Illustration For Storytelling: A Beginner’s Guide to Indian Wedding Cards | Vijaya Aswani | Skillshare

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Illustration For Storytelling: A Beginner’s Guide to Indian Wedding Cards

teacher avatar Vijaya Aswani, Illustrator from India

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

15 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project

    • 3. How To Illustrate a Connection

    • 4. Love & Data Collection

    • 5. Example of an Interview

    • 6. Practice: Sketching Assets

    • 7. Practice: Sketching People

    • 8. Composition

    • 9. Drawing Thumbnails

    • 10. Setting Up Your Canvas

    • 11. Drawing

    • 12. Adding Colour

    • 13. Adding Details

    • 14. Presenting & Beyond

    • 15. Conclusion

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About This Class

In this class, you will learn how to tell a story in one single frame by illustrating the love or a friendship between two people.

Hi, I'm Vijaya. I’m an Indian Illustrator. I've been illustrating traditional and quirky wedding cards for over 5 years! Illustrating wedding cards taught me a lot about how to tell someone’s story through art, how to translate someone's personality into an illustration, and furthermore, how two personalities come together to form a bond. 


What is visual storytelling?

Storytelling is always about a relationship and its dynamics. With visual storytelling, we are invoking a feeling without words, just lines, shapes, colours and textures. 

Why illustrate the connection between two people?

The best illustrators in the world are story tellers first and great sketch artists after. Art is impactful when it tells a story. Art is doubly impactful when it tells a story of two very real people.

Throughout this class, you’ll learn: 

  • Researching your muse’s story
  • The art of drawing thumbnails 
  • Creating instant colour harmonies
  • How to bring more character into your art (for every style!)
  • Training your brain to draw anything with practice exercises

Your final project is broken down into 3 main steps:


(1) A research phase where we’ll gather visual and factual information about our muses.

(2) Then planning or thumbnailing where we’d discuss a little bit about composition and how to make your work flow

(3) then finally putting it all together, opening it up on procreate, creating our layers, adding colour and details and voila you have a beautiful card!

Skills Level: Basic to intermediate, this class is perfect for beginner illustrators that want to learn more about visual storytelling. 

Tools Required: Procreate, any digital drawing tool or traditional (paper, pencil, ink and colours) 

By the end of this class, you’ll not have a card that represents a beautiful bond, but also the skills to approach any visual storytelling project in the future!

See you in class! :D 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Vijaya Aswani

Illustrator from India


Hello! I'm Vijaya, an illustrator from Bangalore, India. I stalk friendly people in my city and draw strangers at cafes. I'm here to enable more people to begin their journey of expression through drawing, with simple hacks to further dig deeper, explore their creativity and express themselves!

