filter through all of the content, so it can be hard to find exactly what you're looking for.
Cubebrush's biggest selling point - the exclusive courses by Marc Brunet
A major advantage that Cubebrush has over Artstation and other platforms are the popular courses created by the owner of Cubebrush himself, Marc Brunet.
Marc's courses, ART-School and the ULTIMATE 3D Artist and Concept Artist career guides, are in-depth, comprehensive and well regarded - and while they do cost a lot at $500, $198 and $98 respectively, they offer quite a lot of value for that money to beginners and intermediate artists.
Cubebrush do have occasional sales on their courses, so keep an eye on their marketplace to see if you can grab things at a bargain!
Cubebrush is a good alternative to Artstation, and offers similar and often the very same tutorials - I would check them both when you are looking for something specific, to get the best deal.
Gumroad is the wild west of tutorial platforms. It's a great big mix of topics, skill levels, prices and quality.
Gumroad is a vast collection of tutorials, but has no quality control and little browsing functionality.
Gumroad doesnt have any quality control or curation for its sellers - you don't really know what you'll be getting til after you've bought it.
I don't particularly recommend just heading to Gumroad to browse, not only because sorting and filtering through the giant collection is cumbersome.
You only get some text and images with which to make a purchasing decision, but luckily most Gumroad sellers also have a website or youtube channel with a lot of free content - if a tutorial does catch your eye, it should be easy to find more information on it by quickly googling the creator. They may have even put a sample on youtube.
If you're having trouble finding a tutorial about something specific, Gumroad's tutorial library is about as vast as they come - just be sure to do your own research into the creator of the course before parting with your money.
Well, I'll come straight out and say I don't currently have any experience with SVSLearn's courses, but since its so hard to find reviews for SVSLearn it's high on my list to try out.
Like many other platforms on this list, SVSLearn's courses are also geared toward people aspiring to be professional digital artists, but with a strong leaning toward working in a children's book illustration aesthetic.
SVSLearn is structured much like an actual art school experience, with a curriculum and learning order that covers beginner all the way up to advanced skillsets - from the basics of drawing perspective and shading, to character and vehicle design.
They also seem to be actively expanding their library all the time, as each time I look it seems to have grown. According to their site, they are planning to add environment design, storytelling and business modules to their curriculum in 2021.
Most of the instructors have a whimsical, more colourful and stylized aesthetic compared to other platforms, and many have worked professionally in children's books, animations and comics. They are all extremely skilled and experienced instructors, that include popular artists like Will Terry and Jake Parker.
SVSLearn costs $24.99 per month, or $198 per year - for that fee, you can watch all of their 100+ classes on-demand, and you get access to their class coursework and instructor feedback, as well as join their community.
They have a generous 30 day trial, which I'll be giving a shot - I'll let you know how it goes!
If you want to improve at drawing - especially to work in children's book illustration or a similar aesthetic - and you need something more structured than Skillshare, SVSLearn might be the best place to go. It's marginally more expensive than Skillshare, and offers a solid curriculum by experienced teachers
Unlike with SVSLearn, I have watched a lot of New Masters Academy classes and I have to say, I'm a big fan. If you simply want to get better at drawing and painting in a classical, academic way, you should take a look at New Masters Academy.
They started out by emulating the kind of classes you might get at a traditional atelier, with an emphasis on pencil drawing and oil painting, so that's where their platform really shines.
But lucky for us, all of the advice still applies to working digitally, and the instructors on New Masters Academy are some of the best artists around so I recommend it regardless.
They have also been expanding their library to include a lot more digital painting content recently, mostly focusing on emulating an atelier-like experience with digital tools.
It's a little more expensive than other options at $39 per month or $420 per year, with a 7-day free trial.
For another $10 per month, they also offer access to their library of high quality reference photos and 3d models to study from, though these aren't mandatory and you can just use free photos of models found elsewhere online.
I think New Masters Academy has some of the best and most thorough drawing and painting instruction on the internet.
If you want to improve your fundamental art skills - getting better at the foundational skills of drawing and painting - then New Masters Academy is probably the best place to do it online. It's more expensive at $39 a month, but personally I think it's worth it.
The Paintable Digital Painting Academy is a newer kid on the block from what I can tell, but after testing it out I like what they are doing.
The Paintable Academy is aimed at beginners - but while Skillshare has beginner's content but lacks any sort of structure or feedback, that is exactly what Paintable aims to provide:
A structured library of videos to take you from beginner to competent digital painter, focused on learning how to draw and paint digitally. Art fundamentals are less of a focus than learning the digital art process and workflow.
The course takes you through the whole process step by step, and the majority of it is taught by the owner of Paintable, David Belliveau. You also get access to the Paintable community so you can talk to other people on the course, and monthly live workshops to get feedback on your work.
They claim on their site that they will take you to a professional level, but I personally think their art fundamentals and intermediate skill-level content is a little too thin to make that a reality for most students.
Still, they should definitely be able to get you way past the beginner phase and comfortable with digital painting, and I expect they'll fill out their library over time to bridge that fundamentals and intermediate gap.
I expect most intermediate artists to eventually run out of learning opportunities with Paintable in its current form, but if you want a structured beginner course with a classroom-like community, Paintable is perfect for you.
I don't recommend Lynda/LinkedIn Learning or Creative Live
I've watched a couple of Lynda courses, and in my fairly limited experience I would say the skill level of the instructors is lower than can be found on other platforms, and the quality is lower too.
It's also more expensive than Skillshare and has a smaller selection of instructors and courses - for these reasons, I wouldn't recommend it over anything on the above list.
As far CreativeLive, I don't have any actual experience with the courses, but from digging into their platform they look to have the same shortcomings as Lynda - more expensive than many options, and only a small selection of lower quality courses and instructors than are offered elsewhere.
My recommendation really depends on what you need from a digital art education.
If you want to improve your drawing and painting fundamentals, I think Proko and New Masters Academy are the best platforms - more expensive than Skillshare, but they have the very best teachers in that domain.
If you like Skillshare's classes but dislike their subscription system, check to see if the same classes are available on Udemy.