A Brief Digital Illustration Tutorial

As promised, today I am posting a tutorial on the creation of my newest print, A Crispness In The Air.  I get a lot of questions about my method and although I won't spell out every single detail here, this will give you a general idea of how I work.  I've come upon my particular style from a couple of years of tinkering around with Photoshop and Illustrator, just figuring out how things work and learning bits and pieces from other tutorials or books.  

So here we go:

A Certain Crispness In The Air 1 

I start out with a rough sketch from my recycle brown paper sketchbook.  I scan this into Photoshop, adjust the opacity of the layer so I can draw on layers below it but still see the sketch to work from.  I save my work every few minutes or so because I've had some sad days where I worked for hours, forgot to save and then experienced some crappy computer problem that made all of my work go away.  

A Certain Crispness In The Air 2 

I usually start working the background first, being careful to keep each piece of the illustration in a separate Photoshop layer.  Here, I've added brown tones to the background sky and the ground. I've also drawn in the tree, leaves, streamers and a pile of leaves.  I work with graphics tablet to achieve a more organic, hand-drawn look, although sometimes I use Illustrator to block out my shapes.  In this illustration I used Illustrator to block out the tree shape and the streamers, then I brought them over into Photoshop. 

A Certain Crispness In The Air 3 

Here I continue to work with the background.  I add some texture to the background and ground, then I use some watercolor style brushes to shade the tree, streamers and leaves.  I take a lot of texture photos that I later use in my illustrations, I snap shots of everything from concrete and marble to fabrics and have built up a large library of textures to work with.  I love working with textures, as they really bring a certain depth to an illustration.  

A Certain Crispness In The Air 4 

Now I add even more details to the background pieces.  I decided to add a light dot pattern to the background and also added textures to the tree and streamers.  Then I add individual leaves to the pile of leaves and work on shading them and later adding more texture to them.  

A Certain Crispness In The Air 5 

Now my background it pretty  much finished so I block in all of the colors for the kids.  I always tinker around with these colors quite a bit before I really start shading them etc.  

A Certain Crispness In The Air 6 

Now I spend more time shading the kids and their clothes, adding little details like buttons, flowers, and strands of hair.  

A Certain Crispness In The Air 7 

And now for the final step, I add some patterns to the clothes and add some textures to the kids and their clothes.  And then for the last step I add a light texture over the entire illustration to really bring everything together :)

And that's that.

Now, I hope you find the tutorial a bit educational, but please remember that this illustration, like all of my illustrations, is copyrighted to me so you may not steal or borrow it.