Find me on the gram: @spreefirit

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1. Introduction: We all love a good story. It's the ultimate power to be a captivating storyteller. and what better way to tell a story than the art of illustration. Hi, I am Vijaya Aswani, an illustrator from Bangalore, India. As a kid, I loved to draw anniversary cards for my mum and dad. I used to draw them in their fanciest of clothes and lots and lots of hearts. It really stuck with me through adulthood as I came to adore love stories, in movies and in life, but especially in Bollywood, where a love story always ended in a big, fat Indian wedding. I've always been super fascinated with weddings with all its dance, and colors, and drama. If you're desi, you know exactly how festive our weddings are. I got super lucky and I now illustrate wedding cards for living. In this class, we'll be learning the art of visual storytelling by illustrating a connection between two people, could be friends or lovers, real or fictional. But the point is to tell THEIR story. Illustrating a connection between two people is a lot more than just drawing the characters and their characteristics. We are trying to represent a connection. How do they come together, what do they bring out in each other? Basically, how to illustrate a relationship. Sounds complicated, doesn't it? It doesn't have to be. I've intentionally structured this class in such a way that you can focus on just the fun stuff. That is, telling your story. I have packed this class with helpful resources and cheat sheets to make all of your decision-making super easy and super quick. To demonstrate the entire process, I'll be illustrating one of my signature wedding cards of my dear friends, Manasi and Arun. I'll be using Procreate, but feel free to use any medium that you're comfortable with, even traditional mediums. We'll start by deep diving into things like collecting and organizing data for your story to translate into pictures. We learn to SEE and BREAK DOWN anything under the sun into basic shapes in our TWO comprehensive practice lessons on the basics of drawing objects and people. So, You will feel prepared and confident to tackle other designed puzzles like color palettes and compositions. This class is perfect for beginners and anyone trying to expand the illustration work into the storytelling realm. By the end of this class, you'll have a solid idea of how to visually communicate a complex story in a single frame. Of course, drawing a really cool portrait to give someone that you love. So let's get started. 2. Project: Pick up your tools, traditional or digital. I'm going to be using Procreate on iPad, but you can use whatever you are comfortable with. In this lesson, you're going to be illustrating a connection between two people in the form for portrait, friendship, or wedding card. I'll be walking you through the entire process of illustrating the wedding card for my friends Manasi and Arun. You can pick your own real or fictional characters, to illustrate along with me through each lesson in case you're out of ideas, I have attached my list of favorite relationships from pop culture in the resources below. Illustrating a relationship can seem like a huge task. But in this class I have broken it down into super manageable steps, So, you'll feel confident to tackle your final project. I've included two-practice exercises to help you draw objects and human figures. It's a great warm-up exercise even when you're a more experienced artist. I'd really encourage you to draw along with me and post it in the project gallery. The final project is broken down into three main steps. A research phase, where we get the visual and factual information about our muses. Then is the planning or thumbnailing where you discuss a little bit more about composition and how to make your work FLOW. Then finally, putting it all together, opening it up on Procreate, creating our layers, adding color and VOILA. You have a beautiful card. Make sure you post your progress in the project gallery, so we can all see your cards coming to life. And to get feedback along the way. I'd like you to deep dive into the entire process. When you immerse yourself into something that you're doing, you not only just enjoy the process, you have a great result for you and your muse, you recall the things you learn and, of course, you have a lot of fun. 3. How To Illustrate a Connection: If you really think about it, storytelling is always about a relationship. A relationship between two people, a relationship between a person and their environment, a relationship between a person and themselves. What we're essentially trying to do here is convey all of this without words. It's a little bit of a challenge to connect with your audience without words, and we're going ahead and adding another layer of challenge by communicating all of this in one frame. But we are not concerned about the beginning, middle, and the end of a story, rather we'd compose and design our artwork in such a way that the audience sees the important bits first. But what I'm really concerned with is the vibe, the mood. What are we making our audience feel? Especially when we're illustrating a connection between two people, we have two types of audiences. One is the muse themselves, and the other is a general audience. For example, we're making our muse hold a cup of coffee. She loves her coffee, so she's going to instantly connect with your illustration. But what are we giving to a general viewer? They get to know the fact that she likes coffee, but what more can we give them to connect with the illustration? Illustrating a connection is a lot more than adding the logo of their favorite TV show or their football club. It could be that, but what we're trying to do here is get to know them as people, with feelings and dreams and capture their essence and flavor onto paper. That's why I prefer physically or virtually meeting them and asking them a bunch of questions. I think it's very important to establish a safe environment for them to be comfortable enough to share things about their relationship with us. We're going to learn all of this in the next lesson. But before we head to next lesson, take a piece of paper, write down who's relationship would you like to draw, write their names on either side of the page, and of course, feel free to pick a fictional character. 