Beginner's Guide to Learning Illustration in 2022

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Beginner's Guide to Learning Illustration in 2022

The use of visual imagery to clarify, explain, express, portray, communicate, or reinforce concepts, processes, theories, and language is referred to as illustration. Simply put, illustration is a kind of visual communication. As a result, an illustrator is an artist who improves or brings a piece of text, a concept, or an idea to life in some way.

Illustrators work in a variety of fields, including animation, advertising, graphic design, fashion, and web design. An illustration is a flexible profession, and artists work in a variety of sectors and vocations. It's a field that has a big influence on how we see the world.

In this lesson, I'll show you how to learn illustration and become an artist, as well as how to get started in this field. You may also simply use some of the illustration suggestions to enhance your understanding of design and visual communication.


What Is Illustration and How Does It Work? Overview

Artists are illustrators, but not all artists are illustrators. Consider the following three meanings of the word demonstrate to draw a line between them:

  1. For a book, magazine, or newspaper, to generate or offer photographs or visual features.
  2. To embellish or clarify something.
  3. To clarify or explain one's own words, an idea, or a notion.
  4. To be used as a model for anything.

Illustrators are a varied group that works on a variety of projects ranging from illustrating comic books to designing graphics for advertisements.


Skills - Being an artist necessitates a variety of abilities and traits that may be gained and polished on one's own or via training and schooling. The following is a partial list of the talents and traits we feel are most important:

  • Draw - Ability to draw in both conventional and digital mediums
  • Creative - The ability to use one's imagination and inventiveness.
  • Thinking - Problem-solving prowess
  • Communication - Excellent communication skills are essential.
  • Adaptability - The ability to comprehend and adjust to a variety of work demands.


Practice - While effective drawing necessitates a wide range of abilities, these abilities may be refined with consistent practice. Focusing on acquiring skill and confidence in the artistic style that comes most easily to them is critical for aspiring artists.

Style - As a beginner illustrator, it is critical that you develop and practice your own style rather than simply copying that of others. After you've mastered this technique, you may focus on expanding your portfolio's flexibility. Finally, developing the abilities necessary to become an illustrator takes patience.

This Instruction - We'll look at some of the basic concepts of illustration in the following portion of this tutorial on how to study illustration, which will assist you on your way to being the artist you want to be. Before we go any further, I'd like to recommend two lessons on How to Learn Graphic Design and What is Typography to help you learn more about the subject.

How to Learn Illustration – Theoretical and Practical Aspects

Illustration is a type of art that aims to communicate actual ideas rather than just convey them. Still, because it is a kind of art, it will employ some of the same concepts as other forms of art and design. These are the ideas covered in this How to Learn Illustration lesson.

We'll start by looking at some of the fundamentals of excellent illustration, and then we'll show you how to use the principles of art to improve your pictures.


5 Core Principles of Illustration

  • Communication - Illustrations transmit ideas, they are artworks that have a direct message to convey.
  • Clarity - Illustrations are meant to be clear and direct, therefore they should be.
  • Coherence - The illustration's medium, style, colours, scale, design, and other elements should all be consistent with the message being conveyed.
  • Activity - Illustrations should be dynamic, bringing a concept to life.
  • Inspiration - Simple visual metaphor and metonymy can be used sparingly to elicit deeper comprehension only if the illustrator knows that the content is the metaphor and that they must take inspiration from the actual world.


We must teach some of the basic concepts of drawing and art production because illustration depends so largely on drawing and creative abilities. In order to create an illustration, we must first grasp the foundations of visual communication, which are founded on the seven art and design principles listed below.


Learn Illustration – 7 Art & Design Principles

1. Movement

The term "movement" does not refer to a moving image. Rather, it defines the artist's intended path for the viewer to follow through the piece, eventually leading to a clear focal point. To help the eyes discover a path to the main focal point, forms, lines, shading, scale, edges, and colour can be used to direct movement.

Movement can be suggested dramatically by element location, kinetic ideas, or chronologically as with the linearity of a basic comic strip.

Natural movement gives a composition a feeling of rhythm. Movement necessitates a deliberate effort on the illustrator's part, but it should appear clear and natural to the viewer.


2. Stability

Balance is concerned with a design's visual weight, where certain parts are more eye-catching and have a higher visual weight, while others have less visual weight. Balance is the continual examination of the overall arrangement while keeping these various weighted parts in mind. Asymmetrical and asymmetrical design strategies can be used by an artist.

Asymmetrical components supply variously weighted or non-centred elements, whereas symmetrical elements provide equal weight on both sides of an imagined centre line. The aim of symmetry, or equal balance, isn't always achieved. Within a work, balance is frequently employed as a component of movement.


3. Emphasis

The employment of components to bring attention to a certain feature of the artwork, painting, or illustration is referred to as emphasis. Balance, colour, movement, size, and contrast, as well as a mix of components like lines, textures, forms, and the clever use of space, may be used to create this.

Emphasis is employed to draw a viewer's attention to a certain point or to illustrate a point in order to communicate a concept.


