Creating digital artwork has become its own art form, as artists use new techniques and tools to express themselves more creatively. Technology has made it possible to create beautiful work at a faster rate, which is why most creative professionals these days have their own style that they perfect over time.

Illustrations are an integral part of any design project, so how you choose to draft, edit, and implement your illustrations makes a difference in what kind of look you want to achieve. This article will go into detail about some easy ways to improve your drawing skills while also exploring some basic concepts for developing your illustrative style.

Editorial illustration is one type of graphic design where only proportions matter! That is, colors do not play a large role in determining the aesthetic appeal of the piece. Editorial drawings typically focus on shapes and lines, making them very simple to understand but extremely versatile to apply.

Make a sketch

digital illustration workflow

Once you have gathered your materials, it is time to start creating! The first step in digital illustration work is making a drawing or painting of your choice. A good way to get into the habit of doing this is by starting with something simple like our example here!

Your canvas will most likely be a laptop screen or desktop computer that has software such as Photoshop, Sketch, or other similar applications. In these apps, you can create a new document or layer and then begin putting things onto the canvas.

The next thing you should do is make a sketch. A well-known term for this type of artwork is “sketch”. A quick note about terminology – when talking about art, there are two main terms we use: analog and digital. An analog piece uses physical materials such as oil paints or clay to achieve its shape and texture. A digital piece uses pixels instead!

With a digital tool such as Photoshop, you can produce a lot more possibilities than just adding colors to shapes. You can take pictures or find stock images, combine them together, and manipulate them depending on what effects you want to add. Some examples of this include using text as an image or applying textures to give your design some depth.

Do thumbnail sketches

digital illustration workflow

A very popular way to begin creating illustrations is by doing what’s called a thumbnails sketch. This is typically done in a program like Photoshop or Sketch, where you create a still-life image that serves as inspiration for your final design.

The hard part of this process is deciding how much detail you want to include in your illustration and then editing your picture so it feels finished.

After completing your thumbnail, take some time to consider what parts you wanted to add into your main drawing.

Finish the sketch

digital illustration workflow

Once you have completed your drawing, the next step is to save it as an illustration! Depending on the software you are using, this may be done in a separate section or under another menu item. In most cases, you can find these settings through the toolbox or main menus.

Some apps will ask if you want to include notes or credits for the artist. You do not need to put credit information here but some artists like having it so people can see who designed their favorite characters.

This process also varies from app to app. Some may automatically scale down your artwork, while others may not. Make sure to check these options before exporting to use best quality versions of your work.

We hope this article inspired you to start creating your own illustrations and gave you some tips on how to improve your craft. If you would like to learn more about digital art, there are many great resources out there.

Edit your final image

digital illustration workflow

The next step in taking advantage of all that you can do with digital illustration is editing! Once you have finished creating your piece, it’s important to take some time to edit it.

You may want to go into Photoshop or other software and fix up any details or perfect something about the design that you created. For example, if you wanted to make sure everything was aligned properly, then go in and check!

There are many free resources available to anyone who wants to learn how to use photoshop so this isn’t a very expensive tip. But spending a few minutes every day to hone your craft is never a bad thing!

And don’t forget to save your work as often as possible so you do not lose anything! When designing for a client or website, there should be no risk of losing material due to poor saving practices.

Learn to use the most important software programs

digital illustration workflow

Recent developments in the field of digital illustration have shifted towards using computer applications as your main tool. Gone are the days when artists would spend hours upon hours drawing with a pencil, then scan into Photoshop or other editing apps for corrections and tweaking.

Now, almost every artist has their own internal workflow that they stick to. Some may edit photos in an app like Adobe Lightroom first, before moving onto another one, such as GIMP or Photoshop. Others may do some quick sketching and painting in Anima, then move onto more defined illustrations in Figma or Inkscape!

It’s great to have so many choices now. But what is really worth investing in? What apps are worth the money if you are just starting out? For those coming from a traditional art background, it can be difficult to know which ones are truly helpful and essential.

This article will talk about some of the best free and low cost tools for beginner illustrators.

Know your anatomy

digital illustration workflow

As mentioned earlier, digital illustration is very diverse! There are many ways to approach different styles of illustrations. What style you choose to pursue depends heavily on your personal style as an artist as well as what kind of pictures you like.

A good way to start practicing your hand drawing skills is by doing practice drawings. You can do this at home or in a private studio room with someone that will help you critique your work.

Practice does not need to be strictly line art either; some artists begin with free-hand sketching before going into more defined shapes and patterns. No matter what stage you reach, keep looking at examples of great illustrators’ works to learn from their techniques.

When it comes time to take your artwork beyond the computer, make sure to mix up your media and tools. Some artists only use Photoshop for example, but there are so many other software packages out there such as Manga Studio, InDesign, and others.

There are also many apps available on both iOS and Android phones and tablets that can easily edit and create new documents, images, and videos quickly and efficiently.

Practice making quick sketches

digital illustration workflow

As we already mentioned, digital illustration is not limited to only creating fully finished pieces. It also includes drawing or painting from life! This is called practicing your observational skills and using it as the basis for your art.

Practicing your observational skills means looking around you and paying attention to what you see and learn how to translate that into an artistic picture.

This can be done at home (or anywhere really), and does not need to be confined to just humans. Birds in flight are great examples of this. Or maybe studying still lifes?

Any situation with solid shapes and colors is good practice for picking up styles and matching them together.

There are many ways to pick up new techniques. You do not have to spend hours and hours trying to perfect everything, but doing some things like experimenting with brush sizes, types of paint, and textures every day will help you grow as a artist.

Reminding yourself of all these basics over and over again helps you retain the information and applies it to more complicated drawings and paintings. That is why having a few favorites always ready to use is helpful.

Having a notebook or document saved under “Art” or something similar is a good place to store bits and pieces of experimentations and bonsais.

Learn to use a variety of mediums

digital illustration workflow

As mentioned earlier, digital illustration is not one style or technique. There are many ways to go about it. You do not need to be proficient in Photoshop, InDesign, or any other tool to create beautiful illustrations!

There are plenty of free software packages that allow you to experiment with different styles and techniques. Many feature easy-to-use tools that let you add textures, shapes, and decorations to your images.

Some artists even start their work in another field (for example, graphic design) and then transfer those skills into drawing for animation or interactive projects. By incorporating these things into your workflow, you will never feel limited when trying to express yourself as an artist.


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