Want to learn Python? We found 5 online coding courses for beginners – CNET

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Though millions of Americans face unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic tech companies like Apple and Amazon are still hiring. If a new career move is what you're after, learning to code can help you acquire the skill set for a new digital position, including working from home opportunities -- and there are plenty of online classes that can help.

It's important to know that which programming language you'll want to learn before you get started -- Python, JavaScript, C#, or one of hundreds of others -- hinges on what you want to do with it, like build a website, a game or an app. We recommend starting with Python, which is frequently ranked as an in-demand and relatively easy-to-learn programming language often used in business settings.

Here are five of the best online Python course options that you can take right now:

Read more: Learn cybersecurity with these 5 online classes  

Skillshare/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

No previous coding experience is required for this Python course. Jack Donaldson is a game designer and programmer who'll teach you the fundamentals of the Python programming language. You'll need a laptop or desktop computer and will start by installing Python and PyCharm, an integrated development environment used to help build software applications. Both are free to download.

Donaldson first takes you through the introductory course topics, Python training basics like variables, data types, condition statements and manipulating strings and texts. He also covers more complicated advanced topics like loops and functions. In his class description video, Donaldson says his Python online course relies heavily on "doing" -- expect lots of projects and walkthroughs to help you build a foundation in Python.

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

Coursera/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The Programming for Everybody: Getting Started with Python course, offered on Coursera through the University of Michigan, explores the basics of Python, writing your first program and using variables and core programming tools.

The programming foundations course is part of the five-course Python for Everybody Specialization. You can enroll in a single Python class to get started, go through Python certification, or audit the class and review the materials for free. 

The Python for Everybody Specialization is considered a beginner specialization and if you subscribe to one Python course, you'll be included in the whole specialization. According to Coursera, the first two Python online training courses are aimed at those with no programming experience. 

The online Python course requires a laptop or desktop computer to learn Python, which is free to download.

What it costs: Coursera operates more like a traditional online college course with enrollment windows. Sometimes the certificates you earn can apply as a credit at an institution, but it has to be stated. When you sign up for Coursera, you get a seven-day free trial and then it costs $49 a month. You can also choose to audit the class for free, which lets you read and view the course content only. 

Udemy/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

This Udemy course from a professional software developer aims to provide complete coding beginners with an understanding of Python fundamentals over 363 short lectures. You'll learn skills that can be applied to specific branches like machine learning and data science as well as other programming jobs centered around Python. 

The course primarily focuses on Python 3 (the latest release being version 3.8), but you'll also learn how to work with Python 2. You can view and download active Python releases on Python's main site. As you learn more about the programming language, you can read up on the changes that have been implemented in the change logs. 

What it costs: Udemy's course prices are set by the individual instructors from a price tier, unless they choose to offer them for free. This course costs $110, which is steeper than most of the others listed, but it has a lot to offer.

Skillshare/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The Python in 90 minutes class on Skillshare is a bite-size crash course on the coding language if you're pressed for time or in need of a refresher. The instructor efficiently packs the essentials of Python into 25 lessons along with extra materials, reviews and practice sheets. It's aimed at beginners and will teach you the fundamentals. Like the others, you'll need a laptop or desktop to work on.

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

Great Courses/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

This Python course from Texas A&M University Professor John Keysor starts with the basics and the course content takes a deep dive into the coding language over 24 lessons. Each lesson is about 30 minutes and builds upon the last to show you practical applications for Python. In the course description, Keysor notes such applications coding for games and graphics, analyzing sports statistics, simulating retirement funds and basic robotics. 

What it costs: The Great Courses doesn't have a flat subscription fee like Skillshare. Keysor's course costs $50 on instant video or $70 on DVD. At the time of publication a sale was happening on The Great Courses website. 

When you make a Great Courses account, you can stream the course for free with trial with The Great Courses Plus. The content can then be accessed over the iOS or Android app, or on your TV via the Roku app, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.

To learn more digital skills, check out the free classes you can take through Microsoft and LinkedIn Learning. And for more, check out five Masterclass classes to become a filmmaker and other online classes to help you learn to play guitar, learn to code and learn to draw.

