What Illustrators Do


Digital illustrations, more often than not, germinate on paper.

Like many designers, I start with process sketches scribbled on odd bits and pieces and only take them to Photoshop or Illustrator when I have a fair idea of what they should look like.

But Fontli was different.

I’d been working on corporate graphics for a while, and this assignment needed more unconventional thinking. I knew it had to have a strong typographic/lettering element to it, but it also had to have its own distinctive style.

The initial sketches weren't amazing. I was working out kinks in the content and I wasn’t worried about aesthetics.

It doesn’t have to look great when you don’t know what to do yet

The entire design process went through atleast three to four major iterations. I used pencils for sketching, and micron pens for line art and inking. Some of the icons needed to be redrawn and the content flows modified to fit in into the bigger scheme of things.

A few of my initial sketches

The final inked-in version looked much closer to what I wanted.

Taking it Digital

And now to recreate a digital version. The hand-drawn and inked version was scanned and I used it as a template for the digital version to be ‘traced’ on.

A minimal, but high-contrast colour palette seemed to work best for this illustration, so I made use of three colours that kept the tone of the work upbeat, but didn’t stray into excessive brightness.

The fonts were trickier. (Fontli is, after all, a typography app.) But in the end, I was happy using MoonFlower, Nouvelle Vague Black, Pacifico, Oriya MN and Playball. The ones I’ve linked to are free for personal use or in the public domain.

After days of work, the infographic finally materialized. And that, if you’re not familiar with the design process, is what goes into digital illustrations. ☺

You can check out the infographic on screen at Type Talk.


Saloni is a dreamer by day, an insect connoisseur at dusk, a bassist on weekends, and a designer for Fontli and Imaginea.

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