6 Tips for Creating Digital Illustrations

Wondering How to Create Your Own Illustrations?

With a few technical tools, you can create illustrations for picture books, social media banners, blog posts, and much more! Use your own photographs to construct your own, one-of-a-kind images.

Take the image on the left, for example. Change colors, shapes and size. Give it a twirl. Blend with other objects for a digital art montage. The possibilities are endless!


I began making picture books several years ago. Using Photoshop’s digital image editing software, I learned simple techniques at first. I read lots of how-to books, watched online tutorials and experimented with digital drawing tools. My learning curve was steep, but the results steadily improved. I was, and still am, totally hooked.

Much to my surprise, my first picture book – Sunbelievable – earned multiple awards for illustration. My confidence grew, and I continue to learn and experiment.

What do you need to get started? Here are 6 suggestions:

  1. Digital editing software. MACs and PCs offer built-in programs with editing capabilities. I use a stand-alone product—Adobe Photoshop—the industry powerhouse. The choice depends on many factors, including how much you want to “tweak” or edit your work, whether you intend to create images for professional illustrations, graphic design, and/or personal use.
  2. Time to play with images. Starting from scratch or revising takes time. With editing tools at your fingertips, you may stumble upon a new technique by accident, or combine new objects and photos into a new scene. Then, start all over again!
  3. Access to free stuff. Numerous websites offer free tools for your digital canvas—brushes, patterns, vector shapes, objects, photos. Expanding your “paint box” with free online tools is a treasure hunt, with wonderful goodies to enhance your images. Check out Brusheezy.com for starters.
  4. Access to paid stuff. There are equally numerous websites offering digital tools by subscription and/or per download. Shutterstock.com and iStockPhoto offer hundreds of great quality images for your illustrations.
  5. High-quality, low-cost images, photos and illustrations can also be found at GraphicLeftovers and PhotoDune – super prices for large images!
  6. Watch online tutorials. Many are free and readily available: tvAdobe.com and Topaz Labs webinars are a few examples of great learning opportunities.

Many people ask how to create the style of my illustrations. Thanks to all the requests, I’m now offering online, live classes where I demonstrate step-by-step techniques. Whether you’re a novice or advanced Photoshop user, you’ll learn something new. I’m passionate about teaching and helping others achieve fantastic results! For more detailed information, please visit: storyquestbooks.com/digital-design-illustration-webinars/

What are you most interested in learning? What topics would you like to focus on? I’d love to hear your questions, comments and ideas!

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  1. Great tips. Thanks! We love creative people here at YUDU books, and we loved helping our talented friend Maia Walzcak publish her first e-book, check out the illustrations too: http://maiawalczak.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/the-black-hat/