Digital Illustration: Developing Your Own Unique Style | Sydney H. | Skillshare

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Digital Illustration: Developing Your Own Unique Style

teacher avatar Sydney H., Digital Illustrator

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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      What's in a Style?


    • 3.

      Analyzing You Own Work


    • 4.

      Your Influences


    • 5.

      Mimic the "Masters"


    • 6.

      Mimicking RossDraws


    • 7.

      Mimicking Muju


    • 8.

      Mimicking Yukihomu


    • 9.

      Upgrade and Remix


    • 10.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

With this class, I’m here to give you a road map on how to develop your own unique style.

1. The components of a signature style
2. Tools for analyzing your own style
3. Learning from our influencers without copying them

And best of all, I will teach you what I like to call the “remix method” which combines everything you like into a cohesive style that you’re bound to love! 

While I will be using Adobe Photoshop and a tablet for demonstrations, you are welcome to complete some of these exercises traditionally as well!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sydney H.

Digital Illustrator



A freelance artist creating artwork that strives to engage and generate pieces that everyone can enjoy. I love exploring multiple fields of the art some of which is digital, traditional, design! I'm highly influenced by old illustrators (like J.C Leyendecker), anime, and video games.


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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Whether you're a beginner or experienced artists, creating a recognizable style will be one of the hardest things you will ever do. Not only do you have to create a style that comes naturally to you, it also has to be one that stands out from the rest. It could take years of trial and error before you finally stumble across something that you're remotely happy with. It's hard to improve when you aren't sure what to look for or what to refine. Many people talk about it, but how do you actually do it with this class? I'm here to give you a road map on how to develop your own unique style. We will begin by discussing what style is and the impact it has on you as an artist. Then we will explore your interest and discover ways to build your style around them. By analyzing other artists, you can get a better idea of what you would like to include in your own visual library. And best of all, I will teach you what I like to call the remix method, which combines everything you like into one cohesive style you're bound to love. While I will use Adobe Photo Shop in a tablet for demonstrations. You are welcome to complete some of these exercises traditionally as well. Are you ready to take your style to the next level? Let's begin. 2. What's in a Style?: what is in a style by definition style as a distinctive appearance, typically determined by principles according to which something is designed. A style is something that is recognizable or a common element in the art. If you have a very distinct style, so I could recognize your art even if you didn't have your name on it. When you look at older artists like Vincent Bingo, George Surat, Leonardo da Vinci, Henri Matisse and Salvador Dali, they're extremely different from one another. When I see someone tried to replicate Vincent Van Gogh's famous art piece starring night, I instantly think of his bold brushstrokes and directional movement. Just as George Seurat's piece makes use of optical blending by painting with thoughts rather than physically blending the colors on the canvas, Leonardo da Vinci has his realistic rendering. Henri Matisse uses bold colors and shapes, and Salvador Dali creates whimsical paintings that morph reality. Even if you didn't know who the artist was, it's possible you have seen these works of art before. These paintings are fantastic examples of how different art styles can be. More modern day examples would be Emperor picked Saki Chan, Ugo Nano, mortise and Leonid Ephraim off. Not only do I enjoy the work, these air artists I always recognize right away and program has a rainbow color scheme in their paintings, along with a multitude of cute objects. Sakami Janice, famous for drying pinups of memorable characters with beautiful lighting detail, ing and expressions, Ugo is a favor that most people could recognise right off the bat. Not only has it been around for a while, there aren't many animals that could top those crazy hairstyles. And on the shapes. Nana mortis excellently uses abstract and geometrical shapes to create their characters. Last but not least, you have Leone in Africa who not only create paintings with a palette knife. He also uses the whole color spectrum to generate different mood and see. He can use all of the colors on the spectrum with full saturation, and it still looks pleasing to the eye. In order to even create your own unique style, you needed to find your own goals for your art, such as your interests Would you like to draw and what you drawn Naturally, my interest consists of fantasy magic. Video games, animate and concept are I like to draw anything fantasy related fanar and original characters. Even though I don't draw Finn or a lot, I still enjoy it. When I draw, I gravitate towards a more semi realistic style. Though I have noticed when I create quick sketches, it looks more enemy like, and we will always be present in my style. Since it is my roots now, you're