Photoshop: Caterpillar Illustration

See how to create an original illustration from the initial brainstorming stages all the way to the completed digital painting in Photoshop.

This video discusses basic techniques in Photoshop for drawing thumbnail sketches, blocking in colors, shading, creating a convincing sense of light and shadow, and details.

Also included is a demonstration of how to shoot good reference photos, how to choose reference photos online, and how to merge multiple reference photos for the final illustration.

Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Cat Huang.

Video Walkthrough

  • Digital media can be used for not just final illustrations, but also as a tool for sketching thumbnails.
  • Digital media is convenient in that you don’t have to keep buying supplies like with traditional media.
  • Learning how to merge reference photos you shoot yourself and reference photos that you find online can provide many possibilities.
  • Thumbnail sketches are very helpful when trying to get down different ideas for the narrative.
  • When shooting your own reference photos, try to get a broad range of points of view: from a bird’s eye view, a worm’s eye view, etc.
  • Make sure to take close ups of everything when shooting your reference photos.
  • When shooting reference photos, you cannot shoot too many!
  • Better to feel you shot too many reference photos than ending up having too few.
  • Props are really helpful to have in a reference photo shoot.
  • Being in the space, shooting reference photos can often get you ideas you didn’t anticipate.
  • Cat’s process for picking the reference photos that will be used in the digital illustration.
  • Shooting a reference photo may seem like more work, but it can save you a huge amount of time.
  • Being able to customize your reference photo is very helpful.
  • Be willing to make multiple changes even after you do a sketch of the composition and have shot the reference photos.
  • Blocking in the composition with lines, filling in flat colors are a way to establish the foundation of the illustration.
  • Consider the edge of the brush, is it very soft, or crisp?
  • There is often a temptation to have the computer do all the blending for you, but a lot of the time there is an artificial look to that technique.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

Clara cartoon

Ultimately creating finished artwork is important, but to get to that stage, so much time has to be invested before that. There is so much trial and error in the creative process, regardless of how much experience you have.

Clara Lieu, Bread Fairy

Logging the time to troubleshoot and figure out what’s possible is necessary!

Reference Photos

Caterpillar Illustration Reference #52

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