Now playing: Watch this: This young CEO wants to teach 1 billion kids to code


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Sims 4 Star Wars: Journey to Batuu breaks out the lightsabers – CNET


Will you team up with Rey or join the First Order with Kylo Ren?

EA Games

The Sims 4 is headed to a galaxy far, far away in its latest game pack Star Wars: Journey to Batuu, launching Sept. 8 for PC, Mac, PS4 and Xbox One. The new game pack sends your Sim, a newcomer to Batuu -- the planet where the Galaxy's Edge Disney theme park is set -- on an adventure in which your choices will determine the fate of the Black Spire Outpost. 

Align yourself with one of three neighborhoods -- the Resistance, the First Order or the scoundrels -- and complete missions to earn the trust of other Sims. Missions earn you Galactic credits, which are the currency on Batuu, instead of the game's usual simoleons. The missions aspect reminded me of the Sims' Strangerville challenge, but it adds far more challenging complexities.

Keep track of your reputations, your rankings and every item you've unlocked under the Simology panel. You can also defect to another neighborhood, but it'll impact your reputation. The more you commit to a cause -- be it the light or the dark side -- the more you'll see the effects play out on Batuu. 

Read more: The Sims 4: Try these 7 challenges to shake up your gameplay


Journey to Batuu has a sprawling, bustling world for you to explore. 

EA Games

Because it's Star Wars, you'll be able to explore the new Sim worlds with your own lightsaber and customized droid sidekick. Along the way, you'll be able to interact with characters like Kylo Ren, Rey, Hondo and Vi Moradi. Your Sim can also visit iconic Star Wars locations like the cantina, the droid depot and the Millennium Falcon. 

Journey to Batuu adds a new Star Wars aspiration, which you can choose for your Sim in Create-A-Sim, that splits into two goals to incentivize different ways to play. Since Batuu is a vacation world, you can travel there with your Sim's phone, the same way you would travel to other locations like Granite Falls. 

The Sims included Star Wars content prior to the Journey to Batuu pack. Fans might've noticed Luke's fighter pilot suit, Leia's white dress and Darth Vader's black-cloaked get-up appearing as clothing options in past versions of The Sims. Baby Yoda from the Disney Plus series The Mandalorian also found his way into The Sims 4 last year after a game update: A statue of The Child could be found in the build/buy catalog for a price of 504 simoleons. 


Practice and improve your lightsaber skills. 

EA Games

Read more: Sims 4 cheats: Full updated list of codes, from rosebud to motherlode

But the new Star Wars game pack is something that we haven't seen before in The Sims. It might seem like a big reach after the July release of Nifty Knitting, the stuff pack voted on by The Sims community. As a longtime Sims player, it feels a bit risky to base a pack around such an iconic franchise, with such well-known characters and stories. Despite the massive popularity of the Star Wars films and content that branched off like The Clone Wars, Solo and Rogue One, the movies stir up controversy almost as much as fandom.

I was glad to see that even if you're not a seasoned Star Wars fan, you can still immerse yourself in the game and enjoy the huge, gorgeous world it creates without feeling like you're missing something. As your Sim explores, they can chat with people to trigger your adventure and get a better understanding of the environment. 

In addition, your Sim's stuff from Batuu like their droid, lightsaber and all the intergalactic recipes can come with them when they return to suburban normalcy.

Read more: 20 years ago, The Sims gave millennials a dream life reality couldn't match

In the uncertain time of the coronavirus, games like The Sims and Animal Crossing (and movies like Star Wars) have been a comfort blanket for many. The Sims game developers' decision to create games where players can escape to another planet, affect positive change, or effortlessly live off of knitting, can be an emotional and mental safe haven when the real world feels like chaos. 

If you're craving even more Sims in your life, the life simulation game has become a reality game show called Spark'd, which you can find on Buzzfeed Multiplayer's YouTube channel.

For more gaming, check out Apple Arcade vs. Google Play Pass: Which $5 game streaming service wins? and the 7 best game subscription services.

