The majority of the Illustration Department images depict groups of students drawing or painting under the direction of an instructor, or a teacher doing a critique; but there are also images of individual students focusing on their own work, and faculty working one-on-one with students. The students are shown working in a variety of classroom settings, usually working from art models. There are significantly more images of classes in the courtyard and in front of the Third Street campus than outside at the Pasadena site, and none of them outside the Seventh street campus.
Of special note are images that document the technical illustration courses designed during World War II with the California Institute of Technology in response to a need for easily understood equipment manuals. Although the images date from about 1950 to 1952, the photographs still highlight this temporary, but important, change in the curriculum.
Large-scale workshops given by fashion illustrators in the 1980s arranged by Department Chair Phil Hays are well-documented, including the 1983 and 1985 workshops by Antonio Lopez, and the 1987 workshop given by George Stavrinos.
The bulk of the Illustration student work photographs dates from the 1950s to the 1970s. Many include the student posed with the finished work. Individual student illustrations are of course wide ranging in subject and style, but there are some repeating types across the 35-year span: fashion illustrations, figure and head sketches.