Drawing Nature: Creating Engaging Dynamic Colourful Illustrations in Adobe Fresco | Chris Hall | Skillshare

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Drawing Nature: Creating Engaging Dynamic Colourful Illustrations in Adobe Fresco

teacher avatar Chris Hall, Illustrator & Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

13 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What You Will Need

    • 3. Finding Referance

    • 4. Setting Up Your Document in Adobe Fresco

    • 5. Simple Sketch with Basic Shapes

    • 6. Simple Sketch Background

    • 7. Detailed Sketch

    • 8. Adding Your Colour Palette

    • 9. Blocking Out your Colours

    • 10. Adding Gradients

    • 11. Adding Textures

    • 12. Adding the Final Details

    • 13. Final Thoughts

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About This Class


I am really excited to guide you through creating colourful nature illustrations.

If you love nature and are looking to make the step of creating a digital illustration this class is for you. I'll show you my entire process of how to go from a beginning sketch through to a full colour textured illustration. I would love to have you learn with me in this class so please get started.

What we will cover in the Class:

  • Ways to collect reference Images
  • Creating a Rough Sketch
  • Adding Colour to your illustration
  • Adding Textures & Final Details
  • Creating your own Nature Illustration of your own.

What you will Need:

  • An iPad with iOS 13.0 or Later 
  • An Apple Pencil either (1st Generation or 2nd Generation)
  • Adobe Fresco

Who is this Class For:

  • Illustrators that love nature and want a way to capture that on a digital canvas
  • Illustrators looking to improve their drawing skills
  • Anyone Getting into Digital Illustrations on the iPad

Class Links:

Adobe Fresco - https://www.adobe.com/uk/products/fresco.html

Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.co.uk

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Chris Hall

Illustrator & Designer



Hi, I am Chris, also know online as Chris Hall Draws! I am a Creative Designer and Illustrator based in the Uk.

I’m happy and excited to meet you all and become part of your leaning journey. I have worked in the creative field for over ten years, both as an in-house graphic designer and freelance illustrator. In that time, I’ve worked for a range of brands and clients both in the UK and worldwide.

Over the years, I’ve learned and developed many different skills and knowledge that I’m excited to share with you all on my Skillshare classes.

You can also find me on : Instagram, Behance and my website.


