The use of technology has infiltrated the art world extensively with a lot of artists hosting their creative works on digital platforms. It also appears to be that visits to art galleries and museums are slowly declining in response to the possibility of accessing creative works on virtual platforms. This possibility therefore raises the need for illustrators to identify which of their illustrations can be made into digital drawings as a means of not only preserving their works but also creating a legacy for the future generations.

Illustrations v. Digital Drawings

An illustration is a visual representation of an idea or a perception. On the other hand, a digital drawing is an artwork designed by an artist using a software program. The distinguishing factor between an illustration and a digital drawing is the fact that while an illustration is primarily a commercial art used in explaining an idea, a digital drawing is an artwork. Illustrations could be paintings, drawings, collage, woodcut, etc. Nonetheless, with the evolution in technology, illustrations are being converted into digital drawings.

Illustrations That can be Converted Into Digital Drawing


Traditionally, anime artists work with pens, pencils, papers, graphic pens, markers, among other tools to create fictional characters. Most artists started off their anime careers using HB or 2B pencils to create their anime art. However, it is agreeable that this method is limited in light of technology. Over time, a number of artists have migrated to the digital space using art software to create their anime art. You can either go for a 32GB RAM (Random-access Memory) on your hardware or even a 64GB RAM to save files faster, process files faster, among other benefits.


A caricature illustration is a distorted graphical illustration of a real person with exaggerated features that maintains a form of likeness. The intention is to get the readers to laugh. It is more difficult to draw caricatures with a pen and paper than it is to convert them into a digital frame. They are often made via portrait, traditional sketch rendering, among others using paint, charcoal, pencil, etc. You can either recreate your caricature or use a scanner to convert your paper drawing into digital form. Notably, caricature illustration is ideal for trade shows and big marketing events that incorporate digital caricature entertainments.

Fantasy Art

Fantasy art communicates mystery, the supernatural, legends, fables, dreams, and similar themes in a way that allows our imagination to explore beyond our time-bound experiences. The visual illustrations of immortals, fictional creatures and monsters via fantasy art tell stories which also promote sales. When artists commit to creating fantasy art, they either begin with a sketch or no plan of any kind. It is conventional to have traditional artists use 4B pencils to add shadows or paint colors when creating their illustrations. Nevertheless, there are several artists in this league who have migrated from traditional works into digital collections. Jeszika Le Vye is one of the digital artists that create fantasy masterpieces while exploring themes of psychology and philosophy. In acknowledgement of her work, she said, “In my art, I explore what gives a thing its substance, its soul.”

Concept Art

Concept art is a sketch design that captures the visual impression which serves as a blueprint for use in the course of creating films, video games, or any other visual art within the entertainment industry. It is conventional practice that beginners start their art career using a paper and pen to create concept art. Nonetheless, digital artists use digital drawings to create concept arts in recent times. This is achieved by combining paintings, rendering 3D models, as well as photo textures.

Editorial Illustrations

Editorial illustrations are used to interpret the text in an article, a book, or a magazine. You have to be able to analyse the text properly to give a visual interpretation of the work. It is pertinent to note that while you can communicate the text in your unique voice using editorial illustrations, you must get acquainted with research, sketching, as well as revision. Editorial illustrators within the digital space are expected to know the rudiments of digital production and photoshop techniques for making illustrations.

Advertising Illustrations

This form of illustration is focused on promoting the product and services of brands. It captures the message in a graphical style with the aim of drawing the attention of a brand’s prospect to the written text. The illustrations used in product or service advertisements usually seek to enhance the text and persuade the prospects to make a purchase on the product or service. It is pertinent to note that the volume of advertisements that are sent out daily has increased in recent times. Therefore, in educating customers, creating awareness among other objectives geared and promoting sales, the digitizing of illustration is vital due to the swiftness of the digital process and accuracy.

How to Make Illustrations Into Digital Drawings Using a Drawing Tablet

Use a White Paper for Your Sketch

When working on the conversion of your illustration into a digital drawing, it is important that your sketch is made on a clean white paper so that it can be properly scanned without impeding the process. Even when using white papers, you have to use a marker to refine your drawings while also erasing the excess lines.

The use of tracing paper is also considered a necessity since the translucent nature of the paper helps you get perfect traces of your original work. Thereafter, you can proceed to scan your document and edit the same to suit your illustration preferences.

Proceed to Scan Your Sketch

Most times, digital artists use a scanner to get a high-resolution scan of their illustrations into a designer document before editing the same using the tools available on your preferred application. One way to get your hand-drawn illustrations to digital drawings is to trace them using the Image Trace feature in Illustrator. If you want a nice image quality, get a scanner with larger DPIs or dots per inch.

Formerly, a computer was a must-have to digitizing illustrations. However, the times have changed to accommodate the use of smartphones. iPhone users can use their Notes App to scan the handmade illustrations while android users use Adobe Scan as their preferred tool for the scanning process. Once you have scanned the paper, you can use the Review mode to optimize the drawing before you send it to the creative software.

Develop Your Illustrations Using a Creative Software

Most hand-drawn illustrations are converted to digital drawings with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Procreate, and Clip Studio Paint.The creative software turns your illustration into a vector image with infinite tools at your disposal to get your work to perfection. When an illustration is made into a vector image, the possibility of the illustration losing its resolution is eliminated. It is pertinent to note that Adobe Illustrator has an image tracing feature as well as its ability to produce vector images. You may be wondering why vector images are essential in digitizing your illustrations. Truth is, when placed against Raster images, vector images are more scalable, can be easily resized and are best suited for illustrations.


No doubt, when you create your illustrations on paper before converting them into digital drawings using a drawing tablet, you have extensive control over your work as against a digital storage that can be easily wiped out leaving no trace. Besides, compared to starting your sketch using software on some graphic tablet, converting your hand-drawn illustrations into digital drawings gives your illustrations a handmade look.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.