4. Design

The repeating of particular components to achieve balance and readability via predictability is known as a pattern. A pattern can help to bring a picture together, giving the viewer a sense of fullness or completion. It offers an understandable sequence to a spectator, allowing them to better comprehend the intended meaning of an image.


5. Make Contrast

Weights, colours, textures, and forms are examples of opposing components. Contrast may be utilized to create motion or equilibrium. An image cannot exist without it. It helps to define the many aspects of a work of art.

An observer may become confused if there are too many opposing aspects. In generating contrasting components that function, balance and unity are crucial considerations, just as they are in many other areas of artwork.


6. Differentiation

Different characteristics amongst items that might be employed to create curiosity and interest are referred to as variety. An artist can capture the attention of a viewer by using a range of forms, colours, weights, pictures, and other elements. The amount of diversity that is used must be carefully considered. On behalf of a spectator, I'm looking for a feeling of balance and harmony once more.

For example, too much diversity might be perplexing to the viewer, while too little variety can tire them. Variety should be employed to enhance the message rather than detract from the illustrator's goals.


7. Proportion

Scale is concerned with the size of one item in comparison to another, whereas proportion is concerned with how the size of components connects or compare to the total piece or object.

Let's say we're drawing a woman standing next to an ancient oak tree. The woman's feet are out of proportion with her torso, yet she is in scale with the oak tree (she is smaller than it and it is a realistic portrayal of size) (they are too big).

Proportion and scale can be used to demonstrate the simplicity or grandiosity of an idea or concept, as well as to indicate the size.

We can learn and use painting, drawing, and excellent design ideas and concepts, but we must practice illustrating to become effective illustrators. We need the right tools in order to practice and study illustration. The next section will assist the aspiring artist in locating the tools that are both required and beneficial to their profession.


Tools for Learning Illustration

All you need to get started learning illustration is a drawing instrument and a drawing surface. The two tools that most illustrators would have begun with are a pencil and a sheet of paper. However, thanks to advancements in illustration technology, many new artists are honing their skills on graphics and drawing tablets. We'll go through both the necessary gear and software for individuals who want to learn how to draw in this portion of the post.



Hardware for illustration might be expensive, but it doesn't have to be if your ambitions are reasonable. Illustrations don't necessarily necessitate the use of high-tech equipment. As previously stated, all you need is a pencil and a piece of paper at times.

The following is a list of some gear that may become necessary depending on the type of drawing you want to pursue.


Notebooks and sketchbooks - For illustrators, notebooks and sketchbooks are essential for sketching out ideas and taking notes. These can be digital, but nothing beats a physical notepad that you can carry around with you and use whenever and wherever you want. This is the most cost-effective approach to begin practising and learning illustration. Do you want to go back in time? Yes. However, they are widely utilized and valued, and they will continue to be so in the future.

Graphite pencils are a must-have for illustrators. For fast sketching or full-fledged drawing, a range of sizes can be utilized effectively. Illustrators can design drawings by putting down lines freely using non-photo blue pencils because they can be left out in the scanning process or simply removed using Photoshop. Highlighting and colour can be added to a drawing or image using coloured pencils. Pens come in a wide variety of nibs, inks, and colours, and are suitable for a wide range of applications.

Desks - Artist or drafting desks, as well as drawing boards, enable illustrators to work comfortably and provide an ergonomic workspace and atmosphere.

Tablets - Tablets or 2-in-1 devices, such as the Microsoft Surface and the iPad Pro, provide artists with a graphical tablet as well as a tiny laptop (or notebook). These stylus or digital pen tablets will grow more popular as they become more powerful, dependable, and cheap.

Laptops - Laptops allow you to work from any location. However, sufficient processing power, speed, and memory (RAM) are some of the most important features to consider. The display on your laptop (kind, size, and colour accuracy) should meet your unique work needs. There are laptops that can be used as both a word processor and a drawing tablet, known as 2-in-1 convertible computers.

Desktops - Desktop computers are the workhorses, with high processing power and speeds, as well as more internal memory. Designers may connect not just extra displays but also numerous peripherals to improve their productivity. Illustrators should think about the ergonomics of their workstations because they will be using graphics tablets that take up a lot of space.

Graphics tablets - These include the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface, as well as screenless Wacom drawing tablets for desktop illustration. Illustrators will be able to digitally sketch, draw, or paint with ease using tablets and the appropriate software.



Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are perhaps the first programs that come to mind when thinking about software for creatives and artists. These programs, however, can be expensive. Furthermore, because the learning curve may be high in this field, we typically advise enrolling in photoshop or graphic design classes to get confident with such tools.

We'll highlight a free and open-source option for beginners and intermediates to practice and study illustration in the list below. Following that, we'll go through some drawing-specific software that works well with drawing and graphics tablets.

Photographers and graphic designers use Photoshop to alter their images. Raster graphics are pixel-based pictures made up of dots per inch (DPI) or pixels per inch (PPI). Raster graphics are difficult to scale without distorting.

