illustration art and design

sketch to digital illustration

I’ve been getting back into creating some adult fantasy art. I love the old myths and legends, so I decided to create some artwork based around these and share the process of how I go from sketch, digital and finalising the artwork with added textures and effects in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

the research

I usually start any project with loads of research just to get some ideas about styles, symbolism as well as ignite my creative spark, plus there are a lot of myths and legends from ancient times out there so finding one that really inspires isn’t that hard, but picking one is!

In the end I decided to settle on the “Four Elements” as these really grabbed my attention due to their meanings – the ancients believed the World to be composed of these 4 basic elements:



These were considered the critical energy forces that sustained life. All of these elements are integral parts of matter or the physical universe, and the human body is a physical creation existing in the material realm. Therefore, the human beings were seen to be made of and governed by the four elements. Maintaining a balance between these elements was advocated to ensure physical as well as psychological well-being.

Visualising these elements in human form (for me) brought visions of women to symbolise the meaning of life being as each elements provides this in one way or another. Woman have for centuries been the favoured symbol for the expression of these universal emotions, appearing alternately as wistful virgins and menacing femmes fatales. For example, in this latter category, Gustave Moreau popularised the motifs of Salome brandishing the head of John the Baptist and the man-eating sphinx through paintings such as Oedipus and the Sphinx!

craft beer can art


As usual I always start with the sketches, or roughs. In the images below is the sketch/ rough that I draw out first and then placed the image on a bottom layer in Adobe Illustrator (a vector based programme). I have listed the process in a step by step way to show how I build up the layers in Adobe Illustrator (Ai).


tracing sketch in adobe illustrator


In the examples above, I have toggled off (switched visibility off) on some of the layers so you can view the image better, I could of used sub folders but that would of created a bit of confusion for those that don’t fully understand Ai, so I will just use layers. Once I’m happy with the results, I then saved the document as a PSD file. You can do this by going to the file tab on the top menu and clicking “export” this will give the option of saving the document as a PSD (for Photoshop). The pop-up menu will give you the option of saving the file either with or without layers – choose the save with layers option for the next step.

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