Creating digital illustrations is one of the most popular ways to edit or enhance existing photographs. It’s a great way to add some polish to your photography, or create new photo content!

Digital art comes in many forms- still images with added textures, shapes, and decorations, moving pictures that are designed to look like something else, and even interactive designs where you can design your own settings or experiences.

The term “illustration” typically refers to an image that looks like it was drawn by hand, but technology has made it possible to take pre-existing photos and produce similar looking artwork automatically. These programs are referred to as computer generated imagery (CGI) or photorealistic graphics software.

There are several types of CGI artists out there. Some focus on creating very realistic looking scenes while others experiment with more abstract styles. A few even combine both realism and conceptualism at once! No matter what style they use though, all professional CGIs have two things in common: solid training and hard work.

This article will go over how to make simple digital illustrations from existing photos. You will also learn some basic Photoshop skills such as using layers and cutting pieces off of other files.

Outline your project

how to make digital illustrations of photos

The first thing you will want to do is choose an area of a photo that you would like to extract. This can be anything from a person’s face to a setting or even another image within the picture.

Once you have chosen your element, you will need to either purchase the necessary software or find it online. A great way to search for the software is by looking up ‘photoshop tutorials beginner’ or something similar.

The next step is to open this software and create an outline around your selected element. It does not matter how fine or thick the line is as long as it is clearly visible under the finished product!

After this has been done, you can start creating your own illustrations! Keep experimenting with different styles and levels to get some inspiration.

Develop your drawing or painting style

how to make digital illustrations of photos

Choosing an easy way to start designing is using simple shapes, like squares, triangles, circles, and lines. These are called basic shape elements in graphic design.

Many beginner artists begin with rounded shapes such as balls, cones, or cockscombs, which can look very pretty but will not tell your story easily.

It’s important to develop your ability to recognize what parts of a picture want to be seen and drawn so that you can cut down on unnecessary decorations.

Start by picking up some cheap art books from used book stores or Amazon. There are many great resources available free online and through libraries too!

You do not need to be trained in art to learn how to make pictures. All anyone has to have is a willing mind and enough motivation to try new things.

Use a reference photo

how to make digital illustrations of photos

When it comes down to it, one of the hardest tasks in digital illustration is drawing from another picture. You can’t really draw directly from something else because that other thing already has shape and style that make it beautiful!

So what you need to do is find a new element in the image you want to re-style or redesign and use it as your source for inspiration. An easy way to do this is by taking a few steps back and looking at the whole image, then picking an object or area of the picture that you like and studying it.

Once you have your source material, go into a separate space and create your own version of it using your own styles and techniques. Take your time and don’t worry about anything but creating the best possible version of the piece you wanted to re-design, until you feel it is good enough.

When you are done, combine your original design with the updated one and see how they fit together. If there are any areas where them going well together, keep those and update them, or add some more pieces to match the first one! If there are parts that no longer work, drop them and try again with another source idea.

Your final product should look similar to the initial image you started with, only improved.

Create a realistic scene

how to make digital illustrations of photos

In addition to using textures, developing your skills in drawing is an integral part of creating great looking digital illustrations. Drawing can be done traditionally or with computer software such as Photoshop, Sketch, PicsArt, etc.

Traditional drawing is simply taking material (something like paper, glass, metal) and going over it with a pencil or pen to add detail and shape. Computers have made it easy to take this process one step further by doing all the work for you!

Software such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP allow you to create what are called “Photographic Effects” which use pre-existing pictures or graphics as references. You then edit these effects until they look similar to the original picture. These tools also offer different texture and brush types that you can apply to give your illustration more depth.

These types of textures include things such as wood, leather, stone, fabric and other materials.

Use textures and colors

how to make digital illustrations of photos

Choosing what texture or color you want to use for your digital illustration can be influenced by several things. If you have a specific item or element in mind, then look into that area of texture or color to get inspiration.

The overall style of your illustration is an important factor as well. Are there any trends with illustrators? What types of illustrations are their favorite to make? They may do research and learn new techniques that help them find the perfect match for their design.

And lastly, if you are very artistic, then pick an easy material to work with and create your image! You may also know some artists who have videos and tips they’ve shared to create great looking images.

Know your anatomy

how to make digital illustrations of photos

A little bit about image composition is important, so take some time to understand the basics of what makes an image beautiful. The term “composition” refers to the way that different elements in an image relate to each other.

It can be something as simple as grouping people together or using colors that go well together, like red flowers next to white leaves. It can also be creating eye-catching shapes such as triangles, squares, circles, and rectangles.

There are many ways to use compositions in digital illustrations. One method is by making the background very busy, with lots of textures and patterns. Another way would be to focus only on one element, such as a flower or leaf.

You could even make the whole picture just one big pattern – it all depends on how you want to edit the illustration later! All these compositional components can be done easily in any software program, from basic to more advanced.

Know your colors

Choosing color for digital illustrations is an integral part to creating great looking images. There are two main reasons to know your colors! The first is so you can describe how different parts of your image look in terms of hue, value, and intensity. The second is because it helps determine what effects your images will have on other people’s skin tones and clothes.

When choosing colors for your image, think about which ones affect your body temperature (warm or cold) and whether they are natural looking (no chemicals like computerized filters). A good source for neutral shades is nature; green plants, blue skies, etc.

There are several apps that make it easy to find matching color schemes. Some even allow you to upload photos and get back lists of colors from those.

Know photo editing programs

how to make digital illustrations of photos

There are many great free or low cost software applications that can help you make beautiful digital illustrations, pictures, or designs using photos as sources. Adobe Photoshop is one of the most well known image editing suites with lots of features.

It is not necessary to have the latest version to use some of its features, so do not feel like you need to purchase it to start creating. Some of the more advanced features such as textures and brushes require an upgrade though!

There are several online communities where you can find and share photoshop tutorials. Many of these sites also offer reward points for buying certain products, which helps promote the site’s product offerings. These rewards are usually in the form of gift cards or coupons for the app or tool.

These apps and tools may be limited to basic functions at first, but there are plenty of resources available via YouTube, blogs, and other websites. By experimenting with different styles and techniques, you will quickly learn how to use them to their full potential.


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