probably thinking, Why should you develop your own style by creating your own style? It helps you stand out from the sea of artists across the globe. Have you planned on selling commissions one day? It's even more important to display a style that is unique in fresh. You need to show your audience and customers something they can't get from anyone else. Not only is it going to be art you can connect with on a personal level, you can be proud of the fact that someone will recognize your work. When I was first grading art, I always tried to copy how other artists created their drawings, whether it be by tracing my manga books or looking up tutorials on deviant art. But after looking at my idols, I realized that there is no point in trying to copy everything they dio. Not only was it too difficult for my skill level, it wasn't nearly enjoying it as much as I wanted to. I wanted to draw our to have fun, not torture myself. You can see in my D in our how much of my art has changed throughout the years. I never considered myself to have a style, but I kept experimenting with as many things as I could find. It wasn't until I had one of my favorite pieces in a gallery. I realized that I actually do have a style, even though she saw my art from afar. One of my classmates immediately recognized my work and knew it was mine before she even looked at the label, she could tell, just by all the vibrant colors, smooth color transitions and gestural brushstrokes that point Ford. I owned those qualities and continue to refined and build upon them for lesson ones exercise. I want you to define your own goals for your art. What are your interests? What you like to draw? What style do you gravitate towards the most when naturally drawing 3. Analyzing You Own Work: in this lesson, we will learn how to analyze our own work and see what is present in our current style. Everyone has a style, even if they don't know exactly what it is. By taking the time to gather and analyze a few of your past works, you can pick up on what exactly makes your style unique. A few things to keep in mind when you're analyzing your work is the common themes throughout your drugs and what repeats itself or remains consistent. Looking through my work, I find that the most dominant characteristic I see is the warm and cool color scheme. No matter how fainted is, it's always present. I also draw a lot of females, and almost all of my pieces have some kind of mystical feel to it. There's also a lot of action and movement in the characters. The characters have long hair or flying fabric, which I used to enhance the movement or composition in my art. One of my favorite characteristics is the dramatic lighting. The dramatic lighting helps enhance the white edges that I paint on the silhouette of the character. I know this thing I notice is that I like to frame the character in some kind of way. By doing this, I can create even more depth in my work. Another way of analysing your own work is to know your personal weaknesses and strengths. My personal strengths are using color drawing, hair, creating movement and focal points as well as the willingness to experiment. I consider myself a decent enough with anatomy to draw from memory, but I still like to have references handy to be accurate, which leads me into what I consider my weaknesses. When it comes to portrait, I always like to use references so I can vary the facials as much as possible. I can draw muscles, but they take much longer. To render is the reason I closed some characters more than others. I can draw hands, but it takes longer for me to draw them correctly. Certain fabric fools. Another thing. I use references for and complex backgrounds with perspective. I haven't had too much practice in this area yet. References are your friend for overcoming your weaknesses. By being honest with yourself, you can figure out what you can improve on and what you can refine further for less in twos . Exercise. I want you to collect up to five of your art pieces and analyze them. What is consistent? Is there a common theme? What comes up a lot in your drawings? Name at least five things you repeat. What are your weaknesses and strengths when it comes to drawing? 4. Your Influences: Knowing who your influences are brings you much closer to knowing which would like to include in your own style. Some of my biggest influences are moves you cross straws. UK will move Grassi Nano mortis, Shihlin and sock michonne. I follow their work extensively, and I love to break down how they created each piece. In this lesson, we will find a bunch of artwork that inspires you in Korean Inspiration Board. Here I gathered artwork from my biggest influences and some other artists that inspired me . Well, it is always nice to admire a piece of artwork. It helps you even more if you try to analyze it yourself like what you like about it. What are the elements you want to incorporate into your old work? What elements stand out? What don't you like by looking at other artists work. It will reveal what you like and what you don't like an art. These qualities will probably reflect a lot in your own work and my inspiration board. I tried not only to list the name of the artist in question, but I also make quick notes on what I liked about that person's style. Some of them are specific, while others are more general. Like how Kwasi paints his shadows. There's a saturated edge in between the shadow and the base color that I really like, not to mention the use of subtle colors and effects. Everything in his Bork looks polished in Amazing. Here's a quick