Have you been staring at that blank page for longer than usual? A creative block gets the best of us, all you need is a great prompt to get that vivid mind rolling.
Each artist has a unique way to overcome a creative block. Some watch videos on YouTube, scroll through Pinterest, or simply browse their portfolio for a spark of inspiration.
While others are looking for new inspiration and ideas to get their creative juices flowing, we’ve got a few simple illustrations and design prompts to get you started!
What is an illustration? How is it different from Graphic Design?
“The details are not the details. They make the design,” says Charles Eames.
An illustration is a medium of communication through visual arts. The visual explanation can be of anything, say text, figures, etc. Moreover, illustration can be considered as a process or a concept. The use of illustrations is far-fetched and every medium or published media generously uses illustrations to communicate with their audience. Different mediums like films, books, newspapers, and magazines, have varying illustrations.
Graphic design, on the other hand, is the projection of ideas and communication with the combination of visual elements and text. Hence, graphic design is also called communication design.
An illustration is an element that you can use in a graphic design to portray your message. Other tools like images, vectors, and words together make a good graphic design.
Types of illustrations
Materials and technology have evolved over time, so we can classify illustrations into two categories — traditional and modern.
Earlier artists were limited to paper, paints, and pencils. That is how the concept of sketching and drawing came into the light. With advancements, artists now have access to several 2D and 3D programs like Adobe, Canva, Picsart, etc. In addition to features such as color wheels, they also have tools to mimic pencil and paper textures and styles.
It’s possible to explore new art forms with modern digital art tools. In fact, despite the distinction in types of illustrations, you can also create traditional illustrations with modern tools or combine them together. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of illustrations to start you off.
List of simple illustration ideas for Beginners
The fundamentals of traditional illustrations can be incorporated into a modern design using digital tools. Read below to know how.
Simple Woodcut illustrations
Woodcut illustrations became popular as it was the most popular technique used in developing manuscripts back in the middle ages. It was massively deployed in the printing press and was the major contributor to the popularity of mass-produced books.
Similar to carving block illustrations, today’s artists use larger strokes and contrasts of light and dark shades to create designs that have a rugged feel and texture.
The technique of blending and texturizing is the most important aspect of charcoal illustrations. The use of this technique to create objects, elements, or figures adds shadows and a certain depth to the design. Back in the day, artists used softer materials like tissues or fingers to blend the painting. Similar blending techniques can be found in digital tools and software.
Charcoal textures are very similar to that of pencil illustrations, charcoal pencils or tools have thicker, darker, and softer edges.
Metal etching illustration
The metal etching illustration technique is a complicated yet fascinating process. These carvings were made on copper, zinc, or steel metal plates which were laced with wax because it is resistant to acid.
The carving was made on the wax surface using a sharp etching needle which would expose the metal surface. Once done, the metal was, then, put in an acid solution and passed through a printing press with high pressure. The paper in the printing press would collect the ink and the engraved lines would be exposed appearing like a watercolor or pencil illustration.
Pencils are affordable, accessible, and easy to use. They come in different shades, hues, and thicknesses, enabling the artist to control intensity and texture with pressure and lines.
Pencils are never going out of trend. Every creative professional prefers to start out with the good old pencil and paper. Pencil illustrations can be as simple as outlines to as intricate as Victorian architecture.
Watercolor illustrations have been trendy for a lot of platforms. They are used in children’s books, fashion sketches, lifestyle-centric genres, etc. The subtle hues and colorful look that this technique gives a refreshing look to any design. Blending colors and adding soft and airy textures are possible using the watercolor illustration technique.
Pen and Ink illustrations
Pen and ink illustration technique allows you to create high-contrast artwork with a minimal budget just like pencil illustrations. Much like woodcut illustrations, the ink techniques also allow you to create larger contrasting strokes with the ability to make it finer and more appealing.
Ink illustrations are popular when you want to create line art and elegant sketches. It provides a minimal touch to the design without compromising on the intricate details.
Modern Illustration Ideas
Carrying forward years and years of painting and drawing techniques and blending them with technology gave way to what is known as digital art. You can find a lot of traditional illustration inspiration in modern artworks, the only difference is that artists can now use every type of technique, all in one software with the use of a tablet, mouse, or pen.
Modern illustration techniques are broadly divided into two categories:
Like traditional artwork, digital artists can draw freehand using a graphic tab and stylus in illustration software like Adobe.
Using spectacular digital tools like effects, textures, brush strokes, pens, and pencils of varied weights and sizes, artists can create digital illustrations for various project types. Freehand illustrations are utilized in several projects like anime, magazines, advertisements, social media, concept arts, etc.
