experimenting with digital colour and texture

I’m pretty new to digital illustration. I’ve made a few pieces before, but the process was long and a little confusing. I’ve wanted to improve my digital skills for a while.

The biggest struggle / annoyance about working digitally is the flat, airbrushed look that it produces. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about a smooth gradient when it comes to my traditional paintings, but I also love the canvas texture and the imperfections that painting on canvas and paper gives.

Whilst working on this illustration project, I’m keeping in mind how this kind of work might translate into real commissioned illustration briefs, and thinking about creating processes that can be put to use after Uni.

I’ve heard from many working illustrators, whether they prefer to work traditionally or digitally, that when working for clients, the benefits of being able to make quick adjustment to their work digitally, is essential to their process. This is one of the main reasons that I’d like to experiment with working digitally. I’m particularly interested in developing a working process that combines both traditional and digital media.

As an initial experiment into working digitally, I drew a few small illustrations in my sketchbook and explored adding colour and texture digitally. Knowing that I wanted to avoid the flat, colouring-book look, I did some research and thought about different ways of adding interest and dimension to the illustrations.

The methods were – colour gradients, adding a ‘noise’ filter, using photo overlays, using textured brushes, creating and applying repeat patterns to select areas.


The illustrations in this post are my very first experiments with the methods listed above and some are more successful than others. It was definitely an enjoyable and worthwhile exercise – more to come!

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