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Create a Tim Burton Inspired Bride of Frankenstein in Illustrator

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This tutorial will go through the process of creating a symmetrical Halloween Brides of Frankenstein portrait in Adobe Illustrator using the Reflect Tool (O).

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, because the spooky theme is a wide field for creativity and a great chance to unleash your wild imagination exploring new styles, methods, and creating new characters! The most inspiring Halloween style for me is Tim Burton's art – his movies and, especially, his cartoons. In this tutorial I've tried to create a character in his style.


1. Start From a Sketch

Step 1

I usually start from drawing a rough sketch on paper or in Adobe Photoshop. When you are satisfied with your image, File > Place it in Adobe Illustrator and Hide Artboards in the View menu so that nothing distracts you from your work flow.

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Step 2

Double-click on the layer which contains your sketch and tick the Template box to make the image more transparent.

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2. Draw Basic Shapes Using the Pen Tool and Reflect Tool

Step 1

Now grab the Pen Tool (P) and start forming her face! Remember to draw only one half and don't close the path.

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Step 2

Great, now double-click on the Reflect Tool (O), choose the Vertical axis in the pop-up menu and hit the Copy button.

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Step 3

Select both halves and press Control-J to turn them into a single shape. Apply a gentle linear gradient from light blue on the forehead to darker sky blue on the chin.

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Step 4

Continue the same way and start forming the upper part of her body, which will be visible above the dress.

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Combine two parts into one whole.

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Step 5

As you may notice, my sketch is a bit clumsy. In order to preserve symmetry, add a useful vertical Guide line.

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3. Create the Eyes and Nose

Step 1

In this step we start making the eyes. Add a squashed circle and fill it with radial gradient from pure white in the middle to light-beige on the edges, thus adding dimension to the eye-ball.

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Step 2

Place a round iris, filling it with linear gradient as shown on the screenshot below, so that it blends nicely with the eye-ball.

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Step 3

Add large and small wrinkles around the eye using the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B) and fill the shapes with a metallic turquoise linear gradient consisting of three colors – darker on the ends and lighter in the middle. Don't forget to group the elements to make it more convenient to select and move them.

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Step 4

Draw a shape which will form a big shadow under her eye-brow. Put it behind the eye and fill it with linear gradient from light-blue to white. Apply the Multiply Blending Mode to the created shape, so that the lower part of the shape becomes more transparent.

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Step 5

Add highlights using the Screen Blending Mode to make the eyes more life like and the glance more vivid. Check out my Fun Cartoon Worm tutorial (Chapter 4 and further) to see how Screen and Multiply Blending Modes work for shadows and highlights.

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Don't forget to put a shadow under the upper eye-lid to separate it from the eye-ball. Duplicate the basic eye-shape, select both the shadow and the eye-shape and use Intersect in the Pathfinder panel to cut off the unneeded parts.

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Step 6

Now select all the parts of the eye which we've created, Group them together and use the Reflect Tool (O) to make a mirrored copy. Place it on the second half of the face. Looks pretty good, isn't it?

The only thing you have to edit here is highlights. Highlights must always be on one and the same side of both eyes as they reflect the light source. In our case, just select all the highlights on one of the eyes and reflect them once again (without making a copy).

After that we can start forming a nose by drawing one part of it with the Pen Tool (P)

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Add more details to form the bridge and to make the whole nose poke out on the face. Don't forget to add a pair of tiny nostrils.

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4. Create the Mouth

Step 1

Let's move on and create some tempting lips.

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Use the Pen Tool (P) and make the upper lip look like a Cupid's bow.

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Step 2

Pull down the middle anchor point of the lower part to form the lower lip. Fill the shape with dark-rose linear gradient and add a black curved line separating the lips.

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Step 3

Select both the lip shape and the black line and use the Divide function in the Pathfinder panel to break the lips apart so that we can color them separately.

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Step 4

Make the upper lip much darker than the lower one as it is hidden in the shadow. Don't forget to put a gentle highlight on the lower lip and add some fancy Halloween details to the corners of the mouth. Draw a few stitches to make the mouth sewn up while still keeping a cunning smile on the face.

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5. Add More Face Details

Step 1

Continue adding minor details – style the brows, deepen the shadows around the eyes and increase the highlights on the lips, making the face more dimensional.

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Step 2

Lighten the check-bones by adding a half-moon shape and applying a Screen Blending Mode to it.

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Step 3

Add some stitches to her forehead.

