Ballyfermot College of Further Education BCFE

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Illustration – Illustration Diploma (HND) Level 6 Higher

Course Code: AIH

Duration: 2 Years

Developing drawing skills & illustration styles: advertising, fashion, graphic novels, greeting cards, websites, book covers and children's books.

A 2-year course developing drawing & illustration styles: advertising, fashion, graphic novels, book covers, children's books, botanical & archaeological

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Illustration is a highly specialized discipline within the field of Visual Communication. This unique course enables our students to develop strong visual language and narrative skills, while developing a range of illustrative styles.  Students will focus primarily on developing their drawing, digital and media abilities while also learning to regard their work in terms of commercial viability.

Students are actively encouraged to engage in a range of methods, both traditional and non-traditional and to realise their ideas in a variety of ways. These include three-dimensional formats such as paper engineering and pop-up books.

Assignments will explore the entire spectrum of illustrative practice.  This will include editorial, art direction, archaeological, advertising, instructional and fashion as well as illustration for graphic novels, storyboarding, websites, book covers and children’s books. Working to tailored in-house and live competition briefs is a key component of the course and enables students to gain valuable feedback from tutors and industry sources alike.  Guest lectures are integrated into the curriculum and are delivered by a variety of practicing and published illustrators and artists. These are an exciting and highly informative element which often include workshop-based sessions.  Regular location trips to relevant exhibitions and events continually enhance student practice.

HND Illustration graduates have progressed to Further Education both nationally and internationally and have also established themselves as successful freelance illustrators.  Several of our graduates are members of Illustrators Ireland and continue to publish their work regularly in addition to participating in prestigious festivals such as The Bologna Book Fair, The Children’s Books Ireland Conference, The Bratislava Illustration Biennale and Art Source.

Additionally, the Erasmus+ study programme enables students to continue their education abroad for a number of weeks and to work on a live assignment for industry with their peers.  In 2020, students of the HND in Illustration will visit Malta to produce a capsule merchandise package for production and sale by Heritage Malta.

While BCFE continues to partake in the EC funded Erasmus+ programme and has prepared work experience placements for the 2020 – 2021 academic year the College will continue to be guided by the HSE and NPHET. Therefore, travel abroad may be postponed or cancelled depending on the advice from the Government. 


Year 1

  • Principles of Life Drawing
  • Contextual Studies
  • Professional Development
  • Media Practices
  • Individual Project
  • Visual Narratives
  • Material Practice
  • Techniques & Practices

Year 2

  • Advanced Life Drawing
  • Art Direction
  • Applied Practice
  • Advanced Art Practice Studies
  • Conceptual Practice


View past students’ work.

Developing drawing skills & illustration styles: advertising, fashion, graphic novels, greeting cards, websites, book covers and children's books.


Leaving Certificate/LCVP with a minimum H5 in Art and one other H5/O1 and three O6/H7 grades or equivalent or QQI level 5 award with a merit profile. The academic entry requirements may be waived for mature applicants (21+).  Suitable Level 5 courses include:


HND in Illustration

The Higher National Diploma is a BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) qualification awarded by the UK awarding body Pearson. A Higher National Diploma is recognised by the QQI as being comparable to the Higher Certificate at NFQ Level 6.

QQI Comparability Statement


Please bring to the interview a professionally presented portfolio of recent and original works including:

  • Drawing: Life and Observational both showing strong use of line, tone, texture and composition. Please include a wide range of media and a variety of subject matter.
  • Life Drawing: should include 10 – 12 examples of a variety of poses and media.
  • Colour: Work should include painting, collage, printmaking, textiles and mixed media.
  • Personal: work should be creative and conceptual.
  • Sketchbooks: work should show artistic/cultural interests as well as thought processes and ideas development.
  • Three-dimensional work: can be photographed for inclusion in the portfolio.
Developing drawing skills & illustration styles: advertising, fashion, graphic novels, greeting cards, websites, book covers and children's books.


Students will complete this course with a varied and exciting Illustration portfolio ready to begin in the industry. Viable progression includes freelance illustration, design studios, newspapers and magazine publications, publishers, architectural firms, and museum work.

Students may also apply for advanced entry to honours degree programme in national and international third-level institutions.


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