Our pal Jeff Hamada, founder of BOOOOOOOM—one of the biggest art blogs on the web, shows us his favorite free art tutorials on YouTube. Read on!  

When it comes to free learning, especially in the realm of illustration and design, the Internet is an embarrassment of riches. Everything you will ever need to know about any media arts-related program is available on Youtube, Reddit, and a handful of other sites. The problem is not a lack of information, the problem is too much information. Too many search results! Too many tutorials! More specifically, too many bad tutorials.

I’ve dug up some Youtube videos here that I personally found helpful, and hopefully they’ll be relevant to you. I think they will be based on the type of work I see many of you creating here on Society6. Quick background on me, I freelanced as a graphic designer for several years and worked as a concept artist at Electronic Arts before starting an art website called Booooooom, which is now my full-time job. I’ve made things for brands like Converse, Oakley, and Herschel Supply and many of the techniques I used were things I learned from people that mentored me at EA and things I learned on the Internet (cherry picking from Youtube videos).

Here are 3 tutorials that taught me some useful things.

#1 Jon Contino on how to Design a Secret Society Bandana

First of all, disregard the whole secret society bandana. Don’t think about whether or not this is “your style”. You’ve probably already scrolled down and looked at the other video thumbnails as well. I’d say 99% of tutorials require you to make cheesy things but you can take the techniques and create other less cheesy things. My main takeaway from this video is the overall workflow. Jon is a super talented designer and you can learn a lot just by copying his steps.

Good tip (9:00 minute mark): Jon is about to print off some rough artwork so he can draw over it and mentions that you should change the colour of the artwork to 10% cyan aka “non-reproduction blue”. This way when he brings it back into Photoshop he can adjust the levels to completely drop out the blue lines.

#2 Create a Double Exposure Image in Photoshop

I see a lot of this style of work being made, and it’s not my favourite by any means but there are some great tips in this tutorial. This one deals a lot with masks and painting things in and out.

Life-changing tip (1:00 minute mark): Right at the beginning of this video Nathaniel starts using a quick selection tool and it’s crazy but somehow in all my years of using Photoshop I never knew how insanely quick and effective it is for making masks especially when you use “refine edge”. I used to always use a combination of magnetic lasso and polygonal lasso but those days are over.

#3 Drawing flowering vectors in illustrator

This one is kinda the antithesis to the Jon Contino one; it gets super tech (and moves really fast). The guy in this video makes the design above using only a couple circles. The danger of tutorials like this is they can be so specific that they end up being less practical and ultimately unusable for most things. However some of the intermediate steps produced really cool things and I could see using parts of this technique to create some experimental imagery. To me, the image is more interesting around the 13:30 minute mark than at the end. I’ll never remember all the steps in this tutorial but it taught me a completely different way to use Illustrator.

Minor tip (9:30 minute mark): I didn’t know you could use math inside the angle box and let Illustrator do all the calculations.

So whether you’re trying these three tutorials or you’ve found some others on your own, don’t get stress out trying to memorize every step/action. If you can remember even one thing from each (maybe write that one thing down) your work will start to benefit. Good luck!