Playing with Shapes in Procreate: Illustrate a Graphic Still Life | Sarah Beth Morgan | Skillshare

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Playing with Shapes in Procreate: Illustrate a Graphic Still Life

teacher avatar Sarah Beth Morgan, Director + Illustrator

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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.

      Class Trailer


    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      Warming Up


    • 4.

      Take Your Own Photo


    • 5.

      Set-Up Your File


    • 6.

      Break it Down


    • 7.

      The "Curve-to-Straight" Trick


    • 8.

      Composition Tips


    • 9.

      Color Blocking


    • 10.

      Adding Details


    • 11.

      Export + Save


    • 12.

      Thank You!


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About This Class

Have you ever wanted to illustrate in a more graphic manner, but you weren’t exactly sure where to start? Look no further! Join illustrator Sarah Beth Morgan as she walks you through the process of creating your own graphic still life in Procreate.

This class is loaded with handy dandy, actionable tips for improving your workflow in Procreate, curating a keen eye for layout and composition - and best of all, reducing everyday scenes into eye-popping, abstract illustrations.

I’ll take you on a journey through my illustration process in Procreate, from start to finish. We’ll be arranging a still life with everyday household objects, taking a photograph of that still life, and then reducing it to its most basic forms in Procreate. In the end, you’ll leave this class with your own playful, graphic still life and some new creative know-how. 

No worries if you don’t have an iPad - you can still take this class. Instead of focusing purely on the technical aspects of Procreate, I’ll be diving into the principles & thought patterns behind developing the graphic illustrations I specialize in. So If you want to follow along in Photoshop or Illustrator, that is also a solid option! 

Lessons Include:

  • A warmup to learn the basics of abstraction in Procreate 
  • How to arrange your own still life out of everyday objects
  • Techniques for breaking down your reference photo into clean, geometric shapes
  • Hot tips for improving your composition with proportion, distortion, and overlap
  • A quick solution for creating limited color palettes

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sarah Beth Morgan

Director + Illustrator


Hi, you! I'm Sarah Beth - a freelance animation director & illustrator based in Cleveland, OH. I grew up in the magical, far-away Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where I was deprived of bacon and cable television - but was granted a unique and broad perspective. After attending SCAD and a two-year stint in LA at Scholar, I decided to move onto literal greener pastures in the PNW and join the talented folks at Oddfellows. Now, I work from my own little studio with my fluffy assistant, Bandit.


