Illustrators are needed in various industries, from advertising to book publishing, so if you want to become an illustrator, be sure that you will have money. This profession has become very competitive in recent years, but there is always the possibility that you will be able to offer something completely new and unique.
Where to start to become an illustrator
Learn different types of illustrations, and try yourself in different directions:
— drawing with live materials,
— in digital graphics,
— in the image of plants in the style of a botanical illustration,
— in a stylized fashion illustration,
— in sketches,
— in comics,
— in creating and animating vector images.
As a rule, illustrators work individually: often, there will be no one to motivate you, and you will have to cultivate confidence in yourself and your abilities, grow and move forward on your own. Therefore, it is essential to choose precisely the direction you are most attracted to so there are no problems with motivation.
You can cover several related areas at once and successfully combine them or focus on just one of them.
Get an education
The next important step in getting started is to acquire specialized knowledge. To become a successful illustrator, you will need the following set of skills::
- ability to think and express creative ideas;
- drawing skills, both in traditional and digital environments;
- getting to know color palettes, patterns, and visual textures;
- knowledge of current trends in illustration and design;
- ability to understand customers’ needs and work in a tight time frame.
Online courses for those who want to learn drawing and become an illustrator
- Become an Adobe Creative Cloud Expert: Ps, Id, Ae, Pr, Lr, Xd
- Adobe Illustrator: From Beginner To Expert
- Adobe Photoshop fundamentals
- Adobe After Effects Fundamentals
- From Shapes To Complex & Beautiful Illustrations
- Craft A Logo By Hand
- How To Get The Perfect Color In Photoshop
Books that every illustrator should read
- Watercolor Techniques For Artists and Illustrators
- 30-Minute Drawing for Beginners: Easy Step-by-Step Lessons & Techniques for Landscapes, Still Lifes, Figures, and More. Jordan DeWilde.
- Fashion and Textile Design with Photoshop and Illustrator: Professional Creative Practice. Robert Hume.
- Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist. Carol Marine.
- Expressive Digital Painting in Procreate: Learn to draw and paint stunningly beautiful, expressive illustrations on iPad. Shirish Deshpande.
- Learn to Draw Exciting Anime & Manga Characters: Lessons from 100 Professional Japanese Illustrators (With 200 Lessons)
- Visual Thinking: Empowering People and Organisations through Visual Collaboration. Williemien Brand.
- The Art of Visual Notetaking: An interactive guide to visual communication and sketchnoting. Emily Mills.
- Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered. Austin Cleone
- Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams. Barbara Sher.
Tools that every illustrator needs
The right set of tools will optimize your workflow and play an essential role in your progress. The set of tools for digital illustration divides into technical and software tools.
You can set up a creative studio directly at home: all you need is a comfortable desk, chair, and computer. Even better, set aside a separate room to help you focus, or look for a co-working space. Most co-working spaces allow you to rent a desk in a shared space, which will enable you to socialize and communicate with like-minded people.
A tablet and a reliable computer are ideal for working with digital illustrations. A popular manufacturer of graphics tablets is Wacom. You can use them both to create a digital drawing and process what you’ve drawn by hand.
There are a lot of software tools for digital illustrators, and the list is growing daily.
Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and FreeHand are a few programs you should be familiar with. Most graphics tablets and styluses will work well with these programs, replacing your computer’s mouse with a digital drawing tool. The most popular analogs of the Adobe package are Krita, Paint.NET, GIMPshop, Inkscape, Gravit, Vectr, and Vecteezy Editor.
If you plan to become a professional illustrator, you should learn the art of integrating third-party add-ons and plugins into your projects. It saves you time and improves the quality of your work. You can find many options on the Internet – both paid and free. For example, there are many such add-ons on the Creative Market site.
Your portfolio is a showcase of your skills and potential. There are many sites for this purpose, such as Behance, and freelance marketplaces. During the training process, you will create a certain number of illustrations, but do not rush to add them all to your portfolio. Choose the ones you consider the most successful and most impactful.
If there are too few of them, you can go the usual way: open any freelance exchange and see what illustrations customers need and their expectations and requirements.
Alternatively, you can create several projects yourself: illustrate your favorite book or movie, create fan art, or draw several comics. It will help you not only create a portfolio but also attract additional attention to it.
Websites with jobs for illustrators
You can search for a job just like on traditional freelance exchanges:
as well as on specialized sites:
Monitor them regularly and catch orders.
You can also earn money by selling your work on photo stocks:
You can earn a good income by uploading several hundred images there, so you’ll have to work hard to get started.
Can I become an illustrator?
If you think that:
- you are creative enough to draw “out of your head”,
- you can tell a story or idea with your illustration,
- you know how to promote yourself,
- you take criticism in stride,
then you can make a career as an illustrator.
Becoming an illustrator is a great career path for people who love to tell stories through drawing. Developing a unique style takes time and effort, but it will be worth it. If you think you have a talent, roll up your sleeves and start now.
Don’t know where to start? Book a consultation with me, and I will create a roadmap for you to become a freelance graphic designer and where to find your first projects. Write me on Facebook.
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