Digital Illustration: Designing Mandalas on the iPad Pro | Justine Fisher | Skillshare

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Digital Illustration: Designing Mandalas on the iPad Pro

teacher avatar Justine Fisher, Designer, Illustrator, Doodler

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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 (30m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. For Beginners: Intro to Procreate

    • 3. Setting Up Your Artwork

    • 4. Sketching: Outlines

    • 5. Sketching: Details

    • 6. Finalizing Your Outline

    • 7. Vectorizing in Adobe Illustrator

    • 8. Choosing a Colour Palette

    • 9. Colouring Your Design

    • 10. Final Thoughts

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About This Class


Hi there, my name is Justine. I’m incredibly excited to share with you my very first class on my favourite technique: illustrating mandalas. I’m going to take you step-by-step through my personal process of designing mandalas, starting in the Procreate app on the iPad Pro and moving into Adobe Illustrator to turn your work into an editable vector. Below you will find a breakdown of what you’ll gain from this course, as well as links to my resources to help you complete the class project.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to design a mandala from sketch to vector
  • Using Procreate for illustration
  • My favourite tips and tricks
  • Adding colour

Who is this class for?

  • Students with any level of experience, from total beginner to mandala expert
  • Those looking to develop their style in illustrating mandalas
  • Anyone looking to learn how to use Procreate for illustration


Make sure to share your projects! Don’t worry about having a finished piece, sharing your progress will allow me to provide you with feedback along the way. I also encourage you to interact with other students. See a project you love? Let them know!

Feel free to connect with me through instagram (@justine_fisher), I’d love to chat!

Meet Your Teacher

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Justine Fisher

Designer, Illustrator, Doodler


Hi, I'm Justine! I'm a 21 year old graphic design student, and the lead designer at Coloring Broadway. In my spare time, you'll find me reading, eating bagels, spending time with my family or doing paint-by-number kits with my boyfriend. 