4. Love & Data Collection: What questions should we ask our muse to get the perfect story onto paper? We're going to hack this with a tried and tested format. We first start with the general questions, They have probably been asked this before, and then we slowly transition into the unusual magic questions as I call it which will be super interesting for them to answer and will really feed your research. You ask them, "what's up? How are you doing? How's it going?" Just like any other general conversation. Then you definitely have to ask them permission to take up a chunk of their time because you really want them to be present with you and share all about their lives with you. How did you two meet? What was the first meeting like? What was going through your mind during your first meeting? Do you still do this when you guys hang out? What did you text after the first meeting? At this point, with follow-up questions, a client usually tells you how they operate now compared to the first meeting. If not, describe your ideal day together, how has your relationship grown from then to now? Tell me about your childhoods? After you feel you have gotten to know your client, let's move on to the specifics. Do you have anything specific in mind for the portrait? Outfits likes in visual forms. Hairstyle and eyeglasses are two very important aspects of making someone instantly recognizable. Do you have a location or climate in mind? Please note that this is not a hard and fast rule. You need to be asking follow-up questions according to how your client is communicating with you, how they are in general. They could be conversational or they could be reserved, you need to adjust your script accordingly. We have partner 1 here, partner 2 there and commonalities, and probably the common anecdotes in the center. We can follow this format for note-taking to organize our thoughts better while composing the artwork. After you have listed them down, confirm which of these pieces of information are essential to them, and mark three, two, one star according to their relevance. If you're anything like me functioning on a goldfish memory, trust me you need these tactics. Are you feeling good about the way we've organized the data? Mind Maps are a great way to focus on just the fun stuff and it is your creativity. 5. Example of an Interview: In this lesson, you're going to meet my clients Manasi and Arun who were happy to have the interview recorded. It was an hour long interview, I've cut it down to like five minutes to fit into this lesson. We are puppy watching our friend's puppy for the weekend and that's been really chaotic/ fun. Sure. That's going to be exciting and something we've never done before. So we met on a dating app TLDR Called Coffee Meets Bagel. Coffee Meets Bagel. Honestly, it's pretty clichéd but when I matched with her it was almost in an instant. Very quickly we really connected and within two weeks, I flew across the country to meet her. In my mind, at least it was pretty much decided that this was my future partner. Yeah. It was amazing really. We matched on Coffee Meets Bagel, we matched in June in California. I love saying this part of the story, but we matched because I was traveling to California even though I don't live there and I made the profile when I was in California. What happened was it matched me to people there for that brief amount of time before I flew back to my home state or when I was studying. That was crazy that he much so quickly in that brief amount of time, and I think there is something magical or miraculous about our relationship because of that event. Yes. Of like the craziness of how we matched. Even now, two years later when we think about all the things that could have not gone the way they did, we might not have seen each other's profiles that day, might have swiped left, but honesty all the things just aligned perfectly. It's magical and honestly we are so grateful that everything worked out the way it did. Yes. I think both of us just knew even on that first date all of us just knew that this was it. But it was so beautiful and I think it was beautiful in the simplicity of the date. Like we didn't do anything crazy. We just watched stars and we had pizza and met friends and that's how our life is now. So yes, for me it was perfect. You want to say? No you say because this was yours. Yes. So Arun said, I love you to me after three days of meeting me, which was unexpected, and so when he said bye to me and he was flying back to California, Wait. You didn't say what do you replied back. No, that's what I'm saying. So he said, I love you in a very romantic way, and I said thank you. Which is just like his favorite things to say. So his favorite thing to say about the date. But then as soon as he got to the airport, I texted him and I said, I love you too, and then we started planning our next trip. I wanted to do something romantic. This is totally out of their normal for me. I don't do these things and I'm pretty shy about doing these things. But I thought for my someone special, I want to do something, and I saw this cute little tree house up in the mountains in Santa Barbara and I thought, Oh my God, she's going to love it. All I mean to say it was we were pretty tired by the time we got to Santa Barbara, when we saw the tree house, well it was kind of small. It was tiny. We realized we were not alone in the tree house. We had a special guest, a Palli this big. A lizard. A lizard this big, and I freaked out. If there is one thing that scares me in the world it's a Palli, and this is when I realized she would be a pretty good partner for me because she was scared away the Palli, so then we both could go down. It was really funny. Yes. Then the next morning when I was cleaning up we found the Palli under the pillow. I walked in, and they were all so happy and the house was so bustling and they were making a feast for me. I just wanted to go and just blend in. I didn't want to be like the object of attraction. So I came into the kitchen and ask them, can I help you with something you guys are doing so much and that's when I saw that one of the things that they really liked was a Jackfruit. They bought this huge Jackfruit, and I had mentioned maybe I think in the past that I also like Jackfruit. Especially for me, they brought the Jackfruit. I realized that they also really love the Jackfruit. But it's really hard to cut a jackfruit if you've ever tried. My mom had broken her foot at the same time so she couldn't help either. So he came like a knight in shining armour had he was like "I got this", and then he took the Jackfruit and he just like cut it perfectly, and my mom was like "approved!". To be honest, I feel like our relationship progressed very, very, very quickly, and I think today, our relationship is more mature. We live together now so we have like tiny fights. What do we fight about? The cupboard open. The cupboard open. Not putting the dishes in the dishwasher the right way. Yeah. Things like that we fight about. But he's my best friend and I don't think I could have said that obviously when I had just met him. I just never knew this is what I wanted, but it's a very wonderful thing to have. Just someone you can be totally yourself with. Yes. Well, a lot of food because food has always there have been a big part of growing up. It really is. It really is. I will say that she is a very nostalgic person. I am a very nostalgic person. So she really misses India. The people, the culture. The food. Where she grew up in her Kerala house with all her cousins. These are definitely things she really misses. Yes. I hope once COVID officially ends and travel is back in full swing, we plan to take several more trips and I want to go visit all these childhood memories that she's told me so much about. I want to see if Kerala is, like she describes It is. I don't believe so, but every time you see something really pretty she say, oh, this reminds me of Kerala Because when I take you, you'll change your mind. Okay, that's perfect. His vibe ...our vibe I guess, we're just generally a very easy going, we're