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1. Class Trailer: Have you ever wanted to illustrate in a more graphic manner, but you weren't exactly sure where to start? I used to struggle with this too. But after going through the process again and again, I finally discovered some simple techniques that I now use every day. Hello. My name is Sarah Beth Morgan, and I'm a freelance, director, and illustrator based in Portland, Oregon. I typically work in the motion graphics field, but I love doing illustration. Procreate is an amazing tool for illustrators, and I want to teach you a little bit about my process in Procreate here. Creating a graphic look seems like it might require a trained eye, but it's actually pretty simple if you break it down step by step. In this class, I'll be showing you how to create a graphic still life illustration. We'll start with a warm-up sheet to learn some basic techniques. From there, you'll take your own photo and translate it into graphic shapes. I'll show you a few ways to change up your composition while I'm sketching. Finally, you'll finish off your still life with colors and detail. This class is loaded with handy-dandy actionable tips for improving your workflow in Procreate, curating a keen eye for layout and composition and best evolve, reducing everyday scenes into eye popping abstract illustrations. Instead of focusing purely on the technical aspects of Procreate, I'll be diving into the principles and thought patterns behind developing the graphic illustrations I specialize in. This class is for you if you're a creative of any level who wants to learn how to incorporate a more graphic style into your work. These easy to follow lessons will prepare you for your passion projects and client work alike. In the end, you'll be leaving this class with your own playful graphics still life and some new creative know-how to take on the go for your next project. All right, well, let's get to it. 2. Getting Started: As a designer and illustrator in the motion industry, I've always loved mixing graphic design and illustration. I've played with illustrative collages, type design, super organic illustrations, and flat 2D geometric illustrations. Out of all of it though, I enjoy creating abstract graphic illustrations the most. It's the kind of work I typically post on my own social media. For me, the style involves using basic geometric shapes to create recognizable subjects like using perfect circles to draw oranges, or a clean rectangle to portray a delivery truck in perspective. Today, I'll be showing you my graphic illustration process from start to finish. Let's get started. For this class, you'll need an iPad, an Apple Pencil, and Procreate 5.1. If you want to follow along in Photoshop or Illustrator or any other program, that's totally up to you. A lot of the tips and tricks I'll be sharing in this class are more concept based and aren't necessarily technical and based just on using Procreate. You should have some working knowledge of Procreate before you get started in this class. I won't actually be going into the nitty-gritty of how I'm using the program, I'll just be using it to go through each of the steps I described here. If you want to learn a little bit about the basics before jumping in today, I would highly suggest taking one of Brooke Glaser's Procreate classes here on Skillshare. She's excellent, and it's how I learned the program as well. For today's class project, we'll be arranging a still life now of household objects you find are on your home, taking that still life photograph, bringing it into Procreate, and reducing it down into its most basic forms to create an illustration. After playing with composition, proportion, overlap, all that, we'll be taking our sketch from black and white to color. We'll even add texture to create a final look. I'll even share a few tips on sharing your work on Instagram by a social weapon of choice. But before we get started on that, I'll be walking you through a little warmup and introduction to the principles that we'll be using in this class. 3. Warming Up: Before we actually start creating our own still lifes, I've created a little warm-up sheet for you to use in this section of this class. Download it below in the class resources. It's just a JPEG image so all you need to do is add it to your canvas in Procreate and reduce the opacity so we can sketch over top of it. I'm just going to pull the worksheet into Procreate by going to the menu, insert a photo, and then selecting it from my photos because I downloaded it already. It's already low opacity as you can see so I'm just going to create a new layer in order to draw over it. But before we start drawing, let's turn on the drawing guide. If you want to turn on the drawing guide, go to the little wrench and then press "Canvas" and then select "Drawing Guide," and then you can also edit the drawing guide. I personally like to keep it on a lower opacity and I like to change the color of it so it's a lot different than the brush that I'm using so I don't get confused, and just press "Done." The drawing guide will help you align your composition and make sure everything is perfectly vertical or horizontal. This will ensure a more graphic look. Feel free to turn on Drawing Assist on your specific drawing layer if you want to create a perfectly straight line or shape. If I go to the Layer and this little menu pops up, press "Drawing Assist," my pen decides to work. Now, you can see that says assisted on the layer, choose your brush, and then it will only draw vertical and horizontal lines, which is great if you're trying to get a perfectly straight line. I'm just going to double-tap to undo and then I'm going to start on our first photo here. I'll be showing you the absolute basics of where we're headed with this worksheet. One of my favorite things to do is to take my own reference photos and use real objects from life to draw from. That's what I've done here, I've taken photos of objects that are around my studio space, I've provided four objects that I found. Just some fun little everyday objects. What we're going to focus on here is breaking these objects down to the most basic forms using simple shapes like ellipses, rectangles, and triangles. The best way to do that in Procreate is by using the quick shape feature, which is essentially built into how you use the brush tool, which makes everything a little bit easier. Just make sure you have the brush selected and it'll work exactly how you want it to. If you already know Procreate, you probably know this. Quick shape is, if you're creating like an ellipse, you draw a shape that vaguely looks like an ellipse and then you hold down, and then you can also press with your other finger to make a more perfect shape. Or you can also go to this Edit Shape menu here and select "Ellipse" which will make it not a circle anymore. Or you can do a rectangle, hold that down, and then obviously, it's an imperfect shape. But if I want to make it a rectangle, I can press "Rectangle" and the edges will become more perfectly horizontal and vertical to create that rectangle shape. I'm just going to undo that. That's what we'll be using here as we're working through each of these objects. In this stage, I don't want you to think about if your object looks good, we're just breaking down the shapes so far. I'll just start with this first one here. I'm not going to do any rounded rectangles because they don't have that feature in here. I'm just going to start by creating a rectangle for this center shape. You can also edit the edges of the rectangle if you want it to more closely reach the object's edge, and actually, it'll turn down the opacity on the image behind it so it's a little easier. Then this will also break down into a couple more rectangular shapes. Like I said, don't worry about if it looks perfect right now. We're just trying to get something super basic. If I turn off the layer in the background, everything is a little bit asymmetrical and wasn't being too precious with it. But we've got a very abstracted version of this object. Let's just go through and