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1. Introduction: Hey everyone. I'm Justine. I'm super excited to share with you my first class here on Skillshare all about designing mandalas on the iPad Pro. I'm about to go into my fourth year studying graphic design at OCAD University, here in Toronto. I've also been the lead designer for Coloring Broadway for the past couple of years. Much of my current work has all stemmed from an Instagram account that I started years ago where I would just post doodles that I was working on. Designing mandalas is a huge part of my job. So I thought it would be the perfect skill to teach in my first class. Throughout this course, I'm going to teach you how to draw mandalas in Procreate on the iPad Pro. You're also going to learn how to work between Procreate and Adobe Illustrator to create a final vectorized artwork. At the end of this course, you'll have your own mandala design and the tools to be able to create new ones on your own. This class is for all skill levels, from complete beginner to mandala expert. This class is really for anyone from hobbyists to someone who's looking to make a career out of illustration. You can also use the techniques learned in this class to apply it to other areas of illustration to create more than just a mandala. By the end of this class, you'll be a lot more familiar with Procreate and specifically using the Drawing Assist to create symmetrical designs. You'll also have a better understanding of how to use Adobe Illustrator to create a vectorized artwork. 2. For Beginners: Intro to Procreate: This first lesson is geared towards beginners of the Procreate app. We're going to briefly run through the interface and point out tools that we'll be focusing on in this course. If you're already familiar with Procreate, you can skip to lesson 2. When you first open up Procreate, you'll see your gallery page. This is where all your artwork will remain. To create a new document, we'll click the plus sign and click "Create Custom Size". We'll need to change the measurements two inches and then the width to eight and a half and height by 11. You can keep the DPI as 300 and the color setting as is, and hit "Create". This here is your Canvas. What I love about working with the iPad is that you can zoom in and move it around so freely so that you can get the most comfortable drawing position. Up in the top right corner is your color wheel. In the outer wheel here, you can change the color and the inner wheel changes the tints and shades. The classic view uses these sliders. This value is where you can put in the hex code if you have one. Then pallets, you can use pre-existing color palettes or make your own. For now we'll mostly be using black. I'm going to switch back to classic view and make sure that the icon is in the bottom left corner. If you're unsure, if you're using a true black or a true white, you can go into the value view and check the hex code. The code for black is always €6 and the code for white is six F's. Next is your Layers panel. This is where we'll separate your grid, sketch, outline, and color layers.This letter N is something we will be using when you click it, you can begin to control the layer opacity and different blending modes. Next to the layers is your eraser. Here's a smudging tool, but I don't typically use it. Finally, here is your brush icon. As you can see when you click it, there are tons of different brush options and even the ability to import your own. On the left side of your Canvas, you'll see two sliders, the top one controls your brush size, as you can see here, the bottom one changes your brush opacity. I don't normally use this either, so we'll keep that at 100 percent. Down here is your Undo button, which I definitely use a lot. Up here is your selection tool, which is what you can click to move and resize things that you have drawn. We'll talk about some of these other controls within the lesson. This is a more advanced selection tool that I don't really use either, so we won't be talking about it too much in this course. Next to it is your layer adjustments. Again, I use this very infrequently, but it's good to remember that Procreate has all of these functions that you would normally need, something like close up for. Finally, this wrench icon is where we'll be adding photos and setting up your Canvas grit, and finally sharing your artwork. The gallery button brings you back to your homepage. Our next lesson, we'll be setting up your artwork to begin sketching. 3. Setting Up Your Artwork: Now that we know a bit more about the Procreate App, we can begin setting up our artwork. If you skipped lesson number one, just make sure that you have an 8.5 by 11 document setup. You will need the Mandala grid for this lesson. So if you haven't already, you can download it from the project files and just make sure to save it as an image on your iPad. To access our grid, we're going to click the little wrench, click Add and Import photo. You should have your grid in your iPad image library. Because I made the grid 8.5 by 11, it should fit perfectly to your canvas. Now we can do select it. You should now see your grid in the Layers panel and if we click on the layer, we can rename it and type in grid. Next, we want to bring down your posse of this layer, since we will be designing on top of it, click the n, and we can drive down the opacity to about 20 percent. Now we are going to make a new layer by clicking the plus. Let's rename that to sketch. For this layer, we're going to turn on our Canvas settings. Click the wrench again, click canvas and turn on drawing guide. As you can see, the default is a square grid which will need to change by clicking Edit drawing guide. Now click symmetry and you'll see for icons pop up on the bottom. Click on the last one, which is radial symmetry. It's important here to make sure that assisted drawing is turned on. Since we ever own grid, we can bring the color of this down to white and then click done. So you won't be able to see anything different, but you'll know it's working if your drawing is being repeated symmetrically around the center, like this. Up to now, you should have your grid layer and a sketch layer that says assisted underneath. Now we are ready to be in sketching. 