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Best ellipticals under $1,500 for your home gym – CNET

Since exercise releases endorphins, it can be an great way to manage anxiety and stress, which is key during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exercise can look different to everyone -- taking a walk, runningyogaCrossFit, HIIT, barre, Jazzercise -- and you certainly don't need to have traditional fitness equipment to work out at home. 

But if you're in the market to build a home gym, however minimal, check out our list of the best elliptical machines for a full body, low impact workout.


The Proform Endurance 720 E elliptical machine uses silent magnetic resistance for a quieter workout. The elliptical machine can connect to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth so you stream workouts through the iFit platform with a membership, which costs $15 per month. The iFit membership gives you access to a workout program with trainer-led studio sessions that are compatible with the elliptical.

The 720 E has a 19-inch stride length and 20 different adjustable resistance levels to target specific muscle groups for both a full body and upper body workout. The QuickSpeed buttons on the console make it easy to switch between various magnetic resistance levels and change up your workout difficulty if you want an low impact workout or a more intense workout. The handlebars have sensors to monitor your heart rate as well. The cushioned pedals adapt to the changing inclines so your feet stay in the optimal position during your elliptical workout. 

In addition, the 720 E elliptical exerciser has a CoolAire fan with two speed settings, a built-in water bottle holder, and an auxiliary port with a dual 2-inch speaker.

Sole Fitness

The Sole E25 Elliptical machine has 20 levels of incline to challenge your workout and four rear wheels for stabilization. The E25 has a tablet holder, Bluetooth audio speakers and a USB port for charging. If you don't feel like using your tablet, you can check out a cardio workout on the 6.5-inch LCD display screen. The E25 has a 20-inch stride length and 15-inch pedals -- designed in collaboration with Sole engineers, physical therapists and sports therapists -- with a 2-degree inward slope to decrease ankle and knee stress. 

The E25 elliptical machine has pulse monitors in the handles and includes a wireless chest strap to monitor your heart rate. In addition, the system has a cooling fan and a water bottle holder. 


The Nordic Track SpaceSaver SE7i folds down after your workout, so an elliptical machine won't be the first thing your guests see when they come into your house (and you won't be tempted to use this folding elliptical as a second closet). The SE7i elliptical has a 5-inch display that works with an iFit membership, which costs $15, as mentioned above. Up to four users can make profiles on the elliptical machine.

The SE7i elliptical has 22 resistance levels and an adjustable 10% incline. You can also use the tablet holder to watch a show while you work out or listen to music with the auxiliary port and speakers. In addition, the SE7i has a fan, a water bottle holder, 24 onboard workouts and an EKG grip pulse heart rate monitor.

With the free year subscription of iFit through NordicTrack, you'll get access to over 17,000 workouts that the trainers can adjust for you for optimal results through live interactions. Videos are added almost daily and you can use Google Maps for workouts as well. The SE7i elliptical machine can also track your performance so you can set your fitness goal.


The Nautilus E616 elliptical reminded me of the elliptical machines at a standard gym -- not a lot of bells and whistles, but this exercise machine gets the job done. It has 29 different workouts and 25 levels of resistance to challenge your workout. The E616 has a media shelf to hold your phone, speakers with an input port, USB charging capabilities and an adjustable fan.

The E616 syncs with the free Explore the World app (available on iOS and Android) via Bluetooth. You can travel to 19 destinations and take 27 routes through places like the Scottish Highlands and the streets of Prague in real time. In addition, the app can track your time, distance and calories burned.


The Schwinn 470 elliptical machine mimics the natural motion of running with a 20-inch stride length. The Schwinn 470 elliptical has 25 levels of adjustable resistance in addition to five incline and resistance quick keys. Also, the 10-degree motorized adjustable ramp can add another level of challenge to your workout.

The Schwinn 470 has 29 workout programs and can monitor up to 13 different display feedbacks. 

Up to four users can set up profiles on the elliptical trainer. It has a three-speed fan, a water bottle holder and a transport wheel. Like the E616 elliptical, the Schwinn 470 elliptical machine also works with the Explore the World app as well as UA, MyFitnessPal, GoogleFit, Apple Health and MapMyRun/Ride via Bluetooth. 

