Well hello there, this is Tamil. Today I wanted to go over tips when creating flat illustration. Flat art is usually a style where you try to use less perspective and more cartoon approach. There are many different ways to do a flat artwork. I will not be able to cover all of it, but I will go over general tips that might be helpful when starting out.
You can also watch my video to get a more streamlined tutorial if you do not feel like reading :)
Let's get into it!
Looking for references to get inspired is one of the first things that I usually do before starting an artwork. What are some good places to get interesting ideas?
- Vector art
You can always type "vector art cat" and start looking at art. It's that easy! In most cases people use pen tool to make the artwork, so it makes the shapes and strokes more confident. It looks very simple, but very effective. A lot of times vector art is connected to logo making. A good thing to learn from logo making is that it should look good big or small! I highly recommend taking that into consideration when making your art for flat style.
- Dribble or Behance
Are great websites to look for inspiration for flat art. Artstation and other websites mostly focus on game dev and movies. Dribble and behance are a great source to look for cartoony style and cute styles. Just make sure to go into illustration category when looking into things.
- Children's book illustration
There are many different places where flat art is used, but my favorite is definitely children's books. Behance offers a lot to discover on that topic. That style has great use of texture and colors. A lot of things are simplified and make for a clear read. These are the main things I would keep in mind.
Make the mood board of art you found. See how others are doing it and why. Always analyze what works and what does not. Why do you like particular artwork and what can be improved?
One of the old image I made in my old days :)
Strong colors, simple read and clear edges. The only thing that is missing are nice textures and a sketchy feel to it, so this is not the perfect perfect example, but maybe something to give you the idea for it.
How to ?
After looking at references, I decided to make art finally! What are some good ideas? My friend showed me a new coffee recipe, so I wanted to make something coffee related. I liked the idea of making a coffee girl theme and what could that mean exactly.
I looked around thought of how she would look and what kind of vibe she will give off of. Cute dress and fishnets is definitely the first thing that came to mind. I also wanted to make it more dreamy and add a donut. Can't have coffee without a donut in the morning.
I start with a simple sketch of what I want to create. I actually remade the character 3 times before finalizing it. It was definitely a big struggle, so if you feel like you failing, just start over and keep going. There is not sham in trying again. Especially if you looking for something special.
I also started with off tone pink and dark red for line art. It's good to pick something that is now pure white and black. Makes it easier to start it feels less intimidating.
After that I just go over with a nice thick ink brush. I just made one on the spot when making this. It is just a simple ink brush with some texture variation to it. Makes it look like running ink. If you want to get it, you can just download it for free on gumroad here:
It's a simple brush, so I think anything else that you have will work too. As long as it has a nice traditional feel to it. Don't feel like you have to have lines perfect either. I saw a lot of flat art that has wavy freehand lines. Not being perfect is sometimes great!
What happens after? The most fun part! COLORS
There are many ways to create good color combinations. I had to study color theory many many times. I still feel like I am struggling.
If you want to just have fun and play around I recommend to find a ready made color harmony online. A good website that I used was coolors.co
It is a good website that has lots of nice color combinations that are already prepared for you. This is not a replacement for color theory! It's just a good starting point and if you want to create something for fun and quick.
I picked something simple, but also added some colors later that I thought would work better. Do not be afraid to use more colors if you need to.
After setting base colors, I usually try to see what can I improve and what is something that I am missing. I used more pink for the donut and things like that, even tho it was not part of the original color harmony.
I stared messing more with colors and trying to improve contrast. I also started to add shadows with multiply mode. I try to pick a color that works nicely for it without making it too muddy.
Finalizing! Cropping the image and adding more texture to it made for a more interesting look. I played around with curves to give more contrast as well.
This definitely needs more adjustments, but I loved the process. I will make more and try to improve even better. I think that is the goal :)
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. I hope you learned something. If you want to see more of my art, see links: