Seven Secrets of Visual Storytelling

Iain McCaig
8 Lessons (6h 1m)
8 Week(s)

Two Ways to Learn


most popular

  1. Watch Video Lessons at Your Own Pace
  2. Assignments Included
  3. Peer Feedback
  4. Switch Courses as Often as You Like
  5. Access to all Schoolism Webinars included

Critiqued Sessions

personalized instructor feedback

no critiqued sessions available
  1. Watch Video Lessons with a Planned Curriculum
  2. Scheduled Assignments with Deadlines
  3. Personalized paint-overs and feedback videos
  4. Peer feedback
  5. Ability to Contact Instructor with Questions
  6. Physical Certificate of Completion (Mailed to you anywhere in the world)
  7. Access to all Schoolism Webinars included

Course Description

Join Iain McCaig on a journey into the hidden side of creation, or as he calls it, “The Invisibles”. Through this eight lesson course, you’ll learn how to engage a viewer with your art, direct their eye with purpose and intent, and create visual stories with a long lasting impact.

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Drawing Tablet
  • Pencil/Paper

Lesson Plan

How do you see the Invisibles? In this lesson, Iain shows you how to use action, context and framing to suggest a larger story, where he gets his ideas from, and practices to make your art both unique and fulfilling.

This lesson includes a real-time reference drawing demo.

Topics covered:

  • Storytelling
  • Inspiration
  • Creating Unique Art

Is your character “good”, “evil” or a balance between the two - a “Shadowline” character? In this lesson, Iain demonstrates the push and pull between these dynamics, the changes over time as your character evolves, and how to communicate this visually to the viewer.

This lesson includes a real-time character drawing demo.

Topics covered:

  • Character Concept Design
  • Good or Evil as a Character
  • Episodic Characters

You start an image and are faced with the dreaded blank white canvas. But it’s not blank, you just need to brush away the image that’s hidden beneath. This lesson continues with,"The Invisibles”, something you don’t know you’re seeing, but profoundly effects the audience and tells them your story.

Learn how to bring your art to life with story, sequential storytelling for film or comics, and how to add the secret ingredient - you.

This lesson includes a recorded character drawing demo.

Topics covered:

  • The “Invisibles”
  • Storyboarding
  • Comic Art
  • Defining your Style

In this lesson, Iain shares his process - how he creates an image from start to finish. Watch storyboards from past projects as Iain shows how he applies a finished character in sequential storytelling.

Topics covered:

  • Storyboarding
  • Illustration & Concept Art Process
  • Researching

Learn how to use the “Invisibles” for storytelling and performance. Once mastered, these can influence your audience and provoke emotions, all without them knowing you’re doing this. This lesson shows how to bind character performance, lighting, composition and context to draw the viewer into your image and engage in your story.

Topics covered:

  • Character Poses & Performance
  • Lighting
  • Composition
  • Design Rhythms

This lesson includes a real-time character poses drawing demo.

There’s a Cheetos advertisement, now you want Cheetos. Iain shows how to use mind games for the light side of the force, and how it can be a powerful storytelling tool.

Topics covered:

  • Visual cues & Symbolism
  • Composition & Contrast
  • Silhouettes & Scale
  • Story & Emotion over Logic

Story is not plot. Every plot has a story, but not every story has a plot. Confused yet? In this lesson, learn how Iain uses story to bind everything together, and how you do too.

Topics covered:

  • Storytelling
  • Introspective Art
  • Primitives & Light
  • Posing & Balance
  • Composition & Contrast

This lesson includes a real-time keyframe drawing demo.

Once images fall on a page, they start to create a story for you. In this final lesson, Iain shows how to make a story out of nothing, and how to introduce mechanics to guide the small spark of an idea into the direction you want it to go.

Topics covered:

  • Storytelling
  • Graphic Novels & Comics
  • Context to Create Story
  • Keyframes


Iain McCaig

Iain McCaig divides his energies between a lifelong love of storytelling, and a passionate belief that everyone in the world can learn to draw. McCaig is best known for his cover art for Jethro Tull's 'Broadsword and the Beast' and for his Star Wars designs for Queen Amidala and Darth Maul. His film work includes 'Interview With the Vampire', 'Dracula', 'Terminator 2', 'Hook', 'Peter Pan', 'Charlotte's Web', 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', 'The Avengers', 'Guardians of the Galaxy', and 'Star Wars Episode VII'. He is also a Chesley nominated illustrator, having illustrated books ranging from 'Fighting Fantasy' to J.R.R.Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'.

In October 2008, Palace Press International published 'Shadowline - the Art of Iain McCaig', a 28 year retrospective of his film and publishing work. In May 2014, Spectrum Fantastic Art honored him with their lifetime achievement 'Grand Master' Award.