Digital Editorial Illustration in Procreate | Katty Huertas | Skillshare

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Digital Editorial Illustration in Procreate

teacher avatar Katty Huertas, Artist & Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. Selecting an Article & Sketching

    • 4. Procreate Tips

    • 5. Completing Your Illustration

    • 6. Photoshop Tips

    • 7. Promoting Your Work

    • 8. Getting Clients

    • 9. Pricing Your Work

    • 10. Congrats!

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About This Class

Whether it’s politics, tech, fashion, or food — editorial illustration allows you to explore new topics and work with more clients by illustrating news articles or essays. In this class, learn how artist & illustrator, Katty Huertas, approaches editorial illustration. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Get your portfolio ready
  • Communicate with clients
  • Come up with ideas for sketches
  • Execute your illustration
  • Prepare the files for delivery 
  • Price your work 

This class is suited for beginners wanting to go into the editorial illustration world as well as seasoned illustrators who are curious about how other people work, how to get clients, and even how to price your work!

This class will prepare you to go into the editorial illustration world with more confidence!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Katty Huertas

Artist & Illustrator


Hello, I'm Katty.

I'm an artist and illustrator born in Colombia and based in Washington DC. 

I was named AIGA's 2020 Fresh Grad representing MICA and my work has also been recognized by the Adobe Design Achievement Awards,  Latin American Illustration, and Communication Arts.

My client list includes HBO Max , Adobe, Disney+, Nickelodeon, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Wired, Harvard Business Review, BuzzFeed News,  Red Bull Music Academy and the Women's March amongst others.