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6. Create a Fabulous Hair Style

Step 1

Time to style the famous hairdo! I decided not the make it perfectly symmetrical in order to add a slight disproportion to the artwork, to make it look more natural. Use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick the colors from her eye-brows.

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Step 2

Add two white stripes on both sides of the hair and use Pathfinder to cut away the needless parts.

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Step 3

Move on and add reflections to her hair.

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Step 4

Form the curly lock falling softly onto her forehead.

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7. Add the Famous Frankenstein Screws

Step 1

Let's return to her body and put a shadow on the neck and some highlights on the collar bones.

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Step 2

Remember one of the most famous Frankenstein detail? Oh, yes, the giant screws! Let's add a pair of those to her neck.

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Step 3

Add as many details as you can, this always makes your artwork more interesting.

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Keep in mind that we're making only one screw and then reflect it to the other side, making a mirrored copy.

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8. Draw a Fashionable Vintage Dress

Step 1

Time to dress her up! We will create an elegant silken red dress, starting with forming a sleeve. Draw a plump sleeve shape and fill it with radial gradient from lighter red to deep burgundy. Don't forget to create a few shadows and highlights emphasizing the folds of the cloth.

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Step 2

Continue forming the dress by duplicating and reflecting the halves and uniting them into one whole shape.

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Step 3

Add a skirt to the dress, filling it with the same red-burgundy gradient.

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9. Draw a Jack-O-Lantern

Step 1

Let's move on to the fun part and create a creepy smiling pumpkin! Our pumpkin will consist of several sectors. Start from drawing a squashed orange circle in the middle of the "face".

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Step 2

Draw a smaller circle on either side of the first one and add some lighter-orange highlights.

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Step 3

Continue the same way and add a few more shapes to our pumpkin using the Reflect Tool (O).

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Step 4

Create some more shadows on the lower part of our pumpkin using darker orange color and some highlights on the upper part using lighter color to make it look more realistic.

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Step 5

Start drawing the eye by adding an evil-looking red shape. Duplicate the shape and make the copy slightly smaller.

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Step 6

Deepen the hole by applying a dark linear gradient. This will be the inner part of the eye. Change the color of the bigger outer part to linear gradient from darker orange to the lighter orange, as shown on the screenshot below.

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Step 7

Add the second eye and draw the nose-hole in the same technique.

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Step 8

Add a huge laughing mouth with some teeth and deep cracks. You may also add an oval shape above the pumpkin "forehead" and change it to Blending Mode Screen to create a highlight.

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10. Add Arms to the Body

Step 1

After you've finished with the pumpkin, move forward and add a pair of arms. As in previous steps, we use the Pen Tool (P) and draw one arm, then duplicate and reflect it to the other side.

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Step 2

Don't forget to work out in details her hands, though they are almost fully hidden under the pumpkin-head. Add a thumb and put a shadow from the pumpkin on the palm.

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Step 3

Add a few stitches to the crease of the arms, near the elbows in the same way as we did it with her lips.

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11. Create a Mysterious Background

Step 1

After we are satisfied with our character appearance, we need to create some simple yet interesting background. Create a rectangle under the Bride and fill in with radial blueish-green gradient so that the darker color will form a nice vignette in the corners. After that, select all parts of the character, copy them and fill with black color, so that we get a black silhouette.

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Step 2

Move the black shape to back placing it under the character (Shift-[ ). Keeping the selection, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and set the Offset value to 2px, leaving other parameters as default.

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Step 3

Fill the newly created shape (which looks like a stroke around our Bride) with light-turquoise color and add some mystic glow to it by applying the Outer Glow effect (Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow).

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Adjust the settings as shown on the screenshot below:

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Step 4

The Frankenstein theme always reminds me of mystery and lightning bolts. Let's add some of them here using the Pen Tool (P) and drawing zig-zag lines. Apply the Blending Mode Screen to the lightning bolts and play with the Opacity, lowering it for the smaller bolts in the middle, in order to create the perspective and add depth to the whole image.

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Step 5

The last thing to do here is to get rid of the unwanted parts around the Artboard. Create a rectangle of the desired size above all the objects with no fill and no stroke. Select All (Control-A), right-click and Make Clipping Mask.

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Our Halloween Bride of Frankenstein is Finished!

Inspired by and dedicated to Tim Burton's art, I present to you our Bride of Frankenstein! Hope you enjoyed it and good luck with creating your own characters.

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