From Sketch to Illustration

In this tutorial I will show the steps it takes to go from a sketch to a finished illustration and also some good tips on how to keep yourself organized while working on a project in Photoshop. The techniques this tutorial shows is the standard in most of the industry and a great way to become a more professional illustrator and graphic designer. The next tutorial will show some of the techniques I use to create the lighting and shadows on this same illustration. This is our reference image

1. To begin with, it is always best to start with some sketches of the illustration. Very brief, should only take a few minutes each.  By doing this you can have a few versions done quickly to show your client or art director. Then you can discuss what needs to be changed, like composition, object placement, lighting, ect. You can also go over some of the basic color choices.

2. The next step after you set up your desired document size is to import your sketch. Either a scanned sketch or a digital sketch will work just fine. Keep the sketch as the top layer because this will be your reference throughout most of the process of creating your digital illustration. After that you want to change the blending mode of the sketch to multiply.

This knocks out the white leaving only the sketch.

3. This technique is probably the most important, the use of folders and sub folders for your layers. This is the best way to keep organized. It is also the best way for multiple people working on the same project to manage the files and instantly be able to pick up were the last person left off. Before you start, look at all the elements in your sketch and categorize them. For example, I created folders called phone, man climbing, car, and others so that it’s easy for me to keep track of everything, and sub folders within those folders called lighting or women in car. To create a folder click the create a new group button at the bottom of the layers pallet.

4. After setting up the sketch and the folders it’s time to gather your stock and reference photos. This can be very time consuming so always make a folder for yourself of photos to use in your illustrations and keep adding and adding. The more the better. This will greatly cut the time down from searching all over the web. Also a digital camera is a great investment so that you can take your own photos of objects needed in the illustration. This also makes it much more personal.

5. Now after you have been working on your illustration and it looks like the sketch and has everything needed in it, send a draft to your client or art director for them to review and look over, and see if anything needs to be changed or adjusted.

6. The last step is to change what the desired adjustments are and to tweak and clean it up. Like in this illustration we needed to add more dirt on the shovel and change the color or contrast on some objects, like his pants, to make them stand out more.

It’s common to get a list of changes so don’t get too discouraged, It’s all towards making a great design.

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5 Responses to “From Sketch to Illustration”

  1. Girlie | Digital Room Says:

    It’s wonderful to know that great artworks like these begin from a sketch! The thought of seeing an amazing artwork designed from sketch really amazes me. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Samuel Berry Says:

    Thank you for the very interesting post ! ^^

  3. Al kamal Md. Razib Says:

    It’s nice posting. It’s helpful to our career. About Clipping Paths, Image Masking (layer or alpha channel),Creating Shadows (natural, drop or reflection shadows), Retouching, Color Correction, Image Conversion (raster to vector), Image Resizing Please Visit:

  4. Print Reseller Says:

    Reading this blew me away!

  5. Andres Garcia Says:

    That is an awesome illustration… I need to get my skills up your group is setting the bar very high!

    Keep up the great work

    Andres Garcia

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