Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Creating and Using Illustrations

In our last week we discussed about created logo’s or other designs for your project or business.  We will expand on that topic, this will include what kind of illustrations you can create, and later what to do with them once they are created.

As with the tips I provided with the previous post, your first step is self- assessment.  You must examine your skill, as an artesian either drawing or with computer software.  Compare that with your budget, and you will determine what you can illustrate, or if you need to hire someone to do it for you.  Does not matter which process you take to create your illustration, but there is one rule when you are done:  THEY MUST LOOK PROFESSIONAL.  There are many other people or businesses who are trying to attract the same customers that you are; you cannot afford to look amateurish (further down in this post you will see me mention what to do if they are not good quality, you may still be able to use them).

I am going to provide information about what I am familiar with, being an author.  You can certainly modify or adjust anything I say into what is necessary for your profession or hobby.

If you are an author and you publish your own work, you may wish to create your own book cover. This is a very difficult, and vital decision and task.  Unlike the old adage, a book is judged by its cover. Perhaps you want to create a pamphlet; the rules for the cover of this pamphlet apply the same as if it was a book cover.

There are some wonderful sites on the web which describe in detail about how to create a book cover. You can also find numerous sites with free pictures you can use for them. If you are going to use a so called “free” picture, make sure you know the rules in using them.  Some pictures you can use as is. Others you must give attribution (credit) to the creator or photographer. Some say they are free, but you must pay for a subscription to their website to use them. While others allow you to pay for the use of a photo, but only for a specific amount of time.

If you do create your own book cover, ask people to judge it. This advice can be for any type of illustration you do.  I would suggest the people you ask are more associates, than friends or family. Those who are close enough to you might not be that judgmental of your work.

Another example from my past was my experience as a professional wrestler.  I had numerous pictures of me in my ring attire.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, I wrestle under the name of WAR.  My wrestling persona would enter the ring garbed out in different warriors from the past, such as a Samurai, Spartan or knight.  After editing out the background of these pictures, I soon was featured stating in front of a famous battle, or even in front of the Acropolis.

Have you always wanted to make a short movie or animation to promote your product or activity?  At one time this would have been a very expensive proposition, but, today’s technology makes it very affordable and manageable.  I am of course not talking about making an advertisement, or a Stephen Spielberg quality movie; just a simple movie to show some highlights of your product or service.  If your product is a novel, why not do a scene from it or perhaps several shots showing the basis of the story. Once completed post these movies online, where others can see it.  Just make sure there is a link, or address somewhere for your potential customers to find you.  YouTube is full of movies created by people like you for the same reason, check a few out there to get an idea of what to do.

I often refer to Daz Studio 3d, it is a way to create and render your creations into some wonderful 3d illustrations and even animation.  Find a product similar to this, or use a camera and some editing software on your computer.  Take your time, learn the basic skills, and be creative.  You may find making illustrations and a movie is not that difficult and something you will enjoy doing.

Now as promised, what do you do if some illustrations and they did not look that professional, or good.  Let me give you some back story information; in my novel the world has been terrorized by monsters and evil creatures. Monks in my story act a type of historian, keeping records and documents about these creatures. 

After I had taken the time to create some illustrations of my creatures, I was not particularly happy with the result.  At the time of the creation, I was unaware of some of the products I have mentioned before. So what do I do with my creations? Use your limitations and mistakes to your advantage.

Here is an example from my novel: this is a demon fly.  It is a nasty little creature that has a poisonous sting.  I originally (from a photo) used a body and head of a fly, added some other features, and attacked the wings of a dragon fly.  I was unhappy with the final illustrations but did not want to start all over.  After getting some free software online; I aged the drawing, to make it look old, and then used the same photo editing program that makes it appear as if it was a drawing. My final product makes it look like it is old, and hand drawn, as if the monks had created them by hand on parchment paper.  I feature many of these drawings on my website.

So if you are to create your own illustrations or drawings there are simple steps to take away from my post. 

Be Honest with Yourself; know your limitations and mold your illustrations around that. 

Be Creative: make something unique and have it stand out from the rest. NOTE:  If you are not creative, copy someone else.  I am not saying copy them exactly, but viewing them may give you an idea of what to do.

Finally, and most important; Make sure it is Professional Looking; be happy with your final project, it is your creation and is a reflection upon you, so make sure it represents you accordingly.
W.A.Rusho is a professional wrestler, historian and author. You can contact him at his website, or email him.


  1. You have given us some good tips William. Whatever we produce must be of good quality otherwise others will not see it of any worth. A writer cannot afford to cut corners on his publication. Potential readers will notice.

    I agree that we must be honest about where our strengths lay. If we are not creative artists, we should pay a professional to produce our illustrations.

  2. Very interesting William. I’ve never worked with illustrations despite the fact my college major was commercial art. I have however designed my own book covers so I agree and appreciate your advice in that regard.

  3. HI William. I totally respect authors who have artistic talent as well. But I do not, and am happy to pay those with unquestionable artistic talent to put that talent to work for me. It's definitely worth, just as is the price of a professional editor for our work.

  4. You are far more creative this way than I am, William. The fly looks great. If I self-publish, I'll sure be hiring out the cover duty.

  5. Great suggestions, William. Have to admit I am not very active in that department for two simple reasons. Am used to having staff create the artwork for me and, at the moment, I'm so busy at university I don't have the time.

  6. I love the fly picture that you adapted. I've adapted pictures for free giveaways on my site and things like that. But I think that is where my creative skills end. But I think it is great that there is so much technology available online today to enable someone to make their own, pretty professional looking illustrations.

  7. Oh due to my tied up schedule haven't got the opportunity to explore
    Daz Studio 3d yet, will love to try it out soon :D

  8. Some great designing tips; loved your edited fly, wouldn't want it anywhere near me though!