do that for each of these. If you want some shapes to be exactly the same, you can duplicate your layer by just swiping and pressing "Duplicate," and then you can use the selection tool to move it over and rotate it using this green knob. Obviously, I want both sides of these headphones to be the same shape, so I'm just duplicating it there. As you're using this, make sure that you have Bicubic on, which will make it so that your shapes aren't too fuzzy when you change the size. For this rounded shape here, I could do something like using an ellipse, just editing that to fit. I can actually make it a straight up circle if I want to be more abstracted with it and then even duplicating that. I have a smaller circle within my larger circle and then I'm actually going to just combine these two layers and then erase the bits I don't need. This one is even more interesting because it's got some weird shapes. But I'm just going to start with my basic rectangles and ellipses, and we'll get into the nitty-gritty of how to make it look better in a minute. For the bottom of the scissors, I actually just make it a triangle because that's essentially what they are. Then for shapes like this that are harder to break apart, you can break them even further down, make this top part an ellipse, and then draw the rest. We can simplify this cactus one even more instead of doing a straight up ellipse for the perspective of this vase, or pot, or whatever it is, we could actually just do a full-on frontal view of it. Use our imaginations here a little bit and just do a rectangle. For this one, I'm actually going to turn on Drawing Assist so that everything lines up perfectly. I don't love what I did there. I'm going to turn this on free form and just scoot the sides in a little bit. I'm going to create a smaller base. Then for the plants, I'm going to simplify those even more and I'm just going to go with straight up more rectangles. I'll turn Drawing Assist on this layer as well and just loosely follow the shapes that I'm seeing. As you can see, all the forms are super simplified and broken down. But that's not where we stop. Once you've got all these floaty weird ellipses, triangles, and rectangles, then comes the fun part. This is where the abstraction happens where we create aesthetically pleasing graphic versions of these everyday objects. To do this, start erasing lines you don't need. I'm actually going to just flatten everything right now because we don't really need all of these shapes separate, it's just we're just sketching right now so I'm not really worried about everything being separated. I've squished all those layers together. I'm going to start over here. Erasing lines we don't need, where can we do that here? To simplify even further, we could just make this whole top section of the soap bottle one piece and drag the color in. That top part is all one piece, very simplified. But you can also do things like round at your corners and erase little bits to make things a little bit more interesting, not just straight rectangles everywhere. It is feeling a little bit more like our original soap dispenser, but it has a little bit more of an abstract feel to it. I'll just apply that here too. I'll go in and round out some corners. Want to feel a little bit more like headphones rather than just rectangular shapes. Fill in some color to give it a little bit more of a graphic bold feel. Something I also like to try is to abstract the folds that you see in the actual fabric of the headphones, and maybe that's just adding a couple lines here and there. It's just playful graphic lines. Don't be afraid to play around with the cords as well. I mean, do what you feel is best here. You don't have to do exactly what I'm doing. The scissors are going to be a little weird. How can we make these shapes feel like an object without getting too detailed? I like to turn off the drawing behind as you've seen I've been doing, just so that I don't get too caught up in what the actual photo looks like. I'll do that here, especially for these scissors because they're a little weird. Just because I don't know how to fully abstract it without getting too close to the actual form or photos. Maybe we'll just use some more straight lines. I always feel like real straight lines make things feel less real and more abstract. We can even exaggerate some of the proportions. Or if I want to get really abstract or deviate from the photo a lot, I could select this section and just clear it, and then select the left side and three-finger swipe, copy, and then in a new layer, three-finger swipe, paste, and then from there, I can just flip horizontal and put it on the right side. We have a more graphic-looking pair of scissors. Now, for the plant, I want it to feel a little bit more like a cactus. If I look at it right now, I don't think, oh, that's a little tiny cactus. The way I can do that is by adding those rounded corners on the top. But we could stylize it a bit by just rounding out some of the corners, so not all of them. If we look at this photo, what makes it a cactus? I feel like what makes it a cactus is the little pricks on it. I just want to include those and I feel like the viewer will immediately know what I'm trying to portray. We just add a couple little pokey bits here and there, maybe they're going in sporadic directions. It already feels more like a cactus. There you have it. Those are the basics of using Procreate to break down objects into simple graphic shapes. They're not perfect, but they're good warm-up for the class project that's to come. Keep these techniques in mind as we move forward in this class. We'll be expanding upon them to create your final still life illustration. Go ahead and download the worksheet from the Resources tab and get started on your own little warm-up. I strongly encourage you to play around with different techniques than I did here. Perhaps use ellipses for the headphones instead of rectangles or softer shapes for the cactus. It's really up to you, but I just really want to encourage you to play around with your own techniques here, get comfortable using all the different shapes before we dive into the next lesson. 4. Take Your Own Photo: Now that we've played with the basics of reducing shapes, take a look around your home and find some objects that speak to you to create a still-life, and now that we've looked at how we're going to be reducing those shapes, keep those techniques in mind as you're looking for these objects. Maybe you'll find something that has a really unique shape. What objects could translate into an interesting composition? What thing has a weird shape that you've never noticed before? Your still-life photograph can be any scale that you like. Perhaps, you'd like to set up a large scene with a ladder and a chair or you could go medium-scale and play with the vase, milk jug, plant, or you can go micro and play around with a pencil, lipstick, paperclip. Nothing is too big or too small. The possibilities are endless. Once you've collected your items, begin arranging them in different ways and taking photos directly from your iPad so you can easily drag them into Procreate. If you're using Photoshop or Illustrator, feel free to use your smart phone or a camera to take the photos and then you can upload it into your computer afterwards. You can also try using Photo Booth to take your still life-photos, which is something I do a lot. While you're arranging your still-life here, play with balance, composition, and negative space and take multiple photos of each arrangement. No need to be too precious in this phase as you'll have the ability to be flexible once you begin working on your illustration in Procreate. Here's some tips to consider while arranging your objects. Create scale contrast by setting larger objects next to smaller objects or tall next to short. Asymmetry is always more engaging to the eyes. It has to jump around the frame from object to object, focusing on the details. Create a visual flow. This goes hand-in-hand with scale contrast. Try to build a flow to lead the eye from one side to the other and back again. Build balance. While contrast and scale variation are great, make sure to balance out the frame. You don't want all of the tall objects on the left with only tiny objects on the right. This can feel uneasy to the viewer. Add overlap. This is something that we can go more into while drawing in Procreate, but try putting some different objects behind and in front of others. Finally, consider negative space. You don't want the frame to be too full. It needs to have some room to breathe. Now we have a bunch of photos to choose from, and I'll be going over those in the next video. If you don't have access to take your own photos, I provided some in the Resources tab below. 