With over 45 years of experience as a professional illustrator, Diane deGroat has mastered many ways to create her illustrations, whether it be old-fashioned pencil on paper or using more advanced computer software.

In this digital exclusive, deGroat offers us an in-depth look into all the different tools and methods she uses to create her art. 

Learn more about Diane deGroat and her book “The Adventures of Robo Kid,” in our full profile of the author/illustrator. 


Read the full transcript:

Diane deGroat, Illustrator/Author: This style is new for me and it might be new for anybody, because I’ve never seen it done this way before. But since I love charcoal drawings so much, just drawing with charcoal pencil on paper with that rich black and feeling the pencil on the paper cannot be replaced by a stylus and a computer. So, that’s the first thing.

So, I got to do that. I got to draw the images of Henry and his world in charcoal — just black and white — and then scanning it into the computer. And then once it’s in the computer — can you see that? I can add all the colors digitally in layers, and I could try a million different ways of doing it. I could change the color of the shirt; I could change the color of the dog.

When it comes to the color, you can do it a million ways without messing it up. Whereas when I was using watercolor, you just get one shot at it and if you make a mistake, you can’t fix it. You have to start all over again.

So, I think the best thing about using Photoshop and digital is that you can do more experiment, you can use colors you don’t normally use, and you can change it and fix it.

And I like the flexibility, which I never had using watercolor paint before.

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: And I know that I saw on the blog, too, you have kind of some clay models of — and so that was really interesting.

Do you create those yourself, as well?

Diane deGroat: I do! I make the little models for the heads and the faces. So, every time you draw that character, he looks the same. You can’t just make it up out of your head what a person looks like from this side and what it looks like from the first and from the back.

And I’m not the — a lot of illustrators do this, I mean, believe me! And this way I have the head, he’s about — he’s about this big, and I could photograph him at all different angles. And I use those photographs to copy the illustrations.

When I’m drawing Henry in charcoal, I can draw him exactly like the photographs and the head that I built of him.