Combining Digital and Analog Illustration Media

In my endless pursuit of the perfect “look” that is versatile, flexible and to my liking, I have been exploring combinations of mixing digital and analog media. What’s so great about this is it can open up many doors and many new possibilities, which can also be a little overwhelming. The illustration you see below took me around 12 tries to get to this point. I tried every combination from full watercolour to full digital and mixing in every way I could think of.

What finally struck me was to think about which elements I think look nicer painted and which look better digital. Here’s a shortlist of the preferred “look” I like for certain elements:

Digital:

  • solid objects like metal, a bicycle for example

  • skin tones (gives a smooth & clean look, also much easier to make edits which I think is important for drawing figures and people, trying to paint tiny hands is very hard!)

  • Lashes, lips, hair

  • sketching - my oh my is it nice to sketch on an iPad where pencil marks don’t remain and the undo button is your best friend

Analog:

  • botanicals (I do like to add a subtle digital outline on my iPad afterwards though, it adds a bit more dimension and a cleaner look)

  • animals (also like to touch up on the iPad)

  • flowy fabrics, shading in fabrics

  • florals

  • jewelry and accessories (also touch up on the iPad for a cleaner look … with objects you don’t want to have a fuzzy outline)

  • Shoes - I have a soft spot for sketchy watercolour shoe illustrations

  • architecture and sceneries



In the illustration you see below, I first sketched everything out on my iPad and filled out her skin as well as the parrot with some shading effects that look slightly painted. Then I removed the skin layer to leave only the sketch, which I reduced the opacity by quite a lot, only leaving about 5-6%. I do this because then I can print the sketch onto my watercolour paper and use it as a guideline. It’s helpful to create the sketch in a pale soft colour like coral or blue, so the ink doesn’t blend into your painting as much.

What the digital illustration looked like without the sketch around it, a little messy I know!

What the digital illustration looked like without the sketch around it, a little messy I know!

Then once the sketch was printed onto the watercolour paper I painted in the botanicals using a mixture of gouache and watercolour paints. I also painted her clothing by only adding some “tan” coloured shadowing to show more of a linen type fabric and a white outfit.

What the scan looked like without the girl and parrot which were drawn digitally.

What the scan looked like without the girl and parrot which were drawn digitally.

Once the painting was dry, I scanned it using my Epson Perfection scanner and imported it into Photoshop, where I adjusted the colour balance and curves to add a bit more depth to the painting. I then inserted the image into my Procreate App where I created the sketch and simply opened up the skin & bird layer overtop o the painting. I added some final minor details like shadowing in the leaves and sketches to unify both digital and painted elements and voila! The perfect combination.

It might sound like a lot of work but it’s very pleasant actually, figuring out how to make it all fit together is like solving a puzzle. I also much prefer the textured outcome to a fully digital illustration. Let me know what you think below!

Xx

The final result! I added a subtle watercolour paper texture overtop the digital drawing to unify it a little bit more

The final result! I added a subtle watercolour paper texture overtop the digital drawing to unify it a little bit more


Sabina Fenn1 Comment