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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Chris, a freelance illustrator and designer based in the UK and I love to create illustrations, especially bonds based in the natural world. I have worked with a wide range of different brands and clients worldwide on here in the UK, both as an in-house graphic designer and freelance illustrator for over 10 years now, my workflow and style has changed and adapted constantly over the years. Really want to share the skills I have learned along my creative journey with you, starting with my illustration process in this class today. To begin with, we'll be looking at ways to find different reference images, both online and outside in the natural world. From there, we will move on to creating a sketch using basic shapes to break down our reference images. Finally, we will finish by adding colors and using textured brushes to bring our illustration to life. I will be guiding you through my entire process, going from this beginning sketch to this full final color illustration. This class is all about creating dynamic core for nature illustrations. So if you are ready to have fun with drawing in nature, please join me in this class and let's get going. 2. What You Will Need: What will you need in this course? You will need an iPad with Pencil support. I have an iPad Pro 2020, 12.9 edition, but feel free to use an iPad of your choice. You will also need an Apple pencil for drawing with. You will also need to download in the App Store. Adobe Fresco, which is the app I will be using. I would also recommend downloading Pinterest for using with reference photos. So that is all that we will need for this course. I will provide the links in the resources for easy access over the mat. Let's look at finding inspiration in the next one. 3. Finding Referance: The first way to find inspiration and reference is online. I use Pinterest for this, but you could use Google as an alternative. For instance, the illustration I will be creating in this class is based on a heroine. So I will use a keyword such as heroin photographer to search for some ABGs to start off with. We will then look through these images and find out one that really stands out. This particular one really stands out to me. I like the sad chapter, the heroine and the stance of the bird. I'm going to save this to a new Pinterest board. Now, carry on looking for some more images, picking details out about the photos that spark your interest. So in this photo, I'm not quite as keyed on the heroin, but absolutely loved the color. So we'll add this to my Pinterest board as well. But just for the cola, I really want a more detailed shots are the heroine's head as well. So this particular one is a great example. So I'll add that to my board too. We keep going through except yourself exploring and adding more photos you bored. Try to keep the board down to 20 images to make sure it doesn't become quite overwhelming for you. I will also provide a link in the resources to my Pinterest board, if you would like to use this for. The overweight to find inspiration and reference with photos is most definitely my personal favorite, which is getting outside into nature itself with a camera. I use my iPhone, but you could use any camera to take the shots and build up a collection of photos of animals, birds, anything that inspires you. So once we have these photos collected, either online or snapped outside, we are ready to start sketching. So in the next class we will start off by setting up our canvas in Adobe Fresco. So join me as we get started. 4. Setting Up Your Document in Adobe Fresco: We will start off by opening up Adobe Fresco. We will select the plus icon down in the bottom left-hand side to start a new blank canvas. Select A4 for the paper size at 300 PPI. This ensures we have a high risk finished piece at the end of this course, bonds, we click this, it will open up a new blank canvas. Once in the app, we will name our documents. In my case, I will call it a heron illustration. But if you have chosen a different nature subjects, please name it that instead. After this, let's organize our brushes by tapping the pixel icon in the top left-hand corner, choose the sketching section and tap the pencil brush, then hit the star icon, which makes it a favor. We will repeat this for all the other brushes we will be using in our illustration. Start with hard round variable and soft round a pasty. In the basic brush folder. For our texture brush choose the graphites and hit the star icon. This is in the dry media section. The favorites tab. We will now have all the brushes that we'll be using to create this illustration for easy access. So now the document is setup. Join me in the next class where we will be creating a sketch using basic shapes. 5. Simple Sketch with Basic Shapes: Let's start doing our simple sketch. First, go to the pixel icon and pick the basic pencil in our favorites panel. Then tap the color panel and drop down the value of the block. Then finally, lower the flow to around 77 percent. This will give us a nice light pencil for doing our rough sketch. Now let's bring up our Pinterest board to use as reference that we created in our previous class. So this is where we start doing the sketch. When we look at our heroine, we want to break it down into some basic shapes and lines to start off with. The body, for instance, is an egg shape. Start drawing the shape. Don't worry about getting it exactly right. You can always robots out and hit Undo, which is the great thing about working digitally. We will keep referring to our Pinterest board and the photos we have collected in