How To Improve Your illustration Style- The Easy Way

Post by 
Safi Ahammad Ullah
Published 
May 26, 2020

How To Improve Your illustration Style Naturally

Most of the people can adapt and get into drawings and illustrations very fast. But they always seem to struggle when it comes to improving the art quality and developing their own style.‌ For some people, it takes years to find a particular style that really fits and express your own-self. And some of them can't even continue to improve themselves after reaching a certain level. So, it's necessary to have the actual knowledge about the process and to improve your art style in a step by step manner.

1. Practice daily and get into the habit of drawing on paper

The first and foremost thing to do if you want to get better at drawing, is to draw consistently. It may sound boring to you, but no matter what, you need to keep drawing again and again. Mastery comes with much practice and consistent effort. Drawing is a skill that will improve the more time you spend doing it. Time spent drawing studies will pay you back in the quality of your work. Pick a subject and then spend at least three hours depicting it. It’s a great way to grasp the fundamentals of art: anatomy, composition, values and colors.

My hand drawn initial sketch vs the finished product- Safi Ahammad

Also, always learn and get easy to draw your illustrations on paper first. Choosing a fancy app like Procreate or Adobe illustrator won't drastically improve your style nor your skill to draw. (Discussed at Point: 4)

2. Try out different styles

It is a very important and clever move to develop your own unique style of illustrations. It creates your identity, and also makes you stand out from the crowd. Consistency in your drawings and illustrations makes you unique. It makes a universe of the characters and the objects that you create. People loves consistency in artist's works. They love to see familiar faces when you draw.

Finding your style for illustrations isn't always watery easy! Sometimes, it can take years to find out what really fits you and can represent your creativity. Here are some tips that you should follow and make things easier:

  • Start to draw with the 3 basic shapes: "Line, Circle, Square" and gradually build the compositions by only tweaking those three.
  • Follow other artist's works on Instagram and explore various styles before settling down on one.
  • Create moodboards on Pinterest. It's a very good place for finding original inspirations for any type of drawings.
  • Let your mistakes guide you.

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.” — Neil Gaiman

3. Draw from life- keep it simple

It may sound silly, but many illustrators don’t like actually drawing, especially from life. But drawing from life is one of the best ways to grow and progress as an illustrator. When I talk about drawing from life, I mostly mean drawing from direct observation. It has nothing to do with the skill in which this is done. I think a lot of people are discouraged from drawing from observation because they struggle to draw realistically. More important than drawing realistically, more important than what actually ends up on your page, is the process of drawing. For instance, if you're more into character illustrations, start drawing your friends and try to represent their personalities through your illustrations.

"Draw from real life. Draw your friends too!"- Safi Ahammad

4. Play with different tools and mediums

New software versions, texture packs, Photoshop brushes, Wacom tablets, iPads and Apple pencils are the tools of our trade. Even when working in analogue, it is almost impossible to steer clear of digital tools entirely. And while a tool can be motivating for a while, it is too easy to get obsessed by a constant need for the new. So, don't get dependent on expensive peripherals when you're just starting out. Also, don't get frustrated if you don't have all the expensive tools. Even I myself got an offer to design a branding for a famous Bangladeshi YouTuber & Facebook Influencer- KETO BHAI, using only my old school phablet phone and a pen & paper :D

KETO BHAI YouTube Logo- illustrated & Designed by Safi Ahammad

Digital tools usually develop incrementally. So it's not often that a revolutionary product or software feature comes along that improves our way of working dramatically. Therefore, don't expect wonders from a new digital tool any more than you would expect any huge transformations from a new pencil. If you can't draw on paper, buying a graphics tablet won't improve your art style. These digital tools can only help you when you know properly how it feels to draw on paper. Coming from the experience of using Pencil & Paper will help you to simulate the realistic drawings better on the digital tools and then you can mix it with modern touch and bring outstanding outcomes!

5. Know your potentials

While you're learning illustration – either formally or by yourself; You are exposed to great work by others. You feel jealous of your peers and in awe of the masters. You're inspired, you're confused, you try to create, and then you're frustrated by what you produce and how badly it compares. And in spite of it all, you're still driven to make something, So you try again!

Modern Portrait Art- by Safi Ahammad

Although you are dealing a lot with your emotions in that whole turbulent process, you might not have learned to observe yourself and what you are doing yet. To be successful, you need to find out a lot of things about yourself first: You need to find out:

- What are your strengths?

- What are your weaknesses? 

This is easier said than done, but start with simple things first. For example, what are your most productive working hours? Whether you work best at 6am or midnight, don't miss out on these hours, and try to plan the rest of your day around them. 

Once your needs are taken care of, you will become less anxious. You are the person you have to work with for the rest of your life, so get to know yourself. Be disciplined, of course, but also be accepting and tolerant. While you're studying illustration – either formally, or by yourself – you are exposed to great work by others. You feel jealous of your peers and in awe of the masters. You're inspired, you're confused, you try to create, and then you're frustrated by what you produce and how badly it compares. And in spite of it all, you're still driven to make something, so you try again.

Although you are dealing a lot with your emotions in that whole turbulent process, you might not have learned to observe yourself and what you are doing yet. To be successful, you need to find out a lot of things about yourself first: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? 

This is easier said than done, but start with simple things first. For example, what are your most productive working hours? Whether you work best at 6am or midnight, don't miss out on these hours, and try to plan the rest of your day around them. 

Once your needs are taken care of, you will become less anxious. You are the person you have to work with for the rest of your life, so get to know yourself. Be disciplined, of course, but also be accepting and tolerant.

So these were my top 5 ways to develop your illustration style. It all boils down to having a sense of direction, lots of practice and experimentation, and looking for ways of injecting yourself into the work. When you do this with an open heart, sharing with others, you start to get a sense of who you are as an illustrator. At a certain point, you start seeing the patterns and can lean into them more intentionally. This intentionality will shine through in your work, and others will be drawn to it. They will recognize your voice, and then, they will be asking you, not me, how you developed your style.

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