Vector graphics always maintain and represent coordinate axes that determine the path of the design. These types of artworks are mostly used to add details than photo-realistic art and for platforms that require high-resolution files. When you create vector illustrations you do not have to worry about pixelating during zooming or scaling, therefore it helps the artist blend, shape and define lines precisely. These illustrations are popular in print media, logo designs, packaging art, websites, etc.
Now that we have covered different types of illustrations, it’s time to scroll through the list of prompts.
Creative illustration ideas & projects
Digital portraits have become quite popular these days. GenZ is crazy about adding cool illustrative effects to images. Pick the photo of your favorite celebrity, idol, or loved one, and get started. Focus on its facial expression, moods, colors, and features. Draw outlines around it and give your own creative touch to it.
GIFs are the simplest form of animation, especially for beginners. Create animated GIFs using multiple geometric shapes and colors. They are cool, swift, and easily shareable. You can even create a personal GIF library for your close friends or family. Or, create a GIF library of your favorite show.
Although logos are an essential part of brand identity and marketing, you can have fun creating logos for individuals and businesses. Adding illustrations to logos immediately tells the audience a story. You can recreate the existing logos of popular brands or help out a business in your neighborhood or a friend with a new logo.
Take inspiration from the most popular logos of all time and design them in your style. Cartoon logos work well for fun brands with young adults as their target audience. So, find out the best style and get your creative juices flowing.
The expressive illustration is an effective visual medium for communication. Much like paintings in art galleries, expressive artworks adopt a certain message for the audience to decode. Use your art to express your opinion and thoughts. Remember not all people will have the same opinion. Expressive illustrations are open to interpretation.
Let your pens run wild and free. Fulfill your classroom doodling dreams because this illustration is fun, peppy and trendy. Doodling is surprisingly used in a lot of projects these days mostly because it adds a funky element to any project. Use doodlings on business cards, logos, posters, and so many other platforms, it is a great way of storytelling. See what Mr Doodle is up to these days and get inspired.
Your imagination opens endless possibilities. Pour out your imaginations, dreams, and fantasy on paper. Graphic novels, games, movies, animation movies, and anime are all the results of fantasy art. It’s time to create your own supernatural creatures, mythological-inspired projects, and landscapes.
Simple Illustration ideas for social media
Creating illustrations for social media is fun and exciting. You can experiment with as many trends as you want. Here are some new social media projects for you to play with. If you haven’t tried your hands on social media, it’s a sign for you to test it out.
Get your art out there and build a community of followers. Fan arts are a great way to show gratitude to your icons and appreciate their effort. Additionally, it helps you connect with people with similar interests and ideas across borders. You can create abstract art of your favorite characters, build theories about your favorite show and generate engagement on your social media page.
AR filters are widely popular among netizens these days. Get creative with it! Make a funny filter, a simple beauty filter, or something that generates memes. The platforms and choices are all yours. Show off your skills and let people enjoy your artwork. These new media forms are the key for you to get out of the creative block.
You must have noticed how Facebook and Snapchat give you flashbacks of your memories. Animated illustrations on these videos make them fun to watch and increase their shareability. You can also create a memory lane for yourself and your loved ones.
Useful Illustration tips for beginners
Hand draw your sketches
Before digital art became accessible and popular, a simple pencil and notebook used to be the artist’s best friend. Most illustrators draw their sketches by hand before turning them into digital sketches. When you constantly sketch in your free time, it improves your motor skills as well as your critical thinking ability, which can give your design output the edge it deserves.
Befriend digital tools
Getting familiar with digital art tools and software is a must for illustrators. You don’t have to do an extensive course if you don’t want to learn illustration. Just open YoutTube, watch a bunch of videos, and practice hands-on. Turn your old art into digital to get started, and you will master these tools in no time. Digital tools open unimaginable possibilities and help you create newer art within minutes.
Get familiar with shortcut keys
The creative flow is critical for every designer, you don’t want interruptions due to technical inability in the middle of designing. To bridge this gap and make designing quick, software and tools have hotkeys. These hotkeys are easy to remember and use, so learn them.
The mind also needs some warming up before sketching. Before you begin, practice simple sketches and straight lines. Don’t let the blank canvas intimidate you.
Refurbish your existing work
Pick out your favorite pieces in your existing portfolio that you can enhance with the existing illustrative trends. The work you did a few years ago doesn’t need to be reworked from scratch, but rather it should be enhanced by adding elements and details that your current eye will be seeing.
You can boost your confidence and learn a great deal by upgrading your existing work.
As a beginner, designing illustrations can be challenging, especially when you don’t have a project to work on. However, learning about the techniques, mediums, and art forms can prompt you to experiment with new styles and widen your creative horizon. Pick up any project idea that you like and start drawing.
The block does not stay for long; once you know how to break that barrier, ideas, and inspirations flow. Browse through our list of simple illustration ideas to brew some inspiration.