As seen with many other artistic mediums, digital illustration is growing in popularity very quickly! With technology constantly changing, there are new ways to approach drawing and designing images.

Many artists start off using computer software like Photoshop or Gimp to create their illustrations. By learning the basics of these programs, you’ll be able to take your design skills one step further.

There are several different styles that can be adapted into digital art depending on what kind of look you want to achieve. Finding inspiration from nature, still life, comic book style, and more – all can help you develop your own unique style.

This article will go over some tips and tricks for aspiring digital illustrators to learn.

Drawing is a powerful skill

tips for digital illustration

Creating illustrations is a form of drawing, and like any other kind of drawing, you can learn to do it well by practicing, practice, practice!

Many artists start young, creating elaborate landscapes or still life studies that are very beautiful when finished. These artistic skills come naturally to some, while others have to work harder to achieve success in becoming an artist.

Everyone has different styles they are comfortable with, what works for one may not work for another. What matters most is having fun while you create your artwork and learning from peers and teachers around you.

This article will go over several types of drawings and how to improve your hand-eye coordination as you develop your creative muscles. You’ll also find tips and tricks to apply digital tools to create illustrative images.

Keep a sketchbook and a pencil case

tips for digital illustration

A long time ago, people only made things by hand. They used pen, ink, and brush to create artworks that they would then put into manuscripts or paintings.

Now we have digital technology which allows us to produce artwork directly in computer programs such as Photoshop, Sketch, and Figma. These applications allow you to manipulate textures, colors, shapes, and features so that your image looks professional and polished!

However, some artists still prefer using traditional media like pens, markers, and brushes because it gives them more control over their designs. By doing this, they are able to add additional special effects and texture to their images.

Having both types of artist tools makes completing projects easier since you do not need to invest in new equipment just to get started.

Always look at your references

tips for digital illustration

As with any artistic field, digital illustration is built off of other artists’ work. You can learn new tricks from their designs, styles, and techniques.

Influential artist sites like DeviantArt and Pinterest are great resources to explore and make notes of interesting illustrations and design concepts. Also, you should never hesitate to experiment by trying out new things and materials!

As mentioned before, experimenting is an integral part of developing as an artist. There are many ways to use digital art tools and software to create your own style and set-offs. Finding inspiration in both nature and urban landscapes, along with using neutral shades and colors, are all helpful tips.

Use a proper lighting setup

tips for digital illustration

When working with light in digital illustration, there are three main sources– natural light, artificial light, and flash. Natural light is just what it sounds like- light that comes from the sun!

Natural light is your best source of illumination as it does not require any additional lights to work. However, make sure to frame your image so that you do not overexpose your artwork or use tungsten bulbs, as they can be very harsh.

Artificial light is created by many types of lamps (usually fluorescent or LED). These types of lights are much more cost effective than a full size lamp light source such as a studio floodlight or table lamp. It is recommended to test out each type of light on different parts of your drawing to see how it changes the look you want.

Learn to use all the tools in your toolbox

tips for digital illustration

As mentioned before, digital illustration is not one genre, but many. There are so many ways to achieve interesting images that it can feel overwhelming at times!

There are several different types of illustrations (think comic book style characters or nature studies) that consist of completely different styles and techniques. It’s great to have a general idea about how to draw humans, animals or landscapes, but what about something more abstract?

At its most basic level, every artist needs to learn how to use their computer software properly. This includes using Photoshop, Gimp, Inkscape or other programs to create and edit your art.

From there, artists must know how to organize their artwork into layers and compositions. They must be able to balance color schemes and shades effectively and choose appropriate applications of textures and brushes.

Practice makes perfect

tips for digital illustration

As with any artistic form, digital illustration is practice. Make your own little sketches, experiment with styles, and use them to create new illustrations!

There are many ways to get more familiar with digital drawing and painting. You can take informal lessons via YouTube or other sites that offer how-to guides and courses. There are also several apps that have interactive features and tools designed specifically to teach you about different aspects of digital art.

Apps such as Adobe Photoshop and Sketch, which both cost around $20, contain all of the basic functions needed to edit pictures. They may not be fully featured, but they give you an excellent starting point. The more advanced features can then be added onto this base.

Tone your drawings

tips for digital illustration

When drawing from life, there are two main things to consider tone and value. Value is how light or dark an area of a shape is, while tone refers to the overall mood of the image.

When editing photos, people usually reduce the exposure (making it lighter) and increase the contrast (lengthening the shadows). This results in “brighter” images with sharper details. It also makes the photo seem bigger and more impressive.

Similarly, when creating digital illustrations, you should lower the intensity/brightness of the colors and decrease the contrast. You can also add very thin layers of texture which create a blurry effect that adds depth and interest to the picture!

These effects make the artwork look less crisp and perfect, but they are good starting points because they give the piece a casual, artistic feel.

Know how to use colors

tips for digital illustration

Color is one of the most important tools in digital illustration. There are many ways to learn color theory, but choosing your main color is probably the best way to start.

The main color of an image is what sets it apart and makes it unique. For example, if the image is focused on nature then using bright green as the main color would be perfect!

After determining your main color, you can pick other shades of that color to create some beautiful designs. It’s very easy to find free or low cost tutorials online about different color theories such as RGB, CMYK, and more.

There are also several apps available at no cost or with limited features, which can still help you test out your color knowledge. These apps may have you choose your own colors, mix them together, and see the results.


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