Art Techniques

Develop your drawing and painting skills with this inviting, accessible course covering all the techniques needed to draw and paint successfully, including preparation and different media. Practically based and fully illustrated, this home study course is suitable for anyone wishing to learn the basics of art as well as those wishing to extend their skills. If you’re studying for an art qualification, the extra ground you’ll cover on this course should provide an excellent complement.



Course requirements

No previous painting or drawing skills are required. This is an online course so you will need access to the internet.

Duration of study

As a guideline, you should allow for approximately 80 hours' study time, plus additional time for completing assignments. You will have tutor support for a period of up to 12 months from the date of enrolment.


Section 1 - Introduction
  • Getting to know your materials
  • Drawing from objects
  • Tone and negative space

Section 2 - Still life
  • Subjects and groupings
  • Associations and symbols
  • Light and perspective
  • Colour
  • Painting from studies
  • Composition

Section 3 - The human figure
  • Introducing the figure
  • From experiment to practice
  • Drawing the standing figure
  • Drawing seated and reclining figures
  • The 15-minute figure painting
  • Painting from longer poses

Section 4 - Themes
  • Working from a theme
  • From drawing to painting
  • Place and movement
  • A theme of your own
  • Abstraction and expressionism


This course has:
  • 10 assignments

Set texts and resources

There are no additional set texts for this course.

You will need acrylic paints in the following colours:
  • Cadmium red
  • Crimson
  • Cadmium yellow
  • Raw umber
  • Ultramarine blue
  • Monestial, Phthalo or Jenkins green
  • Yellow ochre
  • Black
  • White

We recommend buying medium-size tubes for every colour except white, as these will contain around 38mil depending on the manufacturer. The exception is white as you will require more of this colour, so we recommend a 120mil-size tube. The above is a basic list to start you off; if you have particular preferences of your own, add them in.

  • You will need some large hog-hair brushes and some fairly small ones. The particular sizes are not important so long as you have a range of different sizes.
  • At least two soft, round sable or synthetic equivalent brushes, eg. sizes 4 and 6

Drawing media:
  • HB, 2B and 4B pencils
  • Conté crayons in at least black and white colours
  • A small bottle of black drawing ink and a drawing pen (experiment with different types of drawing ink, and other types of pen such as felt tips if possible)
  • Fixative for pencil and/or charcoal drawings
  • A soft eraser

Paper, boards and easels:
  • Medium-weight white cartridge paper (about 120g/m² or 60lb) in at least sizes A4 and A2
  • Smooth drawing board (eg. piece of plywood or block board around 15mm thick)
  • Drawing pins, drawing-board clips, bulldog clips or masking tape
  • An easel would be useful if you have one, but this is not required

Other equipment:
  • Metric ruler and a metal straight edge of about 60cm
  • Stanley knife or sharp scissors
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Water pots
  • Rags or kitchen paper for wiping and cleaning up
  • Sketchbook of at least A3 size
  • Smaller sketchbook that can fit in a pocket or bag
  • Notebook for written notes which you will need to keep throughout your course

Using learn@nec

Your course is delivered online through learn@nec, so it’s important that you have access to a computer and the internet. We recommend that your computer is using one of the following operating systems and browsers to improve your experience of using learn@nec:

Operating systems:
  • Windows 7 or later
  • Mac OSX 10.7 or later
  • Google Chrome OS
  • Android 4.4 or later, using the Chrome browser
  • iOS 6 or later, using the Safari browser

  • Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mozilla Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari 6 or later
  • Internet Explorer 10 or later (excluding IE11)

learn@nec may work on other operating systems and browsers with some restrictions. You can see full details of the system requirements by clicking here.

How to enrol

There are several ways to enrol with NEC:
  • Click the ‘Enrol now’ button above.
  • Telephone us on 0800 389 2839 or +44(0)1223 400200 and speak to our course advice team.
  • Ask us to send you an enrolment form which you can complete and return by post.

Paying in instalments

It’s your choice: you can pay in full at the point of enrolment, or you can spread the cost over monthly instalments with our finance offer. To pay in instalments you will need to enrol by telephone.

Representative example:
Course fee:  
Amount of credit:  
Monthly payment:  
Duration of agreement:  
Total repayable:  
Rate of interest:  
0% APR representative.  
  6 months

The National Extension College (NEC) is the trading name of the Open School Trust, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 676788). Finance is provided through the Deko platform by a number of lenders. You will be offered the best rate available based on your credit history and the lenders’ credit decision policies.

Deko is a trading name of Pay4Later Ltd who act as a credit intermediary. They are registered in England and Wales (company number 06447333) and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (register number 728646). For more information please go to or visit
Including area code and country code (if outside of UK)

Art Techniques Course Sample

Thank you for your interest in this course.

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What our students say...

"The course I’m studying doesn’t lead to a qualification, but it is a subject I love, and it’s given me a chance to return to it after many years away. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to study this course; it’s meant a lot."
— Patricia Palmer