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How do you start illustrating? | How to start with illustrating?

by Judith Joosten 08 Apr 2019

Are you also crazy about all the beautiful illustrations that you see everywhere? Would you also like to get started making nice illustrations, but are you afraid that they are not beautiful enough? In this blog I will explain to you why illustrating is not that difficult at all and that you can do it too!

What is illustrating?
Illustrating is visualizing a message or story. An illustration can strengthen and clarify text, but also tell a story in itself. Illustrating is not the same as drawing. Drawing is a lot freer, while with illustration you are much more concerned with a concept: what exactly do you want to draw? What do you want to convey? What story do you want to tell? A lot more thought goes into it than drawing. By illustrating you are actually doing storytelling: you use illustrations to tell a story. You can really distinguish yourself with a certain style. This also influences how the story is told. What is also important is the composition. A good composition strengthens your illustration and ensures that it attracts attention. You can experiment a lot with this. In short: there are quite a few things to pay attention to when you start illustrating.

What materials can I use?
There are no rules about what materials to use when illustrating. Everything is allowed and everything is possible! You can choose to work with all kinds of pencils or paint, but also with pens, markers, fineliners and other pens. Maybe you prefer to take the digital tack and get started with digital illustrations. Each material gives a different result, so try everything out and discover what makes your illustrations look best! Don't just think about trying out acrylic paint while you normally like to illustrate with pencils, but trying out different paper can also be a lot of fun! For example, illustrate on brown paper using only fineliners and a white pencil or white pen. This immediately gives you other options and effects. Just remember that the most important thing is that you have fun illustrating, it doesn't matter which materials you use.

But what am I going to draw?
Do you want to get started, but are you being stared at by a blank page? Grab the simplest materials you have and start drawing for 15 minutes. Choose something from your immediate environment and start drawing it! You can of course also copy things from photos, pictures from the internet, magazines, anything you can think of. Illustrating is also a lot of fun to do while traveling. It is something different from taking photographs and you will experience your journey much more consciously if you try to draw or paint all the beautiful things you see.

Sometimes you just don't have that much inspiration or it is difficult to start illustrating. What I always like is to have a board on Pinterest where I collect all my inspiration. If you look at that, you will be inspired in no time and have plenty of ideas to put on paper! What I also like about this is that you discover so many different styles that you can try out again. Would you rather be surprised a little more? Then do my weekly drawing assignment. Every week I post a drawing assignment on Instagram with a number of reference images. Choose one that appeals to you most and get started! First sketch the lines roughly with a pencil and then finish it off with, for example, a fineliner, gouache or watercolor. Who knows, maybe you'll start to get the itch and before you know it you'll be illustrating for the rest of the day!

An exercise to avoid the blank page

  • Write down a number of words at random and throw them in a jar. If you would like to make an illustration in a theme, write a group of words in the same theme and also write down a group of more random words.
  • If you want to start drawing, take out 2 pieces of paper. Suppose you have 'in love' and a 'bear', then you draw something combining these two words.
  • Repeat ;).

How do I start?
Then the big question: how do I start illustrating? It's actually very simple: you can just do it. You can learn to illustrate by drawing a lot. If you're afraid of making mistakes, I recommend starting with a pencil and some paper. Then you can still easily erase! If you feel more comfortable with illustrating, you can get started with, for example, a fineliner or a ballpoint pen. This also gives a completely different effect than a pencil!

What's really nice is to take a sketchbook and a pencil with you everywhere. Use this to draw anything and everything from your daily life on paper every day, wherever you are. Try to teach yourself to see something in everything, as inspiration is all around you! This is not necessarily about improving your illustration skills (although that does happen if you draw a lot!), but more about becoming more comfortable with drawing regularly. After a while you will notice that it is much easier to start drawing and put less pressure on yourself.

Enjoy the process
Ultimately, it's all about the right mindset. Illustrate because you like it! When you go for a walk, you don't do it because you want to go from one place to another, but because you want to be outside for a while. Of course, this also applies to illustrating. Just try to enjoy the time you spend looking at something while trying to process it on paper. Don't be impatient! Illustrating also has a very soothing effect after a day of work, for example.

