How to Get Started with Illustration (Part 1)

Start with the basics and learn how to draw

Frances To
Published in
6 min readAug 27, 2019


Illustration by Frances To

“I want to learn illustration. Where do I begin?”

You may have asked yourself this question at some point in time. You also may have done a bit of drawing but you might wonder about whether you’re on the right track or not.

Truth be told, starting out in any field is always difficult. I myself struggled with illustration when I first started and I made many mistakes along the way. Luckily, I’ve had mentors and experiences that guided me toward the right path.

Thanks to this guidance, I won an Honorable Mention in the illustration category at the Adobe Design Achievement Awards in 2018. I also had some of my work exhibited at the ninth annual Ateneo Heights Artists Workshop Exhibit last year.

I’d like to share some of the things I did and the advice my mentors imparted on me when I first began illustrating. Thus, I’ve divided this article into three parts:

  1. How to draw
  2. What to draw
  3. How to get your work out there

Each part answers a common question people have when starting out with illustration. In this installment, I’ll talk about some of the best ways to learn how to draw.

1. Read art-related books to gain a good grasp of the basics

Understanding the basics, such as composition, color theory, and form, will go a lot farther in helping you create more compelling illustrations than acquiring the most advanced creative software or following the latest illustration trends. While learning the fundamentals can be tedious at first, doing so prepares you to create more complex illustrations as your skills progress.

Here are a few books I recommend:

Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang
Molly Bang is an award-winning illustrator for children’s books. Her book talks about how subtle changes, be it color, shape, or scale, can drastically affect the illustration as a whole. It’s a short but insightful read that will help you understand how composition works.



Frances To
Writer for

Independent UX & UI Designer

Recommended from Medium


See more recommendations