5. Set-Up Your File: Now that we have all of our photos, let's set up our canvas in Procreate. I'll keep it simple. We'll go with the default square Canvas. I like to use this one for my Instagram posts. It's easy and you don't have to worry about resolution, et cetera, because it's already pretty high in resolution. Now that we have that very basic Procreate set up, let's go to our photos and pick a still-life. I'm liking all of these, I want to make sure I have something with balance, good scale, contrast has, some interesting objects in it that I can play with. Keep all those in mind as you're picking your image. I think I'm going to go with this one. I really like it because we've got some objects overlapping with each other, we have things sitting on top of each other, I love the string, maybe I can play around with that when I'm getting into the abstraction of my piece, I like the shape of this vase and the little oranges in it. There's a lot of fun things that I can play with here in illustration. Don't get too nit-picky with how the image looks, because obviously we're illustrating now, so you don't have to worry too much because we can get a little fun with it. We can get a little bit crazy and change things up while we're in Procreate. Now I have this image favorited, I want to go back into Procreate and then I'm going to click "Add", Insert a Photo. I'm going to go to My Favorites, select the image that I was just showing you and voila, we have our image. I always like to make sure it's the right size in the Canvas, so I'm going to just increase that size a little bit, so it feels more like a centered composition. Then I'm going to decrease the opacity so we can draw over it. In addition, we want to turn on that grid like I had in the warm-ups. Go to Canvas, Drawing Guide and since it's a new file, I'm going to have to edit the Drawing Guide again, turn the opacity down and make it pink like I like it. Make sure it's still visible though, so we've got that on super light. You may not even be able to see it but it's there. Here, I will Here the thickness a little bit so you can see. The other, we've got our Drawing Guide, we've got our photo setup. That's the basics of how we're going to get started in Procreate. 6. Break it Down: In this phase, start by breaking down your still life photo into its most basic forms like we did in the shape worksheet earlier. It's okay to copy from your own photo here because you set this up and you took it; it's yours to use. I will disclaim that you shouldn't find a random photo online and trace it, this is a faux pas. Try to take your own reference photo if you can so that you're not stealing someone else's work. While breaking down your photo, take about 10 minutes to play around with different possibilities. You can even start by turning the opacity backup on your image and zooming out really far and squinting at your image and checking out what shapes jump out to you first. For me, it's that tall plant in the background and the stem of the coffee cup, so I'm just going to keep that in mind as I'm drawing. But there's a really nice silhouette happening here. There's a lot of nice hierarchy and overlap and scale contrast. I'm just going to make sure I'm incorporating that as I'm playing around with the geometric shapes. Personally, I have a bunch of different brushes in Procreate that I love using. I would highly recommend this pack by RetroSupply Co. It's their Mid-Century Retro pack. One of my personal favorite brushes is this Blotty Inker brush. It's really nice. It has streamline on it, which means that it's going to create smoother lines as I'm drawing. It will correct some of my mistakes as I'm going, so just keep that in mind. You can add streamline to any of your brushes if you have another one you like. I'm just going to go ahead and start breaking this down into those shapes. It doesn't matter if they're overlapping here now because we are going to go back in and erase things, redraw things. So you can be as messy as you want in this phase. The things like the handle of this cup that I was pointing out that really stick out in the silhouette, I might even try to go even more graphic with that and just play with shapes like the circle instead of this rounded rectangle that it already is. Just play around with making things a little bit more interesting to the eye by adding really distinct graphic shapes. Turn drawing assist on and just fun out the bottom on this cup because why not? But that doesn't mean we can't add an ellipse for the top of it. Sometimes with perspective, I like to imagine that we're seeing the top of an object and the side of it at the same time. For this spool of yarn, I'm going to play with just having a full-on circle for the top of it. Then maybe just a rectangle for the base. I'll probably use drawing assist for that. Just make sure it's perfectly straight. Since we barely see the legs of this phase back here, I'm just going to make it a full-on rectangle. Then for the plant, I think we get pretty abstract with it like we did with the cactus earlier. I'm going to turn on drawing assist again. Just do a straight up rectangle all the way to the top. Then I'm going to do differently or I'll turn drawing assist on and then make a sideways rectangle for this stem that's poking out. For the leaves, maybe I can go even more abstract and play with some ellipses just floating there. Maybe there's some overlap with the stem. You can get a little imaginative with it. We're taking cues from the photograph, but we're not actually straight up tracing it, because if we actually straight up traced it, it would look a little too realistic and it wouldn't feel like a graphic abstracts still life, which is what we're here for. We're just going to play around with these basic shapes. If I turn off my photograph layer, I can see that we've got something pretty graphic going on here. Your goal here was to make the illustration as simple and graphic as possible while still keeping it recognizable. You're reducing your photo to its most basic form. You're enhancing and reducing the features however you want. This is about being creative in coming up with new ways of portraying your still life rather than trying to get an accurate. We're basically using the photo we took as a base to go off of, but in no way should you feel like you're restrained by it. Have fun and play around. I'll meet you in the next video. 