More fitness coverage at CNET

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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All the best apps for drawing on your iPad – CNET

Drawing digitally has always seemed like an unattainable skill to me, but when I was looking for ways to pass the time during the coronavirus lockdown, I gave Apple's Procreate app a chance. Even though I enjoy using physical media, it was intimidating to try painting or to use a different medium besides pencil and paper. The thought of hauling out all the supplies, setting up a workspace, and then not being able to create what I had hoped and having to put everything away again was daunting. But trying out digital art on my iPad let me experiment with different artistic figures and forms, no real-life mess involved.

I still consider myself a beginner with digital media, but it's been a fun journey thus far. I use a third-gen iPad Air and a first-gen Apple Pencil. But regardless of your iOS device, ultimately iPad art is about being creative and expressing yourself. So whether you can draw a symmetrical face or have more of a Jackson Pollock flair for splatters, you'll be sure to find the perfect app for you among our picks of the best iPad drawing app.

Read moreBest iPad for 2020

Shelby Brown/CNET

Apple's Procreate iPad drawing app costs $10 to download, but its suite of art tools and creative features make it well worth the money. The digital illustration app is accessible whether you're a design professional, a seasoned digital artist or a beginner to the world of digital illustration. I've been using Procreate for a few months and there are still features I'm finding out about that improve my artwork (check out all of the best Procreate tips I've found so far). 

Procreate lets you customize gesture controls so the app is ultimately personalized to you. No matter what level of artist you are, Procreate's features like Quickshape, blend mode, layering, alpha locks and clipping masks can add a new level of professionalism to your art. 

There's a lot going on in this app, so I wouldn't download it if you're just looking for a place to doodle. For quick reference in the app, check out the official Procreate Handbook

Shelby Brown/CNET

The Autodesk Sketchbook app is free, but is surprisingly packed with art tools that aren't blocked by paywalls. You can use the free version for seven days and then you'll be asked to make an Autodesk ID, which is also free. It's a little less intimidating than Procreate when you're starting off your digital art journey. When you download the sketch app, it'll give you a quick tutorial of where all the basic tools are. 

Autodesk has an extensive, well-organized brush library, and with its customizable brushes, it's easy to adjust settings like brush size, opacity and pressure. Even with a typical learning curve of a new drawing app, the toolbar is pretty easy to figure out. I also liked that, even when extensively zoomed in, the app didn't lose its "drawing" feel by letting you see the pixels in your stroke. 

One of my favorite parts of Sketchbook is the focus on making the transition from paper to screen easy. You might've done cool sketching in a notebook, and with Autodesk, you don't have to redraw the sketch in the app. Your camera doubles as a scanner so you can import your art. The image imports with a transparent background so you can immediately get to work in the app.

Shelby Brown/CNET

Art Set 4 is one of the more basic, realistic drawing apps. It's free to download, but most of its tools are unlocked through the Premium Pro features, which cost $10. This app would be best if you're brand new to digital illustration -- it feels similar to having physical tools and paper in front of you. I love its user interface. If you're overwhelmed by the idea of going into a more complex app like Procreate or Autodesk, the Art Set 4 drawing tool is a good one to get started with. It's also fun if you just want to doodle. 

Something I really like about Art Set 4 is the ease with which even the free tools work together in a piece. It's also nice that you can swap between multicolored paper styles like canvas and the rough surface of heavyweight, cold press sheets for watercolor. You can choose burlap styles, cardboard and grids without messing up a drawing you've already done. 

When you explore the app, any items that require Premium Pro will be locked. If you tap on a locked item, Art Set will ask if you want to upgrade and unlock everything. Premium gives you full access to over 150 brushes, 3D paint, fluid watercolor, the ability to layer and use masks, enable a "wet canvas," drawing guides like symmetry, shapes, filling and dozens of other ways to customize your workspace. 

Shelby Brown/CNET

Not everything you create in an art app has to be a massive endeavor that ends with a masterpiece. Having fun is the most important part. Simply coloring can make for a creative and relaxing afternoon. Lake is a free ASMR art app packed with coloring book sheets -- in all different styles -- from artists all over the world.

The app's audio element is particularly cool. For example, if you do digital painting with the paint brush, you'll hear quiet brush sounds. If you choose the spray paint tool, you'll hear a ball bearing rattling like it would if you shook a paint can. You can turn the ASMR off in settings. 

Another thing I liked was the option to stay in the lines and add more color for shading and effects. It gives you more room to be creative instead of just tapping and filling (though you can do that if you want). Also, the artist for each coloring page puts together an optional palette for you to use if you're not sure about colors.

You can stay on the app's dashboard and pick from free daily images or explore All Art in the toolbar. Lake sorts the coloring pages into artist collections, kids, abstract, animal, cities, feminist, portraits, mandalas for relaxation and satisfying symmetrical images. 

On Lake's free tier, you get nine free coloring pages per day. If you subscribe to premium -- $10 a month, or $20 for a year -- you'll get access to all the coloring pages, more color variations in the wheel and the option to use a blank canvas. 

More art apps to check out

  • ShadowDraw: Learn How to Draw

ShadowDraw is a helpful free app if you're struggling with proportions or drawing specific things like faces, bodies or animals. 

  • Drawing Desk

The Drawing Desk app is a good simple app for those in the market for a casual doodling app. It has a free version with ads (which can be a little annoying if you're in the middle of a piece), or you can upgrade to remove the ads for $5.

For more on drawing, check out these five online drawing classes you can take right now. If an iPad isn't your drawing tablet of choice, read our list of top tablets for 2020.

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Apple Arcade’s The Last Campfire game carries a message of light and hope during the pandemic – CNET

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The Last Campfire joined Apple Arcade's growing catalog of over 130 games on Thursday. It's the story of a lost creature named Ember, who goes on an unexpected adventure. It's the latest from developer Hello Games, best known for the sprawling space epic No Man's Sky.

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Ember embarks on a sacred journey to find meaning and get home, along the way encountering other creatures who are also lost, but in different ways. To help them, Ember must return hope to The Forlorn by solving puzzles and exploring strange ancient ruins.

Steven Burgess, designer at Hello Games, told CNET that The Last Campfire was born from childhood memories of exploring the woods behind his house. Burgess also tried to explore the gray area between childhood games and adult games to create a more sharable storybook adventure. 

This is one of Apple Arcade's more serious games, exploring topics like sadness, change, fear of the unknown, helping others and making the choice to be selfless. Burgess called the game's tone "gentle optimism." This seems especially poignant during the pandemic we're all suffering through.

"Like any good folktale, however, we hope we have left the interpretation of the story and the message very open," Burgess said. "We'd like to think that it is as much about what the player brings to the game as the game brings to them." 

The game's ambient world is gorgeous as well -- whether you play in normal mode, or in explore mode, which removes most of the puzzles. If you enjoyed Apple Arcade's The Enchanted World, this game is definitely worth checking out. 

"Hopefully the overriding message of 'finding hope in a hopeless world' is something we can all take solace and meaning from," Burgess said.

Check out the trailer here:

With Apple Arcade's release last September, Apple firmly staked its claim in the mobile gaming world. The subscription gaming service costs $4.99 (£4.99, AU$7.99) a month and lets you play more than 130 new and exclusive games across the iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod Touch and Apple TV.

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Teens unearth ancient buried treasure in Israel, report says – CNET


Teens found 425 gold coins while volunteering at an excavation site in Israel. 

Heidi Levine/Getty Images

Teenagers dug up 1,000-year-old buried treasure while volunteering at an excavation site in Israel on Aug. 18, according to a Monday report from Reuters. Oz Cohen, one of the volunteers who found the treasure, said he originally thought the hundreds of 24-karat gold coins that were concealed in a clay jar were leaves.

"The person who buried this treasure 1,100 years ago must have expected to retrieve it and even secured the vessel with a nail so that it would not move," the site's excavation director Liat Nadav-Ziv told Reuters. "We can only guess what prevented him from returning to collect this treasure."


