3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Illustrations

*Reading Time: 3 minutes*

I know as an artist it’s extremely hard to break that barrier of stagnation.

There’s a moment of time with your work that always has the same results, no matter how hard you try.  There are even times when you’re working on the greatest illustration you could imagine, and when you finish, it… doesn’t come out like you imagined. It’s frustrating!

I know how you feel.

That’s why I’m here to give you three simple, actionable ways you can work toward improving your art.


Have you walked along a nature trail and noticed how many greens the human eye can pick up? Or looked at the evening sky after a light drizzle? Those rich oranges, pinks and purples that flood the sky and grace your eye. These are experiences that you as an artist should always take note of.

Be present in that moment.

Why did it make you feel that way?

Record and remember how this particular time and area made you feel.

Observing from life has made many critical decisions as an illustrator much easier. Now that I know how certain light and shadows behave in certain situations, I can use that to fuel my illustrations. Now that I know the rules of real life, I can break the rules of real life.

Keep studying, keep observing, your eye can only get better.

A quick drawing of my room when I was participating in Inktober of 2017


I know, practicing  can be a drag in of it’s own. But it’s good for you, I swear!

Practice your weaknesses. What subject or idea do you have trouble with? How does that hinder your illustration?

I have always had trouble with conjuring up backgrounds, even when using reference photos, and since October of last year, I’ve been using my spare time to practice as many environments as I can to break that difficulty in my illustrations.

My goal as an illustrator is to be a stronger storyteller. The only way I can do that is to practice the environment my characters inhabit to enhance their world.

An illustration done during Inktober of 2017.

Outright practicing your weaknesses can be daunting, so I suggest you….

Start a challenge

One amazing way to practice is to start a month-long challenge! Even if you might not be able to make every day of that challenge, you’re working on something that will better you and your illustration work. In July, I finished a 30 day watercolor challenge called #30x30directwatercolor2018 and I had had a blast.

I’ve been using up all of those blank canvases on my shelves. I’ve been so afraid to paint on them, but this challenge is giving me permission to actually DO something with them. This challenge is pushing me to do two things I have trouble with: painting everyday, as well as creating looser work.

Doing these challenges, I felt more confident in my ability to create what I’ve been struggling with.

It’s also a great way to get to know some people and other work in the community!

If you want to start a monthly challenge, but don’t know where to start, Here is a monthly art challenge list I gathered up.

January – (any suggestions?)

February – 28 Drawings Later

March – March of Robots

April – April Artist Challenge

May – MerMay

June – 30×30 Direct Watercolor

July – World Watercolor Month

August – Smaugust

September – Sketchtember

October – Inktober / Drawloween

November – Huevember

December – Drawcember

Or you can create you own!

*Don’t know where to start illustrating? Check out this art prompt generator.

*Still don’t know where to start? Having trouble with ideas? Get daily art ideas to your email with Illustration 20!

So there you have it! 3 simple ways to improve your illustration work!

Have a suggestion? Share them with me in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *