I just recently found out how fun is drawing. For years I was just amazed by the artworks people did. Recently just because I couldn't find too much free vectors for my infographics and also didn't want to pay stock vector sites tons of money; I decided to learn illustrator and now aside from creating my own icons I can also draw nice pictures.

But there is a question that boggles my mind. In recent future I also want to invest sketching and going deeper to create artworks. When I check for Illustrator artworks or freehand drawing videos all of them are nearly cartoon based figures. But when I look at photoshop and sketchbook artwork they are magnificent.

Is this happening because illustrator is harder to draw that kind of artworks or what?

I am asking this because I want to invest my time according to answer of this question to which software I should go deep into.

I am talking about artworks like this (the ones I like but drawn in photoshop):

example artwork 1

example artwork 2

source: http://fantasyartdesign.com/free-wallpapers/imgs/new/digital-photoshop-ad-enel.jpg http://pre03.deviantart.net/85a9/th/pre/f/2010/058/2/b/dragon_riders_by_moonworker1.jpg

  • Some supporting info graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/44855/…
    – joojaa
    Oct 15, 2015 at 4:32
  • 1
    I seriously doubt anyone is even attempting to create matte-paintings in Illustrator or any vector application. It's just the wrong toolset for that style of image.
    – Scott
    Oct 15, 2015 at 4:33
  • 1
    Every concept artist I've ever worked with has used Photoshop for their digital paintings. Check out some tutorials on youtube, there's tons!
    – Vicki
    Oct 15, 2015 at 7:17
  • Hi krushmut, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your question. If you want to know more about the site, please see the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site!
    – Vincent
    Oct 15, 2015 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


I'd say you are right on some points; doing realistic artwork with Illustrator requires a lot of skills. Not only the designer needs to know the software very well but also needs a powerful computer and real artistic skills to translate vectors into high quality illustrations. The illustrator needs to have a perfect control of the paths, blending, different gradients and know how to draw. It's really a mastery of the software and art, it's normal you won't see a lot of these artists.

I know people who do amazing illustrations in vectors that are amazingly realistic and complex. But they also have skills (and patience) that honestly I cannot even hope to achieve myself even though I work with Illustrator for almost 20 years. So to answer your question, yes I do think it's a matter of skills, practice, patience and preference. If vector could be compared to physical kind of art, I guess it's close to engraving and sculpting. The more small details you'll add at small scale, the more realistic you can make you illustration.

On the other hand, Photoshop is very close to real life painting and is maybe easier to use for some kind of digital art. I guess it's easier to develop techniques, create montages, merge pictures, add lightning and all sort of effects that are not always easy to achieve with Illustrator; I think it's easier to be a "hack" with Photoshop. I also think it's easier to do some trial-and-error and get good results.

You will need to try and see if you're more a vector type of digital artist or a digital painter. You can combine techniques as well, use tablets, buy brushes and presets, etc. Some designers here feel more comfortable with Photoshop, others with Illustrator, and in both case hey all develop more skills and mastery in one or the other. Some in both, with time and practice.

Why choose one more than the other? Being an expert at vector design is a very unique skill that few people really possess. You could be hired to illustrate encyclopedias, medical books, packaging, and all sort of artworks that need a super sharp output at any size. Digital art made with Photoshop is more limited in how it can be used because there's always the resolution factor that also affects the file size and final result; once a digital image has been done at X resolution with Photoshop, it cannot be increased much, while a vector can be used at any size. So becoming an expert illustrator with vector can lead you to very exclusive projects that few designers can do.

The 2 images you posted will probably be easier to achieve in Photoshop... But I'm more a Photoshop person, some vector experts might be able to recreate these vaporous effects and ambiance with vectors. I don't think it's impossible but it depends why you would want to achieve this in vectors too; it's a lot of work.

Here are some examples of very high quality vectors:

Sunflower vector

source: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-81113941/stock-vector-vector-sunflower.html?src=Q8IBFRZd_-5jBiWoyXKJpg-1-1

planet vector

source: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-301742105/stock-vector-space-background-realistic-dwarf-planet-pluto-and-stars-elements-of-this-image-furnished-by-nasa.html?src=MV_j1xOxUV4PTMOB23qa0w-4-4

landscape vector

source: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-289724411/stock-vector-vector-art-painting-style-sky-mountains-and-river.html?src=MV_j1xOxUV4PTMOB23qa0w-4-53

vector drops

source: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-255640801/stock-vector-vector-blurred-background-drop-water-on-glass.html?src=MV_j1xOxUV4PTMOB23qa0w-6-83

vector fruits

source: http://vectorgraphicsblog.com


The pictures you show are paintings.

Illustrator is an application for drawing.

Drawing focuses on outlines and shapes to create images, painting uses areas of color to create them.

As go-meek showed you, you can create some pretty realistic and paint-like drawings in illustrator, but if that is your main aim, I'd suggest you look into specialized digital painting software, such as ArtRage or Krita that simulate real-world painting tools.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.