Digital Illustrator Specialization: student review & creative process

Image: Luise Inzunza

4minutes read


After working as a freelance artist in Chile for almost ten years, Luis Inzunza felt he had reached the peak of what he could do locally, so he set his sights on a more global career. To achieve this goal, he knew he'd have to sharpen his digital illustration skills. 

Luis enrolled in CG Spectrum's advanced digital illustration Course and, before long, landed a job as a freelance digital illustrator at the global indie game dev studio Monumental!

We chatted with Luis about his time at CG Spectrum, exploring some of the work he produced during his studies, what he got out of the course, the challenges he faced, and his advice to current/future students.

Fox Girl digital illustration by Luis.

Tell us a bit about your role as a freelance illustrator at Monumental.

I’ve been commissioned to do a total of seven card illustrations for Monumental's Mythgard, a collectible card game (CCG). I’m currently finishing the last two commissions of expansion three which will be released in early 2023.

To begin with, I receive a brief from the client with a detailed description and image references. Based on that brief, I produce three black-and-white sketches, paying special attention to composition and lighting for a good read.

After one of the three sketches is selected and approved by the art director, I then need to send a couple of color sketches. In Mythgard, each card has a primary color representing one of the game's factions, so, at this stage of my process, it's important to have the faction color well represented in a high-impact image.

Finally, after the color sketch is approved, I prepare the final illustration, taking special care of the rendering brushwork. The timeframe I'm given to produce one of these high-quality illustrations is one month. 

So far, all the feedback I've received from my art director has been positive, which makes me so happy. Working for Monumental was exactly the type of career path I was looking for when I decide to take the Advanced Digital Illustration Course.

CG Spectrum gave me confidence in my process and quality of art to be able to work for a global studio like Monumental.


I want to give special thanks to my mentor Eric Wilkerson. He showed me the path so clearly and gave me the confidence to progress to the next level without fear. He taught me that building a strong process brings consistency which is the key to professionalism and what leads to success.

Today, my family—my wife and my three children—are enjoying a better standard of living because daddy is being paid much better than last year.

Term 1 

Share one piece of work you completed in this term and describe your process.

My final project for the first term was Fox Girl.

How Luis created Fox Girl.

What new skills did you acquire?

I learned how to manage my own photo reference. For Fox Girl, I used my daughter as a model.

Additionally, I learned how to generate photogrammetry. The first prop I made using this technique was a tree trunk. 

3D model of the tree trunk Luis produced using photogrammetry.

Screenshot of the photogrammetry process.

What challenges did you face?

The main challenge was learning 3D to build my scene reference. Initially, I struggled a bit because, as an illustrator, 3D was a whole new world to me, but I knew how beneficial it would be in creating strong realistic lighting reference for my scene, so I persevered. Below are some screenshots of my progress using the 3D software Blender which is taught as part of the course.




What was your main takeaway?

Strong reference brings strong illustrations and, in time, generates consistency.

After the term one at CG Spectrum, I would never make an illustration without sourcing strong reference first.


Luis used his daughter as a model for the fox girl in his digital painting.

Any advice for students starting Term 1?

Don’t be afraid to use yourself as a model to create your own reference pictures. Play with lights, be creative, and don’t be afraid to learn new techniques that will help you with your work.


Luis used basic household items, like a hairdryer, to help him with his reference as part of his creative process.

Fox Girl digital painting work in progress using photo reference of Luis' daughter.

Term 2

Below is my final project for term two, Magic Class.


Below are some pictures of the process:

Original sketch.

Color variation.

Final color sketch.

Final photobash.

During this project, I learned how to work with 3D human models using a studio model in DAZ 3D. In addition, I ascertained how to model clothes in Blender.

Again the challenges were related to working in 3D. It was time-consuming learning how to model and texture clothes for realistic results but building good reference is always time well spent.

Don't hesitate to develop any skill that helps you to create better reference. Learn how to model on clay, learn 3D software, learn how to take photos, and learn about lightning.

My main takeaway was a reinforcement of what I learned in my first term: that strong references really make a difference in your work.

Term 3

Dark Dawn was my final term project as part of the Advanced Digital Illustration Course.


Some pictures of the process:

Original color sketch.

3D sculpt.

Final photobash.

In term three, I finally learned how to sculpt in 3D. I had worked with traditional clay sculpture in the past, but I knew that learning digital sculpting within a 3D environment would help me to create more consistent lighting for better final reference.

3D sculpting takes time, so the main challenge for me in my last term was time management. But the final results were worth how long it took to set things up and get them right.

If reference is key to a strong art piece, learning how to create high-quality reference is your main duty as an illustration student after you master the fundamentals.

These were the main lessons I learned from this course and my mentor Eric. Once all the elements of my piece are sorted, anything else is left up to improvisation. 

Once I’ve created and compiled strong reference, it's time to paint! Happy times! I can listen to good music, no worries at all, just happiness because my process is strong. These are the moments when I feel like I can fly, knowing I am turning my dreams into a reality.

As a final word to all my mates at CG Spectrum, I wish you all success in your careers. If you listen to your mentors and do your best, good things will come with time. Remember not to rush. Enjoy your time with your mates, participate in CG Spectrum's online community, and have a lot of fun creating and discovering what you are passionate about. Best wishes!

Mitos y Leyendas TCG game
Art for Chilean trading card game Mitos y Leyendas (Myths and Legends) by Luis. Love to work on something like this? Check out our blog about how to become a trading card illustrator!


To see more work by Luis and to follow his progress, check out his website and find him on LinkedIn, ArtStation, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sharpen your skills with CG Spectrum's Advanced Digital Illustration Course.

Taught by pros with industry experience working in film, games, and publishing, you'll gain competence in the practical skills and techniques that global studios are looking for.  

CG Spectrum's Advanced Digital Illustration Course also helps you build vital soft skills with a whole term dedicated to learning about working in the industry and refining your portfolio with expert feedback and advice from your mentor and our career development manager throughout.

Learn digital painting at an advanced level and progress in your career as a digital illustrator! 



[more]Read Shoshanah Wall's bio[/more]

Shoshanah has almost a decade of visual effects production experience, coordinating VFX teams in Australia and London. Her credits include Mad Max: Fury Road, Ant-Man, John Wick: Parabellum, Game of Thrones, and Christopher Robin. She now enjoys getting to write about the film and games industry.