Paper Illustration 1.0: Process and Learning

Pankti Bhalodia
Jun 27, 2019 · 6 min read

At Iconscout we always do side projects in conjunction with everyday work to explore and improve the design.

I and Dalsukh recently got a chance to work on one of the side projects ‘Paper Illustrations’. As we know illustration is a visual representation of everyday things. We see illustrations everywhere in our daily life, on websites, in books, take away boxes, coffee cups, advertisements, etc. The idea was to create illustrations which look different from the illustrations seen daily. So we decided to go with paper illustrations.

Since we both didn’t work on illustrations more, it was hard for us to decide where to start. We had to create characters, items and an entire scene in paper drawings. So a lot of research was necessary.


During the research, We got to know there are many paper illustrators. For paper illustrations, we referred to Thrice studio, Sydney Evans, Eiko Ojala, John Ed De Vera and for character building, we referred to Pablo Stanley’s Humaaans library.

Paper can quickly transform from a 2D composition into 3D and this sort of looks like a sculpture with shadow-costing components. The best thing about paper illustration is this visual depth.

Alicja Colon, owner of Thrice Studio has curated a few characteristics of paper illustration.
1. Flat but Depth
2. Flexible
3. Crafted

In character guidelines, we decided the proper size and height of the characters. for that, we tried making the character in different ways.

We first defined the proper size and height of each character in our Character guidelines. We tried making the character in many different ways for that. After finalizing the character rules, we began listing our ideas and items for illustrations.

We used ordinary color paper for testing and attempted using a standard scissor to cut items. But it wasn’t the result we wanted. So again we have done little research on which instruments to use to cut the paper and what type of paper to use.

The result was fairly nice after attempting these instruments.



We wanted to minimize our characters as much as we could. So we didn’t concentrate on more information. We began sketching it on paper from the ideas we mentioned earlier to get a clear concept of ideas.

Breaking down the sketch

After sketching, we broke the sketch into distinct components to make it simpler to rearrange all the objects.

Sketching on Craft paper and Cutting components

Once the objects and sketches were finalized, we started drawing it on different color craft papers separately and then we started cutting all the components. It looks easy, but once we started doing it, we felt it’s one of the most difficult things to do. Even after converting all things in separate components, we were not able to cut it properly. But once we got used to it, things went faster.

Arrangement & Photography

Once all components were ready, we took the concept one by one and started constructing illustration. In order to make clear the background in photoshop easy, we kept the white paper as a backdrop.

We took photos in focus lights but after so many tries and different angles, there were shadows in the photo. We even tried taking photos on DSLR, iPhone, and iPad Pro but the outcome was not the one we wanted.

We attempted to build illustration in the box after that, hoping we would get rid of the shadow. But the result wasn’t again the one we wanted.

After so many tries, we tried taking photos in the natural lights in the morning. The result was pretty good with natural lights. We took the final photos on iPad Pro.

The outcome in natural light

After taking all the photos, we started filtering it to choose the best of it. Once photos were finalized, we started clearing the background of each illustration in photoshop to make it transparent.

We designed a demo page with one of this illustration to show how it looks.

Demo page designed with paper illustration

How you can download

You can download it for free from

These paper illustrations are free for both personal and commercial use. use it anywhere you want.


We never believed when we began working on this side project that it would take that much effort. The most significant thing in this type of project is that we learned to work as a team because we need to offer so many inputs in every aspect.

We learned from the start that if we follow the correct procedure, things can become simpler. Research is also essential because we need to understand where to use these illustrations. We also learned about the circumstances of photography, how the light source can influence the whole result.

Overall, working on this project has been a wonderful experience. Special thanks to Team Iconscout for continuing advice whenever necessary.

Thank you for reading it. Hope you’ve loved that.

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