Create a Detailed Dog Portrait in Adobe Illustrator CC
IntroductionIn this tutorial, Im going to show you how to create a detailed dog portrait from a reference photo with Adobe Illustrator CC. Lets enjoy vectoring dogs in Illustrator!
My subject is Kaky, a Kelpie cross Border Collie puppy. I will be using a reference photo of him which I photographed at my home.
Step 1Create a new print document in landscape orientation. Choose File > Place and select the supplied reference -photo.jpg image. Click to place the image in the upper-left corner of the artboard. With the image selected, select the Artboard tool () in the Tools panel and choose Fit To Selected Art from the Presets menu in the Control panel to resize the artboard to fit the image.
In the Layers panel, double-click the default layer named Layer 1 and rename it ref.
Step 2Now that our reference photo is in place, well capture the colors from the photo and generate a color palette we can use. I use several methods to do this: Sampling with the Eyedropper Tool (I), and using Image Trace and the Swatches panel. Im going to show you the second method.
First, select the Selection tool, and with the image selected on the artboard, copy it by pressing Cmd+C (Mac OS), or Ctrl+C (Windows) and paste a copy in back by pressing Cmd+B (Mac OS), Ctrl+B (Windows), then lock the copy for later use by pressing Cmd+2 (Mac OS) or Ctrl+2 (Windows).
Select the unlocked image and click the arrow to the right of the Image Trace button in Control panel. Choose 16 Colors from the menu that appears. After the artwork is traced, click the Expand button in the Control panel. This converts the image to vector artwork and allows us to grab the colors from it. This also always helps me to see the light tone and dark tones of the photo.
Step 4Create a new layer in the Layers panel above the layer named ref, and rename it bg. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a rectangle over the entire artboard and lock it. Hide the new bg layer by clicking the eye icon in the Layers panel.
Create another new layer in the Layers panel, above the bg layer, and rename it face.
Choose View > Smart Guides to turn them off to make it easier to draw with the Pen tool. Next you will draw the main shapes for the dog.
Select the Pen tool (P) in the Tools panel and draw the base shape for the face. Change the fill color to the values C=90, M=80, Y=80, K=80 (you may want to save this color as a swatch because you will use it again later). This initial color is not one of the swatches captured from the tracing.
Step 3In the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches), with the traced artwork still selected, click the New Color Group button at the bottom of the panel. In the New Color Group dialog box that appears set the following options and then click OK:
Name: dog Create From: select Selected Artwork Convert Process to Global: selected Include Swatches for Tints: selected
The 16 colors are now in a group in the Swatches panel. If you want, you can delete the traced photo leaving the copy of the un-traced photo on the artboard. I deleted it.
In the Layers panel, lock the ref layer. Make sure the layer content is still visible.
NOTE: Going forward, you can turn the visibility of the ref layer on and off as you draw so you can more easily trace the image content, then turn it back off to only see the drawing. In the figures going forward, Ive turned off the ref layer so you can more easily see the drawing I created.
Step 6Now that you have the initial shapes created, you will begin to add highlight tone to the face.
Make sure that the face layer is selected. Hide all layers except for the face layer and, if you want, the ref layer to use the traced photo as a reference. Going forward, remember to turn the other layers back on when you need them.
Select the Paintbrush Tool (B) in the Tools panel. Before you begin painting, you will choose a brush. Choose Window > Brush Libraries > Artistic > Artistic_Ink. Click the Tapered - Stroke brush in the list to paint with an art brush. You will be using this brush going forward. Close the Artistic_Ink panel. Open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and double-click the Tapered - Stroke brush in the list. In the Art Brush Options dialog box, change the Width to 15%. Click OK. You will use this same brush for the rest of the tutorial.
In the Control panel, make sure the following options are set:
Stroke weight: 3 pt Variable Width Profile : choose Width Profile 1 from the menu Brush Definition: should be Tapered - Stroke Stroke color: C=90, M=80, Y=80, K=80 (the same as the original face shape)
Draw the shape for the highlight tone (see the figure for reference). Make sure that there arent any gaps between each of the smaller paths that make up the larger shape.
