How To: Push Your Illustration Style To The Next Level

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Categories: Tips and Tricks

Are you an illustrator craving better work?

Would you love to push your illustration work to the next level?

For illustrators out there, your portfolio is everything. You get commissioned on the work within your portfolio, from your professionalism, how appropriate you are for the job, and ultimately, your style.

But what if you’re struggling with finding your illustration ‘style’, and don’t know what direction you’re going in?

This can cause a big heartache, as you start pulling your hair out, become frustrated with yourself, that ultimately hinders the process.

And if you don’t do anything about it, it can leave you feeling frustrated, and this mentality can continue until you eventually, after a long period, find that working process that you love.

But what if I gave you some tips to help fasten up this process, so you can discover your ‘style’ quicker, which isn’t forced, isn’t copied from any other illustrator out there, but is something that you’re super happy with.

Within this blog post, you’ll learn my top tips to push your illustration style to the next level, that you can put into practise straight away, that can dramatically improve your work, now! You’ll have better work, a better illustration portfolio, and a style which is perfectly suitable to submit to us on our voting platform! Submit your illustrations to us for free today!

Draw, Draw & Then Draw Some More!

To really push your illustration style to the next level, and to have a style which is professional, epic and rather nice on the eye, you need to draw as much as possible.

Drawing can help you in many different ways; from sketching your ideas onto paper, keep your illustrations looking realistic, and also pushing that all important style to the next level.

Drawing is the one element that truly lets you be completely free with your illustrations, and can teach you a lot about what working processes you like, and reveal what you don’t like. For instance, you may discover that you love to draw expressively and loosely, which you can take into your illustrations.

Drawing is the pinnacle to help you advance as an illustrator, and is so easy to do: practise in your sketchbook, onto paper, or onto anything that you want!

It can drastically improve your composition, your form, and the way you look at the world, so make sure you at least draw everyday!

Remember, the more you draw, the better it’ll be for your overall illustration style.

Don’t Force It & Experiment

Even though you may be really frustrated by not finding your illustration voice or style, the more you try and force it, the harder it’ll become to find that particular voice of yours.

An illustration ‘style’ comes out of experimenting, practise and discovering a working process that you love, that you don’t get bored by. It doesn’t happen with force, copying other illustrators work, and developing a process that truly isn’t your own.

If you feel that you’re forcing your illustration style, go back to your roots and discover the process that you love to experiment with. For example, if you love painting but you’ve tried to push a collage illustration style, go back to the painting, and experiment with this working process.

The more you force a style, the slower your illustrative voice will come. So take your time, have fun with experimenting with lots of different mark making processes and materials, and go with the flow!

Work Out Your Ideas Out On Paper First!

Whenever I receive illustration commissions, I was always use my sketchbook first, and work out my ideas before tackling the final artwork.

What do I mean by this?

Mind map, sketch out your ideas, write notes, draw lots of different compositions, and really figure out what sort of image you’re going to create before going onto the final artwork.

However, I didn’t always work like this. The sketchbook was something which I hardly used a number of years ago, and over time, have used more and more daily, which I highly recommend you do too.

To really push your illustrations to the next level, you need to use your sketchbook (or whatever form of process you like – layout paper for example) as much as possible. Figure out the composition of your images, work out exactly the idea of your illustrations, and use it to improve your drawing also.

It’ll not only help with your illustration style, it’ll help you communicate your ideas better too.

Showcase Your Strengths, But Hone Your Weaknesses

Within your portfolio, on social media, and also on your portfolio website, make sure you showcase your strengths.

If you’re great at editorial illustration – showcase it to the max!

Brilliant at figurative illustration? Tell everyone about it!

World class at painting – feature it in your portfolio!

To get noticed in the world of illustration, make sure you focus on your strengths, whatever they may be. It may sound like common sense, but it’s important that you showcase your strengths to potential clients, so they only see your best work, that increases your chance of getting commissioned.

However, it’s always good to improve and hone your weaknesses, that can take your illustration style to that next level. For instance, if you’re not good at drawing hands, make sure you set about drawing hands every now and again, that can help you in many other forms of illustration too!

Working on your weaknesses can have a massive effect on your overall illustration style, however it’s important that you showcase your strengths to potential clients and customers!

Figure Out What You Like And Dislike

Even though it’s fantastic to get inspiration from other artists and designers, from mind blowing Walking Dead illustrations, epic photography to great graphic design, it’s important that you don’t copy other creatives, and just get inspiration from these sources.

Of course, when we get inspiration from certain artists, we do tend to instinctively copy them and their work, but always try and create your own path, and see exactly what you like and dislike about illustration.

This will help you improve your illustration style immensely, and create a style which is not only your own, but is totally unique too!

You don’t want a style which is like anyone else’s, so make sure you stick to your own guns!

Take Your Style To That Next Level!

To be commissioned regularly for your illustration services, you need a style which is unique, professional and totally your own.

There are many other factors to being commissioned on a consistent basis, like marketing, business awareness and the way you sell yourself, but if you have a solid and eye catching illustrative style, then the work can come to you more often than not!

If you’re committed to practising, improving your illustrative style, and you’re passionate about your art, then you’ll go places, I just know it!

Remember to check out our inspirational blog posts if you’re lacking your creative drive!

How have you enhanced your illustrative style?

What tips would you share?

Comments are more than welcome below!

Summary Of Points

  • To really improve your illustrative style, draw as much as you possibly can. Practice, practice, practice is the word here!
  • If you’re particularly struggling with finding your illustration voice, don’t force it, and keep doing the things you love to create your art with
  • Work out your ideas on paper first, before going onto your final artwork, as this encourages you to work out your composition, colours and idea first!
  • Showcase your strengths in your portfolio, but practise your weaknesses in your own personal work, which can make a massive difference with your style
  • Figure out what your like and dislike, and choose a working process that you love!

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About the author - HKJS


I'm an Illustrator, Designer & Animator from Hampshire, United Kingdom, and have been illustrating for a number of years. I have a wealth of experience within editorial, maps, posters and book covers. Having a firm interest in the creative industry and everything that revolves around it, I want to share what I've learnt to you. From this, I have a keen passion for t-shirt design and how illustration can become a part of something you wear.

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