Sports always needed art to succeed, especially after advertisements became popular, whether printed ones or visual ones. Once 3D art and illustration became mainstream, there was an even greater need for digital artists to dedicate their own time and careers to sports illustrations.
Here are some things you should know if you want to be a sports illustrator.
Being an illustrator always requires the right tools. You need a combination of hardware and software. You can settle for an iPad and an Apple Pencil and work from a mobile device. That, however, has its limitations which means that you should also consider other options. Getting a full Mac computer is expensive, even more so if you want to purchase specialized software.
Getting a PC can be another option, with open-source systems such as a Linux distribution, or Microsoft Windows, if you want support for more software, though the latter comes with a price.
Drawing tablets are almost essential, Wacom stands out as a company with great products.
On the software side, you can choose free things like GIMP or SpeedyPainter or paid variants like Adobe products, Photoshop or Illustrator.
Note that these are only some of the tools available to you, there being many more pieces of both hardware and software to choose from.
Whether you are learning to swim, play an instrument or illustrate, you should turn to the best and learn from them. With sports illustrations, you should examine previous works of other well-known illustrators or just look at some famous examples. Any logo of a large tournament should do, like a FIFA World Cup or the Olympic Games logos. Some World Cups, for example, had mascots which are memorable to this day, the FIFA 98 cockerel named Footix. The cockerel is one of the national symbols of France, the country which hosted the 1998 World Cup. Learn from these examples and use them to your advantage.
Every sport is different, in its approach, gameplay and emotion, in the end. The last part may be the most important one for your drawings and logos. Capturing an emotion of a sport can make your art stand out and catch the eye of an important member of a huge organization, like FIFA or someone from the NBA.
Look at the different sports and their emotions, the art associated with the sport and make your choice. You can illustrate for more than one sport, that is feasible, yet specialization can help you stand out in a crowd of artists aspiring to land that huge deal.
Often, people think that they can just start their careers out of the blue. While that can be true for some extremely talented people, art and illustration, takes time and lots of practice. Learning your trade will make you a better artist, especially if you share your work and ask for criticism. Art does allow for a lot of personal expression, that is an essential part of art, yet if you are to do sports illustrations, or work for anybody other than yourself, you need to adhere to some standards and practices.
These are the things you should have in mind if you want to be a sports illustrator.
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