To learn to draw it is important to give yourself the time to learn it. You don't learn to illustrate in your style in one week. In the beginning, the end result will not immediately be what you had in mind. It's easy to frustrate yourself about it, but why not just enjoy the process. So enjoy illustrating, and try to let go of the end result. You really do get better: do, do, do! :)

Develop your own style
Everyone has their own style. What's the best way to find out what your style is? By illustrating a lot! If you illustrate for 15 minutes every day, you will see within a short time. a clear personal style in your work. Don't forget that your illustrations don't have to be 100% perfect and realistic. It's fun to put your own spin on it. This also makes it more your own style. Illustrations with their own character are so much fun!

A fun exercise to develop your own style:

  • Consider an object, such as a flower or a pet.
  • Find an image on the internet and draw the subject exactly. You first sketch the basic shapes and details with pencil and then grab your pen or paint to fill it in.
  • Then put the photo away, copy the basic shapes and give it your own twist. Because you just drew it, you still remember the basic shapes well. Make the eyes a little bigger in the new drawing, use your favorite colors or whatever.
  • Repeat this exercise numerous times with a variety of different topics.

Books
Would you like to get some inspiration first or would you like to read up on illustrating more? I have some really nice books about that in my shop! For example , '50 ways to draw your beautiful ordinary life ', which Flow illustrators from all over the world contributed to. In this book you will find 50 illustrated lessons to learn to draw objects from everyday life. Very fun to practice with and make it a challenge! Another nice book is ' Draw your day ' by Samantha Dion Baker. She gives you lots of tips and inspiration for making your own drawing diary. What is really nice about this book is that there is a chapter in which she explains that the end result is not the most important thing and that drawing is above all a lot of fun.

Conclusion
So it is not difficult at all to start illustrating. The only thing that can make it difficult is your own mindset. So try to give yourself some freedom and enjoy being creative. If you find it difficult to work on your own, you can also find a buddy with whom you can illustrate together for an afternoon! That's super fun and you can also learn a lot from each other.

Love,
Judith

[lang2]

Do you also love all the beautiful illustrations that you see everywhere? Would you also like to get started with making nice illustrations, but are you afraid that they won't be beautiful enough? In this blog I'll explain why illustrating isn't that difficult at all and that you can do it too!

What's illustrating?
Illustrating is the visualization of a message or a story. An illustration can strengthen and clarify text, but also tell a story in itself. Illustrating is not the same as drawing. Drawing is a lot more free, while illustrating is much more concerned with a concept: what exactly do you want to draw? What do you want to convey? Which story do you want to tell? Much more thought went into an illustration compared with a drawing. You actually illustrate stories: you use illustrations to tell a story. You can really distinguish yourself with a certain style. This also influences how the story is told. What's also important is the composition. Good composition enhances your illustration and makes it draw attention. You can experiment a lot with this. In short: there are quite a few things to pay attention to when you illustrate.

Which materials can I use?
There are no rules about what materials to use when illustrating. Everything is allowed and everything is possible! You can choose to work with all kinds of pencils or paint, but also with pens, markers, fineliners and other pens. Maybe you prefer to go digital and get started with digital illustrations. Each material gives a different result, so try everything out and discover what makes your illustrations stand out the most! Don't just think about trying out acrylic paint while you normally like to illustrate with pencils, but testing out other papers can also be a lot of fun! For example, illustrate on brown paper with only fineliners and a white pencil or white pen. You immediately have other possibilities and effects. Just don't forget that the most important thing is that you have fun illustrating, which materials you use doesn't matter that much.

But what do I draw?
Do you want to get started, but are you stared at by an empty page? Grab the simplest materials you have and start drawing for 15 minutes. Choose something from your immediate environment and start drawing it! Of course you can also copy things from photos, pictures from the internet, magazines, anything you can think of. Illustrating is also fun to do while traveling. It's something different than photography and you experience your journey much more consciously if you try to draw or paint all the beautiful things you see.

