Illustration guides and tutorials

Illustration Page_FEATURE
Photo via Stephanie Bento (Tiny Workshops)

Illustration is a vast art form, encompassing a wide range of styles, materials, themes, and techniques.

The good news is that with the proper guidance, tools, and a little inspiration, it won’t be long before you’re making personalized artwork of your own. 

We’ve compiled a bunch of resources covering everything from classic sketching to digital art to get you illustrating right away!

Affiliate disclosure: Articles on Tiny Workshops may contain affiliate links.

What is illustration?

In a nutshell, illustration is the art of visually representing or depicting a subject or concept through drawing, sketching, painting, or graphic media.

Illustration is a powerful tool used to convey messages and stories and a highly effective visual aid to support written text.

This craft comes in many forms and styles, from technical drawings to adorable children’s book illustrations, and is a highly versatile activity, with many options to branch out into.

In addition, it’s a very accessible craft requiring very few tools, making it particularly appealing for artists of all ages and skill sets.

Tracing calligraphy with Tombow brush pens
Photo via Stephanie Bento (Tiny Workshops)

If you’re just starting with illustration, the things you can draw range from self-portraits and botanical themes to basic lettering projects.

Remember, when it comes to illustration, many styles and techniques can be achieved through various mediums, from traditional art pens and pencils to digital software.

There are many themes and subjects that you can start with to approach illustration from scratch, but here are some of our suggestions:

What supplies do I need to start illustrating?

The supplies required for your illustration projects will depend on how you approach this creative hobby. However, generally speaking, you’ll never be dealing with a heavy load of materials — or at least not at first!

Here are a few essentials to consider, whether for traditional, digital, or mixed-medium works.

Drawing tools

What kind of ink is in Micron pens?_Are Micron pens waterproof
Photo via Stephanie Bento (Tiny Workshops)

There is a world of art pens to suit all kinds of linework and sketching styles.

For instance, dip pens are perfect for manga art. Brush pens are excellent for artsy lettering works, and fineliner pens are ideal for technical drawing.

Paint markers are also very popular among artists — Posca pens are some of our favorites. You can literally draw on anything with these permanent acrylic paint markers!

If you want to look into projects, check out our in-depth guide on Posca pen ideas for beginners.

Aiming for finer, intricate work? Micron Pigma pens are exceptional for creations packed with detail. In addition, Micron pens are waterproof, which makes them the perfect art pens for watercolor!

Tombow brush pens are a dream come true if you’re about pops of color and faux lettering projects. Also, did you know that apart from regular drawing and coloring, you could also use these pens for watercolor-like blending techniques?

On the other hand, if you’re delving into digital art, you’ll be working from a device, whether your computer or tablet. One very popular program for beginners is Procreate, although you will need to buy an appropriate iPad.


Best paper for Tombow brush pens_how to use Tombow brush pens
Photo via Stephanie Bento (Tiny Workshops)

When it comes to drawing and sketching, there are various surfaces to choose from depending on the materials you use. Here are a few of the most common!

  • Blank sketchbooks, pads, and journals: Easy to find in different paperweights, textures and prices. There are great left-handed notebooks, too!
  • Paper sheets: You can use loose copy paper for practice, doodling, and more depending on your tools.
  • Cardstock: Perfect for poster, collage, and card-making projects.
  • Watercolor sketchbooks and blocks: Recommended if you’re sketching outlines before applying watercolor paint.
  • Mini canvases: Ideal for acrylic paint markers. You can also use pencils for tracing before slapping on acrylic paints.
  • Computer/tablets: There are plenty of drawing tablets, but a more accessible option is an iPad for Procreate.

Other supplies

Art Projectors_FEATURE
Photo via Stephanie Bento (Tiny Workshops)

Other than the items mentioned above, there are a few additional supplies that could really enhance your drawing experience.

For example, electric erasers, pencils, metal rulers, tracing paper, and light pads/boxes are excellent elements to complement your toolset.

Art projectors are also very helpful if you want to take on mixed-medium projects or create large-scale illustrations! Fun fact: did you know that they’re also great for rug-tufting?

If you’re inclined to digital art, we recommend snatching some quality drawing gloves for tablets to make drawing fuss-free on slippery device screens.

Also, having a quality craft table or desk will work wonders if you plan on getting serious about illustration and is crucial to preserve good, healthy posture.

How can I learn illustration?

Tombow brush pen blending example_How to blend Tombow brush pens
Photo via Stephanie Bento (Tiny Workshops)

Taking online classes is an excellent way to learn the ins and outs of illustration from subject experts. And all from the comfort of your home!

Here are a few courses we recommend for absolute beginners, set up by popular themes:

What are basic illustration techniques?

Tombow bullet tip_how to use Tombow brush pens
Photo via Stephanie Bento (Tiny Workshops)

Some basic techniques in illustration include outlining, shading, sketching, color theory, and composition. 

When getting started, the basics are pretty much all you need. From then on, with practice, you’ll begin to build skill until you intuitively form your own illustration style.

Know that the way you learn techniques can vary depending on the medium of your choice. For example, you’ll use paint markers differently than fineliners or digital pens! 

If you don’t want to jump right into comprehensive illustration classes, YouTube is an excellent place to learn the basics:

I’ve listed some of my go-to YouTube art channels for beginners and hobbyists, below:

Where can I find illustration inspiration?

In my opinion, the best place to find inspiration is in works you love by artists you admire.

Get insider advice and discover new approaches and references by reading the following interviews; this is a great opportunity to learn from some of the best illustrators out there today!

Tiny Workshops illustration interviews


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