Blog test – How to Start an Illustration Career?

4. Draw sketches.

5. Use references.

6. Watch videos and speedpaints tutorials.

7. Post your works to monitor your development.

8. Gain experience with real orders.

Illustrator’s Toolkit:

  • Drawing tablet; 
  • Monitor with good color reproduction;
  • Basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or their alternatives like SAI, Corel, etc. If you are not familiar with any of these programs, you can find a lot of tutorials for beginners on Youtube;
  • Pencil, paper, eraser – for true artists.

What Kind of Illustrators Exist?

To make it easier for you, we offer you to have a look at three generalized types of illustrators below:

Computer artists – digital art, concept art, digital painting, and speed painting. 

These guys usually work with Artstation drawing elves for Blizzard platforms. Their strengths are a solid academic base, an understanding of anatomy, an excellent sense of volume, touch, and brush strokes. Therefore, the artworks look realistic and lively. Standing out and contributing your uniqueness in this style is very challenging. It’s inherently a craft that requires a lot of monotonous practices and honed mechanical skills.

Graphic decorators – book illustrators, character designers, poster designers, etc.

The most versatile camp of artists who are often based on Dribbble and Behance. Websites, apps, books, animations – these are all places where their pictures appear. Their strengths are the ability to think decoratively, stylize, simplify, compose in limited conditions, and experiment. That’s why there is a lot of variety in their works, and each one can stand out with their own style. They are 40% designers, which is why they have great taste and a sense of color. Of course, there’s a disadvantage because if one person comes up with an interesting technique, many people simply copy them.

Extraordinary artists – originators of an unusual style.

Usually, this is a person who has not studied anywhere and draws something based only on feelings – it turns out crooked and at the same time cool. Such illustrators follow their style until it’s no longer in demand. Some of them may even manage to go beyond their main style and try to evolve others.


Regardless of the type of art, any professional illustrator adheres to these three fundamental principles:

1. The principles of composition.

2. Color science.

3. Basics of anatomy.

These points are the most difficult in the whole art practice. Everything is achieved through frequent training and exercises, which is hard, boring, and monotonous, but you need to be very patient to derive a valuable experience from it.

Principles of Composition

There are plenty of books for artists that you can search on Google. Composition is the foundation of illustration – it explains how poses, colors, details draw in the right way and how to develop a sense of composition by balancing primitive objects in different formats, contrasts of form, statics, and dynamics. As you might have already realized, there is a lot of studying to be done here.

Color Science

Ideally, try to use only your own sense of color while painting, but there’s nothing wrong with using ready-made color solutions. Fortunately, many of them are on the Internet; all you can do is google some nice combinations and learn how to use them.

Anatomy Basics

Take the book, open it, and start sketching pictures of legs, arms, the skeleton from all angles and positions. It’s worth saying that all of this does not replace a real teacher, and if you have a chance to study with a real tutor, it will significantly accelerate the pace of learning.

Also, it’s important to know about at least the most famous movements, such as cyberpunk, steampunk, futurism, dadaism, constructivism, etc. And read the biographies of such famous figures as David Carson, Muller-Brockmann, Marcel Duchamp, and others.


The portfolio is a must, even if there is no one to show it. You can choose any convenient resource and post your art of work there. It will help you track the progress and compare the results.

Draw and fantasize a lot to upgrade your skills with time. You should also exercise your imagination – look for ideas, interesting subjects, objects, or atmospheres. You don’t need to look for your own unique style – it will come out of it very soon. If you don’t copy other authors’ styles and arts, you will develop specific techniques in your own way; those details will form a unique style.

Work and Practice

There is nothing better than real projects because the burden of responsibility will simply not allow you to slack off and let the customer down. Working with real orders, you will notice even more progress in your illustrations. You can find real clients and projects both on freelance platforms for illustrators, and by getting a job in a studio with a good art director who will mentor and help you, so you can get a job as an intern or junior there. The first time will be challenging, but that’s where the development starts!