One of the volunteers initially thought the coins were leaves.

Heidi Levine/Getty Images

The treasure dates back to the ninth century Abbasid Caliphate period, experts told Reuters, and the bounty would've made the owner quite wealthy. 

The coins were found in an area in central Israel reportedly planned for neighborhood development. 

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Microsoft gets nostalgic for Windows 95’s 25th anniversary – CNET


Happy anniversary, Windows 95!

Microsoft/ Screenshot by Shelby Brown/ CNET

Microsoft celebrated the 25th anniversary of Windows 95 on Monday with a short video. The 38-second clip shows how far the operating system has come since its launch on Aug. 24, 1995. 

You can see the original, gray Start menu button with the Microsoft flag transition to the four panels we recognize today. The video takes you through the evolution of iconic Microsoft features like the Taskbar, Solitaire (did anyone beat the clock?) and Paint (oh, the masterpieces we created).

To celebrate Windows 95's birthday, you can also check out a two-part episode of this month's Windows Insider Podcast. The podcast host, Jason Howard, interviews two engineers who worked on Windows 95 -- and still work at Microsoft -- principal software engineers Raymond Chen and Chris Guzak. 

If you're a Windows user and still need to upgrade from Windows 7, you can download Windows 10 for free. Once you do, check out these 11 Windows 10 tricks to help you get the most out of the OS. 

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Audible’s cheaper subscription plan launches this month – CNET


Audible is offering a cheaper plan. 


Audible, the Amazon-owned online audiobook and podcast platform, gave users on a budget a bit more wiggle room with its newest subscription tier: Audible Plus. The new $7.95 a month plan will include access to more than 11,000 titles, including Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts. 

Audible's existing entry-level subscription plan will also get a new name, Audible Premium Plus. Its $14.95 a month price will stay the same. Premium Plus members will get one credit per month to use to download any one piece of content outside the Plus catalog. (You won't get that credit on the new Audible Plus plan.)

Audible Plus is rolling out this week for existing Audible members. New customers who want to preview the new tier as a standalone plan can start signing up on Aug. 27. Like Audible's other subscriptions, you'll be able to listen to Audible Plus in the app, either instantly or downloaded for offline listening. Audible Plus will also work with Alexa devices and Amazon Fire tablets.  

During the coronavirus pandemic, offering a cheaper subscription might help people be able to keep a means to relax and pass the time without putting too much strain on the budget. 

Audible didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Now playing: Watch this: Spotify buys Gimlet and Anchor on its march to rule podcasts


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5 online drawing classes you can take right now – CNET

While in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, I started drawing again to try to do something creative in my newly acquired spare time. Art can be an effective mode of self-expression and a way to help process events going on around you. Even watching other people paint can be therapeutic: If you're a Bob Ross fan, you know all about "happy accidents" and why every tree should have a friend. 

But how can you start honing your drawing skills if you're still stuck at home? You don't need to go back to college or buy expensive tools to learn how to draw, all you need is an online art class. From figure drawing to illustration to graphic design, there are online drawing tutorials that can scratch the artsy itch. We've pulled together five online classes to help you learn the fundamentals of drawing and form your own art style. It's time to grab your pencil and start sketching, regardless of whether you're an experienced artist looking to expand your skill set or an absolute beginner.

Read more: Want to become a successful YouTuber? Start here

Udemy/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The Ultimate Drawing Course on Udemy doesn't ask you to go out and invest in high-end supplies when you're starting out, which I appreciated. The course has 11 sections with 63 lectures that cover the fundamentals of drawing and build upon each other. You'll learn about perspective, texture, drawing from life, drawing the human face and figure, space, value and contrast. There's also a bonus video about animation-style art. 

What it costs:

Udemy's course prices are set by the individual instructors from a price tier, unless they choose to offer them for free. The Ultimate Drawing Course costs $120.

Udemy/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Udemy's Complete Drawing Masterclass course also covers some fundamental artistic teachings like lines, value, contrast, perspective, but goes a bit more in-depth in each lecture. In addition, the course also explains art supplies, like different types of paper, suggested brands, sharpening tools and how using a table or an easel can affect your work.  