goofy, we're happy. I know that's a weird word. Adjective to say Yes. But also I want to be wearing a Kerala Sari Like it's more of a wedding for the parents, and it is, but this is one thing that we wanted to like, okay, this is us. One thing I wish you can integrate is, my family is very traditional, so I grew up doing a lot of ceremonies and poojas One thing I remember is in a Tamil wedding, we're going to be wearing a veshti and we put in all these things. But I always wonder with all these grooms happens is the body that they put like a battle camouflage. So like, you know, how people put battle camouflage on them. So we put vibuthi on our body and I, whenever I've done it, I always felt, Oh, it's pretty cool. If you can, if you can put it, I think that's really cool, but that's it. My hair. She loves her hair. No, I don't love my hair. That sounds ridiculous. No. Please cut out that, Vijaya I would like a braid I think because I know they're generally brides. It looks nice and also flowers because I do like flowers. But yeah, I think that would look nice. I like her braid too. I don't know if that counts. Thank you so much from the bottom of our heart. Yes we are so excited. We've never done something like this before. Yes. One thing I would say is such a different process, like it's such a different, but honestly such a fun process. I think this really gets to the essence of who we are. The questions you ask, honestly these are the things we love talking about. Yes. We love talking about how we met. All these little things because I feel like our relationship always has these highlights. Yes. I am really happy that we got to do this and looking forward to recur. Thank you so much. Thank you. Bye. Yes. That went really well. But just in case your muses are in that conversation, you always have your cheat sheet of interview questions to ask. Be on the lookout for the little anecdotes, the expressions they shared, the pet names they call each other, and it is wiser to have your sheet on table in front of you and take notes while you're talking to them. 6. Practice: Sketching Assets: For this lesson, I want you to grab a pencil and a paper, or your digital tools. I do not want you to treat your outputs as something precious. In fact, it takes several non-instagramable doodles to get your grand finale one. In case you're using a sketchbook with some really expensive paper, quickly switch to some bond sheets because we're going to practice! Make sure you practice along with me, so you grasp the concepts really well and etch it in your brain forever. We're going to make very small rough drawings, roughly about five-by-five inch. Let's have the courage to redraw our drawings or rework on our drawings when something doesn't quite feel right or we feel like we need more practice to draw something because we're training our hands for the big show. At every step of the way we are asking ourselves, how can we make our drawing a little bit more interesting? By interesting, I do not mean complex or crowded, or realistic. We can make something super simple and get our viewer very interested. Most artists in the world construct their artwork, and by construct I mean, use super basic shapes to make their drawing. We will break down and reference into basic shapes like circles, rectangles, and triangles. Make sure you're using your pencils super lightly and loosely. Doesn't matter if it's traditional or digital. Now, how do we convert these basic shapes into 3D? If you're using a digital tool, we make a duplicate or copy-paste our shape behind and push it away from our original shape depending on our perspective. Erase the lines behind your original shape and then simply flatten it out connecting the lengths. Your cylinder is ready to roll. We repeat pretty much the same thing for a cube. We duplicate the original shape, place it behind a little bit getting this, this, and this. Erase the lines behind the original shape, and voila, we have a cube. Let's try this with an actual object this time, make sure you draw along so you grasp the concepts well. We have this bottle cap, this is visible almost like the cylinder from the top camera view. When we tilt a little to the side, it's squished circle on one side and a smaller cylinder on the other side. When we tilt a little further, a little broader circle, and a smaller rectangle. Note that as the cylinder keeps tilting, the side of the rectangle keeps going steep because you keep seeing lesser and lesser of this side. Try this with more things laying around your table to train your brain and your hands for 3D drawing. Now, let's take out our data sheets. What do you have in your data sheet? To start with, we got three elements that are most important to your muses and obviously relevant to their story. We're going to break these elements down into basic shapes, a blank construction, and deconstruction to draw absolutely anything. The bagel is basically a very short cylinder, and another short cylinder in the center making it hollow. We erase the lines that are not needed and curve the rest to make a nice rounded shape. The mug is pretty much the same structure if you closely look at it, just probably the distance between the inner cylinder and the outer cylinder is much, much shorter. But we're going to use the same method. We are going to still maintain an unrealistic proportion for plumper cuter look and give our cup a little character. We can turn this into dotted brush pen textually looking lines like this to indicate a subtle smooth goes. By brush pen lines, I mean the stroke must be varying in the form like thin to thick again, if you see it clearly. A lizard is not asking us of any 3D construction, maybe with shadows and highlights at a later stage. Even though this little guy is squiggly, we are going to use the exact same method of deconstructing and constructing with basic shapes. Notice how the hind legs and the front legs both point inward. Spend some time absolving your reference. Look at your object as if you've looked at it for the first time, and have no idea what legs or hands are. Draw out its basic form, and now just have fun with your construction. Smoothen it out, and of course, there is very less scope of going wrong here. We want to think about the relationships our shapes have with each other to make it look interesting. We have the creative liberty to do absolutely anything. Let's have fun with our shapes. Now make it look realistic, give it more character. Big head, small bodies, small body, big heads, small ears, big head, take a sheet of paper and draw animals, birds, humans what have you and play with basic six shapes and their relationships with each other. Thinking of one main principle of design, that is, contrast. A viewer tends to respond to where you want to contrast because they can see a stark difference in the shapes. Especially, if it looks very different from real life. It's eye-catching, it's interesting, it's intriguing. Baby elephants, my favorite thing to draw are animal babies. I love to play with proportions to be more styled, expressive, and most importantly cute. But of course, follow your own style that you have, cue the proportions of living things as you please to give them more character. Since we're talking about giving character, let's move on to actually drawing our characters. 