I want to be an illustrator: How to begin?

What is an illustrator’s work?

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Illustrators are needed in a huge variety of spheres from ads to publishing. In recent years this occupation has become very commercial, but there is always the possibility that you can offer something completely new and unique.

To get a better idea of what the illustrator’s profession is, look at the various job offers to understand your expectations for future customers.

It all starts with finding what you are most interested in.  Explore different kinds of illustrations and try out different ways:

  • painting with real materials,
  • in digital graphics,
  • in a botanical illustration of plants,
  • in a stylized fashion illustration,
  • in sketches,
  • in the comics,
  • in creating and animating vector images.

As a rule, illustrators work one by one: often nobody will motivate you, and you will have to develop self-confidence and self-esteem and grow by yourself. It is therefore important to choose the direction that attracts you the most so that you do not have problems with motivation.

You can cover several related areas at once and combine them successfully or concentrate on only one of them.

Get an education

The next key step at the beginning of the work is to obtain specialized knowledge. To be a competitive illustrator, you will have to learn this skillset:

  • the capacity to “produce” creative ideas;
  • traditional and digital drawing skills;
  • ability to understand clients’ needs and deal in a short time.

Set of tools for digital illustration

The right toolset not only optimizes your flow but plays an important part in your progress. The set of tools for digital illustration can be divided into technical and software tools.


You can equip a creative studio right at home: all you need is a comfortable table, chair and your computer. Better yet, you need a separate room to concentrate better, or you can search for a co-working space. Most co-working rooms give an opportunity to rent a table in a common space, which allows you to socialize and communicate with people of common interest.

The ideal tools for working with digital illustrations are a tablet and a reliable computer. You can use them both for the creation of the digital drawing, and for processing of drawn by hand.


There are a lot of software tools for digital art, and the list is growing every day.

Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are a few applications you should be acquainted with. Most graphics tablets and stylus will run well with these programs, replacing your mouse with a drawing tool. The most popular Adobe analogues are Krita, Paint.NET, GIMPShop, Inkscape, Gravit, Vectr, Vecteezy Editor.

Addons and plug-ins

If you plan to become a good one illustrator, you should study the art of combining add-ons and mockups for photoshop in your projects. This not only saves time, but improves the quality of your work. You can find many options on the web.

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