My work also has been shown in galleries in multiple locations including New York City, San Francisco, Baltimore, Washington DC, Austin, and Bogota, Colombia, and has been featured by Tumblr, VSCO, ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Editorial illustration never gets boring. It's a very fast-paced environment, and you get to work with many different subjects, including health, food, tag, and fashion. It can introduce you to ideas you were not familiar with, and seeing your work in print is very exciting. My name is Kathy Huertas and I'm a freelance illustrator. I've created work for publications like The Washington Post, The New York Times, Wired, The New Yorker, and Science Magazine. I also do commercial illustration, and have worked with companies like Adobe and HBO Max. However, this class, will focus on editorial illustration. In this class, I'll go beyond technique, and will teach you how to think conceptually about illustration. If you're a beginner illustrator, this class will show you there is an [inaudible] illustration career. If you're a more seasoned illustrator, you can pick up a trick or two. By the end of this class, you'll have a finished editorial illustration you can use in your portfolio, and to send to our directors to win more commissions. I'll also have some bonus videos on how to price your work and reach out to our directors. The class will be broken into these lessons. First, technical stuff. I'll go over basic Procreate tips. We'll also go through an ideation phase, in which we'll come up with sketches together. Finally, we'll execute our peace in Procreate, and we'll clean it up in Photoshop. I'll show you a little bit of post-production tricks on Photoshop, and how to get ready your file for sending, and finally, we'll talk a little bit about getting new clients, and pricing your work. I hope this class gets you closer to your goals, and that you can reach out to our directors with a piece that you're proud of. I cannot wait to see what you create, and I'm excited to have you in this class. 2. Class Project: By the end of this class, you'll have finished editorial illustration. We'll complete it by steps which will include selecting an article, reading it carefully, and sketching. We'll do quick thumbnail sketches and we'll refine those to actual sketches. Finally, you will complete an illustration that can be used in your portfolio. This is a great opportunity to create work in an area and style you're interested in, as you'll often get commissioned to create work that's similar to what's already in your portfolio. I'll be using Procreate and Photoshop, but you're welcome to use any software you like, or even good old pen and paper. Let's get started. 3. Selecting an Article & Sketching: The goal for this lesson is for you to select the article you're going to be illustrating. You can pick any publication you like and any subject you like. I would recommend you pick something you're interested in, whether it's stock, health, fashion, food. As again, you'll get commissioned to create work that's similar to what you have on your site. However, I don't want you to cherry-pick as much since as an illustrator, you don't get to do that. Instead of picking something that you know exactly what you would do, try to give yourself a challenge and pick something that would have you think a little bit deeper. I'll show you an example of a recent illustration I did for a chemical engineer magazine. I'm picking this one in particular because it was a little harder to visualize. Since in a nutshell, it was about specs grading. I'll show you my process and how I completed my illustration. When I got the brief, it was about a new type of grading that was replacing the traditional grading and that it was a little bit complex, but he would often help students get better. It worked in the way that they would complete different assignments. The assignments would be either pass or fail so they wouldn't get partial credit. To pass the class, you would have to meet a certain quota of assignments pass. I was commissioned to both the cover and an opener for the article. These are some of the sketches I came up with. The first one was about the Professor pushing away the old type of grading and a new one bringing in some boxes that would represent the pass or fail of the new quizzes. The second one shows a student climbing up a ladder, trying to get to the quota of the quizzes that they have to have passed. The third one is a professor filling in a quiz with either pass or failed notes. I sent all of these to the art director. It took me a while to come up with this metaphor of having the boxes checked as passing or failing a quiz. They selected this one with some modifications for the cover and the middle one with some modifications for the opener. Once you have selected your article, I want you to start with really rough thumbnail sketches. I usually start with thumbnail sketches that I'm the only one who can understand. One tip that I have for you is to read the article twice. The first one, just to get the main general idea, what it is about. The second one to finally be able to highlight some details may be some call-outs or visual information that you can grab. For example, in the illustration that I just showed you, they mentioned this gradient would be a new safety net. That was a visual cue for me to include. A common mistake that I used to make when I was starting out was to spend too much time on my sketches. Rather than spending time on your sketches, spent time on the idea. Sketches are there only to convey your idea to the art director. They don't have to be fully rendered. They often know how to have color unless that's a very important part of it. My sketches are only line work, but when I started out, I used to spend a lot of time on them wasting more time on the execution rather than on the idea which was a downfall. If you send a fit piece that's almost close to be finished, it's harder for the art director to give you feedback. Usually what I do is I tried to send the sketch with a little blurb of what I meant. Explaining my thoughts behind it. If color is important, I can be like maybe she's going to have a yellow backpack. In this case it wasn't. I just send