7. Practice: Sketching People: Anatomy is a discipline that even I am still learning and practicing every day. But even if we cannot draw perfect bodies, that shouldn't stop us from telling a story. Pick out the pictures of the muses in front of you, and draw along. Again, these are rough sketches, so use your pencil lightly and loosely. You're also going to break down human bodies into two very basic shapes. A sphere on top of a cylinder, shows our baseline little hands, little legs. Nothing needs to be perfect. All your shapes are valid. If you don't like your first attempt, try again. Your features can be simple shapes and lines, so nothing complex. You do not need to draw exactly what I'm drawing your style works. Can you guess what we're going to do with the clothes? Your basic shapes. What kind of clothes are you making your muses wear. Break them down into basic shapes. Like this T-shirt is basically just three squares. Here are examples of brilliant artists. Some of them being my friends, breaking down human bodies into simple shapes to make characters. They are simple yet stylized. Anatomy is key to bring in more life and life-like dynamics into your characters. Keep a habit of practicing drawing from life. When you develop a habit of drawing people from a life, you also train your eyes. So when you see somewhat chilling with their dog, you mentally trace a very geometric drawing of them in your head. That translates into better shapes on paper. Now, keep the pictures of your muse in front of you. We will pick up three major visual characteristics. What is the basic shape of your face? In my case, Arun has a squarish shape, whereas Manasi has a lot more rounded face. Hair and eyebrows are more defining features than you think, decide how they're going to be posing and pose as them.This seems silly, but is so important, it makes the process so much easier. You don't have to imagine what direction the feet are pointed at, on which leg the weight is, etc. It's all in front of you, exactly how you want it. I'm a big believer of the design principle rhythm. Even if drawing bodies is not our strongest suit, we can always use rhythm to add more life to a character. Make your art sing. By rhythm, I mean, we can try and create a sense of movement in a static 2D space. It can be done by drawing the characters posed in the middle of a movement. Adding repetitive lines or elements to create a sense of movement or flow. By simply flow things like hair and clothes being guided by the wind. It gives so much more life and it just demands attention to your illustration. Now to draw actual rough sketches of our muses, we're going to use this in the Thumbnail lesson as well as the final one. Always starting with their basic outer shapes, the head, the upper body, and slowly drawing the smaller basic shapes like the hands and the legs, while observing your pose. Does your pose express or communicate a little bit about your muse's personality? Take note of that. What about the clothes? In my case, a sari and a veshti is not something Manasi and Arun wear on a daily basis, of course. But it's important to the event. If you're drawing the muses on a summer vacation, you'd probably add sunglasses or a hat. Can you think of any opportunities of this kind to add more flavor with your poses, even clothes and accessories? Here, I grab two opportunities I have for rhythm. With Manasi's hair, her braid flowing like this, and her sari. The challenges to draw them in harmony, it might take a few trials until we like what we have and sort of have a visual tempo going with that drawing. These are super rough sketches so give yourself some space and time to draw bodies. This theory is a re-draw over your drawings. Trial and errors is a part of the process. Whenever you feel ready, we're heading to the next lesson, which is the most crucial part. Composition of your illustration. 8. Composition: Before we dive into composing or artwork, let's get to know what thumbnails are. Thumbnails are the quick little studies that you do to test the potential of your drawing. After a few trial and errors, you'll have the initial zoomed out version of your ideas and concepts. We're going to draw thumbnails in the next lesson but before that, I have a cheat sheet for you. This cheat sheet has all the questions you ask yourself while drawing thumbnails so you make smarter decisions. What is the shape of my canvas? What you really need to think about is, what is the story you're telling? Your canvas dimensions are very important in the kind of story you want to tell. In this drawing, I wanted to communicate the chill vibes that these two off-duty reindeers are sharing. They are not communicating, not necessarily interacting, just basking in the warmth. So it made sense to place them on either side of the fire, keeping the fireplace as a focus and a lot of attention to the little details like the gifts, the Polaroids, the play station and the background. Instead of a vertical format like this, this would have made sense that they were having a conversation and that was the focus of the illustration. But a drawing is less about them and more about the vibes. For [inaudible], they gave me a detailed write-up of all of their travels to put into one visual. As a visual representation of them driving away into their bright future, I wanted to show the Hyundai i10 car driving outside of the canvas, so a horizontal format made sense. In case I wanted to highlight, say, the Twin Towers or the temple, I would have gone with the vertical format, but I wanted to keep them just as snippets. In this [inaudible], we wanted to communicate them diving into the next exciting step of their life, with flora and fauna of all kinds. I could have easily used a horizontal format here and had the elephant on the ground instead of up in a tree, but I wanted to make sure there were elements of magic with bears on trees and sunlight shining through them. Even when you're just deciding you want a horizontal or a vertical canvas for your illustration, be mindful of your story. I usually just go with a square format for my wedding cards because I want the focus to be on the couple and the secondary focus for the elements around them and the square edges works for that. Of course, it's shareability, it's WhatsApp-friendly, Instagram-friendly, so ask your client where the final illustration goes up and then work backwards from there. Visual hierarchy. We have already starting to think about hierarchy while considering a canvas, it's simply how you want to guide your viewers eye. Again, what is the story you are telling? What do you want them to see first? Then we use design tools like size, placement, and color to bring more attention to the things we want them to see first. Composition. With composition, I prefer using the simple symmetry over the very popular rule of thirds, unless my character has something very important to interact with the background. If you want to communicate a lot more with the characters and command on the environment in a way, probably add more drama than just having normal portraits. Using rule of thirds might be a great way to get started