overview of my personal inspiration board. I will include it in the demo projects so you could enjoy the pictures up close for less in threes. Exercise when you create your own inspiration. Board shoes. At least four different artists whose style you like figure out what you like about their style and what you would like to mimic in your own work. If there's something that you don't want to mimic, be sure to make note of that, too. 5. Mimic the "Masters": in our copying. Another artist work is highly frowned upon. Pricing is a big no no, and if you aren't coming up with something original, you're failing as an artist. But I understand where these comments are coming from. There is nothing wrong with using what people created before you as a reference for your own art. If you have been in the art community or in art class, chances are you've either heard the term, imitate the greats or were told to copy an old art piece. By trying to imitate old artists, You can experience firsthand how they create their own work and train your eye to see the way they dio for lesson for it. We'll take that same concept and try to mimic our favorite artists. We'll take three of the artist that influenced you from the last exercise and mirror their style when picking an artist to mimic either take something simple or pick a section to copy. The idea is not to worry about making it perfect and to focus more on what you're learning as you draw. If those artists create tutorials are brushes, be sure to use them as reference. The three artists I will mimic our Ross Straws, Maju and UK Home 6. Mimicking RossDraws: the 1st 1 I will start with is Ross draws before a draw. I evaluate the drawing and make some mental notes where the light sources common shapes and colors. As you see, there are multiple light sources in this piece, one from the chest and one coming from behind her, also known as a backlight. Another thing I saw is that a lot of shapes than the peace are implied rather than fully rendered. To get a general feel for the main colors, I picked the color that is closest to the overall background. I refrained from using the eyedropper tool and use my best judgment when selecting a color to train my eye to pick up on the general hue of the peace. I'm trying to keep my sketch loose, since that is closer to Ross draws style. Just with the sketch, I'm already picking up some interesting information. Usually when I draw eyes, the bottom of the eye doesn't have as much curvature. The shape of the eye and her expression look very captivating when I added in, If you are using photo shop, don't be afraid to use the liquefy tool to fix mistakes in the sketch stage. Now that I have the overall sketch done, I will jump right into painting. Since the background has strong directional movement, I will start with the background and work my way up. I'm painting the general shapes first so I can go into more detail later. Don't worry if some shapes don't look exactly like the original picture, but try to make them recognizable after I paint the general shapes and I noticed that my colors started to look off. To fix this, I used the color balance filter to shift all the colors closer to a blue violet hue. Just by that small change, look how much closer to the colors are to the original. Now, to paint the shadows, I created a new layer and switched it to multiply. I blocked in the shadows with hard edges and used this much tool to soften the transitions . This gives you more control over your shadow shapes. Here I'm using the lasso tool to get sharp edges and then switching to the smudge tool to smooth out the other edge. I really used the lasso tool when I'm digital painting, so this was a new strategy for me it was helpful for massing, often area to paint. I'm using a mix of color dodge in the near Dodge here to bring out the highlights and growing parts of the drawing. Part of me was dreading painting the fire pedal, since a lot of the shapes were very unclear. Since there were a lot of hard edges, I decided I would use the lasso tool in combination with the airbrush. This would help me achieve a Grady it look while maintaining those crisp edges. Thankfully, I also had pedal brushes handy to speed up the process. Here I'm putting in a few extra touches but leaner dodge to create more highlights. Now I'm working on the actual over painting. Since the face is more of a focal point, I focused on rendering the face more than the rest of the body. The nose is probably the most difficult for me to grasp, since very few shades were used. Now what did I learn? While I was painting this, I found out that the lasso tool is very helpful for creating hard edges using the last. The tool, while was trying to shave the nostrils, simplified the process for me and made it easier to create the different planes on the nose . After I started the nose on the original, I realized it was actually easier to shape if you use fewer told to define the planes rather than colors that are much darker by using less shades in combination with a strong highlight, like on the nose and I ducked, you can create more dimension in the face. Less is definitely more. In this case, what I struggled with the most was probably the flowers, since it was hard to distinguish how he created the shapes. The nose also took me some time to get used to, since there weren't as many shades used. The easiest thing to replicate for me was the overall shape, form in colors. It seemed very similar to my own style, which is mostly because he has been such a big influence on me. 7. Mimicking Muju: Loach's piece