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Create the Enchanting Maleficent Portrait in Adobe Illustrator

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial we will discover how to draw a bewitching stylized portrait of Maleficent in Adobe Illustrator. We’ll be using various effects, such as Blur effect for soft shadows and overtones. Let the magic begin!

1. Trace the Sketch in Outline Mode

Step 1

Start by creating a New Document of 600x800 px size. File > Place your sketch onto the canvas and click twice on the layer containing the sketch. Check the Template tick box in order to lock the layer automatically and to make it more transparent (the Dim Images to option should be checked by default).

Step 2

Switch to the Outline Mode (Control-Y) to make your sketch visible under the shapes and lines we’ll be creating.

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L), make a circle and place it over the upper part of Maleficent's head. Draw out the jaw with the help of the Pen Tool (P). You can actually draw only left part of the jaw and then just use the Reflect Tool (O) to reflect it over the vertical axis and combine those two parts into a single smooth shape by selecting them both and pressing Control-J.

Step 3

Draw out the lips. You don't have to be super-precise at this step as you will be able to edit those shapes later, in process of coloring.

2. Create Maleficent’s Eyes

Step 1

Create an almond-like basic eye-shape with the help of the Pen Tool (P) or Pencil Tool (N). Add a few other details while remaining in the Outline Mode: a circle for the eyeball; a shadow from the upper eye-lid; an inner eye-corner and a shadow from the lower eye-lid. Don’t worry if the shapes are overlapping each other and seem to be out of the basic  shape’s boundaries. Use the copy of the basic eye-shape to place all other objects in the Clipping Mask.

Place another shape, slightly larger than the basic eye-shape, on the bottom and fill it with black color to form the eyeliner.

Step 2

Turn back to normal Preview Mode (Control-Y) and start applying the colors to all the shapes we've made in our previous step. Switch the shadows from the eye-lids into Multiply Blending Mode and fill them with a gentle linear gradient from light-grey to white.

Step 3

Let’s make a simple brush for separate eyelashes. Create a circle and drag it’s right anchor point farther right with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Convert the selected anchor point to corner by clicking it once with the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Finally, squash the shape a bit.

Drag the created shape to the Brushes panel and make an Art Brush, leave all the settings as default.

Step 4

Take the Paintbrush Tool (B) and try making a few strokes. You can make the Stroke value smaller or larger to your convenience. Draw the eyelashes, varying their length. Object > Expand Appearance and delete the unneeded pieces with the Eraser Tool (Shift-E). Select both the eyelashes and the eyeliner, Unite them in Pathfinder and apply a linear gradient from dark lilac to dark blue, creating a nice glowing makeup effect.

Step 5

Draw a light-blue shape and place it under all the other shapes (Shift-Control-[). Go to Effects > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius value to approximately 18 pixels in order to create a gentle smoky-eye effect.

Step 6

Create another shape and place it under the blue one. Fill it with a color slightly darker than the skin-tone. Apply the same blur effect to the shape.

Step 7

Draw a blurred shape of light-lilac color under the eye. Add some minor details: tiny highlight sparks over the iris and a curved stroke across the upper eye-lid.

Step 8

Enter the Isolation mode inside your Clipping mask and make the iris more realistic and bright with the help of the Appearance panel by adding new fills and radial gradients, as shown on the screenshot (check out the Vibrant Peacocktutorial: Part 1, Step 3 and further for a more descriptive process of creation).

Step 9

Quit the isolation mode and let’s see how the whole eye looks now.

Step 10

Copy the eye, reflect it over the vertical axis with the Reflect Tool (O) and place it on the other part of her face, according to our sketch.

Step 11

Draw a curved eyebrow with the Pencil Tool (N). 

Add the second brow and the eyes are finished.

3. Render a Pretty Nose

Step 1

Start by forming a tiny nostril with the Pen Tool (P). Fill it with linear gradient from darker brown to light brown in order to show the cavity. Add the second nostril and surround the nostrils by a freehand curvy shape. Fill it with pale lilac color and apply the Gaussian Blur effect to create a gentle shadow under the nose tip.

Step 2

Add some more details to make the nose more realistic! Put a pink burred spot on the tip of the nose and draw a white highlight above it with the Pencil Tool (N). Finally, draw a half-moon shape between the eye and the nose bridge and fill it with linear gradient from white to light-pink. Switch it to Multiply Blending Mode in order to create a shadow and to emphasize the sculpture of the nose. Don’t forget to put the same shadow along the right side on the nose.

4. Create Tempting Red Lips

Step 1

Ripe red lips are one of the most outstanding features of Maleficent’s face. Let’s do our best to make them vivid and living! Duplicate the outlines that we’ve created for the lips earlier and fill them with a darker skin-tone, also adding two dark spots in both corners of the lips. Apply the Gaussian Blur effect to these objects.


Step 2

Bring to Front (Control-Shift-]) the lips outlines, placing them above the blurred shapes. Fill the lower lip with a gentle linear gradient from pale-rose to red and apply the darker red color to the upper lip. Emphasize the upper lip by adding a thin curved white line along the lip. Add another bright shape under the nose and apply Gaussian Blur effect to it, forming a ridged philtrum.

Step 3

It’s time to add more details! Make a shape, crossing the lower part of the lower lip to darken the lip. Cut off the unneeded part using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) and fill the shape with a light gradient from white to dark-red, switching the Blending Mode to Multuply. Draw a wrinkled line over the lower lip, creating a highlight. Add few more wrinkled lines on the lips, making them sleek and shiny. Use the Screen Blending Mode for bright highlights.

Step 4

The last but not the least thing to do with the lips is to add a blurred highlight next to the corner of the lip and the second one on the other side of her mouth. Finally, make the lips more dimensional by putting a light shadow under the lower lip.

