Review: New Masters Academy

7 Reviewer
2 Users (1 vote)
  • Instructors and lessons
  • 3D/Photo reference library
  • Affordable
  • Community
  • Lack of structure/sequencing
  • Customer service
New Masters Academy provides high quality art instruction taught by professionals at an affordable price. What it's lacking in user engagement it makes up for in the quality of its content.
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New Masters Academy is an online art education platform that aims to provide high quality content at a low monthly cost.  The focus of the NMA is on art fundamentals, particularly drawing and painting, with an emphasis on the figure.

What initially convinced me to sign up for a subscription to New Masters Academy was the impressive roster of artistic talent they have. Glenn Vilppu, Steve Huston, Bill Perkins, Joe Weatherly, Gary Meyer and several others have contributed and the list continues to grow.

NMA is essentially an online collection of art workshops with subjects ranging from composition, drawing, painting, anatomy, and sculpture.  This format is the cause of both the site’s strengths and weaknesses.  On the one hand you have access to tons of high quality content taught by first class artists on a multitude of different subjects.  On the other hand if you jump between instructors and lessons you’ll get contradictory solutions to the same problems and ultimately end up confused, especially if you’re a beginner.  In any art form there are multiple ways to achieve similar results and not all of those ways will be compatible with one another.  Frazetta didn’t paint like Rockwell, who didn’t paint like Gérôme, who didn’t paint like Sargent, who didn’t paint like Rembrandt and so on.  If you’re starting from scratch it helps to have some guidance on what to study and how best to study, and NMA isn’t in the business of doing that.

For this reason I think those who will most benefit from a subscription to the site are intermediate to advanced artists who want to improve specific skills.  If you have a solid foundation in the fundamentals seeing how different artists work will be helpful and inspirational.  If you’re fresh off of reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain I’d suggest looking elsewhere.

For those artists who are intermediate to advanced, the New Masters Academy is an excellent resource. They provide an extensive catalog of video lessons, reference photos, timed figure drawing videos and access to their community via social media and online chat.  There’s also a subscription option that will give you access to additional 3D reference models.



My only complaint with the video lessons is that they don’t come with any type of assignments.  This is my complaint with a lot of online art videos as a matter of fact.  Drawing and painting demonstrations are nice and watching them can lead to fresh ideas and inspiration, but without having any sort of structured practical application their efficacy is greatly diminished.  Recent additions, such as Steve Huston’s series of head drawing lessons, have added drawing assignments, which are followed by videos of Huston’s approach.  I think this is a good start and I hope NMA continues to add more content like this


It’d be hard for me not to recommend New Masters Academy.  The content is excellent (if not perfect) and membership is very affordable.  Just keep in mind the above caveats before signing up.  Also if you’re not sure about whether or not NMA is a good fit for you, check out the free content on their Youtube page.

Visit New Masters Academy at


Did you like this review or have suggestions?  Comment below or send me an email.

Andrew Covington
Andrew has been obsessed with drawing and painting for most of his life. In 2014 he created the Art School Database. You can view his portfolio

13 Responses to Review: New Masters Academy

  1. This is Joshua Jacobo, cofounder of New Masters Academy. We appreciate reviews like this since they help us improve our service.

    A couple of notes:

    1. We agree that assignments are important and we have actually added them in our recent lessons. Take a look if you haven’t already.

    2. There’s a new version of the NMA web site that is currently in development that I think you’ll appreciate. We have lesson paths, playlist, notes, improved video playback, forums and much more. This will hopefully help new users navigate their way around the large amount of content.

    3. I agree that we need more “absolutely beginner” content. We need more lessons that take someone who has decided that they want to learn how to draw/paint/sculpt and ease them into the process. We have plans to do more of this in the future.

    4. As you’ve noticed, New Masters Academy is unlike an atelier where every student moves in a logical, step-by-step way from cast drawings, to life drawing etc. Those kinds of schools are generally top-down where there is an experienced artist at the top of a pyramid with content flowing downwards and other instructors working within that framework. The advantage of the atelier structure is that students know exactly what is expected of them and it’s clear what the “official” materials and approaches are. The disadvantage of this format though, is that it does not teach students how to apply the fundamentals in their own way. Often students who do these 40 hour sight-size drawings are patently unable to sketch or draw from imagination. The work ends up looking like poor copies of their instructor or even good copies. This is a challenge that we were aware of before we begun work on NMA. Our approach was to find as many of the living master artists as possible and get them to teach the foundations of art as they see them. As you’ve noticed these artists have their own approaches which can seem to contradict one another. We’ve thought long and hard about this and currently we remain where we started. Of course we’re open to suggestions on this but our feeling is that art isn’t a simple step-by-step process. All artists to some degree have to learn from different influences and pick and choose the approaches and styles that work best for them. We feel that forcing a curriculum in the way that some of these schools do will actually limit the educational value of the content. This is definitely a challenge that continues to engage us and as you’ve pointed out it’s both a strength and a weakness. At it’s core we see the questions as: is it better to try to make learning art easier truer? We’ll continue to try to find that balance.

    Again, we appreciate the thoughtfulness of this article although it was obviously not created for our benefit. We will continue to try to improve our Web site and remain open to constructive criticism.

    Joshua Jacobo
    New Masters Academy

  2. I like the New Master Academy it is one of the best I have found online even better then some Art classes that I have attended in person. I can play the video instructions back as many times as I like. I just wish there was some way that they could critique my work.

  3. Agreed about the importance of assignments or exercises in general. It is one thing to watch or view an art video, but quite another to learn and able to replicate what one sees for a learning student. To draw and to teach are difference skills.

  4. The account links ‘cancel subscription renewal’ and ‘change monthly plan’ actually bring you to a zendesk support ticket page where you have to write in and wait for a response back. (The same page as every other support ticket complaint.) So the ‘cancel any time’ policy is actually, ‘cancel within 48 hours, when we get back to you’. That’s an important difference compared to automatic cancellation.

  5. I tried New Masters Academy for two months and your review is very accurate. None of these enhancements announced by the cofounder have yet to be implemented as far as I can tell. It is basically a database of workshop videos. What leaves me jittery about renewing for a year is the whole subscription process. It is very messy and confusing especially with a telephone number which only takes messages that are never returned and a slow response email help desk service. I just have no idea who I’m dealing with. If the company wants subscribers to fork out yearly subscription dollars they have to provide more secure and reliable support.

    • Agreed. I recently signed up again for the ten day trial they were running to see if there were any major updates. Before the end of the ten days I requested a cancellation and didn’t receive a reply until after I had been charged for the next month. I replied asking for a refund but got no response. (Update: I got a response and a refund, it just took over two weeks)

      NMA has great content. They just need to figure out a better way of delivering it.

  6. I have been using NMA for a few days now and love it. Whilst I agree a schedule would have helped, I spent some time viewing the lectures, decided which ones I liked then followed their work. Each has assignments and it works well for me. I am not experienced, but didn’t expect it to be like a course at college. To me that is the beauty of it. I can pick tutors I like from a good varied selection.

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