Sketch a mixed media illustration for editing in Procreate


In this tutorial I'm going to be explaining how you can create illustrations combining traditional and digital media. This is going to be a guide through my regular process (which is traditional lines and digital color) but keep in mind that you can switch elements and make for example digital lines and traditional color, or maybe just import traditional textures (watercolors for example) into a digital drawing… and so on.

The materials I'm going to be using so far are a regular 100 gr sketchbook and ink pens, both from Arteza, and Procreate on Ipad Pro. I'm going to do a full illustration so you can see how this is applied to characters and environments.

materials for traditional art

The materials I'm going to be using to complete this tutorial. You can use other brands or even other software if you want

References first

It's important to gather enough references so you have all the elements that are going to be present in our piece. I have selected a few buildings, pictures of dogs I would like to include, and some costume design references as well. Be sure to select good references that are going to help you build the scene, like character poses for example. You can mix elements from different pictures, like environments, props, color palettes, and so on. I'm going to mix the two buildings. This also applies to any media.

reference collage for art

These references are mostly the mood and atmosphere I want for the piece. You can select even more specific elements

Rough pencil sketch

I start sketching everything from general to specifics. It's important to think first about the main composition and later on the details so you can have total control over the general image. In this stage you have to make sure that everything is in its place; like the perspective, the proportions, the locations of the elements like the building for example… and so on.

rough pencil sketching on paper

I am only focused on building the composition and the perspective. Don't worry about details here

Clean pencil sketch

In this stage what we need is a neat and clear pencil line we can follow with the ink. Some people like to make new things as they are doing the lineart but it's safer to have everything planed. You can also trace where the ink shadows are going to be on the background, or the character clothes, and where do you want the line to be more thin or thicker for example.

clean pencil sketching on paper

We need clear lines to make the ink process easier and avoid mistakes

Ink line-art

I like to make my lines with the same thickness in traditional media, that's why I'm going to use different shades of the same pen size: 0.4mm. There are other ways of doing a line-art, some of them imply big black areas or different sizes of thickness, for this type of technique you will need other materials like ink brushes, or a pen nib. You can also use black or a lot of colors. I'm going to be using three shades of a yellow-ish brown, darker for the first area of composition, medium for the second area, and lighter for the clouds. You can also use the same color for all the lines within the sketch, it's up to you!

inking line art for design

The color of the line can be used to enhance composition features.

Textures and crosshatching

Beside regular lines you can do a lot of effects with ink. The most famous is crosshatching, a technique which consists of drawing parallel lines closely together to create the illusion of shade or perspective in a drawing. You can also fill a big area with black ink leaving small spaces without color, creating a very traditional texture, get creative here! You can do a lot of things that adds value to the line-art.

crosshatching for texture

These are just a few examples of ink textures, there are many things you can do to enrich the line-art

Take a picture

Once we have our drawing inked, and the pencil erased, it's time to get a nice picture in order to import it into our iPad and start painting it digitally. The light is very important here, we want the most neutral picture possible. So, choose an area with natural light, or if you have them set your studio lights in an empty and neutral area (white desk, wooden table, and so on). Try not to add elements into the picture that can distract attention from the drawing. I took my pictures with my iPhone but you can do it with a camera too, or scan the drawing if you don't like the quality of your picture.

photography for drawing

Natural light and clear areas generate a very tidy and professional picture for your drawing

Importing our image into Procreate

First, we import our picture by hitting the "add photo" option on the top menu. Then we can fix the picture contrast using the feature Curves (Adjustments > Curves), and then we can add a little pop of color by editing the picture with Color Balance (Adjustments > Color Balance). I added a little bit of red and yellow into my highlights, midtones, and shadows. In this stage you can still think about the framing of the picture. If you're not totally happy with it just go to Canvas > Crop to adjust it.

adjustments and setting for drawings

I think that a little bit of color addition in this stage helps with the color composition of the drawing

Brush selection

This is a subject that concerns a lot of artists, and in my opinion, they overreact with the need to have tons of brushes to paint digitally. In my case I am only going to be using Gloaming as you can see. I'm not saying that brushes are not important, but brushes don't make a good illustration - your skills do. In this stage of the process if you are not sure, you can test a few brushes in another layer to see what kind of textures or pressure you would like to build your painting. There are for example softer brushes which maybe are going to help you paint clouds, and others much rougher which may help you make a texture for stones. But as I said here, I'm going to be using only Gloaming.

brush strokes procreate

Don't get obsessed with brushes, they don't make your art good your skills do

Digital color

The most important step here is to create a layer on top of the picture and set it to Multiply. This way we are going to be sure to keep our traditional line-art intact.

The first step would be to set the areas of our palette. I'm going for warm colors, so first of all I paint the background with a couple of earthy tones. Once we have this, we should start painting the shadows and main details of background - don't start first with the character, we must paint from bottom to front.

digital process of drawing

Once we have the background settled, we can start setting the main colors of the character. We can keep adding little details into the background at this point, but just little things.

Having the character's main colors selected we may start adding details, like blush on their cheeks, textures on the clothes, and lights and shadows. Be sure to follow the previous light and shadow you've painted on the background.

Now we have everything under control, we can add final touches like gradients, particles, and these kind of environmental effects.

digital process of drawing

My painting process is just the same as my drawing process. I proceed from generals to specifics. From the furthest away area to the nearest

Final effects/exporting our drawing

Wow! You've come so far! Our piece is almost done, congrats! Now we can add textures if we want or if we feel that our drawing is a bit dull. What I usually do is add a little bit of noise into my color layer. For that we shall go to Adjustments > Noise, then swipe right with your finger to set the amount of noise you want. You can also import textures and play with the layers fusion modes to create unique textures.

Okay we have finished! Now it's time to export our piece and upload it to our favorite social media. To export the file, we have to go to Actions > Share > JPEG. You can also export the document in a PSD format or many other options as you can see in the caption bellow.

final adjustments and effects procreate

Add textures can enrich our illustrations but too many can ruin it

Top Tip 1: Drawing foundations are very important

I feel like this is just a technique tutorial, so be sure to practice perspective, anatomy, color theory, and so on, because this is like I said with brushes, the fact of doing a mixed media illustration is not going to make your illustrations good. Drawing is a very complex thing, so keep in mind practicing and improving so you can make awesome art in any technique!

Top Tip 2: Learn to stop

I write this mainly if you're using other artist references, which is totally okay. But please be careful so you don't end up copying another artist, and if you want to make a study of another artist's art and you want to upload it to any social media, please be sure to fully credit them.

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