Exploring Your Illustration Style: Exercises to Push Your Work skillshare originals badge

Ryan Putnam, Designer & Illustrator

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13 Lessons (55m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project: Illustrate an Everyday Object in a New Style

    • 3. Blind Countour Exercise

    • 4. Yard Stick Drawing Exercise

    • 5. Tactile Drawing Exercise

    • 6. Subtractive Drawing Exercise

    • 7. Chunky Media Drawing Exercise

    • 8. Brushed Media Drawing Exercise

    • 9. Natural Media Drawing Exercise

    • 10. Gathering Inspiration From Your Exercises to Make Your Final Piece

    • 11. Creating Resources From Your Exercises

    • 12. Wrap Up

    • 13. More Creative Classes on Skillshare

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About This Class

Join illustrator Ryan Putnam for an 50-minute class on the exercises and creative prompts he uses to push his style in new directions. Ryan is known for creating digital illustrations that surprise and delight clients and viewers alike, and this behind-the-scenes glimpse gives you the tools and frameworks to challenge you and help you explore your style.

These bite-sized lessons follow Ryan through 7 non-traditional creative exercises that will each result in a different type of drawing. Ryan will then take inspiration from one of these drawings and walk through each step in expanding it into a new, digitized, polished illustration in a style he has never worked with before.

This class is perfect for anyone looking to get out of a rut and spice up their work, whether you're a professional illustrator with a recognizeable style, or just starting out. By the end, you’ll create a final illustration piece that challenges any of the work you've done before. Grab a pen, and let’s get started!


What You'll Learn

  • Design practices. Through his series of approachable exercises, Ryan will teach you how to take inspiration from everyday tools and objects to explore your design style and help it stay dynamic. You'll learn basic techniques that will give you a new perspective on illustrating, and will inspire fresh design elements for your digital work, too!
  • Creating your own. Ryan will invite you to illustrate objects in a range of new styles, giving you an opportunity to better define your work, or push it to the next level. Whether you want to learn how to become a graphic designer – or become a better one – Ryan's approach will help you expand your creative toolkit and inspire your process.
  • Blind contour drawing. In this exercise, you will draw a self-portrait that focuses on the contours of your face. Throughout the lesson, Ryan will talk you through the ways in which he analyzes his drawings for clues about his personal style, and will explain how to identify the characteristics of your work in the piece that you create.
  • Yardstick drawing.  Ryan will show you how to use everyday materials to challenge your muscle memory and to boost your creativity. By working at arm's length – and beyond! – you'll gain a better understanding of how your individual physicality affects your art.
  • Tactile drawing. Using organic, natural materials, you will learn to illustrate through touch – feeling your object blindly as you draw to get a different sense of form, line, and shadow. Ryan will also teach you how to look critically at the patterns you come up with, and to isolate them when you want to design your own fabrics or personalize digital work.
  • Subtractive drawing. You will follow along as Ryan shows you how to use charcoal and erasers to build a better understanding of light, shadow, and shape. By working in the negative, you'll learn to see and to create in new and interesting ways.
  • Chunky media drawing. Ryan will teach you how to work with pencil and paint to explore color and fine line, and how to translate that interplay into the digital realm.
  • Brushed media exercise. Using a paintbrush and household objects, you'll hone your brush strokes and explore how the ways that you move come together to create a personal style.
  • Natural media. Ryan will work with organic materials to put a spin on his subtractive exercise, creating a self-portrait that highlights light and line. He will show you how he takes his analog illustrations to make better photoshop art by using them as real-life resources for digital decisions, like color palate and expressive line.
  • Working digitally. You will learn, step-by-step, how Ryan translates his physical illustrations into digital art. He will teach you how he imbues his online work with personality by selecting pieces of the exercises he creates, hones them, and collages them together using his electronic toolkit.
  • Finding your voice. Through his tutorials, Ryan will help you find the unique perspective that runs through your physical and digital work. You'll draw inspiration from the pieces you create along with Ryan, and learn new skills that will keep your eye fresh and inspired.


Looking for more inspiration? Head here to discover more classes on illustration.