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Case Study Illustration

Case Study: Winter Olympics Illustration. Step-by-Step Process

Tubik graphic designer unveils a step-by-step creative process for a complex digital illustration devoted to Winter Olympic Games: check the workflow and useful tips.

A creative process that designers set for digital illustration may vary in approaches, tools, and stages. Yet, it’s always interesting to see the real workflow through which illustrators go all the path from the idea to the final artwork. Today we want to unveil such step-by-step progress for a digital illustration by Tubik designer Yaroslava Yatsuba. Recently she shared the set of helpful tips on flat illustration design – how to catch your original style not losing harmony and balance. This time let’s move one to the work-in-progress case study.

Having explored the work styles and approaches, Yaroslava says that with long-term practice, both traditional and digital artists work out their own routine and the number of creative stages. In this post, she shares her process which mostly has 5 steps. Here it’s presented by the example of her fresh artwork reflecting the theme of the Winter Olympic Games.


Stage 1: Sketching by Hand

The first stage is devoted to the search of composition, dimensions, characters, and their interactions. It is done by hand sketching. If this sketch isn’t going to be shown to clients, don’t try to go deep into all the details – strive for the level of fidelity clear for you personally and saving the ideas.

olympic games sketching


Stage 2: Turning a Traditional Sketch into Digital 

The second stage transforms the idea from traditional to digital drawing. Yaroslava uses the scanned or photographed sketch as a base in the Adobe Illustrator. Then she starts to outline the sketch using Pen Tool if lines are strict and Curvative Tool in case of smooth lines. At this stage, she draws the main dimensions without details as well as moves bodies and structure in search of a nice composition. This is the phase when the frame of the illustration is created.

sketching olympic games illustration

Stage 3: Color Choice


The third stage is all about color. The designer has to make the decision about color palette and combinations. In this particular illustration, the choice was not so hard: she decided to apply the colors of the symbolic Olympic rings. Each of them was used as the basis for a particular ring with the character inscribed into it.

olympic games illustration case study

Stage 4: Dimensions and Details

The next stage is devoted to working out details and adding volume. The dimensions and shapes are getting clearer and sharper.

olympic games illustration case study

Stage 5. Textures and Dynamics

At the final stage, the designer adds the textures. They breathe in life into the visual images. In this illustration, textures allowed for setting the effect of speed, dynamics as well as visual prompts of the winter season.

olympic games illustration case study


In most cases, the designer adds textures with masks. She creates a mask and copies there a black-and-white gradient of the element to which the texture is applied. Then she applies the Grain effect. The other variant is painting inside the mask with the texture brush of white, black or gray color depending on the needed effect. 

illustration tutorial

In the end, she scales the illustration, makes a reflection for the holistic view, and adds small alterations if they are needed. The illustration is ready!

Final Tip

During the illustration process, the designer follows the principle to cover the whole illustration at every particular stage. All the parts of illustration have to be equally worked-out at the level required by the specific stage before moving to the next step. This approach helps to avoid the situation when some parts are developed in the slightest details while the others feature the lack of patience and persistence. Harmony and consistency are the artist’s best friends.

olympic games illustration case study

Check our previous article to see more illustrations by Yaroslava and read a bunch of useful tips for graphic designers.

Illustration Collections and Digital Art Case Studies

If you want to see more collections of illustrations or discover how they work in particular design projects, here’s the set of posts for you.

Moonworkers. Digital Illustrations on Film Production

15 Illustrations to Share Winter Beauty and Christmas Magic

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Dicey. Logo and Mascot Design for Party Game

MYWONY. Storytelling with Brand Intro Design

Florence App. Illustrations for Healthcare Service

Tubik in Paris. Design Process for Narrative Illustration

Digital Art: 40+ Inspiring Illustrations on Diverse Themes

24 Elaborate Flat Illustrations for Your Inspiration

26 Digital Artworks About Design Process

Welcome to check designs by Tubik on Dribbble and Behance; explore the gallery of 2D and 3D art by Tubik Arts on Dribbble

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