the line work, once you start developing your style, and if you have a color palette, which some illustrators do, the art director can imagine what your work is going to look like. Don't spend too much time on that. Another tip that I'm going to give you once you have your sketches is to create a PDF to send these to your art director. I want to show you some examples here. But again, when I started, I was sending Jo's JPEGs on the e-mail. I would be, hey, here are my sketches attached at the JPEGs and it would be five different JPEGs. Well, they never complain, you always want to make their life easier for the person getting your work. Now what I do is I put them all in a PDF with the little blurb. That will go a long way because at the same time you can number them. When they get back to you, they can tell you, we like sketch too, but actually, we like how this looks on sketch one, maybe merge them. The third and most important tip for you is that even if you think you have one idea and that's the best idea and that's your first idea and you sketch it and you low it, always try to come up with more. First ideas are great and sometimes they are the best ones, but not always. The more you push yourself, you might be able to find new things that you have not seen before. Even if you think you don't need it, and even for this assignment that is just for yourself, try to make the three sketches. I'll love to see him in the project gallery and probably give you some feedback. In the next lesson, I'll show you some of my favorites Procreate tips on how I use the app. 4. Procreate Tips: In this lesson, I'll show you some of my favorite Procreate tips. Some of them I just recently discovered and will help you streamline your illustration process. Since editorial illustration is so fast-paced, these will help you complete your illustration faster. Procreate is a really powerful tool. Since it's UI is very minimal, you might miss some of the cool things it can do. Starting out, something that I like to do on my Procreate is to keep all my files organized. For example, for this illustration, I have my finished illustration here, but I also have all my sketches within the same folder. How you do this is that, let's say I want to create a new file, screen size. Once you go to gallery, if you press and hold, you can actually drag it to a different file and you will create a folder within. You can actually rename this too. My second tip is to set a color palette. If you click here at the top under color palette, you might not see the palette, you might see the disc. But if you go down to palettes, you're going to see them. As you see, I have several. Often, clients will send you their color palette, so you can import those to make your life easier. If you click the plus arrow, if you do know from photos, you can import one. You can also import one from a file or a natural photo that you're taking. What I'm going to do right now, which is my favorite tip, I'm going to pull Safari next to my Procreate. I have this image that I like that I made. I'm just going to drag it and bring it here to palettes. It's going to bring a lot of colors since my work is very textural, so it has different variations. But you can definitely try this. My second favorite tip is a clipping mask. Working in layers is very useful when you're working in Procreate. That would allow you to change different things without altering the illustration completely. Well, I'm going to show you how clipping masks work. I'm going to select an inking brush. Now that I have this shape, I can feel it by dragging the color in. I'm going to create a new layer. If you present it and you click on clipping mask, everything that you draw is going to be subject to that shape. You see here I'm going well over it, but it's just actually grabbing that shape. You can even go very extreme if you just want to see how it works. It's going to create shapes within. If you decide to release the clipping mask by pressing here, now you'll see the whole mess that you made. A great tip that I use a lot, especially when working with perspective, are the grids and assisted drawing. If you go here and you go to Canvas, you can press on Drawing Guide. They'll have different types of grids. This is just a regular grid. If you click here on Drawing Assist, this means the grid is not going to let you draw anywhere else. You can not do a squiggly line as you would normally. If you unselect the Drawing Assist panel, then you can actually use it just more as a reference. For example, if you wanted to draw. The cool thing is that this is not the only grid that there is. If you click on Edit Drawing Guide, you can edit the size and color of this one, but there are many different ones. I usually play with the perspective one and the isometric which I'll use for the illustration that I'm working on. I'm going to set this. I'm going to set it to Drawing Assist which means that if I wanted to draw a cube, I would just have to follow the lines and I would know that it's going to be drawn in isometric perspective. You get the idea. Lastly, another cool thing that you can do is export your time-lapse. I know right now with this drawing we didn't do much. Let's say I really love how this looks. I'm going to export my time-lapse. What's great about Procreate is that it's always recording your steps, so you don't even have to worry about setting that from the beginning. It will automatically record everything that you're working on. Let's say I like this and I'm going to export it. You can go to Video, Export Time-lapse video, and do either one of these options. This is our very short time-lapse of the work that we did, which is very cool, I think. Using these tips in the next video, I'm going to show you how I use them to complete my illustration. 