Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for a leg up on the competition or a student looking to improve your chances of landing your first gig, these are some of the best schools with actual physical locations in California that provide targeted, skills-based learning opportunities to help you get ahead. Keep in mind, we’re excluding most full-time programs at two or four year institutions to focus on opportunities for continued education with an eye on affordability.

gnomon-labGnomon School of Visual Effects

1015 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Courses at Gnomon range from introductory level classes to advanced courses designed for and by professionals in the entertainment industry. While you can undertake a 2 year or 3 year full time program, there are also continuing studies and online options that cater to individual needs and provide a flexible learning experience. Without a doubt, Gnomon delivers the highest quality educational content from working entertainment industry professionals from companies like Blizzard, Luma Pictures, Riot Games and Psyop. Tuition ranges from $390 to $2031, but the school offers financial aid options. 

SilverDrawingSilver Drawing Academy

11070 Fleetwood St, Sun Valley, CA 91352

Focusing on character design, figure drawing and storyboarding, the Silver Drawing Academy is the brainchild of veteran character designer Stephen Silver and offers a choice between 8 week courses and full weekend workshops. Silver’s mission is to also provide students with invaluable insight into the business of art and tips on how to make it in this increasingly challenging industry. Individual classes are offered at $699 per class but there are early bird discounts. 

ConceptDesignAcademyConcept Design Academy

55 Waverly Dr Ste 104, Pasadena, CA 91105

Only open for three semesters a year (Fall, Winter, Spring), the Concept Design Academy offers classes taught by active industry professionals. To help you focus your studies, they provide suggested curricula for learning paths designed around storyboarding, environment design, character design and foundational principles. Courses are 10 weeks long but they do offer 1-day workshops with some of the best artists in animation and VFX. Tuition ranges from $120 for 1-day workshop to $750 for 10 week class

AnimationCollaborativeAnimation Collaborative

1185 Park Avenue, Emeryville, CA 94608

Founded by Pixar artists, the Animation Collaborative sits across the street from the animation studio and regularly features professional instructors from Pixar, ILM, DreamWorks Animation and Tippett Studios focusing on animation, design and storyboarding specifically for animation. Also featuring regular guest speakers, the Animation Collaborative offers convenient and relatively inexpensive exposure to the best in the business. Courses are 12 weeks in Fall, Winter and Spring and 8 weeks in the Summer. Tuition for 12-week sessions is $1900 while the shorter Summer session is $1300.

digitallifeclass1Art Center College of Design – Continuing Studies

1700 Lida St, Pasadena, CA 91103

With over 200 classes ranging from Zbrush and Photoshop to classes on Advertising and Business Management, the courses are targeted for adults and are offered on nights and weekends by instructors who are current working professionals and designers. Tuition ranges from $249 for non credit classes to $1245 for 3-unit classes (most classes are 3-units, incidentally.)


Header image by Concept Design Academy.