7. The "Curve-to-Straight" Trick: Now, before we get too far into refining our rough shape sketch, I want to talk about a little trick that I often use. I like to use something called the curve to straight trick. I'm not really sure if this concept has a real name, but that's what I call it. Let's take a step back and look at a few of my illustrations together. I always loved to employ a pretty even balance of curved lines and straight lines. The edges of shapes can either be defined as curved or straight. This implies either linear or circular movement. Straights can be relative to the curves around them. Magnifying contrast to emphasize straights against curves creates elegance and intrigue and pulls the viewer in. But depending on what you're wanting to portray emotionally through your work, you can use an uneven balance of straights or curves. If you use mainly straight harsh lines in your shapes, you'll create a more angular, harsh field to your art. If you use mainly curves, it will appear more soft and friendly. I think since our sell-off today is a pretty neutral emotion piece, let's include an even balance of curves and straights. I especially love to have straight lines meet curved lines to create interesting, quirky shapes. This trick will help your illustrations look more graphic as we're using even more geometric forms rather than organic forms. Let's apply that curved straight trick balanced to our still-life illustration. Challenge yourself to break down your sketch even further by using only curves and straights, no organic fluid lines. When I say organic fluid lines, I mean something like this, like just creating a fluid shape. Say if we're going to create a leaf, if I was going to take these ellipses and make an actual interesting leaf shape instead, if I was going to do the curved straight trick, I might use two circles. Just duplicate that one, and then merge those layers, erase these middle lines, and then actually instead of having it be like two perfect circles next to each other, let's smooth out the edges using that curve trick. But in order to add a balance of curves and straights, I want to add a line down the middle to signify the division of the leaf. I'd say that's a pretty good balance of curves and straights. I might actually replace some of the leaves I have with that curve, just straight leaf, and we can get a little funky with it. Maybe this top one is a full leaf, maybe we see a duplicate full leaf closer to the bottom so that we balance it out a bit. But then it would be interesting if we made something that had even more of that curved straight feel. What if we just duplicated it again, but we erased the bottom half? We're looking at the side of a leaf. Might give it a little bit more of a dramatic curve in there, just so we can see the edge of it better. Then I could go even further and reduce such shape even more, and just add a little half circle for a smaller leaf. We've got the curve and then we've got a straight edge. Just make sure they're all coming off of the same plant. That's a way more interesting and geometric looking plant than this, which I liked this, but it didn't have as much charm, it didn't feel as geometric, it just felt some some random ellipses I added in. I'm feeling pretty happy with this. How else can we apply that here? Well, I really want to focus on this bowl now, the first bowl that I made, and I feel like we can go ahead and erase some of the lines that are intersecting because we don't need them, and I'll erase the line behind as well so that we're not distracted by it. But I do feel like the bottom of this bowl is feeling very straight and harsh. So how can we make it feel a little more harmonious? Well, my first suggestion would be keep the straight edges of this triangle base, but round at the corners by using that curve to straight trick. It's really not a trick. It's just adding an even balance. But it always works. It's just a great way to break everything down into two pieces. I'm going to erase the separation between the top and bottom there to make it feel more one one fluid graphic shape. It's already feeling a little better. I also could apply that curve to straight trick to the oranges inside the bowl. Most of them will just be ellipses or circles. But what if I want to have a little bit more fun with it? I'll apply all the circles, and I'm going to make them all the same size, maybe play around with the arrangement. But instead of having a full orange in the background, maybe I make it an orange slice. By doing that, I would be employing that curve to straight trick. I would just be slicing one of the oranges in half by adding a line through the middle. I'll just go ahead and erase the bits of the oranges that are overlapping with the bowl so it doesn't get too confusing. We've got two of our objects looking good. Let's move on to the mug. I don't know what happened, but I used to have the handle of the mug in here somewhere and it just disappeared. I'm just going to add it back in, and I really liked playing around with that circle as the mug handle. I'm just going to add that back in, and in order for that to feel more like a handle, I'm just going to duplicate it and give it a little interior ring. What I love about this mug so far is that it already employs a nice use of curves to straights. We've got this curved mug handle meeting the straight edge of the mug itself, which feels really nice. I'm just going to go in and erase some of the pieces of the mug that we don't need. When I was originally drawing this, it has a spool sitting on top of the mug, but maybe it's sitting behind it. Maybe we can play around with that so that the string could be entering inside of the mug. That could be interesting. I'm going to erase the bottom of the spool and draw the string going in. That's actually something I want to point out here as well. I can use the curve to straight trick for the spool here as well for the string. So we can play with a curve coming around the edge and then a straight line across and then another curve to another straight. Even though it's just a line for the string, it feels really graphic itself already. So that really contributes to our curve to straight feel. I'm pretty happy with where the curve to straight trig brought us, and I think it's ready to move on to the next step. 8. Composition Tips: Our sketch is looking pretty good now. We've got some nice geometric shapes, a good balance of curves and straights. If I turn the reference layer back on, our composition still feels extremely similar to the photograph I took and I want it to feel more unique, more graphic, more abstract. I'm going to share some tips here on exactly how to do that, and it's pretty basic. Tip number 1 would be push your proportions. My first tip is to create visual interests by exaggerating proportions. I also call this scale contrast because we're creating more of a contrast between the scale of different objects and the composition, so big versus small, tall versus short. Here, we've got two objects that are pretty close in height, the back vase and the spool of thread. Let's add in some contrast, so a little visual asymmetry to help lead the viewer's eye around the composition. I think what I'm going to do is I'm just going to make this a little bit smaller, the spool itself, so that it's not competing with the background vase. This will improve the flow and now these two objects aren't competing for attention, the viewer's eye will know where to move around the frame. We can also have fun with it. I feel like it would be nice to see one of these leaves in the background be even bigger because right now everything feels pretty even. Let's just make this one really big and I'm just going to cut and paste that onto a new layer so that it's separated from the other objects and just make it big. I also like the fact that as I'm increasing the size, it's actually filling out a little bit of the negative space on the left side of the illustration. Because I made that so big, I'm going to have to move some other things around, maybe I'll make this leaf a little smaller to contrast from it. In addition, I think it'll be really nice to focus the eye more on this bowl of fruit because I really like that. I think that's my favorite object in this whole illustration, so let's make it a little bit bigger. First, I got to combine all these layers together so that I can know what's what. I might just group them actually. I've grouped the vase together and I'm just going to increase the size a bit to push that proportion and because of that, I'm going to also erase the background stuff so it's not overlapping too much. Well, that's pushing proportion. My next tip is distort and transform. This is similar in nature to pushing proportions, but it's more about getting into the actual form of each individual object and tweaking it. This is like pushing proportion and angles within an individual object. Distortion can be any change, twist, or exaggeration that make something appear different from the way it really is. Instead of just making something bigger or smaller, you can play with