5. Completing Your Illustration: As you probably know by now, I love color. Setting your color from the beginning is a great tip to save time. While you can usually adjust that later in photoshop, it's good to start with a good foundation. I'm going to show you how I complete my illustration from this sketch. Before you start trying to avoid these common beginner mistakes, remember to keep everything in layers. It's so important to keep everything in layers. That way you can make changes without changing your entire illustration. Usually when you're starting out and you're so excited to get to draw, you'll forget to create a new layer and then realize that everything is just merged. Second, if you can try to draw larger than needed. Your art director will tell you the sizes that you need. But sometimes if you want to make prints afterward. Or if they actually realized we want to print it larger, which is great because you might even get paid more. It's good to have a file that's a little bit larger than what they ask. Finally, if you run out of space while you're working on your illustration, what I like to do is to merge it and then starting a new layer but duplicating every step. If I ever have to go back, I have everything in layers. I have my sketch here, and I put every layer from my sketch in a folder. For this lesson, I want you to select your color palette, which I'm already working with this one and finish the first pass of your illustration. I'll show you how to use the grids and the clipping mask while I work on this one. I know I want my boxes to be pink at the top. Using my isometric grid, I'm going to start painting those in a new layer. I'm just going to paint everything that's pink with this brush. Later on, spell out the textures with the other brushes. Remember I'm dragging and dropping every color just for easiness sake. I'm constantly zooming in and out just to try to keep everything very detailed. Once I have my basic shapes completed, I'll keep adding some details with clipping mask. Now that you have your base illustration, we'll move on to photoshop to complete it and add some texture. 6. Photoshop Tips: Now you have your base illustration done. I like to finish my work in Photoshop. That way I can add textures and color correct. It also gives me a great opportunity to take a break between working and this can help you see your work in a new light and see with a fresh new pair of eyes. Once you open your file in Photoshop, it will import it with all the layers that you have in Procreate, which is great. What I'd like to do is put everything in a folder and name it BASE. After this, I noticed my colors look a little bit duller than what I would like them to, especially my blues. I will add adjustment layers. I like to go to the hue and saturation layer, play with my cyans and make them a bit more saturated. That might be too much. I'm just going to bring it down a little bit. But here you can see the difference already. Since my illustration doesn't have a rectangular shape, I want to make sure that my adjustments only affect my illustration. I'm just going to create a clipping mask to this folder. Something else that I like to do. I'm just going to do again with the yellows. That might be too much, but I think this is a little better. I'd like to toggle them to see the difference. One thing that I think is key for illustration is texture. Right now, even though I have my painterly texture on it, it still feels a little bit flat. What I'd like to do is just create a new layer using the bucket tool, I'd like to fill it with white. Once I do that, I'd like to go to Filter, Noise, and Add Noise. Well, this is a lot of noise. If you set it to multiply, they'll give you a different color. I like to play with different blending modes. In this case, multiply might be a little too dark, but first, I'm just going to again do my clipping mask. You see the difference before it was affecting everything. Now it's only affecting my illustration. I'm going to lower my opacity a little bit just to be able to see and while the difference might not be a lot, you can see dark in it a bit. Since it's getting a little darker, I'm again going to do another layer just to adjust the brightness and contrast. I like to put all my color corrections in a single folder. Just to see the before and after. I'm not loving how it looks. Some are going to lower the noise a little bit. I want to create another layer similar to this one. This time again, using my filter noise. I'm going to add another effect. I'm just going to add a little bit less noise. If you go to Stylize, they have different effects. I'd like to use the oil paint to create some square lines that look a little bit like paper. For this one, I'm actually going to do a soft light or maybe just enlightened and I'm going to make it very faint. This is definitely not working, so I'm going to keep playing with blending modes until there's something I like. Color Burn, I think it looks nice. Let's see. It's very subtle. But if you can notice, my blues are a little bit brighter, same as my yellow. There's a little bit more texture which you can see if I really zoom in. If you take a look at this blue side, if I turn it off, It's very clean. It looks very computerized. If I turn it on, you can see how it looks. Once I have this, since this file has a transparency and this is going to be for print, I need to save it as a TIFF. Saving it as a JPEG won't work, so I'm just going to go to File and save it as final as a TIFF. That's it. Once you've saved your work, you are ready to share it with your art director. They may have some changes for you or not. It totally depends. In the next lesson, I'll show you how I promote my work and how we reach out to our directors. 7. Promoting Your Work: Self-promotion is a big part of being a freelance illustrator. Besides sharing your image with your art director, I would highly encourage you to share it on sites like Instagram and Behance. On Instagram, I like to use hashtags. A lot of art directors follow them to find new words. I know also a lot of work that I get comes from Instagram. The way I like to show my work is usually, share the first image, the finished piece. If I have an imprint, I'll also share an imprint. I like to add some sketches too. Sketches and time lapses are a great way of showing your process. Again, when you are messaging your art director with your work, I would recommend you sending it through a PDF and sharing a link for them to download the high-res piece. I like to use WeTransfer, but you can use other services like Dropbox or Google Drive. In the next lesson, I'll show you how to reach out to new art directors. 