on a composition. Balance of elements is key, especially when you're telling the story of two people. Mine usually go to symmetry because I just have to visually balance either side or the top and bottom. Your elements might be a whole library of 9-10 elements or really focused on four or two, three elements. There's a way to work around both. When we have a lot of elements, I balanced Anki and Ashwin's and Priyanka and Sooran's by reflecting the same elements on either side. There are lots of elements in Monisha's and Satyarth's portrait, but all these elements are placed on either side and hold almost equal visual weightage and as a cluster to not look scattered, so that got it looking nice and balanced. In case of Surabhi's card, I was trying to tell a story of them sitting on a dining table with lots of food, so the decision-making came quite easy. Having the cluster of food at the bottom and the portraits in the top, balancing the top and bottom half of the portrait. If probably I had put all of the takes on top, this wouldn't have been looking so balanced. Negative space. As illustrators, our most important design tool is negative space. Negative space or white space or blank space is all of the space that your elements and your characters are not taking up. It's the breathing space that they need for their story to be heard. If we do not have negative space, it is just like telling your story to a wall. Relationships between our elements. We're also thinking about the relationship between our elements. We do not want them to be coming in contact with edges of each other or edges of the frame, rather playfully interacting with each other and probably just far away from each other, creating negative space. Rhythm. We have covered rhythm in detail in our practice lessons but when we're drawing thumbnails is when the need for rhythm arises. How can we create a sense of flow or movement in our illustration? Also, how do we want to guide our viewer's eye? It is much simpler than it sounds, I promise. So many times I use an actual line to guide a viewer's eye, but my primary intention of using rhythm is always to inject some life and create as much dynamic as I can in a 2D frame. I like an eventful frame, it's super interesting especially when you're trying to create a happy, eventful mood. What are the kind of mood you are going for? Think about it and write it down on paper. It might seem silly, but you will be super mindful of it while doing all of your activities. 9. Drawing Thumbnails: Thumbnails are the little game plan that you have for executing your drawing and also pitching to your muses or client before getting to your main canvas. Thumbnails are meant to be tiny and rough and to put simply and very quickly onto paper. We want to work with quick doodles because at this point, we want our wild ideas to come to surface, and our wild ideas come to surface when our critical brain isn't so active. We'll draw super quickly for our critical brain to not have a chance to intervene. Now that we have all the information about the couple organized, let's place them in 3 tiny boxes. Make sure you leave ample space around your box, which is probably again five-by-five inch to label the elements because you might understand what these are, but your client might not understand what these small, tiny rough drawings are. Cool. We have images and drawings of Manasi with her likes. Images and drawings of Arun with his likes. Images and drawings of things that represent both. Make sure your data sheet is organized this way. Trust me, this organization really helps. Since I really want Manasi's sari to garner attention to the card, I'm going to make it flowy to give the entire card a little bit of rhythm. Sometimes your decision-making could be as simple as what do you think you draw well. If it adds value to the story, can I make it the star of my show? If you draw flowers really well and it's a summer wedding, you can take that opportunity to draw some and daisies. If you are a lettering artist, you can make a lot of space for your letters and probably speech bubbles to your story. I will add a little coffee with the M and a bagel with the N to sort the letters and frame the whole thing up with leaves. I like this with the ample white space all the elements have, giving it a lot of elegance. We have the lettering and the sari pallu on this side, and the figures on the left balancing out the visual weight. Let's start with one. I don't want to have the leaves only on the top like a bunting, and bigger leaves representing the coconut trees of South India. India has a wide variety of rituals and customs that are different from every region and state. As an illustrator, it would be a great opportunity to research symbols, motifs, and practices to translate well into visuals. If you're drawing people on their vacation to Paris, you might want to add a little French cafe in the background, or have them dressed very French or, eating a croissant. If you're drawing childhood friends, you can have them interact with things from the '90s or the '80s like a boombox and flip phone, something that looks right out of an Archie's comic book. I want to add a little more life and playfulness here with the lizard, and I also want to add a little body on my Manasi's head to balance out and make it symmetrical. I am realizing including more elements might also look a tad bit messy. Just like we'd have shelves in our house to keep our things, we'll add a frame here to hold all our elements. I really want a jackfruit food to be a part of the card. It's a little weird to add a jackfruit, but it's a cute inside story for Manasi and Arun, if you watched the interview video. But I'm not very happy with how this frame balances out. Something feels off and uncomfortable in your thumbnail, it's probably balance. You can easily fix that by adding or removing an element or reducing an increase in the size of elements on either side. By either side, I mean, right and left and top and bottom. Onto our fourth thumbnail, I want my characters to be interacting more with the background. They're having a cup of coffee and a bagel. Since Arun loves coffee, Manasi likes food and they met on Coffee Meets Bagel. Do you want your characters to be action up than just starting stiffly? You can research their photos and also depending on the interview that you will have with them. How would they pause? How would they express themselves? I'm adding a collage, which is a pot holding a coconut used in Hindu rituals. Some more indication of traditional roots of Arun, as we mentioned. Since the jackfruit is an inside story, I'm going to make it a pattern instead of making space for it in the composition giving the entire card a remote texture, the general audience, and a story for the couple or muse. You don't have to make three thumbnails as a rule. Make more if you feel like you haven't cracked it yet. By cracked it, I mean, this mini aha moment. I like my frame now. It looks visually really balanced. I feel like all the elements are having fun with each other. Make sure you only present the thumbnail that you like to your client. You don't want to be giving them options for the sake of it. I'm only going to present my food thumbnail to Manasi and Arun. When you have a good thumbnail in place, you and your client or muse can see the bigger picture and make important decisions at this stage. Of course, avoid pesky corrections later on. Make sure you put your thumbnails in the project gallery, so I can have a look at them. It's super interesting to see the things that did not work out, the reason it did not work out, and your retire thought process, and then your final piece. When you are ready with your thumbnail, I'll see you in the next lesson. We will finally setting up our canvas. 