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What do I need to become an Illustrator?

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  • What do I need to become an Illustrator?

    I'm certified in Web & Graphic Design (ACE) but I have no professional experience.
    I think my strongest skill is in Adobe Illustrator. I'm ok at making logos and stuff like that. I'm not that good at drawing, and I want to practice sketching. I want to start doing Illustrations for children's books and stuff like that.
    So, I want to know what kind of pencils and paper should I buy so I can start doing sketches before I put it on adobe illustrator.
    Do I need a scanner? Once, I drew a picture and took a photo of it on my phone, and sent it to illustrator.
    Which scanner should I buy?

  • #2
    Hi Britniii and welcome to GDF.

    Being good at Adobe Illustrator does not make you an illustrator. Sounds like you could benefit from some basic fine art courses - drawing, painting, sculpture, figure drawing. Not online, certification classes, but actual classes you attend. There is a lot in the fine arts that you can teach yourself, but you would be more successful if you had some mentored training. That's where I would begin if I wanted to focus on illustration.

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    • #3
      You'll need a whole lot of paper, a lot of different types of paper in a lot of different sizes, a range of pencils, charcoal, inks, pens, nibs brushes and some watercolors and/or goache. Don't forget an assortment of erasers.

      For sketching, just get newsprint and other cheap paper--get large pads (18X24) and small pads(4X6).
      For finished work spend time checking out what is available. Illustrators often use 2 ply bristol --but each will have a preference on hot press or cold press.

      But you should also get some good instruction. Not online tutorials, real in-person instruction with assignments and critiques.

      You should probably start doing a lot of drawing from life (as opposed to from photos, etc).

      You should also set aside a ton of time for practice, hundreds upon hundreds of hours, and be prepared for 90% of your first 100 drawings to be critiqued harshly.
      Keep Saturn in Saturnalia.

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      • #4
        ACE or ACA?

        Most scanners are only 8.5x11" these days. Work accordingly unless you want to pay a service bureau to scan your art. If just sketches, you can camerastand it fairly easily or use your phone if all you need is base layer templates.

        I use a canoscan 8800f. Nice little scanner. They may have a newer model available by now.

        When working in pencil sketches, try an assortment of papers. I use Bristol but only because I usually ink over before scanning. I just use a good #2 pencil. A good drawing pad with a slight tooth may suit you just fine. But for learning, get cheap stuff. You want to do a lot of practicing at first, with minimal cost for materials.

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        • #5
          Hey britnii,
          I wouldn't focus on any hardware of software in the in beginning.
          The most important thing you can do is develop your style. That's right style. I've always thought artistic style is more important than technique. You can take a class to learn how to draw the human figure like everyone else using the same technique. That's why I feel style, the emotion and energy you give your art is what is important. A good illustrator has a specific style that sets them apart from everyone else. WHAT

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          • #6
            Hey britnii,
            The type of pencil and paper don't make you any better of an illustrator. I would buy the cheapest paper in the early stages of your development as an illustrator because you should be drawing all day long and will use it up very fast. The more you draw, the better you will become. I would worry about the computer and scanner in the beginning either. If you have a hard time drawing it on paper first you may have a harder time in the software. The most important thing you can do is develop your style. That's right STYLE. I've always thought artistic style is more important than technique. You can take a class and learn how to draw the human figure like everyone else using the same technique but you may end up creating art that looks like everyone else. That's why I feel style, the emotion and energy you give your art is what is important. A good illustrator has a specific style that sets them apart from everyone else.
            WHAT IS YOUR STYLE? More importantly, how do yo develop style? You have to look at a lot of illustrators work. Build a visual library in you head. The more you look at the this type of art, the easier it will be for your know what it is that you want to do with your own.
            Do me a favor and look up these to people, Will Terry and Dr. Seuss. Two completely different styles of children's books illustrators. Will Terry has a youtube channel about illustration. Very helpful and free.
            I hope this helps.
            Ken

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            • Nobert
              Nobert commented
              Editing a comment
              Rubbish. I mean, the part about not worrying about materials or software is right, but once you get to the "style" part, it takes a deep curve into nonsense. Trying to adopt a style is pure affectation. If you are really dedicated to drawing, style chooses you, you don't choose it. And I say this having wasted years trying to adopt some sort of particular style. And even if it were true that choosing a deliberate style made you a better illustrator, you would have to have control over the technique to make it bend to your preconceived selection of style. It's true that in the illustration game (what's left of it), Art Directors like someone who has an easily recognizable style, and catering to that may make you more money. But it's not going to make you a better illustrator, it's just clever marketing. That's like the difference between real intelligent learning and low animal cunning.

            • PrintDriver
              PrintDriver commented
              Editing a comment
              I kind of agree with you Nobert. Style chooses you, not the other way around.
              I'd really like to do oils in the manner of Boris Vallejo but even with years of practice have only come close to a pale cartoonish version of that style. And it takes a lot of time and hard work.

              However, ask me to do a pen&ink similar to the tight stroke style of Edward Gorey, and I can have something for you in an hour or two and a finished inked piece by end of day.

              With illustration, time is money. The hand-illustration artist is competing with machine-driven photoshop renderings and can't afford to spend the time needed to work in a technique they may love but can take them weeks to finish.

            • ISitude
              ISitude commented
              Editing a comment
              +1!

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