Speed vs quality

Speed vs quality: Which is more important to your clients?



Illustrators that have worked for many years often amaze people by how quickly they can draw an image on their favourite media. Often, what’s equally amazing, it’s their attention to details that comes with the quick hand. Unfortunately, when people see this, they tend to assume that it is the result of natural born talent and not the product of years of training and hard work.


Frankly anyone can draw quickly, but it’s unwise to compromise accuracy for speed in this line of work. 


I always try to be fast and accurate in my illustrations, but it can be very tough when the clock is against you.

With tight deadlines I’m not talking about the luxury of few days or weeks. I’m talking about a FEW HOURS.

My experience with La Stampa (an Italian daily newspaper) helped me a lot in this department. For that type of collaboration, I had two hours to find the concept, do the sketch and deliver the final illustration.



After the first illustrations I started to develop some tricks which helped me to be faster but without compromising the quality.

I took note that 70% of the time was spent in trying to find an idea for the article. So, I had to find a way to have some “already made ideas” ready to use or modify for the occasions.

I’ve already talked about recycling ideas here. That would be a solution, but the article topic also helped me.



Most of them were about politics and economics, so I started to think about different general concepts and ideas I could use once or twice.

Another trick that helped me to be faster is the creation and use of texture which is like a pen marker: in this way I can colour in flat colours and then apply the different textures.

The recycling of old shapes and features from previous artworks (i.e. character’s faces, dresses, pattern, etc) is a winning strategy against time as well.



Having listed some of my preferred methods, you must consider that not all of them are always applicable due to the commission nature. Therefore, a good preparation is always key for success.


As I mentioned before, I prefer these ways with very thigh deadlines only (few hours) and not when I have one day or more. In such cases I prefer to work on the concepts from the beginning, doing everything properly with the right amount of time to also detach myself from them and revisit them later with a fresh mind.


Do you have any tricks to work faster but with quality?   Let me know in the comments box below!

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