Planning and Creating an Illustration: a Guide

Amateur and pro artists alike all thoroughly enjoy creating their paintings, drawings, and other illustrations, but some people get lost with making memorable and impactful pieces. This is a guide to how to how to maximize the impact on your audience and get your message across the best.

Step 1: Gather Your Inspiration

The first step is to gather inspiration for your character. I recommend using a Pinterest board collecting pins that inspire you and build up a good idea of what you want your character to be like. Try writing down some things you want to portray with your character: a certain mood in the illustration, the setting you want to convey, specific color schemes, etc. Above, I compiled an example of a mood board I could use for an illustration.

Step 2: Consider the Setting

Consider the setting of your illustration. What time of day? Does this affect the color palette or the mood? Where is the character in the illustration? In the painting above, the character is in Italy, using a parasol. The lighting shifts in the space where the parasol blocks the sun, allowing the character and her clothes to stand out against the warm background. How could lighting or setting affect your character's color palette?

Step 3: Planning

Depending on how serious the project is and how heavily you're basing it off lore, you'll want to do more or less planning. If it's for a one-time illustration, you might only want to sketch out one design before starting. If the design is for a book or animated movie, you will want to make a couple turnarounds (multiple perspectives of the same character) and many various sketches and concepts of your character.

Step 4: Mood

The mood an illustration conveys is usually a very important part of the painting. The colors, outfit, and character design of the subject can change the mood drastically. In the painting above, oranges, warm greens, and yellows are very prominent, because my aim was to portray a warm, relaxed, and summery look. I wanted people to think of the summer and warmer weather, to create a positive influence on the audience and capture positive memories from the time frame.

Step 5: Summary

So, to design a character and execute a good illustration, the following steps should be kept in mind:
1. Inspiration: Find what is inspiring you to make the illustration? What is giving the impact you want your art to make?

2. Planning: Make many sketches, written plans, and preparation before creating the final piece to make sure its the best thing you can make, and to keep everything consistent.

3. Setting: Consider the environment your piece takes place in. Think of it as the who, what, when, where, why of the illustration.

4. Mood: Channel the mood you want your piece to convey. What gives the effect you want to have on your audience? What do you want them to feel?

To make sure your creation is the best it can be, consider the points above to maximize the impact on the audience. Thank you for reading, I hope it helps, and I wish you good luck on your artistic journey!

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