art

Lines & Shapes & References, Oh My… That’s What Illustration is All About

In my final semester of college last year, I took an illustration elective. I discovered some tips and tricks I never knew before.

Reference material was one. Believe it or not, that is super important for illustration. Whether it’s for a pose or an appearance. Yes, if you want to illustrate a house with a yard for an illustration project, you will need a reference. Of course, you’re not going to copy it (not just because of copyright protections, but also because it’s lazy and not your own) but you can refer to it for believable structure and appearances. You still have to change some things, like color, removal of something, etc., or else it become copying.

Another illustration rule I’ve learned was when designing characters, their physical looks matter and should relate to their ages, personalities, and roles to their stories. I started out with just simple smiles and different looks. But I had to change that. So I did.

Below is a drawing of Polydectes from the Greek myth, Perseus and Medusa.
Main Polydectes Scan

Had I not been taught to show the characters’ personalities, he would’ve just smiled and held his arms at his side.

If you’re going to design characters as a career, you’ll most likely have to do turnaround sheets. That is when you show the same characters in different POV’s. It’s less necessary for book illustration, but mandatory for animation, whether it’s for TV, film, or games.

Here’s a sample of an original character I’ve drawn in different POV’s.

20171023_212909 (2)

Okay. So it might be a bit sloppy. But you get the idea. This character is basically in every major POV.

When you grew up, regardless of your artistic talent, you probably drew by outlining first. Then you colored in the image. In illustration, however, you start with simple shapes as the building blocks for an object or character. You would use circles for round sections and rectangles or triangles for angled sections. Then you would finish from there.

In fact, one of our first assignments was to find character images and break them down into simple shapes. This is how you learn to show detail and consistency.

Have you ever watched a cartoon and noticed something off? If so, the cartoonist probably made an error. He or she probably didn’t mean to. However, this is something viewers will notice very easily, even if it’s very faint. It takes a lot of practice, though. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to make this easy. You really just have to gain that hand muscle memory and place everything the right position, such as the eyes.

Of course, you will have to practice on your own as I do not have enough illustration experience to post tutorials here. However, you can find others all over the Internet. If you’re really serious, you can read books or take a class.

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