A time killer’s guide to digital illustration
So you’ve got two hours to yourself and aren’t quite fed up with the Adobe suite after the day’s work. Free from the prying eyes of client opinion, it’s time to give the ol’ creative arm a stretch.
What’s your vision?
Unlike doodling away on the pages of a physical drawing pad, I find that digital illustration reaps the ripest fruit when one is working toward a specific vision.
Every once in a while, we get a spark of an idea that strikes at the most unassuming time — jot that sucker down and support the idea with a rough sketch if you must — even opt for a digital reminder if it suits you.
Having something in your mind’s eye gives you some direction of the intended atmosphere and tone you want to achieve through your illustrative expedition.
Get inspired, yo!
The Pinterest dive will, by nature, equip you with the verve and zest to give the task ahead a real go.
Time to transfer thought to reality
It’s easiest to buckle down and start your illustration in black and white. Building the image in this simple way let’s you set the scene.
Used to the comfort of pencil sketching? Just scan one of your drawings and trace over for a first attempt. Add, subtract, tweak, extend, distort and manipulate all that you must, to transfer what’s in your mind to the tangible world.
You might even find that you’ll learn something new along the way because as you work, you’ll discern the taste for what works and what doesn’t in relation to that one, specific piece.
Now for the fun bit
Once you’ve outlined your piece, it’s time to bring it home with smart colour usage. But hey, if the illustration looks great as line-work, hit save and you’re a happy camper.
However, if you want only a highlight or two, consider employing just three colours/shades throughout the illustration. This creates a clean but crafty look when done right.
If you think the illustration looks unfinished after the application of the above tactics, it’s time to cook up a kick-ass colour palette — although a mental one will work just as well.
Look over those gems that you came across on Pinterest for some guides to save you a bit of trial-and-error. Fiddle around with colours (on the very same content) to discover how colour-association alters the tone and mood of your idea.
To ensure a slick and cohesive final product, keep within a certain tonal value as you build on your palette.
NB: Scurrying through Pinterest isn’t plagiarism, within reason. Use it as a tool to help convert your concept into the best visual possible. By gauging your idea against what has already been explored, you allow yourself to transcend your initial idea and grow.
A GIF on the progression, you say?
Through the process of building on the illustration, the progression itself should excite and perhaps even surprise you. In essence, you’re bringing something to the world that was never here before.
Whether you publish it or not you’re creating something from scratch that is wholly made by you and from you. Satisfying, innit?
You’d also be pleased to know that once you’ve polished your illustration, you score yourself a free wallpaper.
Still finding your style?
If you’re interested in illustrating but could use a nudge in making it a real hobby, have a go at translating a single idea into different styles. Aim to craft a look that is unique to you and that you are happy and comfortable with.
From more conceptual design that carries depth, to flatter, simpler illustration - try dabbling in character design and take a glance at typography.
Find where you balance expression and reward and hone in on that.
Wanna keep an eye on my illustration? Take a gander at my Instagram account for my ‘flat depth’ angle on cars & colourful characters.