overall is very gestural, with a more traditional and flowy feel, the faces awesome, more realistic compared to the previous ones I have tried. How I will approach the strong is to sketch out the face first. Since it has the most detail from there, I will loosely draw the rest of the form to give myself general guidelines for the painting . After I do this sketch, I will lower the opacity and work from the ground up with use and values for the background . I recently bought these brushes called group brushes that mimic traditional painting, so I plan to give them a try for this study. To maintain the traditional feel. You can get them on their website called group brushes dot com. If you try to think ahead during your painting process, you can avoid headaches later on down the line. That is why I'm rendering the figure with colors that are less saturated than the original , so when I add effects later on, it will make those less saturated areas nice shadows for the rendering. I make use of mixing both the brushes, texture and this much tool. When I was using this much to our how to keep reminding myself not to go overboard with the Bund, Ng says. I still wanted the forms to have texture. I foresaw that the face would likely be the most difficult for me to render, so I tried to tackle that first when I would get frustrated on painting a section, I tried to move to another part of the drawing that frequently happened with the face. I found my style trying to peek through a lot. When I was trying to replicate moochers face, I ended up having to redo the eye and use liquefy to fix these things. - To prevent myself from getting too crazy with the rendering, I slowly built up the shades with normal paint and multiply layers. I then used Lean Your Dodge to make the highlights pop, especially near the hand and pedals. Once I got into the final stages of the study, I could tell that movie used photographs for the textures of the kimono, so I found out you designed similar to them and integrated them into the painting. I got rid of the white background with the selection tool and then experimented with the Monday modes on the Obi I used the work tool to wrap the pattern around the form. Realistically, now, what did I ever on? While I was painting this, I learned how to be looser with the blocking process. By becoming loose with the painting, I found new and interesting ways to paint, cloth and hair that looked more organic. I also learned how adding photograph textures can make the clothing look more appealing and realistic. I definitely struggled with the face the most. I kept noticing my purposes for faces popping through this cause me to take frequent breaks , so I didn't get frustrated with it. On the other hand, I found the movement and the colors the easiest to replicate images work. This piece was by far my favorite study. 8. Mimicking Yukihomu: looking at you. Ki ho Mose artwork i comptel There's a soft transition between the warm and cool colors in the overall peace. Their use of subtle hues and blending is smooth and refined. It also looks like they chose a round brush for most of their painting. Since there are many round edges and the brushstrokes, it's possible they did. This piece in a program called Pain Tool Sigh, due to the watercolor tool and dark fringe on some of the shading is a common aesthetic seen an artwork created in that program. Since it gives a watercolor feel, I will start with the Grady in tool to set up the background transition. Since there are more lines in this piece compared to the previous two, I will take a little more time to refine the sketch. I will also focus more on the girl laying in the center, so I don't have to draw the rest of the figures. Since the girl in the center of the piece is laying at a diagonal, I will use the rotate view tool to make it easier for me to sketch her out. - As I'm drying, I'm using the eraser tool toe lift the sketch to make the lines clearly visible. That way, I can keep the texture of the original sketch underneath. It was no time to block in the colors. The cloud brush I found in you maze deviant art was perfect for replicating the background . - I made sure that before I continued any further on the shading, I colored the liner. That way I have the lines there as guides, but they won't be overtaking the rest of the piece. This is normally what I would use the lines for in my own paintings. Yuki home was color. Shading is so delicate that picking colors is even more of a strategic task. While I could just use the eyedropper tool to get all the colors, I will use this opportunity to figure out what color it is by myself. I asked myself a series of questions when I'm trying to determine the color like what color family is it closest to? Is it on the warmer side of the spectrum, or is it cooler? The sliders at the bottom of the Congress plug in That I use makes it super easy to adjust the colors when warm and cool, common to play compared to the original colors. My version was looking to saturated, so I ended up having to use a hue saturation filter to tone it down a bit. After I finished most of the under painting, it was time for me to render a few more areas and most of UK home. Those pieces. They keep the lines relatively visible while refining focal points like the face. The lines are more present around the phase than they are the rest of figure. So I kept that in mind while painting. I had a harder time replicating this style. Compared to the other two. It was difficult to stay loose during the sketching stage and not try to perfect every line . The line