One of the most satisfying uses of Adobe Illustrator is to transform your rough pencil sketches into colourful illustrations. It’s great to see your concepts come to life with crisp linework and bold colours, but sometimes the result can be a little disappointing when the vector art just doesn’t have the punch you had hoped for. Follow this step by step process to discover some of the simple techniques I’ve learnt that really help give your illustrations that pro look.
The artwork we’ll be using for this guide is a drawing of a Spartan helmet that I randomly decided to put on paper this morning. Starting with traditional mediums of pen and paper is really the best way to get an illustration started, it’s so much easier to flesh out your concepts with a free-flowing pencil than it is with a mouse controlled digital tool. Where Illustrator really takes over though is when we “ink” the sketch with crisp linework then bring it to life with colour and shading.
Tracing your sketch
Open up Adobe Illustrator and go to File > Place to select your scanned sketch file. Reduce the Opacity of the sketch to around 20% then use the shortcut CMD+2 to lock it into place on the artboard so it can’t be accidentally selected.