Note: If youre using a mouse to create these shapes, it can take a little while. The faster and more accurate way of creating these shapes would be to use a pen tablet, like a Wacom.
Step 5Create two new layers below the face layer in the Layers panel and rename them left ear and body (see the figure for reference). Select the left ear layer and, using the Pen tool (P), draw the shape for the left ear, using the image as a guide.
Select the body layer, and draw the shape for the body.
Select all three shapes and choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen to make the edge of the shapes shaggy. See the figure for roughen settings that are most effective.
Continue drawing shapes for the highlight tone in the face and select all of those shapes and group them by pressing Cmd+G (Mac OS) or Ctrl+G (Windows). Repeat the same process for creating highlight shapes for the body and left ear.
The following figure shows the shapes for the face and the highlight shapes in place. I put a copy of the highlight shape group to the right of the face shape so you could see what I drew more easily.
Select all of the highlight paths and choose Object > Expand Appearance. With the shapes selected, select the Live Paint Bucket tool in the Tools panel (beneath the Shape Builder tool) and change the fill color to C=90, M=80, Y=80, K=80. Click inside of the highlight shapes to convert it to a live paint object and fill it with the color.
With the shapes still selected, set the blending mode to Screen and the opacity to 30% in the Control panel.
Step 8Using the Pen Tool (P) draw the outline for the inside of right ear. Apply a Radial Gradient with two colors that are both (C=8, M=70, Y=45, K=0). Make sure the opacity on the second color in the gradient is 0% (see the figure). Adjust the gradient using the Gradient tool (G) so it looks more like the figure.
With the shapes still selected, change the blending mode to Color Dodge and the opacity to 20% in the Control panel.
Select the left ear layer in the Layers panel and repeat the process (making sure to show the other layers after).
Step 7With the face layer selected in the Layers panel, draw the outline of the brown patch on the cheek. Apply the White, Black gradient to the fill of the shape in the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient). In the Gradient panel, change the color values of the white color to the swatch in the dog group with the tooltip that shows (C=27, M=37, Y=56, K=2) with an opacity of 100% and the color values of the black color to (C=27, M=37, Y=56, K=2) with an opacity of 0%.
Note: You can put the pointer over a color swatch to see a tooltip that shows the color values. Going forward, you will be using this same method to apply colors from the dog color group you created earlier.
Select the Gradient tool (G) in the Tools panel, and drag across the shape from left to right to position the gradient like you see in the figure.
Tip: You can also edit the gradient colors directly on the artwork with the Gradient tool selected.
Step 10Now, you will add strokes for fur! The most fun part of vectoring dogs.
Create a new layer above the face layer in the Layers panel and rename it fur. Select the Paintbrush Tool (B) in the Tools panel and then make sure the following options are set:
Brush Definition: choose Tapered - Stroke Stroke weight: 1 pt Variable Width Profile : choose Width Profile 1 Opacity: 100% Blending mode: Normal Stroke color: The swatch in the dog color group with the values C=80, M=70, Y=59, K=72 (an arrow is pointing to it in
Draw paths for the fur, noting the direction of the fur in the original photo of the dog. Select all of the paths you drew and group them by pressing Cmd+G (Mac OS) or Ctrl+G (Windows).
TIP: You can also rename each group in the Layers panel according to the properties applied or other. You will see in a later step that I renamed them.
Step 9Next, draw a shape for the white part of the body using the Paintbrush tool and the same brush settings and method from step 6. You can be as detailed as you like. Make sure that its filled with white.
Draw another shape for the white part of the lower jaw. Apply the White, Black linear gradient to the fill, and change the black color values to the swatch in the dog group, with the values C=2, M=1, Y=3, K=0. Make sure that the opacity for the white color of the gradient has an opacity of 0%. Adjust the gradient using the Gradient tool or the values in the Gradient panel like you see in the figure.
With the second shape selected, change the blending mode to Screen and the opacity to 30% in the Control panel.
Step 12Next you will layer other strokes on top to make a third color of fur. Making sure nothing is selected, and with the Paintbrush tool still selected, change the followi