Getting Started with Digital Illustration – Suggested Resources

Digital Illustration, Ipad, Photoshop, Tutorials

A couple of years ago I wanted to add digital illustration to my portfolio. I was working in mostly watercolor and ink, and using Photoshop to edit my work. I could navigate Photoshop well enough to do what I didn’t to, but it seems overwhelming.

I took a chance and purchased a cheap drawing tablet with stylus ($55) and began the long process of learning not only Photoshop but what my style of digital art would look like.

I would sketch everything with paper and pencil, scan it in and then use the drawing tablet to trace the lines of my sketch. There wasn’t much life to my drawings at that point, but I was still learning the whole “hand-eye coordination” thing.

I started reading books on Photoshop and watching tons of YouTube videos. I was totally overwhelmed and feared my digital art would never be as good as these amazing artists. But I never gave up!

Now, I work mostly digital and rarely bring out my paints and brushes. I have two setups now. My laptop has a “new” drawing tablet and stylus whebore I use Photoshop and Illustrator. On my Ipad Pro I use mostly Procreate, but I also am known to use Adobe Draw and Adobe Sketch.

If you are an Ipad user, I encourage you to get the Procreate App. It’s extremely user friendly and way less intimidating then Photoshop. But Photoshop is the big daddy software that I couldn’t live without. Both are amazing!!

If you are just getting started here are my suggestions for classes, books, magazines.

Resource Suggestions

Skillshare – has the best classes and for a very affordable monthly rate you can watch all the classes you want. The classes are short and teach some amazing tried and true techniques.

ImagineFX – is an amazing art magazine. It focuses mainly on digital art (for many softwares, not just Photoshop), although there are occasionally articles on painting and drawing techniques. This is my all time favorite!!

Digital Art Technique Manual for Illustrators and Artists – book

Any book by 3dTotalPublishing. I particularly like their Digital Painting Technique Volumes. They put one out each year and they are amazing. I also really like their Beginner’s Guide to Digital Painting: Characters.

YouTube – this is a no-brainer! It’s truly unlimited access, so watch as many as you can. Watch videos by artists you wouldn’t normally follow. Watch videos painting things you would never want to paint yourself. If you are a sci-fi artist, watch children’s illustration videos. If you are a children’s illustrator, watch videos about portrait painting. Watch basic Photoshop tutorials. Seriously, you’ll have a full education if you just take the time to watch all that’s been put up there.

Last piece of advice…Enjoy yourself!!

#inktober day 1 – 11

childrens illustration, Digital Illustration, Recipe Illustrations

When I decided to participate in #inktober2016 this year I knew I needed to create a consistent theme and a time limit, otherwise my perfectionism would step in and I’d spend countless hours on a daily challenge.

I’ve been wanted to illustrate my recipes so I can make a book for each of my kids, but I also wanted to work on daily character sketches, so I decided to switch between the two every other day. The recipe illustrations take about an hour to draw, scan and apply watercolor texture in Photoshop, while the character sketches take about 30 minutes to sketch in ink.














“Wisdom” Illustration for #IllustrationFriday

Digital Illustration

This week’s illustration prompt was WISDOM. Right away I knew I wanted to draw a women standing by the ocean and have her shadows be versions of her younger selves. I wanted the shadows to represent how we gain wisdom as we age. I decided the best way to do this would be to create a digital collage. I used a photograph of the ocean I took many years ago at Cannon Beach, Oregon. I hand painted the woman in Photoshop and then used copy-right free silhouettes from Pixabay as the shadows.

Wisdom-by Heidi_Cogdill

Wisdom by Heidi Cogdill

Dragon Illustration for Illustration Friday

Digital Illustration

Last night I finished my dragon illustration just in the nick of time! I had limited time, so I set a time limit of an hour to sketch and then digitally illustrate. When I hit that hour mark I had the illustration done, but I probably could have spent another hour or two tweaking, adding more shading and textures, but instead I finished up and submitted the illustration to #IllustrationFriday.

Click here to check out the other entries for this week.


From Sketch to Illustration – Week 6 #52greetings

Digital Illustration, Photoshop

This week’s #52greetings card design was inspired by my son, who loves the rain and cats. He especially loves playing in the rain and it always makes me smile seeing him stomping through the puddles…even at 13 years old. Unfortunately, we live in Phoenix and he doesn’t get a whole lot of rain and when it does rain, it’s typically accompanied by thunder and lightning, so he watches the rain fall from indoors.

I always start with a sketch. Lately, I’ve been using my drawing as a background to each illustration rather than inking in Photoshop directly.



I do any cleanup as needed before laying over a fill color. For this illustration I used a grey color. Then I begin to build up color over the sketch.

Here is the finalized illustration/greeting card.


If you’d like to check out all the other talented artists search #52greetings on Twitter or Instagram. I’ll be posting all my weekly cards on Instagram.