It’s hard to be an illustrator…

It’s hard to be an illustrator. It’s a tough path to choose, and it takes time to find work and commissions.
Meanwhile, I’m working hard on my portfolio, and I am updating it with some samples aimed at educational books for children. I am trying to be more quick and loose about it. Not easy if you’re a perfectionist like me! 😀



Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to figure out what direction works better…


7 thoughts on “It’s hard to be an illustrator…

  1. Hello Sandra!
    Congratulations on this pics, they really are great!

    How is it to be by yourself? Illustrating for the world? Is it that difficult to earn a living with illustration?

    If you don’t mind, I have one or two technical questions about these pictures… =)

    In this image of the “flying kids”, how did you get such a bright reflection on their bodies? Do you use layer modes such as “vivid light”, or “hard light” to achieve that intense orange?

    Thank you, I’ve been learning a lot using some of your paintings as references.

    I wish you the best of luck in your adventure in Italy!
    Be happy, and I’ll keep on checking on your lovely blog!

    • Hey Goncalo, nice hearing from you!
      Yeah at the moment it’s hard but I’m hanging in there and hopefully I’ll get some commissions soon! 🙂

      In this painting I did not use any layer effects. I only used a masked adjustment layer at the end to increase the levels of highlights on some parts of the painting, like the yellows of the book. (uh that was hard to explain!) And a masked hue/saturation layer to decrease the reds in the shadows here and there, to make the varm/cold contrast a bit stronger. Did you get that?

      I think the light is popping out so much because of the strong contrast between midtones and highlights. I’ve kept them fairly cool, so that when I add a stroke of bright orange or pink it will really intensify that feeling of warm light.

      If you are interested, I recommend you the book “Color and Light – a guide for the realist painter” by James Gurney. It’s really an amazing book about the theories of light and color and it has helped me to understand more of the basic principles behind… it’s not all so random anymore! ;D

  2. Thank you very much! =D

    I already checked Amazon for that book!

    And I just saw your new painting, and it is absolutely fantastic. The composition is amazing, you have really put a lot into it.

    Keep going! Good luck!

  3. I know what you mean about choosing the style of illustration (or some graphic style for poster in my case). It can be really hard!
    Sometimes during work on some project I’m not satisfied with the result, I think that I could chose different style, but it’s just too late for changes… and that’s why there are works in my portfolio that I like better and some I don’t like that much 😉
    I like your drawing experiments and I often have similar dillemas – to work quicker or maybe try a different direction/style… 😉

    keep up the good work, Sandra! 🙂

    • Yes it’s really hard! Especially if you are versatile and like to play around with all kinds of styles (like me). It’s great to experiment when you have some free time from commissions – it helps you to find a particular style that you enjoy and which is unique for yourself. 🙂 Good luck in your experiments and thanks for visiting my blog! 😀

  4. Thanks for your reply Sandra!
    Finding my own style is my goal, but I know that it will take some practice to find it. I really enjoy YOUR style, it might have some variations but it is specific in general. It’s evident that you are practicing a lot and that’s great! 🙂
    I will definitely visit you blog again, with pleasure.

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