Illustrating for Apps with Marylou Faure

Illustration was once something entirely separate from Graphic Design, but as barriers gradually dissolve these two disciplines are starting to overlap more than ever. We recently discussed this growing trend with digital agency Nine Sixty who are renowned with their use of digital illustration within web design and it came up once again during a recent visit from designer/illustrator Marylou Faure. 

We were already big fans of Marylou’s work, which is easily recognisable for its lively colour palette and energetic form. Within her guest lecture, Marylou explained how more and more of her client work involved designing illustrations to be used for ‘Onboarding screens’—to those less familiar, these are the instructional screens which come with most apps so the user can quickly understand how to interact with the app and get the most out of it. Another recurring area for Marylou is digital stickers, with Google fast becoming a client favourite. 

Eager to find out more about Marylou’s process when illustrating for digital projects we asked her further questions. Read on to learn how Marylou brings her sketches from paper to screen, using one of her recent projects ‘Google Allo‘ as an example. 

Could you take us through your process from sketching out, to moving onto the computer and final refinement?
Sure! So after receiving a brief, I usually start by doing a bit of research. I mainly google some of the key words used on the brief to see what comes up, it tends to give me a few ideas. I then roughly sketch out a few different options and clean up the one I think works the best 🙂

Once the sketch has been approved by the client, I’ll do the rest of the work on my computer. That’s where I’ll be working on the colour versions (on either Photoshop or Illustrator). My process for that is to create the illustration layer by layer, separating every elements so it’s easy to then select and transform (either changing the colour, adding a gradient, a mask, etc)

You use Photoshop to create your illustrations when some designers would prefer Illustrator. Why do you find Photoshop preferable and which tools are most helpful when using the software?
I find that Photoshop has some better brushes options, and the lines you create are more natural and “paint” like. I also love the “canvas rotation” option, which I haven’t found on Illustrator, where you can rotate your illustration as much as you like, giving you different angles to draw.

The tools I use the most are the brush and eraser, as well as the gradient sometimes, and the masks.

Do you use a Wacom tablet or any other digital tools when designing?
Yep! I have a Wacom Cintiq 13HD, which is a tablet as well as a screen, so you can see exactly what you’re doing directly on there. I use it to create all of my artwork and it’s an awesome tool 🙂 I also used to have a Bamboo Wacom tablet, which was great as well 🙂

Any top tips for students wanting to improve their illustration skills?
I think it’s important to have a good sketch before doing anything else. The sketching part is when you’re thinking of the composition and the balance between every element of your illustration, so if it’s not thought through properly, the chances are that the colour version won’t work so well.

Huge thanks to Marylou for sharing your process with us! Head over to Marylou’s website to see more of her fantastic illustration work and remember to follow her on Instagram and Twitter for regular updates. 

Are you an illustrator thinking of expanding your skillset? Our graphic design course could be just what you’re looking for. Read about Christian Schubert, an illustrator who enrolled at Shillington to up-skill or come along to one of our info sessions to find out more about the course.