there and analyzing it into simple shapes and lines to draw out our bird or animal. It is important not to refer to just one image because of copyright, put to use as many different sources as possible. For example, the neck is a flowing S-shaped letter in this photo. So let's draw this in. And the head is a small oval shape. The important part of this rough sketch is to get the flow and movement and size of the different shapes down into something that represents an outline of your subject. For the feathers on the wings of the Heron, I use basic line arcs to represent them, but just vary the size and angle of each one. For the legs, these can be represented using basic lines and an arc at the top to connect the body. Make sure with the legs, you get the width of the lines right in proportion to the rest of the body. And also keep referring to the Pinterest board as you go through this process to make sure you stay on track. For the beak, use triangles to represent this. And for the eyes of the Heron tissues, a circle. In this Pinterest photo, I really like the feathers and the hair and head that flows. Selects out this in. Carry on with this process until you have the heroine completely drawn out. In the next class, we are going to carry on with what we have learned in this one to sketch out the background and complete the rough sketching part of this illustration. 6. Simple Sketch Background: In the last class we finished the heroine. So let's get started in this one, getting some basic elements down for the background in this nature illustration. Let's get started drawing an horizon line roughly around the middle of the heroine legs, stretching all the way across the canvas. Then just above this and thinking a mountain would look really nice. To add this in with warm flowing line. Remember, all we're doing is still using those basic simple blind to outline these elements. I will also add a bigger mountain above the small on to give a sense of depth in the scene. But in this case, we will make sure that this one is bigger and more documents. If you are struggling to visualize these elements, search with some images that you can refer to in your Pinterest board. But remember, when using reference images, don't just draw out the whole scene based on one photo. You want to pick out different elements when each one. This is also important in regards to copyright or the photos. So make sure you mix it up and get creative with what you choose. I'm not quite happy with the size of my heroine. Now they say I've added my mountain outlines in this piece. So let's click on the Select tool and draw around the heroin to select it and close off the selection by making sure you go to the original point that you started. Then from the little pop-up menu, select the transform tool and play around with adjusting the size of the heroin. I think I am happy with this now. It's a click Done in the top right to confirm it and then de-select. I'm also thinking as soon would look really nice just above the parents had. So I'll add this in using a basic circle shape. Now that I have added the sun, I am not happy with the composition of the heroin again. So I will use the select and transform tool again to reduce the size. So most rates would be a great addition around the heroin. I have taken some photos that I can use myself or my iPhone. So I'll bring these up and start to add these in using basic shapes. Again. I'm just going to add some small details of ripples under the heroin before finishing off with some reads, the left-hand side of the illustration. Don't be afraid to use your own photos as well as the one G of collected on Pinterest. I also find it is great to mix up the two. So you're not just referring to one source. And that's it. You have a great, really basic rough sketch of your subject and its background. Ready for the next class, where we will be adding detail and cleaning up the lines of the sketch itself. 7. Detailed Sketch: In this class, we are going to clean up our rough sketch we created in our previous class and make it a lot more detailed. So that with the rough sketch layer selected, click on the Layer Properties and reduce the opacity to around 47%. Then creates a new layer above the roof sketch. And we're also going to increase the value of the block. So now we can still see that rough sketch or a lower capacity underneath. We are going to go over these lines and make them a lot more clean the locking. Be sure at this stage to take your time to get these lines look him right and try to keep the flow of that piece. Go in. Also at this stage, you want to start adding more elements into the illustration. Subring got your Pinterest board and pick out more close-up photos of the heroine. If we look at this image, I love the feathers on the neck. So I will add this into my sketch book. Keep in mind from our previous class where we kept those basic shapes and lines as you draw it out. But also make sure to keep those lines as clean and crisp as possible. Keep going with this clean upstage. Go over the underneath sketch. And if you feel like you need to add any extra element to the rough sketch, please do so. I think it back wing is needed here. So I will add this in and give it a bit of a pencil shading to represent a shadow. Let's also do the legs of the Heron to. Once we have the main body and legs, don't. Let's look at the upper wing of the heroine. If I look at this particular photo in my Pinterest board, I am really like in the flow of the feathers on the top wing. I think this will be a great addition to my sketch. So let's draw this in. I also like the movement of the feathers on the head of this Heron in this particular