10. Setting Up Your Canvas: Setting up a canvas is so important and along is the hard way. If you do not set up canvas right all their efforts can go in wind well exported. But don't worry, I have a cheat sheet for you for all the questions you ask yourself and your client or muse while setting up your canvas. First, how is a portrait going to be Showcased? Is it going to be printed? If it's going to be printed, how is it going to be printed? Please be careful of your color profiles while working on a digital canvas because RGB is for web and CMYK is for print. If you are printing it, what is the size of my canvas? That is literally no bigger regret I have than working on a smaller canvas than required. It's not just about the dimensions of a canvas, it is also your resolution. Make sure you're working on a 300 DPI resolution. Last but definitely not the least, make layers for everything. Especially if you're working with a client and on a digital medium, having layers helps with your direction. Even if you're going super plan and have your cane in wandered every stage of the process 95 percent of the time there are going to be changes and having layers just makes the process so much less annoying. Now since that's out of the way, let's finally start drawing. 11. Drawing: We will approach our drawings by first drawing the rough sketch underneath and then drawing the final outline. You can automate this process or have the entire rough sketch ready and then outline it. If you already have the rough sketch of the characters ready, go ahead and use that in your final. That's exactly what I'm going to do. In our new canvas, let's start with expanding our thumbnails into the real output size so we do not lose composition in translation. Pick your brush, whatever you're comfortable with. I use a dry brush in Procreate because it gives me more of a naturally pencilly texture. I have always been using it so I have good practice with it. I suggest for this project you use a brush that you are used to, to get the best line quality possible. Line quality is simply how confident you are with your strokes. It takes time to get used to a brush exactly like any other traditional medium. I like to start with the face because it requires the most reference. You're looking at two visuals constantly and parallelly thinking about how to stylize them, improvise them, etc. Personally, I like to draw them with child-like features. Picking their really defining features. Like how Arun's eyes are far apart than usual and how his face extends into this mohawk. Manasi's nose ring and very defined eyes. Think about what are the defining features of your muse. Does your nose or ear have a rather unique look? I'm sure you're going to find something peculiar to replicate into your drawing. That starts to innocently look like them. As I mentioned before, their hair, hair texture, hairstyle is very important for them to be recognizable. Also, if they have specs or not. Use layers whenever needed. Whenever you're unsure in fact, if it works, you keep it. If it doesn't, you erase. If you are not sure where your thumb goes and higher your hand looks, refer back to your pose or have a mirror or a selfie camera in front of you. Hands and feet are challenging to draw, so trace the shapes on your actual reference and then imitate on paper if you're in doubt. Take your own sweet time inking. I think inking is such a slow-paced, romantic part of the process. It can't be rushed. It needs a little extra love, unlike our quick, Doodly practice sketches and thumbnails. Calmly rethink your shapes and the rhythms we discussed in the previous lessons. You can also turn on your grids, especially if there are lines that need to be perpendicular, but make sure you switch them off because grids can really hinder in your artwork without you even realizing it. If lettering is your strong point, make sure that it occupies more space on your canvas. Count your strengths. Your illustration does not need to look like anyone else's. Since I'm making the jack fruits more as a pattern, the purpose is to add texture more than the actual visual of it. We're going to draw them much smaller than the other elements. It's something for Manasi and Arun to look and derive with deeper connection to. But for someone else, it will be something very pretty lush. They would probably connect jack fruit to their South Indian roots. It's great to think about both your audiences while drawing. Your muse, your gender viewer, and make sure they both have a lot to experience from your art. Whenever you're drawing detailed things, make sure you make another layer just to have an outline and then draw the details in another layer. Never miss an opportunity to accessorize. Add so much character. If you're unsure, just ask your muse what accessories they'd like or excessively stock them on social media. Inking is so meditative. I'm happy with how it's turning out. How's it going with you? Once you're happy with your drawing, let's move on to colors. 12. Adding Colour: Colors and color palettes are quite challenging in general, but we're going to have this talk. A few years ago, I used to just pick my favorite color and force it into whatever I was drawing no matter what the mood. But we're going to be a lot more purposeful with our color choices than my 21-year-old self. Think about what your major components are. The major components are a combination of the things and elements that are important to your story like your humans, of course, and the ones that occupy the most space in your Canvas. In this case, I have the yellowish golden on the side and jewelry, and the bells. You can pick one of the major colors. Make sure when you're picking your color, it isn't too highly saturated. Think a little bit more natural like a color in nature you'd like to see and eat it. I always say the biggest rule with colors is it should look good enough to eat. But my biggest two color secrets are these, or, I'm not sure, is an app that generates color harmonies for you. Pick the hex code of one or two colors you surely want, close the little lock here and press your space bar. Coolers generates an instant harmony with the chosen colors. Even if you haven't found your perfect yummy hex code, you can find one for yourself in the library. The reason coolers was only $5 in a pallet to start with, is I really don't think we need any more than five. Of course, this rule is way breakable as of any art rule you have ever had. Just that the probability of having harmony with your colors is so much more when there are less colors involved. When you're working with outlines in your drawing, it will help you bring automatic contrast to your color