creating different and more interesting angles by playing with a freehand transform tool to see if you discover a new interesting shape. I want to play around a bit with distorting and using that distort transform tool. I really want to do that with the base of this bowl here. I selected that layer, press the selection tool, and then click on Distort, and that way you can make pull corners to make things different angles. Actually maybe make it a little taller, make sure I'm following that grid so it doesn't feel like it's getting too skewed. Then maybe even make the joining point with the bowl a little bit skinnier, so it just feels a lot more exaggerated. It's okay if your sketches aren't looking super clean at this point, we're going to be drawing over this for our final piece so don't worry too much about that. I'm also thinking that if I look at this piece and I squint at it with everything I've got here, I feel like the mug feels a little bit stoic and just too straight. I might actually play with the distort transform tool on that as well. So I'll select that layer, I'm going to turn off my drawing assist, and then use that distort transform tool again. Just bring those edges in a little bit so that it feels a little bit more pleasing to the eye and less harsh. I might even make it a little bit more squat too because I feel like the actual mug I was using was squat and I liked how that looked. I love how big the handle of the mug is in comparison to the actual cup. In addition, if you really wanted to go super-stylized, you can group everything. I'm just going to test this out, I don't want to lose all my work. But I'm going to group everything and then I'm going to duplicate that group and then I'm going to flatten it so that it's all just one layer and then from there, I'm going to use the freeform transform tool to skew it a little bit. Give everything the same angle and give it a little bit of implied motion or an off-balance, unsteady feeling. Actually the distort may work better for that. I feel like the free form one is a little bit limited, so distort is the best. I just take the top middle point and drag it one direction or the other. To the left might feel like you're trying to move away from something and to the right might feel more like implied motion or it's going a certain direction. You can just play around with that, you could add that to individual objects instead of the entire composition. I personally want to keep it more straight so it looks a little bit more geometric so I'm not going to keep that but just so you know how to do it, there it is. Another surefire way to add more visual interest in continuity to your still life is add overlap between objects. This will help add to the feeling of depth in your piece, even if all of your objects are flat. By doing this, you create more complex, intriguing composition and even open up the opportunity to add some shadows between objects. Now, we already have a lot of overlap here, but we can add even more. I do feel like when I resize the bowl, it got pushed a little bit further out of the composition so I might bring that back in and overlap it a little bit more. We'll also play around with the angles of individual objects and make things feel like they're overlapping in a different way, or you can actually remove some of the overlap if you feel like there's already too much. For this spool of thread, I want to play with like putting it at an angle so it looks like it's resting on the edge of the cup maybe a little off kilter feeling to give this piece a little bit more drama. I'm going to come back to the string in a second so I'm just going to erase it, but can do something like this. It just feels like it's tipping over and meeting the background planter. Then, of course, I'm going to have to draw in the line of the background planter so we have it. I want this to feel more like it's touching the edge of it so I'm going to scoot it over even more. It's not perfect, but we'll get there at the end. Another overlap thing we can do would be to play around with the thread from this spool. What if the string from the spool thread actually wove through a couple of objects to create more overlap between the objects can lead your eye around the frame of the composition. I'm going to keep that curve to straight trick in mind that we already had and I'm just going to play around with moving this line across the composition. That is starting to look a little crazy, but when we actually bring it into color form, it will be a lot more pleasing on the eye. I really love how we're leading the eye around the frame and I think it'll look really fun once it's in color. Just go ahead and finish cleaning up your illustration if you see anything like little tangents so like right here I see the edge of this vase meeting the bowl. I'm going to go ahead and try to get rid of those if I can buy either erasing them, smoothing them out, resizing objects, whatever you need. I'm going to make sure that this planter is completely behind the vase so it might just be a little trick of the eye when we get into color, just not actually drawing this line at the bottom here. I do feel like there's a lot of tension with this tangent here with the thread hitting the edge of the bowl, so I'm just going to bring that in a little bit so it's not actually touching it. Give the eye a little room to breathe and there's our sketch. I feel like our sketch is pretty close to done. If there's anything else you want to do like take your entire group and resize it just so it takes up more of the frame, feel free to do that, make sure it's centered feeling. Other than that, we're good to go and we can actually start adding color now. So I'll meet you in the next phase. 9. Color Blocking: Color blocking. This is my favorite part of the process. This is where I already have everything figured out composition wise and all I need to do now is color it in. This phase can make an illustration feel even more graphic and surreal by adding unexpected, unnatural hues. You can start by picking color pallets from or These are two websites that I've used in the past when I'm feeling stuck on choosing a color palette. In addition, check out the resources tab below to find a worksheet on limited color palettes. It includes some color palettes for you to use, as well as some tips and tricks for making your own. I hope to do a full skillshare class on color in the future, but I'll show you the basics of how I choose my own palettes now. For limited color palettes, I like to start by choosing five colors, specifically a neutral light, a neutral dark, a warm tone, a cool tone, and a color pop. I'll just do that now. Let's start with the neutral light. I will keep the neutral term loose and go with something a little bit pinky to make it have a little bit more of an off-white hue. I'm just going to start by scribbling in the color here just to create a little palette. From there, we'll have a neutral dark, and I love pinks and blues, so I'm going to go with a dark navy for my dark color. So dark that almost looks black and it's basically black. I've got my neutral light and my neutral dark. For my warm tone, I'm going to go with something brown. I really wanted to play with brown hair because I feel like it adds a little bit more of a natural feeling, like we're looking at plants and fruit here. I do want it to feel a little bit grounded in reality in the natural world. We've got a brown to play with for our warm hue. I want to go with something green for my cool tone because we do have plants in here and I want that to feel a little bit realistic. But even though I said it was going to be a cool tone, it's going to be more of a warm green, but I think of green in general as more of a cool color. That's going to be our cool tone. Those are our natural colors right there. Then finally, we need to go with a color pop, which to me is just a bright color that's unexpected, that adds a little bit of vibrancy and life to your work. For me that's usually yellow and I'll start with that first. We've got yellow for our color pop. But I do feel like