In this tutorial, we’ll discover how to plan out your isometric illustration through thumbnail sketching. We’ll use simple methods to help you build your isometric objects and also cover how to approach color, lighting, and effects in your illustration.
The isometric illustration is one of the most fun and easy illustration styles to learn. If you haven’t used the software before, don’t worry, Gravit Designer is very straightforward to use.
So let’s get started!
Setting Up The Grid
Open Gravit Designer and create a document with 800 x 600px.
Click in Document > Isometric on the right side of the software interface. Here you can choose the size, angle 1 and 2 of your grid. I used the default size. In Gravit Designer, you can change the size of the grid anytime very quickly.
Creating Isometric Objects
When it comes to isometric projection, it’ll help you if you think of a cube.
In isometric projection we are going to deal with three planes: a top, a left, and right side.
Take a look at the Isometric Projection sheet. This guide will help you. So once you understand the basics of isometric projection and how to create your isometric illustrations starting with 2D and projecting them out, you’ll quickly see how you can use it in your illustrations.
You can create your illustration directly in the grid without any problem, but if you like to start on paper, follow me along.
In this stage don’t worry about drawing perfectly. It’s not necessary. We are going to refine our sketches later in Gravit Designer.
Step 1: Research
First, research on the internet about the object you plan to illustrate in the isometric dimension. I chose a Game Boy, so I searched a couple of images to use as a reference for my illustrations.
Step 2: Start to sketch
After getting the images for reference, you will need an isometric paper sheet to start sketching your illustration. You can download an isometric sheet on these websites: Printable Paper, Worksheet Works, and Water Proof Paper.
TIP: Don’t worry about drawing perfectly in your sketch. We are going to refine it later in the software. You can draw everything with basic shapes like a cube or rectangles. We are going to create rounded shapes or more complex shapes, if necessary, in Gravit Designer.
As you can see, I drew a very simple sketch for the Game Boy. You can create a more complex one if you like.
Creating An Isometric Object
Step 1: The Sketch and the grid
Take a picture of your sketch or scan it. Then drag it to your blank canvas in Gravit Designer.
After uploading the image, you have to align the sketch with the isometric grid in the artboard. Try to make the sketch and the grid match or get close at least.
Step 2: Outline
Use the Pen Tool (P) to start outlining your sketch. This process is straightforward in Gravit Designer because the lines snap to the grid.
In this stage, you can draw the shapes that you couldn’t draw so comfortably on the sketch.
For drawing the corner of the Game Boy, select the Subselect tool (D), choose the point you would like to make a corner, click on the Appearance and enter a “Corner” of 31 for example.
Working with Layer Groups
I always like to keep things separated when working with illustrations. So essentially what I do is to have four layers: sketch, outline, color, and background.
TIP: Working with layers groups is good to organize your illustrations and make your work more easy to edit before. If you put everything in a single, ungrouped layer, it will mess up your workflow if you need to make some corrections in the outline or color, for example.
After completing and tweaking the outline of your illustration, make sure that everything is good, It’s time to create a color palette now.
Feel free to set up a color palette that suits the mood you would like to give to your illustration. If you want inspiration, there is an article on the Gravit Designer blog talking about colors. A cool website with color palettes is Coolors, for example.
Create another Layer Group named “Color”. Click on that layer to start to paint your illustration and lock the “Outline” layer group. You can lock a layer clicking on the lock symbol.
Lighting Isometric Objects
When working in an isometric style, you need to create the illusion of perspective through your composition and more importantly, through your color.
Play with the light. Put the light color where the light is showing, and a dark one for the shadow. Decide each point the lights will illuminate. If the light comes from the left, the right site must be lighter than the opposite side.
Adding a Background
Use your imagination and create a background that suits your illustration. I created my background with the feeling of the 80s. I used textures and effects to envision this look.
Gravit Designer has a lot of great effects that will help you with the final touches of your illustration.
I suggest a lot of experimentation in your illustrations. Play with blur, shadows, overlay, etc. There are more than 40 different effects in Gravit Designer for you to discover.
Think about the mood and the style you would like to give your illustration. It will guide you to use the effects that give the best result.
Thank you, and don’t forget to share your isometric objects on Gravit’s social platforms or in the comments.