From sketch to final artwork
– a step by step process

Many people, especially students but also clients who have a desire for illustration but have not worked with illustrators before, wonder what the process of an illustration job is like. I have tried in a few steps to explain the process. I hope it's helpful!

1. the email

Almost every illustration commission has something in common. It always starts with an email (or text or tweet or dm or whatever means of communication there is).

The email includes the briefing, a short discription of what the client is looking for. Some already have an idea in mind, others rely on the illustrator to come up with ideas, which is completely fine.


2. the scribbles

After reading the email and sorting out all questions with the client about format, size, budget and deadlines. I will start to schribble to find ideas.

These scribbles are a way to gather visual ideas and will not be shown to the art director.

In this case, I played around the idea of folders, archive boxes, shredders and the chaos between all these elements.


3. the composition

Before working in full format, I make composition sketches:

fairly small drawings (around 3x5cm) to get a feel for the composition without having to add too much detail.


Idea 1
Idea 2

4. the sketches

I then work on a sketch in full format in which I define all elements of the drawing and define all the details. Depending on the agreement with the art director, I will present one or two ideas. Both sketches are send to the ad for feedback with a short description of the idea. At this point the client can propose changes to the sketch or even ask for a different approach. In the unlikely case that the client does not want to go further with the collaboration (f.e. in case that the corresponding article will not be published), a so called kill-fee of 50% of the agreed upon fee will be charged.

Idea nr. 1 shows an employee of the city who struggles to find the right file in a city-like maze of archive boxes. The living folders are making a hell of chaos.
Idea nr. 2 shows a parade of folders and files through city-like streets of record cabinets and archive boxes. It's Free the Files-Day, full of chaos and confetti.

5. the final artwork

The art director and editors decided to go with idea 1. To work on the final artwork, I take the process from analog to digital drawing. After the illustration is finalized, major changes cannot be made without an additional fee, but I always offer to adapt colors and small details to the needs of the client.

If the client is happy with color and detail, I will send out a hi resolution file for printing. And also my invoice 🙂

If the client decides for whatever reason not to use the illustration, but the illustration is finalized as agreed upon, the complete fee will be charged.

Please drag the slider to see before / after image.



6. the layout

Here you can see how the art director designed the feature. I really enjoy how she took elements from the illustration to design the spread. The typography and the color palette are also inspired by the illo. It’s really greatly satisfying when the design goes hand in hand with the illo. For me that’s a sign of a mutual inspiring colaboration.