it's little blur. I feel like there could be something even more exciting in here. Why don't we add a second color pop in to add a little bit more life to this? Since we already have some warm hues in here, I want to stay with that theme of like the pinks and the browns. I'm going to add in just like a more fluorescent pink color. Those are two color pops and sometimes I just go with five colors with one color pop. But I'm feeling a little excited about this piece and I wanted to add that in. We've got our color palette. Now it's time to begin color blocking. By color blocking, I mean just filling in each of these shapes with color, basically redrawing each of them using this group, which I'm going to flatten now and turning the opacity all the way down. I'll keep my grid layer on so I can make sure everything's straight as I'm going. But basically redrawing as I go because I really want everything to feel super clean. I don't want anything to be resized with pixelated edges. We're keeping the sketch layer separate. You can even lock it if you want so that it stays in place and it doesn't move around. Before we start anything. I want to choose my background color so that the colors I'm laying over top of it actually feel good with that color. I'm going to go with this neutral light for my background color to keep everything really airy. Just drag that color to the background, and now we can get started. Just try to focus on one object at a time. You can go back in and change the colors later. Just try to fill everything in as you go. One of my rules of thumb as I'm working is try to make sure that the objects that are touching each other are different colors. Say I make this vase the brown color. Hopefully the object behind it, the planter is yellow or something that feels good and contrast with the brown of the vase. As you're working through it, just go with that rule of thumb. As before, I'm using the RetroSupply blotty inker, which I highly recommend. It gives you a textured, organic feel. I like it because it has a built-in streamlining and at the same time it has a hand-drawn tactile quality to bring some personality to the final artwork. It's not just vector shapes from illustrator, it's got a little bit of a rough edge. As you're working here try to keep all of your little shapes separate. I would not recommend flattening them yet because if we want to add some shadows, you're going to need all the separate layers. I'd also recommend grouping everything. I'm just going to rename this group bowl. Inside of the bowl I'm going to add the fruits. Since they're oranges, I'm going to use this orangey-pink tone. I'm going to turn off these other layers so I can see where they are. Now, if you're working on color and you want to change the color of something, you can easily do that by just selecting the color you want and then dragging it into that shape, just so you know. As you can see, as I was working here, I had a little bit of fun with it. I went ahead and made this line a little bit more interesting. This is something I highly suggest while you're playing around with your compositions and color. If you have a better idea as you're working to just change what you had in your sketch. You don't have to be married to what you did there, like even now I'm looking at this and I'm like, I should definitely smooth out this curve a little bit because it's feeling a little harsh. You can go in and just edit things as you go, change colors, etc. But I do feel like we're getting to a really good spot with this and I would call a color blocking phase done right now because what we're going do next is basically just add shadows, textures, details, etc. We're almost there guys, this is actually really close. Go ahead, do this to your own still life illustrations. Get those colors in there, and then meet me in the detailing phase where we'll go over some techniques for adding a little bit more life to your graphic still lives. 10. Adding Details: Here we are in the detailing phase. This is where we add shadow, texture, linework details, patterns, whatever you feel like adding to spice up your illustrations a little bit. This is also where you can add little pops of color to make things feel a little bit more balanced. But first I'm going to add a little bit of shadow everywhere to create some more definition in our illustration. What this means is basically like separating the top of this bowl from the bottom of this bowl by adding a shadow underneath. Let's go ahead and do that now. Since I have everything separated out, like I said, I've got the bottom of the bowl and the top of the bowl here. I'm just going to add a layer between them. To add shadows, I always select the new layer, and then press "Clipping Mask". This means that whatever you're drawing on the clipping mask layer will only apply to the layer it's masked to. So if I want to color on this, is only going to go inside of that shape. That's the best way to add shadows because you don't have to be too precise with it. I'm just going to ahead and add a little directional shadow under here. Since the bowl top layer is over top of it, I don't even have to worry about the shadow too precise on the top of itself there. Already it's popping off the page. While I'm looking at this, I might as well just go ahead and turn off my drawing guide because I don't need it at this point, and I can look at everything a little bit more clearly. The next place I would want to add shadow is on these oranges. When we're looking at it, you can't even see that those are piles of oranges because you can't even see their shapes. Just go ahead and add clipping masks to the layer that you want to apply it to, and start coloring those in. I'm going to add a little shadow under the orange slice here. I might even make the line reach around a little further than it is natural just to create some visual separation between the two slices. I'm just going to go at those in order, so back to front. These shadows don't have to be realistic, obviously. They're not all going in the most realistic direction, so it's really just to add some visual clarity more than anything else. I'm going to continue to add shadows everywhere else that I think needs them. We could add a little bit on the plant, maybe where the leaf hits the plant. It's not really a realistic shadow, but it works. Maybe a little separation between the base of the plant and the little branch. Then finally, it might be nice to add a little bit of shadow on the mug handle here, just to separate it from the actual base of the mug. Next step, I'm going to add a little block of color where I think necessary. I was looking at this and if I squint at it when it's really tiny, it feels really top-heavy with the darks, like the navy colors only at the top really. I was thinking about just adding a little bit of a stylistic color to the mug itself, so maybe the mug is half blue, half green. I'll just add, make a little rectangle of color, and obviously clipping mask that down. Feels like it's got a little stylistic presence to it, and it's actually helping balance out the composition a little bit more. Next step what I want to add is linework. We already have the spools linework. But I want to make sure the viewer knows that this is thread coming from the spool, so the best way to do that is to just draw more thread on it. I'm just going to clipping mask that as well, and just draw a couple of lines to signify that there is thread on the spool. Because without it, you don't really know what it is. It's still abstract, but it does have a little bit more of an visible explanation to it. Actually, you might add a little bit more interest to this spool itself by setting a little bit of a color block in there for the whole of this spool of thread. Next, we need to add lines to the plants, because, as I said earlier, curved to straight trick, all we see are curves right now. I want to add a little bit of visual separation to the leaves, so let's clipping mask that and also add some lines there. Straight down the middle. Just makes it more obvious that it's a leaf. While I'm