Create a Super Simple Unique Illustration in Under 1 Hour - Skillshare
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Create a Super Simple Unique Illustration in Under 1 Hour

Create a Super Simple Unique Illustration in Under 1 Hour

Design
Kristen Palana

Kristen Palana

Professor, Award-Winning Artist, Digital Do-Gooder

This quick and dirty tutorial will help you make original, custom illustrations in just a matter of minutes that look professional and can be used online or for print.

Save money making your own illustrations (and stop paying others to do them for you) and develop skills that can help you start making money illustrating for others. You can also use these simple techniques to make unique illustrations as free gifts for friends and family.

I'll start from the very beginning using Adobe Illustrator, however the techniques covered here are applicable to any other free or paid software program you might be using such as Photoshop, GIMP, Sketchbook Pro, Painter, etc.

You also don't need to know how to draw. There are actually a HUGE number of graphic designers who CAN NOT draw... but they make up for it by using techniques like the ones in this tutorial and naturally, learning more about layout design, composition, color, typography, and other fundamentals of visual literacy.

OK. So let's get started shall we?
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  • Step 1: Find a photo to use as your guide.

    I strongly recommend you use a royalty-free photo or original photo you took yourself. Here are 34 places you can find royalty-free original photos: http://www.freeforcommercialuse.net/




  • Step 2: Place or open up the photo in your image program.
    I'm using Illustrator, so I have made a new project and gone under File-> Place and brought in my image that way. Your photo should be on its own layer.




  • Step 3: Adjust the photo's size/position, drop the opacity down a little (so it's easier to trace over and see what you are doing) and lock your photo layer when done.

    In Illustrator, I have placed my image, made it a little smaller to fit my screen (holding down the shift key to maintain my proportions), and using the Transparency panel, I dropped the opacity down so I can still see everything, but I'll easily be able to draw over the image. I recommend locking this layer when you are done so you don't accidentally edit or move it when you are drawing over the photo.





  • Step 4: Click on your favorite drawing tool, and in a new layer, trace over your image to make a simple line drawing.

    In Illustrator, I used the brush tool. I double clicked it in the tool palette to adjust its settings. I used the color black and I drew over my photo in a separate layer. (*If you are new to the brush tool in Illustrator make sure you have adjusted its settings so that fidelity is set to a low number and "fill new lines" is turned off so you don't go insane. You can also choose specific brush types and sizes in the brush palette.)

    Once you have finished your line drawing, I suggest you turn off the visibility of your photo layer and save a version of your illustration that is just a simple black and white line drawing. I'm a big fan of saving many different versions of the same image. You never know what you might want to use later on.




    Step 5: Make a new layer for coloring in the illustration that sits in between your photograph layer (on the bottom) and black and white line drawing layer (on the top.)

    In whichever program you are using, you can easily color in your black and white line drawing by using a separate layer just for the color. In Illustrator it's easiest to use the brush tool for this. In Photoshop, GIMP, and other programs, you might also use your fill bucket tool to fill in your black and white drawing. If you do this, I suggest doing so in a duplicate layer so you'll still have an untouched black and white drawing layer you can use just by itself.





    Step 6: The more time and TLC (tender love and care) you give your illustration, the nicer it will look.

    Experiment with the width of your lines, make different versions with different color palettes, and see which program you like best for using these techniques. Save many versions and don't fuss over just one design. Quantity begets quality, meaning the more variations you make, the more likely you will get one or two really successful designs. Above all, have fun with this and enjoy your new skill. Practice makes perfect!




    This mini tutorial comes from my Skillshare class: Create Quick & Easy Unique Illustrations in Illustrator.
    If you'd like to do this exact project with me step by step with more details, resources, and tips, please join me inside the course.

Thanks for illustrating with me! Let me know how it goes and I'd love to see what you make.

Best wishes,
Kristen

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Kristen Palana, MFA
Artist, Educator, Author

Website: http://kpalana.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kpalana4edu/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KristenPalana

Kristen Palana

Professor, Award-Winning Artist, Digital Do-Gooder

My goal is to empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things. I'm a multimedia artist and educator based in Rome, Italy and a tenured Associate Professor of Digital Media at The American University of Rome where I also run its Film and Digital Media Program. I have 15+ years of university and adult education teaching experience in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Besides teaching at Skillshare and other online platforms to students in over 155 countries, I'm also a Course Facilitator for the UN-mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica) through their Centre For Executive Education. My work is exhibited internationally and online and has received a number of awards. I earned my MFA from Pratt Institute in Computer Graphics and Interactive Media and also hold a BFA in Painting from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Kristen Palana

Professor, Award-Winning Artist, Digital Do-Gooder

My goal is to empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things. I'm a multimedia artist and educator based in Rome, Italy and a tenured Associate Professor of Digital Media at The American University of Rome where I also run its Film and Digital Media Program. I have 15+ years of university and adult education teaching experience in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Besides teaching at Skillshare and other online platforms to students in over 155 countries, I'm also a Course Facilitator for the UN-mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica) through their Centre For Executive Education. My work is exhibited internationally and online and has received a number of awards. I earned my MFA from Pratt Institute in Computer Graphics and Interactive Media and also hold a BFA in Painting from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

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