Hand Drawn Food Illustration 101: All you need to know

With Covid speeding up the succinct need for digitalisation, food illustration has found its place in different art mediums, from traditional art (hand drawn food illustration) to digital mediums. Food illustration is an interpretation or visual explanation of a text or concept designed for print or digital media. E.g. Prints, Flyers, Menus, Social Media. 

Why is food illustration important?

Food illustration has come a long way since the invention of the Internet. Food Illustration has come a long way from cookbooks to commercial uses like menus, ads and posters. Food Illustrations help convey and depict an idea or concept into more digestible formats for the users.

What are the Mediums for Hand Drawn Food illustration?

There are many mediums used for Hand Drawn Food Illustration, from traditional mediums like acrylic, colour pencils, Watercolour, oil to digital art mediums (software) like Procreate and Illustrator. For the context of this article, we will be diving into Hand Drawn Food Illustration with three mediums – Colour Pencils, Watercolour and Digital software Procreate. (Digital Art)

How do you do Hand Drawn Food Illustrations?

  1. Firstly, choose a reference picture that you would like to draw. (Tip: Choose an image with more vibrant colours as it will make your illustration more appealing and “appetising”.
  2. Secondly, mark out the line drawing of the subject that you have chosen.
  3. Thirdly, use a lighter shade to mark out the highlights. You may choose to erase away some of your line drawings upon doing so. (To avoid confusion and untidiness)
  4. Next, colour the first layer of the subject.
  5. After that, add the tones (shadows) and further emphasise the highlights.
  6. Follow-up with adding the textures for the subject.
  7. (Optional) Use a white gel pen to outline the highlight to make the subject pop.

How to do Hand Drawn Food Illustration using Colour Pencils

For the context of this article, we will be doing a Hand Drawn Food Illustration of Berry Pancakes.

Hand Drawn Food Illustration using Colour Pencils
  1. Using a pencil, we start with a rough sketch of the line drawing (on kraft paper).
  2. Next, we use a white pencil to outline all the highlights and remove some of the pencil markings so that they will not be visible after filling in the colours.
  3. To make the colours more distinct, shade a base layer (lightly) using a white colour pencil before filling in the subject’s colours.
  4. Start with filling in the highlights and lighter shade first.
  5. Follow up with filling in the shadows and darker shades.
  6. Next, blend the highlights and shadows using white/lighter colours to achieve a smooth gradient.
  7. Add in the textures (i.e. pancake folds, berry seeds/bumps) by further emphasising the shadows/ highlights and using the stroking method to create a rougher surface.
  8. Use a white gel pen/correction fluid pen to outline the highlights and give your Hand Drawn Food Illustration the ‘glossy’ effect.

Here’s the completed image of the Hand Drawn Food Illustration using Colour Pencils.

Berry Pancakes Hand Drawn Food Illustration (2022), Artist Celine Chia, Colour Pencils
Berry Pancakes Hand Drawn Food Illustration (2022), Artist Celine Chia, Colour Pencils

How to do Hand Drawn Food Illustration Using Watercolour?

How to do Hand Drawn Food Illustration using Watercolour
  1. Using a pencil, we start with a rough line drawing sketch (on 300gsm watercolour paper).
  2. Colour the subject with its respective colours (Note that we do not put any colour for the parts that are supposed to be the highlights.)
  3. Add another layer of colour to emphasise the shadows.
  4. Colour the background using wet on wet technique.
  5. Use a white gel pen to outline the highlights and a black pen/fine tip marker to outline the shadows.
  6. End off with using wet on wet technique to colour the background.

How do you Draw Food in Procreate?

Next, we will be drawing ice cream Digital Art using Procreate.

How to Draw an Ice Cream Digital Art using Procreate
  1. Start with a rough sketch of the line drawing on the first layer.
  2. Fill in the base colour for the subject. (Tip: Separate the different parts of the subject into different layers. For example, we can separate the cream and the cone into two distinct layers when drawing the ice cream.
  3. Fill in the shadows (and blend using the ‘Blend‘ function) on a separate layer. Use the clipping mask function to attach the layer to the base colour. (The colour filled will only be within the base colour). Note that this layer must be above the base (colour) layer. Use the function ‘Multiply‘ to obtain the tone for the shadow.
  4. Akin to the previous layer, use a separate layer (above the base colour layer) for the highlights. You can use either of the functions ‘Add‘ or ‘Colour dodge‘ to choose a lighter colour for the highlights. Use the ‘Blend‘ function to blend the colours.
  5. You may decorate the background layer by blending a few colours or designing your own background. Do take note to ensure that the background layer is underneath all other layers. (Set to Base Layer)
Mc Donald's Ice Cream Digital Art (2021), Artist Celine Chia, Digital Art using Procreate
Mc Donald’s Ice Cream Digital Art (2021), Artist Celine Chia, Digital Art using Procreate

How to do Japanese Food Illustration

The following are the steps to drawing a Realistic Japanese food illustration of sushi using Colour Pencils.

How to do Japanese Food Illustration (Hand Drawn)
  1. We start with doing a rough sketch of the line drawing. (In this case, make sure that the Salmon Roe (Ikura) overlap each other randomly to make the picture look more realistic)
  2. Use a white pencil to outline the highlights of the subject. This step is crucial for the seaweed area, as we would want to catch the rough texture and folds of the seaweed itself.
  3. Next, fill in the lighter colours and highlights. 
  4. Follow up with filling in the darker colours and shadows.
  5. Blend to achieve a smooth gradient. 
  6. Use a white gel pen/correction fluid pen to outline the highlights, give the Ikura a translucent look, and provide the seaweed with its ‘shine’.
  7. Lastly, use soft pastels to colour the background (blurry).
Japanese Food Illustration: Realism Sketching- sushi by Artist Celine Chia
Japanese Food Illustration – Realistic Sushi

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