Editing and manipulating photos may be done with a variety of tools. There are just a few choices for text editing. GIMP, a free open-source image editor with similar but less capable capabilities, is one of the most popular open-source image editors. Illustrators can use Photoshop and GIMP to digitize their physical artworks and sketches.


Illustrator is a vector graphics and image editor. A vector image is a scalable path-based picture. This program, which combines drawings, forms, color, and typography, is a vital design tool. Both Inkscape (Windows) and Graphic (Mac) are free and open-source alternatives. Affinity Designer is a quality product that is reasonably priced. Artists and illustrators will find all of them interesting because they may be utilized with a drawing or graphics tablet.

InDesign, on the other hand, is a typesetting and desktop publishing program used to create printed materials such as posters, brochures, newspapers, and books. Popular alternatives include Affinity Publisher and Scribus, both of which provide similar tools and features. Illustrators may utilize InDesign, Affinity, and Scribus to create comics, illustrated books, and graphic novels for print.

Illustrators, comic book and manga artists, and 3D animators utilize Clip Studio Paint to create their work. It has a huge range of customizable pens and brushes and enables multi-page management. It's also compatible with Windows, macOS, iPad, and Android, making it a potential desktop or tablet illustrating choice.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is a fantastic drawing program that is well-known for its extensive set of drawing tools and natural sketching experience. It is available for Windows, macOS, iPad, and Android and works with both touch and stylus.

ArtRage is a painting-specific piece of software. It comes with a large number of realistic brushes and tools for creating digital paintings and drawings. It is acclaimed for its fluid mechanics and control. It's also cross-platform software for Windows, macOS, iPad, and Android.


Beginner's Illustration Tutorial - 6 Points to Remember

How do you learn to draw? As we've seen, illustration takes time and effort to master, and there are no quick fixes. Developing solid practice habits, on the other hand, can undoubtedly aid your development as an artist and illustrator. Here are some pointers to help you develop the correct habits and routines so you may improve your illustrative and creative abilities on your road to becoming a great illustrator.


1. Comfort - Learn to be at ease with yourself. An illustrator must be aware of and comfortable with his or her own skills and shortcomings. They must also be able to distinguish themselves from others by utilizing their distinct traits and style.

This entails establishing a distinctly unique style in your work that sets you apart from other artists. While the cliche that excellent artists imitate great artists steal has some truth to it, there is more to it than meets the eye.

A competent artist (a student artist) will imitate others' styles, but a great artist (a seasoned artist) will appropriate historically significant creative aspects and give them their own voice and expression. Our advice is to learn about the history of illustration in order to make your own style more relevant and interesting.

2. Approaches - To study illustration, use old school methods. Practice your craft using paper and pencil. While digital means are becoming increasingly common, nothing surpasses paper's tried and true technology. It will assist you in situating yourself and your drawings in the actual world. It's also easier on the eyes, making it an excellent spot to begin practising your drawing on the go.

3. Thinking Process - Drawing may be compared to thinking and the problem-solving process. Drawing is a kind of visual problem-solving and reasoning. It may be used as a meditative tool as well as a brainstorming tool. It may be used for both ideas and expressiveness. Use it to communicate in situations where written or spoken communication is ineffective. You shouldn't have to explain your concept since it should be clear from your image.

4. Portfolio - Build a flexible portfolio that reflects your personal flair. A portfolio should demonstrate your style and how it may be expressed in a range of mediums and projects, both analogue and digital. You may share your work through a variety of services. You may also make your own portfolio page on your own website.

5. Technology - Become acquainted with it. Spend some time learning to draw and playing with various devices and software. Develop a degree of familiarity with each tool so that you can use it more efficiently.

6. Practicing - Do it again and again. Drawing, drawing, drawing. Enough with the words! Although not all artwork needs great drawing abilities, the most illustration does. You need to develop your artistic and drawing abilities if you want to learn illustration and desire to be an illustrator. Patience and practice are required. As a result, practice.

Read Article: The Fundamentals of Graphic Design for Beginner - Learn Graphic Design

Summary of How to Learn Illustration

This course on how to study illustration is coming to a close. Illustrating is a more inventive activity in that it must convey clearly while also saying something more imaginatively. It's a type of art that prioritizes communication over creative expression.

An illustration should be able to clearly and simply express a concept. The challenge isn't for the observer to solve; it's for the artist to figure out how to communicate something graphically without confounding their audience.

If you like art yet want to express yourself, illustrating might be the way to go. If you're just starting out on your path to being an artist, remember to practice and be patient, but most importantly, be creative.


What is the best way to study illustration online?

There are a variety of online tools for learning illustration. To discover relevant online lessons, we recommend using platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare, or CreativeLive.

Alternatively, broadening your knowledge by looking at areas such as illustration, art, design, communication, technology, music, photography, and so on is always a good idea. This will help you become a better artist by increasing the synergy effects of your talents, experience, and knowledge.

I hope you enjoyed my How To Learn Illustration for Beginners tutorial. In the comments area below, please feel free to ask any questions you may have. Do you have something to add? Please notify us.


About author
I am a professional web developer. I love programming and coding, and reading books. I am the founder and CEO of StorialTech.