looking at this plant itself, it does feel a little left heavy obviously because I increase the proportion on the leaf on the left. Maybe we just duplicate this little half circle. Select it, three-finger swipe, cut and paste, and then I'll duplicate it from there. Maybe there's just a little leaf floating nearby, and I think it'll help improve the composition as well. It doesn't make sense like gravity, no, but I think it actually feels a lot more balanced that way. Next, I think it'd be fun to add a little pattern in here. Whenever I'm feeling like an illustration is just a little, not boring, but it just needs a little bit more spice, I go ahead and add patterns. Like I said earlier, my favorite item in this illustration is the bowl, so I'm going to add a little pattern to that to make it pop. I'm actually going to use the clipping mask again on the main piece of the bowl. I'm going to do a little leaf pattern, because, why not? I think that would look really cute, and it can just be a little linework pattern to draw your eye to it. It can be really basic. You can also do polka dots or stripes. It's really up to you. I love when it looks a little rough. I think it's nice to have a little bit of a tactile quality to my graphic illustrations. Also adding them to the base, clipping mask to that as well. That's feeling super fun. I do feel like if I added more patterns, we already have the lines and we have the leaves, if we added more, I think it'll be a little too busy, so I think the balance is feeling pretty good. Last thing I want to do linework-wise is I do want to add some horizon lines, aligned for these objects to rest on because right now it looks like they're floating in space. I'm going to make a new layer, turn on Drawing Assist, and just do some horizontal lines across the composition to ground it. You can do more than one if you think it's necessary. I think here it will be nice to add couples so that it works for both the mug and the bowl. If you can't get the placement right, like me, feel free to move things around with the selection tool. There are the horizon lines. Something I really like to add in all of my illustrations now is background texture. I think that really adds a lot of tactile quality, and it makes it feel a little bit more exciting than just plain background. I like to use this brush called ink speckles. To be 100 percent honest with you, I don't remember where it came from. I'll also show you how you can basically make your own. But this one is really nice because it just spatters ink everywhere. It's really light, so it might not actually be that obvious. If you want to increase the intensity of it, I would duplicate it, so you can really see a lot there. Then you can merge it down so it's on the same layer. But I feel like this is a little too much, so I'm going to go in and erase little bits here and there, especially the pieces that are intersecting with my illustration. I don't want to distract from what I just did, just free-handing it. Truth be told, I don't know where that brush is from and I can't give it to you because I can't just give someone else's brush away. But you could use a spray brush, but there's this flex brush, and you can do the same thing, just erase pieces of it and you can adjust it to your size, and this is native to the app. You can also go into it and adjust the jitter, and the green, and all of that so you can make it more custom to your liking. But like I said, I feel like you can do on your own. Really, you just have to go in and add specks of your own using whatever brush you have. I like this subtle background texture, but I wanted to have a little bit more ink to it, so I'm going to go in and draw little dots here and there to make it a little bit more interesting. It leads your eye around the frame too if you can arrange it according to your composition. There we are. I hope that you can take these techniques and apply them to your own illustration. In the next video, we'll go over exporting and a couple of tips for social media. Give yourself a little pat on the back because you made it this far. 11. Export + Save: Now have your completed illustration. You're happy with it and you want to share it with the world. How do you do that? If you know Procreate, you probably already know how to do this, but I'll go through it anyways. Press the Wrench and select Share, and you can export it as whatever you want, JPEG, PNG, PSD, you can even bring it into Photoshop and work on it more there. What I personally like to do is save it to Dropbox. I'll go save it as a JPEG, and then I'll click "Save to Dropbox", save it in whatever folder I want. Usually I'll rename it to like shapesstilllife for whatever. Then press Save and I'll upload it. After I finished my still life and I export it from Procreate and everything, I love to share my work on social media. Instagram is definitely my social weapon of choice. I've just had it for a long time. I really like to share my work on there, like to share my process. Oftentimes what I'll do is I'll export the final image and I'll share that as the first, but then I'll do a swipe. I really like to share time-lapse of my illustration and I'll show you how to do that here. To do that, you'd want to see a time-lapse and just go to video in the same menu and then press Export time-lapse video. I usually do 30 seconds because nobody needs to see the full thing. It'll compress it down into a 30-second export, which you can post to your Instagram story. You can also post it to your Instagram post as a swipe, like I said. I'll press Save to Dropbox, same folder. It'll upload it as an MP4. That's all you really need, and then you can obviously send it to your phone. You can post it from wherever you post. What I like to do for my post is post at 9:00 AM Pacific Standard Time. I don't know if that works for everyone, everywhere, but for my following that's what works best. I always like to write something about the process in my caption and maybe a call to action if people want to write something of their own in response to what I said, it's always great. You could ask a question. Just encouraging engagement on your piece is really helpful. So if you add it to your stories or you share in different platforms, that's always going to increase engagement and have more people see what you're putting out there. You can hashtag your work, anything that gets them more visibility. I think Instagram is a great way to share your process, learn from others, and just be a part of a community that shares work like this. It's so fulfilling to chat with everyone on there, see where everyone's up to from their Skillshare classes. It would just mean a lot to me if you posted it on Instagram. Love to see what you make. 12. Thank You!: [MUSIC] Wow, we just did a lot. We finished our own graphic still-life illustration in Procreate. I'm so proud of you for making it this far, and I just want to encourage you to share your illustration here on Skillshare. Show your process. I would love to see what you've come up with in the Projects tab. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them as well on here. I'll do my best to answer them. So please share it on here, share it on social media, share it on Instagram, just anywhere you want. I'd love to see what you've made. In addition to all the fun stuff you just learned from me here, I also have some downloadable content in the Resources tab, so check that out for a little treat, little extra bonus for you. I couldn't leave you without having something physical to take away. So hope you enjoy that. Please, please, please, leave me a review on Skillshare if you enjoyed this class. It really helps for me to understand what you loved about the class so I can continue to make great classes moving forward. I really appreciate your support. Also, of course, please follow me on Skillshare, follow me on social media, and if you want to learn more from me please, and take a look at my website, You can also check out my other classes here on Skillshare. Thank you so much for taking this class and I can't wait to see what you made.