Starting any new project, whether commissioned or personal, is always very exciting. But sometimes it’s hard to know what to create or where to even begin. Today, I’ll share some insight on how I come up with meaningful concepts and take you through the full step-by-step of the illustration process.
Step 1: Exploring Ideas
I typically start by letting my mind wander. I either daydream or look at random pictures on my phone and online of people, places, animals or objects that might trigger something new in my mind. I sometimes draw ideas out in my sketchbook and begin to explore the concept further using Adobe Illustrator.
I’m naturally drawn to animals in the wild, everyday objects, and other things that may seem mundane or are easily overlooked by most. I feel like these are the kind of subjects that give you an opportunity to look at simple things differently and create new meaning in your own personal way.
Step 2: Narrowing down the concept
I’ve been working on a new series of West Virginia wildlife illustrations which is all about the animals throughout the state of West Virginia. I thought this would be a subject that many of my friends and family will enjoy. I start off by picking the main subject that makes up my composition. Going through some online photos, I use original photographs for many of my Low Poly illustrations. For this post, I will be using my latest project:
Step 3: Tracing the image
Now that I’ve decided on the main subject, I set my visual references as the background and start solidifying the composition. I use the photos I found of the animal to start tracing out the lines that I will use for the composition. In this initial phase, I try to add as much detail using just lines. Then I’ll go in and add some lighting shapes based on the way the light hits the animal. Once I am done with the tracing, its ready for final rendering of the composition.
Step 4: Choosing colors
I normally go with my instincts when choosing a colors. But I also get a ton of inspiration from Dribbble, Pinterest, and Kuler to help find the right mood I’m going for. In general, I prefer using minimal color palettes in my illustrations. for this illustration, I play around with the colors from the original photo and try to get creative with it. I use the photo for reference, pick out each color within the object, and place it using the color picker tool.
Step 5: Final Refinements
Here is the point in my process where I focus on the overall refinements and details. It’s all about stepping back and looking at the big picture to see how all the elements come together cohesively in the final illustration. As you can see, I matched up some the traced lines and colors so there will be no open spaces for the final art piece.
And now its all finished!