My Design Process

My Design Process

I would say graphic design is one of the most important tools an author can have other than writing. Once upon ago in a time not too long ago I wanted to open my own graphic design firm. I taught myself photoshop when I was in 8th grade and begged my parents to get me one of those cheap xp-pen tablets and from there I was ready to take on the world.

I started doing free side projects for my friends and built up my skills well enough to start freelancing mid-way through high school but soon realized that it wasn’t my calling and decided to try writing (a much better choice in my option). It was also the better option for my wallet as well because graphic designers aren’t cheap. But in today’s blog post I wanted to show you my process for a simple illustration to show you how easy it is to get started.

For this blog post, I am going to show you how I created this dinosaur illustration:


Firstly, I start out by sketching a few concepts. This is how I generate ideas for my designs either its for t-shirts, coffee mugs, or book covers. I usually just keep on sketching until something comes to mind, do not worry if the sketch isn’t amazingly mind-blowing, as it’s not meant to be, this whole process is just planning after all. Below is the final outcome of the sketching process:


Now it’s time to import the drawing into Adobe Illustrator. Once you have saved the image of your drawing to your PC, you will want to open Illustrator and then click ‘New’. This will create a new document. You will then want to put in the details I have typed in below:


You will want to have a canvas size of 500x500pt, this will create a nice square canvas size for your illustration. I usually work in points, hence why I have chosen ‘Points’ for the canvas size. I usually set the ‘color mode’ to RGB, as it’s more accurate for colors when showcasing your work on digital platforms. Once all the details are filled in, you will then want to click ‘OK’.

You will then be shown your canvas. You will now want to import your image into Illustrator. To do this you will want to go to File>Open. Then search for your Image and bring it into Illustrator. This will open the image in another document, but don’t worry! You can drag the image from that document into the one you originally made by dragging the image and placing it in the first tab.

Now that you have the drawing image placed in your canvas, it should look like this:


You will want to lock this layer by pressing by pressing the lock button.

Once the layer is locked we will then want to create a new layer so we can start digitally outlining our drawing with the pen tool. To create a new layer you will want to press the the seconded to last button on the bottom right corner.

You will then want to rename your layer. For now, let’s just call this layer ‘Outline’. You can rename the layer by double-clicking the layer.


We can now start on the outline of the illustration. To start, select the ‘Outline layer’ and select the pen tool. The pen tool is pointed out above. With the pen tool we will be able to draw the outline, you may use the brush tool if you wish, however, for more accurate and straighter lines I would recommend the pen tool. When you have the pen tool selected, click on your canvas at one point and then click again at another, this should form a straight line. To form a curved line, just do the same, but hold down with the second click and move the selection in whichever way you want to form a curved line. I would strongly recommend watching tutorial videos on the pen tool if you are struggling to use it. Now that you know how to use the pen tool, with the pen tool selected, click on a line of the drawing from where you would like to start. Now you can start forming the digital lines of the dinosaur. Once this is complete, it should look like this:

Now that we have our outline layer, press the icon that looks like the ‘eye’ on the ‘background layer’ in the layers panel. This will make it so the sketch behind the digital outline is not visible. Next, we will want to add color, you don’t have to have the same colors as me, you can have the Dino any color you want! There are many ways we can start filling the dinosaur with color. You can use the brush tool, if you would prefer to digitally paint. Or you could use the pent tool to fill it in. Today I will be using the pen tool to fill the illustration with color, however, you may use the brush tool if you wish!

Before you start filling in the illustration with color, create a new layer and drag it beneath the ‘Outline’ layer.

Finally, we will want to add color to the illustration, to do this, you can either use the pen tool or brush tool. For now, I will be using the pen tool. Firstly, I select the layer which is beneath the ‘Outline’ layer. Name this layer ‘Color 1’. Next select the Pen Tool and choose the initial color you want your Dino illustration to be. Now, with the ‘Color 1’ layer selected, fill in the dino with color with the pen tool by going around the outline until the Illustration is completely filled with Color. Do the same with the parts you want a different color, however, make sure you have created a new layer each time, make sure it is above the last color you have used, and below the ‘Outline’ layer. Fill the Dino with color until you are happy with the result.

You may also add a background if you wish, to do this just create a new layer underneath everything you have created, click the shape tool and select the rectangle tool, then fill the canvas with the rectangle and fill it with color.

This is the finished design:


Now we are finished! I hope this was some help to you, as well as being informative about my design process. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through email and be sure to follow my newsletter for news on my upcoming projects and blog posts

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