What it costs: Udemy's course prices are set by the individual instructors from a price tier, unless they choose to offer them for free. The Complete Drawing Masterclass course costs $100. 

Creative Live/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

I liked that Amy Wynne's landscape course was about enjoying nature and relaxing, too -- which is key, since trying to learn a new skill can be frustrating if you're not picking it up as quickly as you'd like to. Over the course, you'll assemble a field sketch journal as Wynne teaches you about seascapes, countrysides and industrial scapes. You'll learn about assembling an efficient (yet portable) art kit, how to use light and a viewfinder, sky-to-land ratio, achieving depth and establishing atmosphere.

What it costs: CreativeLive lets you purchase a Creator Pass for $39 a month or $149 annually. This gives you access to features like the site's entire library of over 1,500 classes and ways to track your goals with learning paths. You can also set up an account and purchase classes individually. For example, Wynne's course costs $20 while CreativeLive runs a spring sale. Otherwise, it costs $29. 

Skillshare/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Pilot Precise V7 pens (you can find them at office supply stores) are one of my favorite tools for drawing. Of course, pen-and-ink art can go well beyond this, and it's all about what works best for you. If you're interested in pen and ink, Yasmina Creates has a course on Skillshare that covers it all.

The course breaks down the different supplies and how different tools act. You'll also learn tips and tricks like line variation, texture and patterns.   

I liked that the class projects displayed on the course page showed varied styles like realism, illustrative and cartoons, so it looks like the instructor gives you room to find your own art style.

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

Skillshare/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

This course is classified as intermediate, so if you're pretty green to drawing (pun intended), I wouldn't start with this one. Brickey's class focuses on life-like pencil portraits by breaking down pencil techniques, facial features and their proportions, and supply recommendations. 

Before you sign up, Brickey's syllabus lists class supplies -- paper, pencils, lead (if you're using mechanical pencils), blenders (tissues, cotton swabs or blending stumps) and erasers. She says you can use any type, but provides specific brand recommendations in the syllabus.

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

More ways to broaden your horizons

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Apple Arcade’s Next Stop Nowhere takes you on an intergalactic road trip – CNET


Next Stop Nowhere is out now. 

Night School Studio/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Apple Arcade on Friday added Next Stop Nowhere, a new choice-based adventure game from Night School Studio, to its growing catalog of 130 games. The game takes you on an unexpected road trip adventure through space.

Before heading to the Earth's moon to drop off a package, Beckett, a local courier, stops at the Themisto Tavern to rest. There he meets Serra, who reels him in on an adventure to find her son, who's gotten into trouble with a crime syndicate. 

Senior writer Adam Esquenazi Douglas spoke to the importance of representation in the main character, Beckett. 

"It was important to us to present a POC main character whose most important feature wasn't his ethnicity, but instead his heart," Douglas said in a statement. "That distinction, to me, is an important step in progressive, proper representation in media, and we endeavored to do so with Beckett and other characters in our story."

Night School Studio

Night School Studio also created the critically lauded games Oxenfree and Afterparty. While Next Stop Nowhere stands on its own, if you enjoyed the developer's other work, you're likely to have fun with this one too. While Oxenfree drops characters into an eerie world where you're left questioning what's real, Next Stop Nowhere is more high-adventure, the characters more madcap, the art style wilder and the narrative choices more life-or-death, according to the studio's lead writer Adam Hines.

"Next Stop Nowhere shares the DNA of Oxenfree in that it's a story-driven game with interesting, varied characters, a plot you want to jump into and a world you want to explore," Hines said. "And everything else is very different."

You can check out the trailer for Next Stop Nowhere here:

"You've never seen a vision of outer space like the one Next Stop Nowhere gives you," Douglas said. "And that philosophy didn't just apply to our art style. We worked to make this road story unlike any you've experienced."

With Apple Arcade's release in September last year, Apple firmly staked its claim in the mobile gaming world. The subscription gaming service costs $4.99 (£4.99, AU$7.99) a month, and lets you play 130 new and exclusive games across the iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod Touch and Apple TV.

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