Sometimes you just don't have that much inspiration or it's difficult to start illustrating. I like to have a board on Pinterest where I collect all my inspiration. If you look at the board you'll be inspired in no time and you will have enough ideas to put on paper! A nice thing about this is that you discover so many different styles that you can try out again. Would you rather be surprised a bit more? Then do my weekly drawing assignment. Every week I post a drawing assignment on Instagram with a number of reference images. Choose one that appeals to you the most and get started! First roughly sketch the lines with a pencil and then finish it off with, for example, a fineliner, gouache or watercolor. Who knows, it might start to itch and before you know it you'll be illustrating the rest of the day!

An exercise to avoid an empty page

  • Write down a number of words randomly and throw them in a jar. If you would like to make an illustration in a theme, write a group of words in the same theme and also write down a group of more random words.
  • If you want to start drawing, take out 2 pieces of paper. For example: you have "in love" and a "bear", then you draw something combining these two words.
  • Repeat ;).

How do I start?
Then the big question: how do I start illustrating? It's actually very simple: you can just do it . You can learn to illustrate by drawing a lot. If you're afraid of making mistakes, I recommend starting with a pencil and some paper. Then you can still easily erase! If you feel more comfortable with illustrating, you can get started with, for example, a fineliner or a ballpoint pen. This also gives a completely different effect than a pencil!

It's great to take a sketchbook and pencil everywhere you go. Use this to draw anything and everything from your daily life on paper every day, wherever you are. Try to teach yourself to see something everywhere, as inspiration is all around you! This isn't necessarily about improving your illustration skills (although of course that happens if you draw a lot!), but more about becoming more comfortable with drawing regularly. After a while you will notice that you start drawing much easier and put less pressure on yourself.

Enjoy the process
Ultimately, it's all about the right mindset. Illustrate because you like it! If you are going for a walk, you don't do that because you want to go from one place to another, but because you want to be outside for a while. Of course, this also applies to illustrating. Just try to enjoy the time you spend viewing something while trying to process it on paper. Don't be impatient! Illustrating is also very relaxing after a day of work, for example.

To learn to draw, it's important to give yourself the time to learn. You don't learn to illustrate in your style in one week. In the beginning, the end result will not immediately be what you had in mind. It's easy to frustrate yourself about that, but why not just enjoy the process. So enjoy illustrating and try to let go of the end result. You will get better, really just do, do, do! :)

Develop your own style
Everyone has their own style. What's the best way to find out what your style is? By illustrating a lot! If you illustrate 15 minutes every day, you will see within a short time. A clear own style in your work. Don't forget that your illustrations don't have to be 100% perfect and realistic. It's fun to put your own spin on it. This also makes it more your own style. Illustrations with their own characters are just so much fun!

A fun exercise to develop your own style:

  • Think of an object, such as a flower or a pet.
  • Find an image on the internet and trace the subject exactly. You first sketch the basic shapes and details with pencil and then grab your pen or paint to fill it in.
  • Then put the photo away, copy the basic shapes and give it your own twist.
  • Because you just drew it, you still remember the basic shapes. Make the eyes a bit bigger with the new drawing, use your favorite colors or whatever.
  • Repeat this exercise numerous times with a variety of topics.

Books
Do you like to get some inspiration first or do you want to learn more about illustrating? In my shop I have some really nice books about that! For example, " 50 ways to draw your beautiful ordinary life ", which Flow illustrators from all over the world contributed to. In this book you will find 50 illustrated lessons to learn to draw objects from everyday life. Very nice to practice and make it a challenge! Another nice book is " Draw your day " by Samantha Dion Baker. She'll give you many tips and inspiration for making your own drawing diary. What's really nice about this book is that there is a chapter in which she tells that the end result is not the most important and that drawing is especially fun.

Conclusion
So it's really not that difficult at all to start illustrating. The only thing that can make it difficult is your own mindset. So try to release yourself and enjoy being creative. If you find it difficult to get started on your own, you can also find a buddy with whom you can illustrate an afternoon together! That's so much fun and you can also learn a lot from each other.

Love,
Judith

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