palette. But if you're going to use it in a certain mood or vibe or an out of paper experience, you should do away without lines. But for a sweet middle ground is using colors adore them black for our outlines. It gives a little more drama vibe and moodiness to it while retaining our outlines and maintaining your contrast in colors. Color your outlines with a dark color instead of black to add more of a mood. Let's finally color our Canvas. Let's first add our base color. This is important because this dictates all your other colors. The yellow in here and here. Clothes, jewelry, the bells, the pods inside of a jack fruit, the lime green on the outside of the jack fruit, this yum dark green for the leaves. I know I need a lighter white for the clothes because Mansi wants to wear the traditional [inaudible] sari. I'll pick my cream and make it whiter. In my experience, the sari color almost defines an entire color palette. There's a lot of focus on the bride's outfit, so make sure you know the color of their outfits. Traditionally, an Indian bride would have a bright red outfit. You'd be rethinking your color palette in a very different way. Your skin colors may or may not be a perfect color palette. I'm going to go ahead and take the liberty to add a range of brown, so my skin color, the coffee here, and coconut. Of course, oh yeah, the bagel. I know the bagel is traditionally a lighter brown, but I don't think I want to add yet another shade of brown, so I'm just going to go ahead with this. Nothing is a hard and fast rule there. All these tools to make your process easier and faster. Always leave room to play with your colors. Now that are key colors are locked, it's time to experiment. You never know what works until you try. Honestly, I'm always a little unsure of myself at this stage, so I text a friend. Colors is everyone's language. Your friend does not need to be a designer or an illustrator, just someone who really wants you to be happy with your drawing. The bird and the lizard are my last priority to color just because they could literally be any color. I know you think my lizard is a little bit weird, but my mom always says add another battle to everything that's super nice to ward off the evil eyes. That's why they add a little dot of coal or kajal on a newborn baby in our Indian traditions. How are you feeling? Do your colors look yummy yet? Lots of hot tips in this lesson, because colors in itself is such a vast topic. I spend half a semester in college painting and repainting my color wheel and another half studying harmonies aggressively, which I still go back to from time to time. Because just having color harmonies on your fingertips doesn't just speed up the process, but mix your decision-making very thorough. Especially if you're working with different types of projects, with different color palettes, with different brands maybe, with a different mood altogether rather than sticking to a certain type of illustrations style with a certain type of color palette. Until then, of course, you have these hot tips. Now we're moving on to the next lesson which is the final part of this entire process that is adding the details. 13. Adding Details: This is my favorite part of the process. Here is a hack. Even if you're not an experienced illustrator, you can spend some time adding patterns to your portrait, and it would come out beautiful, just simple tiny patterns or doodling. It adds so much more depth and texture to your card-making and it comes alive. Try and grab as many opportunities for details as you like, patterns and clothes, and if this is a wedding card maybe [inaudible] might have. If your mews have sent you their exact outfits, ask for close-ups to draw know exact patterns. Highlights and shadows are key to make your 2D art pop. Remember how I said just make separate layers for everything? Here's why. Because you can just add a layer on top, musk it, and paint your shadows, highlights, and patterns worry-free without going outside your lines. Select your imaginary light source, I by default picked top left, and go to town with them. Just make sure your shadows do not dim down your colors. Don't just darken your colors, try to play around in the color wheel as well. For example, I have this lovely yellow, and darkening the yellow is just making it look muddy, less vibrant, and that's not the mood that I'm looking for, so I go towards the red in the color wheel to keep the vibrancy alive. Don't be afraid to be too bright for the highlights, just don't paint too much of it. Just a little shine, especially when they're man-made things like metal or plastic. You have the opportunity to sculpt your elements with nice highlights. We are done. How are you feeling about your illustration? Does it feel good to you? Is there something you want to go back and change? It does not always flow. There is always a little bit of back and forth, a little bit of troubleshooting. That's when you know you're also going in the right direction. 14. Presenting & Beyond: Our illustration is ready for amuse and viewers. But just to make sure your hard work and talent shine through while presenting your artwork, we want to make sure you export it right. If you're going to print your card, make sure you export your file in high quality print video and when you set up a print, keep bleed off your base color. If the portrait goes out on Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp make sure you send them a high resolution PNG. Also let your client know that apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram compresses your file. The image on WhatsApp would be a lot lower resolution, so not a clear picture. If the portrait goes up on a website or an email, ask them for exact dimensions they need and just save it to that. Then go to and reduce the file size. What TinyPNG essentially does is reduces your file size without sacrificing on the quality. When they load the image on the website in the lowest of low Internet servers, your illustration shows up and of course, upload all of your drawings in the project section below with your thoughts and doubts and questions and I will get back to you with feedback. I am so excited to see your stories come alive. In case you haven't been drawing along with me, head back to Lesson 4. That's when we start the real process of drawing, and I hope I'm able to give you good enough company to create your masterpiece. 15. Conclusion: I hope you're feeling all warmed up with the hot tips you're taking away from this class. There isn't a guide or a book that taught me all of these things, but just a lot of mistakes and a few successes over the years. I hope you challenge yourself, make a bunch of your own mistakes, and learn a lot more about yourself through visual storytelling. But the hottest tip I can give you is to have fun. Honestly, nothing is going to feel right if you're not having fun. In case that happens, get away from your Canvas, take a walk and come back to it with a fresher perspective and new energy and start having fun again. Upload all of your projects, including thumbnails, practice sketches even like your thought process in the project's gallery, I would love to see them. A very happy visual storytelling journey to you!