Photoshop. So let's add this in. Now finish off completing the rest of the heroines had an add any extra details as you go along. Now we've learned the technique for drawing in these cleaner lines and referring to a Pinterest board. When we feel the need to add any extra details, go ahead and finish the rest of the illustration background. But remember that it is important not to refer to just one photo reference book to mix it up with several. Be sure at this stage to take your time to make these lines as clean as possible and try to keep the flow of the piece going. To finish off, I think some reflection elements would work really nicely in the illustration. And if we look at the reference photo I took of the water reeds, we can see this. So use that and draw this in. Let's get the sun some cleaner lines to emphasize that as an element. So finally, the last thing we're going to do is make the reflection elements more wavy. To do this, we will select the smudge tool, make sure we are on the hard round variable brush and just go over the lines under the reads. And heroin. Do a left to right motion when new brush to get the wavy effect. And there we have a, congratulations, you will now have a really detailed, crisp nature sketch ready to start adding our color palette in the next class. 8. Adding Your Colour Palette: Now we have a detailed sketch that we have created in our previous class. We are going to add in a color palette for easy access. You will find in the class resources the one I have already created. So please download this if you would like to use it. But of course, feel free if you'd like to create your own. So to get our color palette image into our illustration, go to the Image, import icon down at the bottom left-hand corner, and select it. Depending on where you have saved your palette, select that source and then click on the image to import it. Now move the image out of the main canvas on the AirPods so we can easily get to it. Clicked on. And as you can see, it is now on our Canvas, but not in the way of the main illustration. Then change each color. We use our finger to tap and hold and move over each square. Once you let go, it will pick that color. As you can see, this is a great quick way to easily access our colors. As we're moving on to creating the cola version of our illustration. Let's finish this class. We are going to add a background base color. Before we move on to blocking out the colors. To do this, pick out our powder blue on the bottom row of the color palette using the tap and hold with a finger technique we previously learned. Then creates a new layer just above our sketch. And select the fill to tap on the canvas to create a fill and select pixel from the menu. Finally, we will make sure that the sketch layer is selected and click on the Layer Properties and select Overlay from the Blend Mode Menu. Then reduce the opacity down to 60 percent. This will make it easier to block out our illustration while still just being able to see the original sketch below. And that's it. We are now ready for the exciting bit of adding color and started to bring this piece to life in the next class. 9. Blocking Out your Colours: We are now going to start blocking out each elements in the illustration using the color palette we imported. First create a new layer and make sure this is below the Heron sketch. Then pick out the third blue from the top right-hand side of the color palette. Also makes sure from the pixel brush menu, you select the hard round variable brush with the size is around 230%. Finally, set the smoothing to around 70. Now take your time to block out the Heron with this brush and using the faded pencil sketch as a guide until it becomes a complete full color silhouette. With this first element now blocked out, we will start adding some colors inside the silhouette itself. To do this, create a new layer just above the blocked out color layer and select the clipping mask icon. Anything that we now draw in this layer will be contained to the silhouettes of the heroine below. So now pick out the really dark blue on the top layer of the color palette. Second block in. Zoom into the wing of the heroine and make sure we still have the hard round variable brush selected and start painting in this wing area. Remembering to use the sketch as a guide below. On the same layer, add a blocked out claw on the second leg. This gives an impression of a shadow. I also think a little blocked out color with this hard brush would work really well just at the bottom of the leg. Let's continue by creating another clipping mask layer and selecting the deep red in the color palette, and then blocking out the beak using the sketch as a guide again, remember, as we're doing these areas to make sure you keep the lines as clean as possible. With this beak layer is still selected. Now go to your color palette and choose a dark tone read. Make sure you have the lock transparency selected on the layer, and paint in on the bottom of the beak to create a two tone color effect. At the little beak nostril or the top with this color to. Finally, for the Heron, pick the darkest blue in the color palette and create a new clipping mask and paint in the background wing on the heroin. On the same clipping mask layer, painting in the same color on the feather at the top of the Heron's had with the eye outline, do the same, making sure to keep the lines as crisp as possible within the sketch outlines. To finish blocking out the cause and the heroine pick the blue base color. Go-to color palettes and pick a lighter tone. Makes sure we have a new layer created underneath the dark outline and paint this pale blue color in. Now