Here is the Maleficent’s overall look at this step:

Let’s move on to her skin and crown.

5. Finish Her Makeup and Sculpt Those Crooked Horns

Step 1

As our portrait is cartoon and stylized, we won’t be making her check-bones too sharp in order not to make the face too skinny and to preserve the dollish look. We’ll add some tender blush instead. Draw a circle and hide it in the Clipping Mask, using the copy of the basic head shape. Fill it with the radial gradient, filling the center with light-rose color and the outer part with white color. Switch the shape to Multiply Blending Mode. Add some blush to her second cheek as well.

Step 2

Add another circle over the middle of Maleficent’s forehead to make her head more spherical. Use the Screen Blending Mode to spotlight the whole area. 

Step 3

Let’s start rendering the headdress. As before, switch to Outline Mode (Control-Y) and start tracing your sketch from the middle part. Return back to normal mode, checking the result. Apply dark-blue colors to created shapes.

Step 4

Now we need to create a sparkling texture for some chic. Make a small white circle and drag it to the Symbols Panel, creating a Movie Clip with default settings. Use the Symbol Sprayer Tool (Shift-S) to spread the circles over the hat. Make the circles larger in the middle and smaller at the edges by editing them with Symbol Sizer Tool, which you can find in the same drop-down menu as the Symbol Sprayer Tool (Shift-S). Click on the objects when you want to make your symbols larger; and hold the Alt key and click when you need to make them smaller. 

Finally, Object > Expand Appearance of the created texture and place it in the Clipping Mask.

Step 5

Enter the Clipping Mask and fill the circles with dark-blue color, switching them to Screen Mode and lowering the Opacity down to 60% so that the overlapping parts of the circles become visible.

Step 6

Return to normal mode and add some sharp-edged shapes on both sides of the headdress, creating the illusion of a folding fabric. Fill them with a three-colored dark-blue gradient and switch to Screen Mode.

Step 7

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-C > Control-F) the texture group and fill it with dark-blue radial gradient, switching to Screen Blending Mode and thus making it brighter.

Step 8

Start drawing out one of the horns in the Outline Mode.

Step 9

Edit the colors so that the horns fit the headdress nicely. Make the notches lighter with the help of Screen Mode and add a smooth highlight over the horn, making it glossy.

Step 10

Copy the created horn and place its reflected copy on the second side of the head.

Step 11

In order to separate the headdress from the face, making it more dimensional, we also need to put a shadow under it. For this purpose, duplicate all parts of the hat and Unite them in Pathfinder, thus combining them into a single shape. Place this shape under the headdress and move it down a bit.

Finally, fill the shape with the same color as we have under the lower lip (use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick up the color and appearance), forming a gentle shadow.

6. Style the Dress

Step 1

Start by tracing the basic shape of the dress and add a few parts of the neck piece. Draw the pleats separately from each other, so that we’ll be able to color them differently.

Step 2

Form a collar consisting of three pieces around her neck. Fill them with dark blue linear gradient. To emphasize the silk texture, duplicate each part and switch the Blending Mode to Screen.

Step 3

Color the pleats according to the headdress color palette and apply the Multiply Blending Mode to those shapes which stand for the shadows.

Step 4

Rearrange the shapes so that some of their parts are hidden behind the collar and the front parts are placed above the body. Fill the basic dress shape with the matching dark-blue linear gradient.

Step 5

Use the Reflect Tool (O) to copy and mirror the objects over the vertical axis, placing them on the opposite side of the body.

Step 6

Put some shadows from the collar and the neck piece on the skin of her chest and add a few minor details to the dress: dark folds in the bottom and bright highlights above the shoulders.

7. Create a Mysterious Sparkling Background

Step 1

We are on our final straight and the only important thing left to be done is the background! Create a New Layer for the background and place it under all other layers. Make a rectangle of a 600x800 px size using the Rectangle Tool (M). Fill the rectangle with a radial gradient from a very dark-blue on the edges to greyish dark-blue in the middle.

Step 2

Add New Fill in the Appearance panel and fill it with a simple spotted texture, which you can find in the Swatch Libraries Menu > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures > USGS 22 Gravel Beach. Set the Blending Mode of this Fill to Screen.

Step 3

Select your texture in the Swatches panel and enter the Edit Pattern Mode. Select several random spots and fill them with lighter blue color.

Step 4

Exit the Pattern Mode and notice how sparkling the background looks now.

Step 5

The dark background already emphasizes the main object; however, we want to add more contrast to her face and to make the character more outstanding. For this purpose, add some narrow extruded shapes along both parts of her face and on the edges of the horns. Fill the shapes with linear gradient from black to greyish-blue and switch to Screen Blending Mode, creating a soft highlight.

Step 6

Select all parts of Maleficent, group them and make a copy. Place the copy above all other objects and Unite it in Pathfinder, creating a flat silhouette.

Step 7

Place the created silhouette under the character and fill it with dark-blue color. Switch the Blending Mode to Screen, making it visible above the background and apply the Gaussian Blur effect, turning the flat shape into a nice glowing halo around Maleficent. 

Step 8

Our character becomes more noticeable and stands out nicely above the background. The last thing to do here is to put a soft vignette and to darken the corners of our artwork, so that the character’s face becomes the main object of the composition. Put a 600 x 800 px rectangle above all other objects on a separate layer and fill it with linear gradient from white in the middle to inky-blue on the edges. Switch it to Multiply Blending Mode to make the center of the vignette transparent.

Voila! Your Enchanting Portrait of Maleficent is Finished!

Congratulations on finishing up this stylized Maleficent portrait! I hope you’ve found some useful techniques in working with soft blurred shapes and textures. Keep drawing and creating new art! 

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