Mar 23, 2022

Illustration Crash Course


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With self-improvement becoming a big trend in the 2020’s, many people are letting their inner artist out. Remember doodling in elementary school? You can pick up exactly where you left off. Getting the creative juices flowing is a great way to focus in and even develop new pathways in your brain.

This is my personal formula for drawing–complete with tips I learned from books and illustration classes. I use this same process for illustrating whether I’m starting on paper using an online application. If you’re using paper, you can visit your local art store for supplies or even use what you have laying around the house. Remember like most processes in art, it gets worse before it gets better—prep your mind with some positivity and embrace the ebb and flow.

Materials I like to use:

  • iPad
  • iPad Pencil
  • Moleskin sketchbook
  • HB Pencil
  • junk mail / loose paper
  • any ‘ol pen or pencil laying around


Note: This is my process for drawing from imagination and not from life. But many of the techniques of drawing from life apply to creating your own masterpiece!


  1. Start with the base shape of the object you want to draw (think squares, circles, and triangles). It’s important to build the form of your object by adding to it before you start to erase or subtract it away. Drawing by building your shapes allows your object to look more dimensional and life-like. I would also recommend this process even if you want your object to be in outlines when it’s finished.
    • TIP: To get the most effortless shapes possible, draw from your shoulder rather than your hand. Your shoulder has more natural rotation (thanks anatomy!) and allows you to draw on a larger scale.


2. Build out your object by adding more shapes and connecting them with basic lines: this starts to create form. Place the shape where the body or dimensional part of your object is supposed to go.


3. Double-check the form. It’s important to start the double-checking process early. The more you can self-critique throughout the process, the more you’ll learn! From those basic shapes, add in drop-lines and cross-lines as reference. They can be super helpful in creating beautiful space, proportion and composition.


4. Connect the… shapes! This step is where your object really begins to come together and show personality. Make sure that you connect on the apex of the shape, and not the middle, to create the edge of your object.


5. Define your light source. If your drawing piece will require multiple days to complete, then I like to add in an arrow, or the forbidden sun in the corner (remember kindergarten art class?) to refer back to. That way you can know the exact angle of the light source when you decide to return back to the piece.


6. Add highlights and shadows, and remember to make a seamless transition.

  • Pay close attention to where the light is brightest, where it starts to transition, and where it becomes a shadow.
  • The style of shading that you see here is called “Stippling” it is a technique of layering numerous small dots to create shadows. In areas where the shadow is more pronounced, the tiny dots should be more concentrated.
      • TIP: Start light and build. If you’re drawing on paper, it’s easier to add more pigmentation than take away to avoid smudging and build-up.


7. Add details and clean it up.

  • Your details could include a detailed background, some shading, additional object to add character, etc. The options are endless and that’s where your artistic vision can come out to shine.
  • Remember that even the best artists do not make a masterpiece in one fell swoop. Illustration takes a lot of revisioning, so double-check, triple-check and quadruple-check until you reach your desired finished project.


8. Be proud of the work you have just created!


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