we have all the Heron base colors blocked in. Let's move on to doing the background, starting with the big mountain. Create a new layer and then pick out the deep bread from the color palettes and start painting in the mountain, making sure we're still on the hard round variable brush. As we've all these blocked out color areas, be sure to keep using the sketch as a guide and take your time. Now from the select tool, pick the square icon and draw a rectangle to coat the bottom edge of the mountain. Pick the eraser in the pop-up menu and then de-select. This will give us a really nice crisp edge for the sun, vary the size of the brush and do a tap to create one circle. If you find it doesn't match the sketch on do it changed the size of the brush and try again. Now let's create the bottom mountain on a new layer. Pick the burgundy color walkout this mountain. But don't worry about making the bottom clean. Using the same technique as the top mountain peak, the square select tool and draw over the bottom edge using the underneath sketch as a guide. Hit the arrays and then de-select. We will now move on to pick the dusky blue from our heroine. Once we have this color, create a new layer and start painting in the water reads. This will give us a nice blue base color. Before we add the textures, keep us close to the original sketch as possible, you might need to vary the brush size to do this. Once all the water reeds are done, let's create a clipping mask above this layer and pick out the burgundy color, either from your scene or the color palette and paint in the top of this particular read. Let's add a few more colors now by first picking the inky blue from my heroine wing. And on the underside of this war to read, paint this color in. I also think adding an extra dark shape at the top will act as a nice heart shadow. So lock the transparency of this layer and pick the dark navy from the heroines wink and paint this in. To finish off, let's add in some water ripples underneath the heroin with our dusky pink color. Make sure the hard round variable brush size is low. And add these in using the sketch as a guide. And remember to take your time. We have now finished the blocked out colors. In the next class, we will be painting in some gradients and start adding some depth to this illustration. 10. Adding Gradients: Let's get started in this class, adding a few gradients, which is the first part of star into add some depth to this illustration. First select the background pale blue color layer and pick out sky blue from the color palette. Then from the pixel brush menu, pick the soft round opacity brush and make sure the size is at around 850%. Then add the dark blue to the top of the sky, but leave the sky near the mountain as the background color. Pick out the palest blue and the color palette and paint this into the bottom of the mountain just to give it that nice gradient look. And there we have it. The sky is looking really nice. Let's now pick the top mountain layer and go to Layer actions in this menu, select mask, layer contents. And from the menu at the bottom, select Hide. Make sure we are still on the soft around a pasty brush and start painting at the bottom end of the mountain. What this will do is paint in a transparency that will reveal any layer that is underneath. In this case, it is the sky background. The nice thing about using the max to do this is that it is non-destructive. So if you need to go back to the original state, we can do what we are looking for is a gradual gradient going from that nice pale blue to that dark, deeper red or the mountain. Now we're beginning to get some real depth going in this piece, Let's look at adding a gradient to the water. Pick out the dusky pink in the middle of the color palettes and add a new layer above the sky background. Then start painting in that gradient, making sure that red is at the bottom and the light blue stays visible near the top of the water. It is important when using the soft round capacity brush to take your time. And if you need to press undo, please do so. Just make sure to try and get that nice flowing gradient going. It will really make the difference to the final illustration. Let's now select the water ripple layer and go to the layer actions to choose lock transparency, pick the color of the water ripples, and then go into the color palette and choose a lighter tone and pink. Then paint over this layer. As you can see, the contrast is now a lot better. Also, don't be afraid to change colors as you're moving through this illustration. To finish off, let's select the sun layer, go to Layer actions and pick mask layer contents and make sure we are on Hide and have our soft round opacity brush paint at the bottom of the sun to give it that nice faded gradient. And that's it. We have started to add some depth to this piece. And in the next class we will start to add textures, which is where we really start to make this illustration come to life. 11. Adding Textures: Following from my previous class where we added some gradient to bring depth to the illustration. Let us now concentrate on adding some texture to the heroine illustration to make it really stand out. To do this, make sure you have the body of the Heron layer selected and select lock transparency from the action Layers menu. Now let's pick the pale blue from the color palette and make sure you have the graphite brush selected in your favorites brush panel. Bring the flow of the brush to around 60 percent. But remember to vary this as we are doing the texture painting. Start to paint with this color on the Heron's had near the edge using lighter strokes near the middle and hardest strokes