4. Sketching: Outlines: In the project files, you'll find every search sheet. On the sheet I've included my go-to sheets and failure designs and it's what I'll be using in this class. When I first started drawing mandalas, I found it helpful to look at other designs online and perform this to create my own style. So hopefully, this research, she can help you do that. For this sketch layer, I like to use a brush setting that feels like a pencil. So we'll click brushes, click sketching, and we're going to use HB pencil. To start, I'd like to use a circle in the center as my base. For whatever reason, I almost always start with the rounded petals. I just find that they fill in the smaller spaces the best. Don't worry too much about how cleaner lines are, since this is only a sketch layer and we're just planning out the mandala. One of my favorite things to do with mandalas is to outline your layer of shapes. I find that because there's usually a lot going on within the design, it appears clear to add this sort of division between layers. What I personally like to do for planning my mandalas is to choose two or three of these basic outer shapes and sort of alternate between them, maybe throwing in a layer two to break them up. So since we started with the rounded petals, we can skip a couple layers and add them again, maybe around here. Again, add the outlines to divide the layers. Now between these layers, let's pick another shape. My favorite wants to combine our, the rounded and the pointed petals. So let's use the pointed ones next. Make sure you're starting at the 90 degree line. Now, you can make these as wide or as narrow as you want. I personally like to make them a little bit wider. Now, instead of repeating this again, right up here, let's give it some space so that it's not too much of the same thing. We can add the point at petals again a few layers later and maybe make these ones taller. I don't usually like to outline the pointed petals. So instead we can just close this off with another circle and outline that. Now that we have this closed circle here, it's a good spot to reintroduce the rounded petals. When I get further away from the center, I like to divide these spaces into two. I just prefer to add smaller shapes as it makes its design seem more detailed. You can just eyeball the middle of each section, it doesn't have to be exact. Let's give those and outline as well to keep consistency. Now, I think we can add the pointed petals again and we can just change up the feller designed to make it seem different. So let's do that again up here and close it off with the circle and an outline. Now that we've gotten to the corners, I don't like to introduce any new shapes or designs. So usually go back to whatever you started with, which was the roundy petals. Again, we can divide the space into two and add an outline. Now we're just trying to close off the space so we can add another pointed petal. Now we have a great outline for the design and leave and go back in and add finer details next. 5. Sketching: Details: Now that we have our outline, we can start adding finer details. I'm going to pull from the resource sheet so you can reference that as we go along. My go to is to usually add an inner line and then another filler if needed. Let's start by adding an inner line both inside and outside of these petals here, since we have room for it. Now you can really choose whatever fillers you want. I think I want to add the descending lines into the shape. Let's just add a single line in here. That's not too empty but also not too busy. Let's again add an inner line for these rounded petals. Now since we don't have an outer shape here, we want something that is more linear and that can be repeated. We can take something like the bubbles filler and alternate which way they are facing. To me that is still looking a little empty, so we can just add curving lines to further divide the space. As we move up, we can do what we did along the bottom, which is add the inner shapes once again. Let's repeat those descending lines again up here. Since we have more space in these petals and we can do more than just a single line. I think either fully lining the shape or using half lines can work here. Let's do the full lines. Since we've pointed petals for the third time, let's introduce something a little different. I like to save the tear drop shapes for bigger spaces, so let's use them here. We can continue the pattern of using those descending lines in here. To finish it off, I'll bring back the inner lines for these last petals. Once you're happy with your sketch, you can toggle off the grid to give it a better look. Now we can move on to adding cleaner finalized layers. 6. Finalizing Your Outline: Now that we have a final sketch, we can go into our Layers panel and toggle our grid layer off and bring down our sketch, layer, and opacity. You can leave the grid on if you wish, and just have it at a low opacity as well. Now, we need a new layer and let us rename that outline. We want the drawing assist on for this as well. Go into your Canvas and make sure that drawing assist is turned on. You can check that it says assisted in your Layers panel as well. For my outlines, I like to use the hard airbrush. Lets bring the size of that down to about three percent. I find that this is a nice thickness to use as it's not too thick, but it's also not too thin. Now it's all about using the quick shaped feature of procreate. We need to draw a line or shape and hold it. It will fix itself into smooth line. Creating your final outlines is also a lot of trial and error. I redraw lines several times until I'm happy with it and I use the undo button, frequently. For the rounded petals, I like to use quick shape to make a straight line and then freehand curves. For the flower petals, since they can be a little difficult to draw, there's another way we can create them to make sure they all look the same. Open up your Layers panel and make a new layer and make sure that drawing assist is turned on. All we have to do now is draw one and a half of the petal and make sure to include the inside of it as well. Now we can duplicate this layer by going into the Layers panel and sliding the layer to the left and hitting duplicate, then hit the selection tool. Now we can click, rotate 45 degrees. Now you have all the petals looking the exact same. To combine these layers, you can just pinch them with your fingers, making sure to touch the bottom and the top layers and just drag them together. Now it becomes one layer. That's just another way to do it if you're having trouble drawing each individual one. For these bigger circles, I like to use quick shape for a portion of it and then go in and fix the parts where they come together. Now we can repeat the same techniques for these rounded petals. For some of these finer lines, you can play around with different brush sizes. Let's bring it down to about two percent and try that. Having your details in a thinner brush can give you a design and nice layered looking feel. Since this is just one line, let's bring it back to three percent. As you get to the larger areas of your design, try to loosen your wrist and use bigger strokes. Be patient and don't worry about getting the perfect line. You can always go in with the eraser and fine tune it. For the bubbles, I always use quick shape to make the circles. The nice part about this is that you can resize them when drawing. Keep in mind that if you enlarge it too much, the stroke will start to break up and if it's too small, the stroke will appear much thicker. Try to draw around the size that you're going. As you continue drawing, remember to switch your brush to the smaller size for the finer details and then back to your regular size for the rest. Have fun with this part. Since you already have everything planned out, this part can be pretty mindless and relaxing. You can put on music or throw in Netflix, whatever you enjoy. Now that we have a final outline, we can deselect the grid and sketch layers so that we can really see our drawing. Well, I really love how this looks. At the end, I like to go back in and add dots to my drawing. I am going to keep my brush at three percent and just zoom in and start adding dots in any space that I feel could use a little something extra. Because we only want dots on one side of this bubble to get rid of the other side, we need to turn off drawing assist. We can use the eraser freely and get rid of any duplicate dots. When you are done erasing, make sure that you put drawing assistant back on. This part is really up to your taste. You can add as many or as little dots as you like, I personally tend to go a little overboard and just throw them in on every layer, but you can really put them wherever you want or don't use them at all. It is totally up to you. To finish this off, let's bring the grid back and maybe add one more inner circle. Make sure your brush is at three percent again or whatever you started with, and just add a circle here. Okay, great. Now we're ready to finalize. 