My Creative Process: Digital Illustration

Over seven years ago I made the leap from traditional illustration to digital design.  Many times I am asked what methods I utilize in the creation of my illustrated pieces.  Today, I will walk you through what has become one of my favorite methods for illustrating digitally.  It encompasses three software programs, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. 


This is the final illustration which in its creative entirety utilized a traditional pencil and the three above mentioned software programs.

Pencil Sketch

This is my initial pencil sketch which is hand done and scanned into a digital file.

Line Art

Here is the next step in the process which entails taking the scanned sketch and placing it into a new Adobe Illustrator file.  Next, I create a line drawing with color in mind.  Every area that I know will be a different color is place on a different layer.

Color Image

Now I take each layer and fill it with a base color that I will work with in Corel Painter.  It is key to keep the pieces on separate layers with unique names.  This is really helpful especially in highly detailed work with many layers. The next step is important for the transition of importing it into Corel Painter.  Export the file as an Adobe Photoshop .psd with layers.  

Now it is time to open the layered .psd file in Corel Painter. 

Corel Painter Process

And then the fun begins.  It is a tedious process which entails creating custom brushes to suite the subject matter and style. Then it is all about "painting" each layer to achieve the desired texture and detail. Once the piece is completed it can be exported in any number of formats.

One trick I have learned is how to create a Corel Painter file where the end result is a transparent background.  If I just wanted to use the image of the giraffe from the final version of this illustration I would export the Painter file as a layered .psd.  I open it in Photoshop and eliminate all of the layers I don't want to use and leave a transparent background.  Once again I re-save it as a new .psd file and then I am able to place it into an AI file that utilizes a totally different background.  

I have never looked back when it comes to making the leap into digital design.  In the beginning I spent many hours on viewing learning videos.  It was well worth the time and effort. I would have to say that my steepest learning curve in the process was Corel Painter.  In the end the combination of using these three programs has served a great purpose. After all, this particular workflow has provided a great foundation for the creation of our dogs from the Barkley & Wagz collection of wall art