Bringing an Illustration into Focus
Illustrator and Adobe Creative Resident Anna Daviscourt is just over halfway through her residency year, and in that time of focused work on a passion project—a children’s book based on an original story and filled with her charming, whimsical illustrations—she’s had time to hone her creative process. In this article, Daviscourt shares five workflow steps that she follows when creating an illustration. She’s using Adobe Photoshop Sketch, but her tips will help visual artists working in any medium.
For this piece, I looked at plants, profiles, and even elf ears to try and understand what I was drawing. (For me, reference really makes the difference between an OK piece and a brilliant piece. You don’t have to know exactly what you’re looking for, but I’d recommended keeping your favorite images somewhere accessible. I’ve been loving Pinterest lately because it leads me to artists I’ve never seen before, based on their similarity to artists I already love. I used to be lazy about reference, but it’s made such a huge difference in my work that I have to stress its importance.)
This piece was pretty straightforward because I knew that I wanted the skin to get rosier around the nose, cheeks, and ears, and that the leaves would have an analogous green color scheme. For some pieces, this stage can take quite a while, so once again—reference is your friend! To push yourself, do color studies of other artists, or use their colors in your piece.
A final tip: Keep editing throughout the process! Just because you have a good sketch doesn’t mean you should rest on it. At any point, you have the ability to make your piece stronger—all it takes is seeing what to change. To do that, I recommend taking breaks (sometimes long ones), flipping the image, and asking for outside opinions. This is another guaranteed method to improving your work. Not everything is about grinding through to the finish. Part of your job is quality control, so remind yourself to edit.