Even with limited drawing ability there are simple techniques to improve your illustrations immediately. To demonstrate, I’ve deconstructed one of my recent paintings, The Flyers. This is a children’s book illustration where I wanted to focus on the characters in a light, happy environment.
I’d really like for beginner artist to find some simple ways to boost their skills, so I’ll be continuing with this series that I’m calling Illustration Tips and Tricks.
Let’s jump into it!
Start at the beginning.
Sketching is the foundation of everything. This piece was easier than most at the preliminary stage: I had already developed the look of the characters and I knew what kind of mood I wanted in the illustration. If you wan to reduce your frustration in art, then plan ahead. It’s so much easier to work out problems in the sketching stage. Trust me. You’ll get more actual art made this way.
Find your focus.
There’s a concept in design called the the Rule of Thirds. Basically it says that there are points in an image that naturally draw our attention. If we divide our drawing up into thirds horizontally and vertically, those intersections become our focal points. That’s where we can choose to place our characters to make the maximum use of our composition.
Contrast for clarity.
Contrast is also one of the best ways to emphasize an object in your composition. The areas of greatest contrast will tend to grab a viewer’s attention. You can see that our two adventurers are painted with the darkest values. This helps to set them apart from their environment.
Warm up to your characters.
Another way to create emphasis is in our color choices. Cool colors tend to recede in an image and warmer colors come forward, so one way we can focus on our daring duo is to paint them with warmer colors than their surroundings. It’s pretty easy in this illustration since they’re set against that cool, blue sky.
And there we have it! I hope you can see that just by applying a few basic principles you can dramatically improve our artwork. Don’t get discouraged. Art is a journey, so take it one step at a time.
Let me know in the comments if there are any subjects that you would like for me to cover in this series, and post some links to your own art where you try out these techniques.
Be safe and Happy Drawing!