towards the edge. Do this until you get a gradient flow going, making sure you take your time to get it right as it will make a big difference. And turning your illustration from a flat piece of work into something that is really special. Continue doing this until this texture is going from the head to the top of the wing. Also remember, as you're doing this to vary the flow of the brush dependent if you need it to be a lighter or heavier capacity at any stage. Once the light color is on one side of the heroine's head, pick out the dusky blue from your color palette. Choose the color panel and then select a darker blue value. And with the same graph out brush selected, start painting in that caught on the oversight of the Heron's had. What this will do is create a really nice depth on their neck. And it will go from being a flat, simple color to a really appealing, more 3D textured look. Now you have learned this technique with the textures. Go through all the base color elements in the illustration, adding this to each one. But make sure we pick the tones that are lighter and darker from the original base color recreated in the previous class. It is really important to take your time to get those textures looking right at this stage. By the end, you will have that lovely, appealing 3D shaded look through out the entire illustration. And in the next class we will add some final details to really finish our dynamic in nature illustration. 12. Adding the Final Details: Let's get going. Add in the final little details to our nature illustration. At this stage, you want to really look at the overall piece and think about if there are any additional, extra elements we would really like to add to elevate this composition even fervor. Following your last class of adding the textures using the pixel graphite brush. Look at the individual elements in the illustration and think about if you added any more detail, is this going to benefit your work? If you feel it will. Take your time to add this in. In my case, our fields of the top of the heroine's head needs a slightly lighter blue. So I'm going to add that in and really emphasized that texture towards the edges. So I also feel that adding some highlights to some individual elements would be a fantastic contrast. So we've a lighter blue and a hard round variable brush selected. Add a new layer and start to add these in. Really think about where you would imagine the sunlight to be hitting the shapes. As a general rule, this will usually be the edge nearest the sun in the sky. But remember to use your own judgment when adding these. One extra element that I feel would add to our piece is reflection. So when I now look at my heroine illustration and refer to the photo I took of the water reads, the reflections really stand out as a great elements. So let's add this to our scene and make it really come to life. For this final stages, we don't need our color palette now, so let's select it and hit the I icon to hide it. So to now do our reflections, select the Heron base color layer and click on the layer actions and duplicate it. Repeat this for the shadow like layer. Then move this duplicate layer above the duplicate heroin base color layer, and then go to the layer Actions and select Merge Down. You will now have one single layer. With this layer still selected, go to the Transform tool inside the transfer menu, click, Flip Horizontal two, and then double tap the modifier till. This will lock the constraint. So when we go to move this layer down, it will stay snapped. Move this down. So the tip of the legs just touches the bottom of the top of the heroine. Clicked on and complete. And then finally move this layer below the water ripples, but above the water gradient. Repeat the process we have just learned to create a similar reflection under the water reeds to the left-hand side of the heroin. Now we have two reflections. Let's add a ripple effect. To do this, make sure you select the right layer and then go to your smudge tool and make sure you have the hard round variable brush selected and paint over the reflections in a left to right motion. This will give those pixels are wavy look. That really emphasizes the ripples in the water and brings this illustration even more to life. Once we have created those waves, go to your layer properties and reduce the opacity to around 60 percent, just to make it a little bit fainter. With the layers still selected. The layer options and mask, layer contents and click Hide. Make sure you have the soft round brush picked and then paint at the bottom of the reflections. This will give a subtle gradual gradient. And that's it. So well done for completing this class. And you should now have a fantastic nature illustration. 13. Final Thoughts: Well done for reaching the end. So glad you took the time to live with me today and complete this class. I hope you've learned a lot along the way and the process was easy for you to follow. I would appreciate any feedback you have on the class. So please let me know. By now you'll have a fantastic illustration of your own. I will be really exactly the same. Please share it with the class that we can all take a look. A few things to take away with you is to start with basic shapes before building your nature illustration, try to experiment with different textured brushes and colors. And most importantly, have fun in the process. So thank you again for spending the time to learn with me today. I hope you really enjoyed this class. And if you did hit the follicle, sudden can be notified of any new classes I create for over the mat. Hopefully have full drawing nature illustrations and have a great rest of the day.