quality was also very different compared to the original artist, though I realized this might be because of paint tool size, Amazing line are tools. What I learned, though, is that I like the look of all the different shades together, especially in the hair. In my style, I tend to over generalize the colors and don't add as much variation as UK home. Who does? I enjoy having the sketch show through and only refining certain areas of the painting 9. Upgrade and Remix: Now that I completed all three of my studies, I will take the elements that I learned from them and combine them into one drawing. This is where you can also add your own personal twist. I plan on using less line work, paint more color variations and become looser in the blocking and rendering process. I will also use the lasso tool photographs and textures more in my painting. Remaining loosen. The sketching and coloring process will probably be my biggest challenge, but it will also help me implement the idea of less is more. I will have a time lapse going on in the background while we go over some important questions Now. How much inspiration can you take from other artists without stealing their style? The remixing method is important to use if you want to avoid this problem, the more artists who combined, the less likely you will completely copy what your idols draw. You can start by using general ideas like how they designed compositions, use collar imposes, but after that point, you want to dive into the nitty gritty and notice your own stylistic preferences. Do you like noses that look more cartoony or do you like? A realistic knows? How does that person draw hair differently from other artists? Is it something you want to pick up? Or maybe you want to have realistic skin and make the clothes entirely one solid color. By taking bits and pieces from other people, you'll end up with a style that looks entirely unique to you. How do you know what works and what doesn't? How do you know when to change a stylistic choice? How I find out what works is to ask myself if I like what I'm producing. If you like it, there's no reason to change. It is not about whether someone else likes it, or if it looks like so in so's work. If we're going to be drawing it, you want to enjoy what you're drawing and feel like it's yours alone, which leads perfectly into the next question. How do you know what naturally forms out of you and what parts you should work on and refine? If you have ever wondered this, ask yourself. Does this technique stick you'll know after drawing a few more pieces, whether or not you gravitate towards a certain technique or way of drawing if you find yourself going back to a particular method is a good chance you're familiar and comfortable working that way. Whether you should refine parts of your style is a personal preference. Let's say you're originally draw a cartoon noses. You like them and they're easy. But you're wondering if you should start drawing realistic noses instead. If it is something you're interested in, try and go for it. It all starts with the desire to try something different and find ways to improve upon your earlier work. But if you like how you draw, who's to say that's not okay to? If you have no desire to change it, then consider yourself okay. And here is the finished piece. I really like how this came out if he was extremely different from my usual style, but I found that working loosely is much more appealing than painting within strict guidelines. It didn't feel as two years to paint, and I feel like I enjoyed painting this piece much, much more than my earlier work 10. Final Thoughts: now that you powered through and learned all you need to know about developing your own style, have a few more tidbits that you can take away one of the most common questions I get asked A Zip. And artists will be better or worse if their style is different. The answer to that question is absolutely not. Every artist has their own interest in quirks that they gravitate towards. That's what makes them unique. If you want a journal, animals draw animals. Portrait's go right ahead. Anyone could mimic a style. But it's your own unique view in the world that really strikes people. No matter how much we try to be like another artist, our own style will always try to peek out. That's why we get frustrated when we're trying to draw because we keep comparing ourselves to another person. Don't be embarrassed if your art doesn't look like Michelangelo or your art idle. If you plan on doing art for a living, do you really want to be known as that person who may make so when So it's art, or do you want to be known for what you really like to do? Look at other artists as inspiration rather than a competition. Next time you look at your favorite artists, instead of comparing yourself and using negative self talk, kind of dissect their style and see what you like about it. The more specific you are with your answers, the more you can utilize it in your own work. Having a consistent style is something I hear a lot of artists talk about. While this can be important in certain cases, like a Siri's orographic mammals, you couldn't live it and stop yourself from growing. We're always learning, and there's always room for improvement, no matter how good do you think you are. Even if you think you're at the pinnacle of where you want to be in your art, keep an open mind and continue to study other people's work, it might surprise you on what you could learn. Your style will constantly be evolving, so don't feel like you have to be stagnant and stay in one style