7. Vectorizing in Adobe Illustrator: Now that we have a completed design, we can bring it into Adobe Illustrator to vectorize it and add color. If you don't have access to Adobe Illustrator or you just don't want to use it, you can definitely stay in Procreate and add color from there. For this lesson, I'm going to bring it from Procreate into Illustrator and add color from there. Now to send your final work to your computer, you want to click the "wrench" again and click "Share". I usually export as a JPEG. Now make sure that your AirDrop is turned on on your Mac so that you can instantly transport your artwork.If you can't use AirDrop, you can send it through email or wherever else you are used to. Once you locate your Artwork on your computer, you can drag it onto Adobe Illustrator to make a new file. The first thing we need to do is make sure that the art board is the same size as our artwork. Click the "Artboard" icon down here. Click "Object, " art boards, fit to Artwork Bounds. Now your Artwork should be 8.5 by 11. Now we can click the "Selection" tool and select the Artwork and click "Image Trace" default. If the Image Trace button was not over here, you can always go to Window Image Trace. So now we need to fix the settings by clicking the dialog box and bringing down advanced. I always bring the paths set pretty high because this makes them a tighter fit and makes them appear smoother. As you can see, we are losing a bit of detail with all the dots. To fix that we can bring the Noise setting down. That looks pretty good. Once you're happy with that, you can close out the box and now we're ready to start adding color. 8. Choosing a Colour Palette: Now we're ready to choose a color scheme, which can seem like a bit of a daunting task, and I often struggle with it. But thankfully, there are lots of resources online to help you find color inspiration. My current favorite is called Color Hunt. Here's a resource created by Gal Shir. If you've never seen his work, I urge you to check him out. What I love about Color Hunt is that the pallets are put into categories that show you what is trendy and popular, but you could also search for a specific color. So if you choose a color you like, you'll get all of these palettes that are revolving around the chosen color. Also, if you hover over each one, you'll get the color code. If you've never worked with color codes before, it's pretty simple. You can click it here to copy, and then in your illustrator, if you double-click your fill and paste it in this box, you'll get the exact color. Another good resource is Adobe Color. Right here. This gives you more freedom to personalize your color scheme. You get to choose between all these different types of color schemes and then moving around the color pickers. I think I will use triad for mine so I can get three separate colors. You get to also shuffle these color swatches around so you can see what looks best next to each other, and as well you're given the color codes down here. I think I'll move it around until I get something nice and bright, and maybe bring these down a little. That looks pretty good. I have three distinct bright colors and then a couple darker ones if I want to have something that looks a little more shaded. If you're signed into Adobe, you could save the color scheme, but what I usually do is take a screenshot. To do that, you can click Shift, Command 4 on your Mac and then drag a window across the boxes like this. Now we can go back to Illustrator and drag the screenshot in. I like doing this so that I have the visual of the board here. Now what we can do is use the eyedropper tool to pick up any of these colors. Great. Now that we have a color scheme, we're ready to actually turn this into a live paint group and start coloring. 9. Colouring Your Design: Now that we have a color scheme ready to go, we need to turn our artwork into a live pink group. First we're going to select the artwork and click "Expand". Now we need to give it a border by using the rectangle tool. Try to start right in the top corner and click and drag to the bottom. To make sure it's exact, we can go into the dimensions here and type in 11 inches by 8.5. Then we can go to Window Align. Makes sure it shows align to art board. Click this one to horizontal align and to vertical line. Now it will be perfectly in the center of your art board. We don't want this board to have any color, so make sure that both the fill and the stroke are set to none. Now we can go back to our selection tool and select both the border and the artwork. Go to "Object", "Live Paint", "Make". The reason we add a border is so that the shapes that are going off the page will be enclosed. So now we can go and find our live paint bucket icon. If you don't see it here, you can click and hold on the shape builder tool until you see live paint bucket. Now when you hover over your design, you will see that every single shape is a fillable object. Now we can use the eyedropper tool to select a color and go back to the paint bucket and start coloring by clicking on the shape. If you accidentally click on the stroke like I just did, you can go to undo or command Z on your keyboard. To speed up your workflow, you can click "I" on your keyboard to get your eye dropper tool. Then you can click the letter "K" to get back to your paint bucket. This is helpful to know because you'll be going back and forth between these tools often, Now just have fun coloring. Once you're happy with your final design, you can go "File", "Export", "Export As". Make sure JPEG is selected and checkoff use art boards range 1. Make sure the quality is at maximum and the DPI is at least 300. 10. Final Thoughts: Once you have a final artwork, the possibilities are really endless. If you want to print out your artwork, send it to Vector. You could print it as large as you want without compromising the quality. You can also upload your work to different sites such as Redbubble and Society6 to get it printed on different products. Don't forget to share your work in the Skillshare class so that I can check it out, and feel free to comment on other student's work as well. Thank you so much for taking this class. I had a lot of fun making it and I hope you'll have fun as well, and that you are able to take away something valuable. If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to me. My Instagram handle is in the description. If you are interested in taking any more of my classes, make sure to follow me on Skillshare so you can get all the updates. See you next time.