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!!

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.

June 2016 Coloring Calendar – Digital Painting

Fashion Illustration, Photoshop

As a watercolor and doodle artist, I love my pens and paints. Photoshop was a necessary evil that I had to learn in order to edit my art and prep for printing, but I never imagined I’d paint in Photoshop. After watching some of my fellow artists Periscope about using Photoshop in their art and illustrations I caught the bug and started playing with all I’d learned. I have to tell you, painting in Photoshop is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do. I think that’s because I can always undo things. I love to have tons of layers so I can edit or remove anything that I don’t like. It offers the artist a lot of creative power.

I’ve been practicing most of my digital painting skills with my children’s book characters, but today I used one of the fashion illustrations I created for the 2016 calendar. I used June since it was a more complex drawing to apply color to.

Don’t worry I won’t be giving up my paints any time soon, but Photoshop is definitely now part of my tool kit.

Digital Painting by Heidi Cogdill