Transition from Fine Art to Illustration



  • @Kaela-McCoy Hey Kaela, I have a Fine Art background and work as a mixed-media artist. I'm not particularly interested in becoming an illustrator - I'm starting to feel like I'm done with making stuff for other people (undecided, as I still have to earn).

    I just love drawing, the SVS camaraderie and learning from the classes. You defo have the drawing and perspective, light and shadow skills. So that always helps. I went for a portfolio review recently with an illustrator agent and she said to get my art work and present it in a commercial way - if you want this to be a book cover then make it into one. So I'm making one panoramic work I've made into a Leporello because its accordion-pleat style suits that same structure. Also, I illustrated my last art show so I'll make that into an editorial article displayed like it would be in a magazine. This is then in Art Director language!

    When it comes to switching off the detail button, time is always an important factor for me. Sometimes when I want to tell a story. I find I'm drawing characters from multiple angles or in different positions so the less rendering I do the better - So I start with a silhouette (stuff learnt from light/shadow class and fundamentals of drawing). I like to squint and draw if you can see the character form in a squint then that'll often be enough detail. So try getting a reference photo and blurring it so you see less detail and more shapes, movement and gestures.



  • Yes, I'm on the same journey and it's very hard to break away from just painting what you see!

    It looks like you're off to a great start.



  • Me too 😁 I painted realistically in oil, a lot of pet portraits, it's hard to transition over. A lot harder than I thought! I'm getting there but I have spent a year working on it nearly every day for hours. This is my most recent illustration. If you peek at my Instagram you will see some very representational work. It's a challenge but I find illustration uses my imagination more and I really find myself smiling when drawing ( when it's going well LoL)
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  • hello! I am the same.

    18 months ago I started to draw a children book, having no real background in drawing. I was quickly stocked and could not solve any of the problems. Because I relied so much on the photos, the hero of my book looked stiff and the composition a patchwork of items. I thought, at that time, that I was lacking in fundamental skills and I started to draw a lot (from real life models, from photos, I did urban sketching, botanic illustration, etc).

    I gave another attempt this week and a friend of mine, looking at me trying to design a character (from photos again) stopped me and told me to sketch very quickly my character (since now I have a good grab at how crocodiles should look like, having drawn hundred of them from photographs) and use the first sketch as a base. The next sketch would be the same sketch, but moving a leg, then the tail, and so on. After that, still from memory and still very quickly, he made me change the angle. Honestly I was amazed : not only my character has its own design without even trying (meaning I was able to draw a "children friendly" character), but also the drawing is very energetic and very true despite imperfections here and there.

    The lesson is that you learn by experimenting. I was so unsure of my skills that I was afraid to do anything else than copying (also, I really really like being in control). My advice is : be bold and be uncomfortable. Get out of your comfort zone. Try things that you find silly. To tell the truth, I was quite annoyed by my friend at the start until I recognized the benefit of it. It has definitely unlock something and I am now able to take up the project again with more confidence.

    Good luck!



  • @sigross This is really valuable advice - thank you! 🙂



  • @Coley I'm the exact same way! Sometimes, painting portraits can feel monotonous compared to creating a scene from imagination! I catch myself smiling too. It feels good to know I'm not alone in that. I always thought most illustrators were just inherently good at creating characters. Your work is so beautiful!



  • @Julia This is so encouraging and also great advice! Thank you so much for your response. I tend to stay in my comfort zone, but when I started playing with the idea of illustrating children's books, I was excited, but also scared. I have developed this one skill set with painting, and didn't want to feel like a "bad artist" because I'm struggling with illustration. But the challenge of it is also thrilling and I'm eager to learn! Thanks again.



  • Your work is beautiful! I would love to buy a children's book with your illustrations!



  • @Kaela-McCoy I feel exactly the same 😀



  • @Coley I looked at your Instagram, and all I can say is WOW!!!! I'm completely inspired!!!!



  • @Sarah-Foelske Wow, thank you!!! That means so much to me!


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