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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 which 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 a 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 the 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 ofthe symbolic Olympic rings. Each of them was used as the basis for a particular ring with the character inscribed into it.


illustration olympic games 2


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.


olimpic games illustration 3


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 tutorial 4


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. 


flat 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, designer follows the principle to cover all the 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 tutorial illustration final

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


Useful Case Studies


For the graphic designers interested to see more practical case studies with creative flows, we have collected the set of posts on a logo and identity design.

App Shack. Logo Design for Digital Agency.

LunnScape. Identity Design for a Landscape Company.

Binned. Brand Identity Design for Cleaning Service.

Reborn. Identity Design for a Restaurant.

Andre. Logo Redesign for Landscape Firm.

Andre. Corporate Identity Design for Landscape Firm.

SwiftyBeaver. Logo for Mac Application.

Saily. Logo for Local C2C E-commerce Application.

PassFold. Logo for a Mobile App.

Ribbet. Logo for an Online Photo Editor.

Welcome to see designs by Tubik on Dribbble and Behance