As we continue to see more and more instances of technology being integrated into our daily lives, it becomes increasingly important to understand what each individual tool or device does. This is especially true for those who enjoy making use of technological tools actively!

The term “digital illustration” has become rather vague in recent years. Many people have different definitions and concepts about what digital artist actually are. Some consider anyone creating illustrations using Photoshop or Gimp as an illustrator while others only include artists that work exclusively in vector graphics software such as InDesign or Sketch.

This article will go over various types of digital art and why they matter to you as a designer or artist. We will also take a look at some examples of how professional digital artists create their designs and applications and discuss why these techniques matter to you.

History of digital illustration

what are digital illustration

Before there were apps that you could make designs or illustrations on, people created art using other tools and methods. Some of these older techniques include:

Sketching with a pencil

Drawing in pen and ink

Using computer graphics programs such as Photoshop to create pictures

Traditional painting is still practiced today! Many artists use it to showcase their skills and/or give away freebies for business purposes.

But creating beautiful artwork has never been easier than it is now! With technology advancing at a rapid pace, professionals are able to produce incredible images without having to spend hours upon hours perfecting their craft.

This is why most people know what digital art is – designing things like logos, picking colors for clothes and housewares, putting together I-dont-know-what-this-is videos, and making cartoons and animations. All of those concepts involve editing photographs, fonts, colors, and shapes to achieve an end result.

Making artistic creations has become mainstream because anyone can do it! It’s no longer limited to those who spent years studying art in college. Now anybody with a smartphone can take some creative breaks by adding some flair to Instagram or Facebook.

The term “digital artist” was first used back in 1995 during the early days of web design. Since then, the field has exploded into something much more popular and accessible.

How to start digital illustration

what are digital illustration

Now that you have an understanding of what digital art is, it’s time to learn how to create your own! There are many ways to begin practicing your handiwork, and no matter which way you choose, just make sure to keep it fun!

Start by picking an area of inspiration. An easy way to do this is to look at pictures of things you like and try to imitate those styles or techniques. From there, add some new touches to them to develop your style.

You can also take existing illustrations and edit them or give yours a similar theme. If you want more detailed tips, search online for how to draw, how to paint, how to design etc. All of these apply to creating digital artwork as well!

And lastly, use the right tools to convey your ideas. You can either use software such as Photoshop, GIMP, or other drawing apps, or use pen tool settings and the like to achieve the desired result.

Use materials for reference

what are digital illustration

As we can see, digital illustration is much more than just making pretty pictures with your computer. It’s using references to create illustrations!

There are many ways to be an illustrator. You can find artists who use oil paints or acrylics to convey messages and stories, then learn how to do it yourself with computers.

You can also look at styles of drawing and painting and apply those concepts into your own work. For example, if you like comic book style art, then study that! Or, if you love realism, take a look at that.

The best way to get inspiration from other people’s work is by looking at it. Check out Pinterest and Google to search “digital illustration tips” to find lots of resources.

And don’t forget about experimenting! If you want to try something new, go ahead! There’s no reason you should feel limited in your artistic expression because you don’t know what tools exist yet.

Understanding your subject

what are digital illustration

So, what are digital illustration? That is probably one of the most confusing terms in the art world!

Digital artists usually refer to themselves as illustrators or graphic designers, but not both at once!

As you can tell, there’s a lot of “illustration” out there that isn’t actually drawing anything. Some people may call those cartoons, comics, or illustrations, but they’re really just clever pictures with some words superimposed onto it.

That’s why I like using the term digital illustration instead. Because it puts more emphasis on the fact that these images aren’t drawn by someone else, but done entirely by the person who created them.

There’s also no need for anyone else to understand how this artist made their style – it comes naturally to them. This removes a barrier that typically exists between creative types.

It’s also important to note that while some people consider all graphics to be illustrations (like our cartoon example), only few consider videos to be drawings. Therefore, the word digital should always be used along side the word illustration.

What Is Image Manipulation?

A couple more related terms we will talk about later are image manipulation and photorealism. These three go hand-in-hand so we will discuss them together here.

Image manipulation is creating an illusion by altering parts of an image.

Good lighting

what are digital illustration

As we can see, good lighting is an integral part to creating your own digital illustrations. When light is not used properly, it can sometimes take away from the image.

When working with light in general, there are two main components that matter most. These are the exposure and the intensity (or strength) of light.

Exposure refers to how much light is present in the picture and how well those lights blend together. A high exposure means more light was needed to make the picture visible so it’s important to use appropriate levels of light when designing pictures!

The second component is the intensity or strength of the light being used. Different types of light have different effects on what you want to show off in the illustration. For example, strong sunlight will help showcase bright colors, while a candle flame would emphasize shapes.

Pay attention to detail

what are digital illustration

As we already discussed, digital illustration is not painting! That is definitely an important thing for you to know.

Illustrations are very different from paintings in that they do not require a frame or medium to exist. You can create your illustrations as mobile apps, websites, or even printed pieces.

Instead of using paint as material, you use computer graphics (CG) files such as PNGs, JPGS, or PDFs. These CG files contain information about how to colorize, scale, position, and layer the image so it will show up correctly when finished.

Overall, this means that there is no need for expensive supplies like oil paints or canvas! This also opens up new opportunities to hone your drawing skills since you are no longer limited to only doing painted artwork.

Learn to use all of the tools in your arsenal

what are digital illustration

As we continue our journey as professional illustrators, there are many different ways to achieve this goal. Some people start with Photoshop, some learn InDesign or other software packages, and some pick up vector graphics or coding so that they can create their own designs.

Whatever medium you choose to work in, it is important to be familiar with the others! Using several styles and techniques makes designing easier and can help you find new levels of inspiration.

This article will talk about a few of my favorite digital illustration tools and how I like to use them. By being familiar with these apps, you’ll be able to take advantage of their features and what types of art they inspire you to make.

I’ll also include some tips and tricks for each one.


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