How to draw illustrations of any subjects

A cup with a cat and Christmas trees

What is an illustration?

An illustration is a schematic recognizable image of objects on a plane. The word illustration itself reflects the somewhat applied nature of such drawings, they are usually used to illustrate some text (a book, magazine, website, advertisement, etc.). The illustrations themselves are usually sketches on paper, which are then digitized in order to sell or send them to the customer (or just upload them to the Internet and show them to the whole world in social networks / on your site).

Even though illustrations have an applied value, that doesn’t mean that the illustrator is not a real artist and his or her works don’t play a role in themselves. If an illustrator makes interesting works, zines, comics, collections of illustrations are produced, you can make your own online gallery, where fans of your work will enter and delight their eyes. You can illustrate any object of the real, virtual or imaginary world. The main thing is that the illustration should be understandable to the viewer and carry your personality.

What can I draw illustrations with?

Illustrations are usually created with watercolors, colored pencils, markers, gouache, or acrylics. Often ink, liner, or isograph is used for drawing. Some like to draw with a simple pencil or pen. There are illustrators who specialize in specific techniques – calligraphy, pastels, manga, comics, food, etc. You can use unexpected materials – nail polish, glitter, colored ink, and more. In principle, you can do illustrations with anything (except oil paints, I guess).

How do you create illustrations in your own unique style?

I’ve already made a separate post on how to find your style of drawing (see Here I’ll just add that finding your style can indeed take quite a long time, because it’s not easy to find yourself. But that doesn’t mean that until you’ve found your style you can’t do illustrations and even sell them. There are many illustrators who do not have a special recognizable style, but nevertheless create quality and in-demand work. The main thing is not to worry if you don’t know what the trick is to your drawings yet. Gradually, the more you draw, the more likely you yourself will notice similarities between your work. This similarity is what is called the “artist’s style”.

How to sell illustrations on the Internet?

After you have practiced drawing, got a portfolio (at least 10-20 decent works), learned the basic level of Photoshop and learned how to take pictures of your illustrations and make them available for uploading to the Internet, you can start looking for variants of realization of your drawings on the world online market of illustrations. In this post I focus on hand-drawn illustrations, but, of course, there is an option to draw directly in digital format on a tablet or do vector graphics. So where can I make money from my drawings? Let’s highlight a few basic places on the Internet where there can be buyers of your art, these are:

  • social networks,
  • microstocks,
  • freelance portfolio sites,
  • creative online stores,
  • online art galleries,
  • your website, blog, store.

In my opinion, the best sites for an illustrator are social networks with pictures, Shutterstock microstock, the Behance portfolio site, and your own site, possibly with a store. The other sites are more suitable for general artists, photographers, and sculptors. On the above sites need to make your creative account, post examples of work, leave an email to contact or respond to direct mail. It’s important to update your pages regularly (at least once a week), post your best work, put relevant tags, and make detailed descriptions so that you can be found through searches. Since most of these platforms are set up like social networks, you can also communicate with other members and keep your profile active.

How much do freelance illustrators earn?

Money spoils creativity; when an illustrator suddenly realizes that he or she can make money from their drawings, they go into “profitable themes” mode of searching for “what sells best” and “how to make more money. For a creative person, such thoughts can be very destructive. Of course, everyone wants to see a return on their labors, wants to feel that your creativity can help you pay the bills. So let’s figure out how much money a month you can count on, given that you have already done all of the above steps and have active profiles for 1-3 months at least on the 5 selling resources. I give three months for the promotion, because at the beginning to expect any sales on the Internet at all not worth it, you need to build up a name and reputation. After analyzing the reviews of numerous illustrators, it is obvious that the income varies quite a lot. There are illustrators who make nothing, and there are those who were able to make several thousand dollars a month from one platform. I think it’s fair to derive an average hospital temperature and say that the approximate average earnings of a beginning illustrator is about $30 per month. Yes, that’s not a lot of money, but let’s be realistic, where on the Internet right now is the money that’s fast and easy? That’s right, in a mousetrap! And if you want to make money, you’re going to have to really invest a lot of time and effort. Illustrators who have been building their portfolios and developing accounts for years can make an average of $100-500 a month for their drawings in about 5 years.

Do you have to be able to draw to become an illustrator?

I am convinced that everyone knows how to draw somehow. We all draw something in childhood, and sometimes draw on a piece of paper in adulthood as well, often when talking on the phone. Another thing is that you can draw in different ways. There is academic drawing, very few people have it at all, usually those who have studied at classical art schools for many years. And often these people do not become illustrators because they either have their own profession to which they devote all their time, or they give up drawing and painting altogether and earn money doing something else. There are probably a small percentage of professional artists who are into illustration. But not all illustrators went to art school/art institute. Many illustrators have a non-creative profession altogether. So. both yes and no. You can find yourself in illustration at any stage of life, whether you can draw academically or not, you can always develop your skills if you want to. You can learn to draw in two years at any age. For adults, there are online classes, youtube videos, a lot of available literature. I think that illustrations are good because even if you don’t know how to draw a circle you can make an original illustration. The main thing is to show the subject in such a way that people like to look at it and recognize it. So you have to learn some basic skills, but it won’t take you long. If you draw every day, in a few months you will be able to draw anything. And you’ll just have to find your own style so that you can add new colors to your pictures.

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