8. Getting Clients: Getting the clients is crucial for an editorial illustration career. There are two ways you can make this happen, either they reach out to you or you reach out to them. One way where our directors can find your work is through social media. I would highly encourage you to keep an Instagram that's just for your work. You can post pictures here and there, but the idea is that it's mainly for your illustration work. That way, you can use hashtags like editorial illustration, conceptual illustration, and others that might work for them to find you. A lot of our directors, I've heard firsthand, find artists through social media. I believe that's how I get most of my work. Having a website is also great because, if Instagram works as a preview of your work, your website would be more like a case study, where you can have more of it. It's important to keep one that you can share and show some of your sample work. The most common way to get your first client, and how you can keep acquiring new clients, is by reaching out to our directors directly. That may seem very daunting at first, but do not worry. It's very easy. Our directors are used to getting a ton of emails. As long as you're decent, respectful, it won't be a problem. Finding their emails might be a tricky part. These are some tips that I would recommend. First, if you see an art director that you like on Instagram, do not DM them. Just wait, and try to find their professional email. If you go to a website, and they have their personal email listed, do not email them there either. I would just rather wait, and try to find it somewhere else, perhaps LinkedIn or other places. When reaching out to them, just point out what you like about the work they art direct. Do not email everyone just because you think it's going to be great. Just try to focus on the ones that you really want to work with, and the ones that you think match your aesthetic or commission work that's similar to yours. If you don't like doing food illustration, for example, do not reach out to our directors on the food section of major newspapers. That is not going to make you or them happy. I'll just try to keep in mind your interests and what you want to do. Email a lot of them that you think are a good fit, and wait. Once you start emailing them, it's just a matter of time. Do not lose hope because, yes, it might take a while for them to get back. Some of them might be a year until they get back to you with an assignment, but the good thing is that perseverance is key. As long as you keep doing it, maybe send reminders every three months of the new work that you've been making. In terms of boarding the email, I will keep it very simple. I would just introduce myself, be like dear or hello our director. Obviously, include their name. Introduce yourself. Something like, "My name is Katty Huertas. I'm a freelance illustrator based in Maryland currently. I love creating highly detailed conceptual illustrations on portrait. I really like the work that you art direct. I love what you did for this piece." It's always good to include examples of things that you have sure like. Then you can be like, "I'm writing to show you my portfolio, in hopes you have something that you think I might be a good fit for. Please keep me in mind, and let me know if anything comes up." Of course, include links to your portfolio. I think that's worked for me sometimes. I now encourage you to go out there, and find different art directors you want to work with. Whether it's through LinkedIn, the actual publication, or Instagram, and Twitter, just try to find their emails. Send them an email, there's nothing to lose. The next video is a little bit of a bonus video on pricing editorial illustration, and how to do that. 9. Pricing Your Work: Pricing your work is really hard. A good thing is that with editorial illustration, our directors will often reach out to you with a budget in mind. Editorial rates, unlike commercial illustration, are often very standard as well. There won't be a lot of surprises there. A good resource for pricing is the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook. These books are updated every couple of years and the new one is coming out now. They have a lot of interesting breakdowns in pricing so I would recommend you if you want this to be your career to get a copy of those. Rates for editorial illustration, as I mentioned, tend to be very standard and they vary by size and where they're going to be placed. Full-page illustrations, in my experience, they've been from around 750-1,200. Covers, they are the ones that pay more and they are around $1,200-$3,000. While these rates are very standard, if you feel that what you're getting offered is not fair compensation you can negotiate. You don't only get to negotiate the price, you can also negotiate deadline or even rights. When you're creating work for editorial illustration, usually, they won't ask for a total buyout. That means they won't buy your entire rights. They are buying the right to publish it for the first time and then maybe use it for web or print related to their articles. However, if you encounter a contract that is asking you for a complete rights, basically you transferring your copyright to them, you can definitely charge a lot more or just negotiate the terms and that's it. Hope these tips were helpful in getting you started in your illustration career. I cannot wait to see what you create in the project gallery and see your work out there in the real world. Now, join me for the next video as we say goodbye. 10. Congrats!: Congrats on completing this class. Whether this is your first step into an illustration career or you're a seasoned Illustrator, I'm glad I got to share my tips with you. Again, as we saw, when working on an editorial illustration, remember to sketch multiple ideas, set a color palette, double check your work, and take breaks when creating. Finally, don't forget to promote your work and reach out to our directors. I would love to see what you create, so please upload your work to the project gallery, and I'll do my best to give some feedback. I cannot wait to see the next steps that you take in your illustration career, and thanks again for being part of this class. See you soon.