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Creating a Personalized Pet Portrait in Illustrator CS5

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In this tutorial learn how to create a personalized pet portrait for your client. We'll be using reference images and adding elements in Photoshop, then vectoring it in Illustrator using a variety of techniques.


Introduction

I enjoy creating a variety of portraits of animals, especially ones that reflect the personality of the animal. However in this tutorial I'm going to show you how to create a piece of vector art of a dog that takes on it's owners personality and hobbies.

My subject is Stella, a Labradoodle puppy owned by Fiona Hooley, known to many as Chix0r, the Director of Community Operations at deviantART.


Homework

Before beginning the illustration of Stella, I need to make some notes on her appearance. I was given several photos of her. Based on them they show that she's a fairly young puppy and is all black apart from the small tuft of white on her chest.


Fiona is a big fan of music, especially trance and rock music. With my own tastes in music, I do love my old school trance and I'm a bit of a rock girl these days, so I can relate to the genres. Due to this I can bring my impressions of the genres into it. Fiona is also from Scotland, so if I can bring into it something to do with Bonnie Scotland, that would be good.

She's a fan of tattoo's and piercings. Due to Stella being a black dog, being able to show a tattoo will be a bit hard to do, but I can add the odd piercing!

The concept then will be of Stella wearing DJ style headphones and maybe an eyebrow ring. I want to make the white tuft in her fur a bit of a focal point, but not the main focal point. I've got the mental image of this, but now I need to bring this into a rough photo manipulation/sketch in Photoshop.


Step 1

After looking through the photos I've been provided, I've decided to make sure the face looks like Stella, I'm going to cut her face from a photo and build the reference image from this.


Firstly I'm going to duplicate the photo by drag and dropping the photo onto the Create a New Layer button. Using the Lasso Tool (L) with a 10px Feather, I'm going to go around the outside of Stella's face. Then Inverse the selection (Shift + Command + I) and delete.

Select the head, then Copy (Command + C) and Paste it (Command + P) onto a new document. Using the Move Tool (V), rotate and resize the head so it's slightly to the side as shown.



Step 2

I'm going to use another one of the photos I've been given to add the body to Stella. I preferred the face on the first photo, but I want to use the body from this photo:


Using the same method to cut the body out of the canvas, I'm going to add the body to the canvas. Using the Move Tool (V) I'll resize it so the head is slightly bigger than it should be.



Step 3

The reason why I made the head bigger than it should be is because puppies and kittens tend to look as if some of their features are bigger than an adult animal. Think of the last time you saw a baby... their head in proportion to the rest of the body is huge. So working on this theory I increased the head size, now I'm going to increase the size of the paws.

Using the Lasso Tool (L) select a paw and then using the Move Tool (V), increase the size of the paw. Repeat this with all of the paws.



Step 4

Now I'm going to rough sketch the elements I wish to add onto the reference image. I'm going to use the Paintbrush Tool (B) with a blue brush. This is so I can see the lines against Stella's black fur.
Adding a new layer below the head layer, I'll add a scarf with the St Andrew's cross on it. St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and the cross features on the Scottish flag. The scarf represents the cold weather.

The other elements I'll add to another layer on top of the head. So that's an eyebrow ring, headphones and a few lines to show where Stella's white patch is. Save the reference image so it's ready for use in Illustrator.



Step 5

Create a New Document in landscape. Now go to File > Place and use the Free Transform Tool (E) and hold Shift + Alt to resize the reference image on the canvas. Double-click on "Layer 1," rename it to "Reference," and click on OK.

Create a New Layer and rename it to "BG." Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a white rectangle to cover the canvas and reduce the Opacity to 30%. Lock both of the layer folders.



Step 6

Create a New Layer and rename it "Face." Create the Width Profile 1 brush from my Width Profile Brush tutorial.

Using a dark brown stroke color (C=65, M=80, Y=85, K=90), draw a series of curved V shapes around the face using the Paintbrush Tool (B). Aim to get the tips of the strokes to meet each other at the tips of the V's.



Step 7

Select All (Command + A) of the strokes and go to Object > Expand Appearance and click on OK. Using the Pathfinder, select Unite. While still selected, use the Live Paint Bucket (K) to fill the shape with dark brown.

Go to Object > Expand and then Object > Expand again and Unite the shapes so you should now be left with one shape.



Step 8

Create a New Layer below the "Face" layer folder and rename it "Body." Repeat steps 6 and 7 for the body. When doing the strokes around the paws, draw them slightly smoother.




Step 9

Create a New Layer above the "Body" layer folder and rename it "Ears." Repeat steps 6 and 7 for the ears. To make it easier to see where the ears are, make the "Face" layer folder visible while you draw the fur around the ears. The fur on the ears is typically longer and softer, so to represent this, the strokes should be longer and more curved.




Step 10

I'm going to modify the paw on the right, as it seems a little too large. To do this, use the Lasso Tool (Q) to select the area you wish to resize. Then use the Free Transform Tool (E) to resize it.



Step 11

In the "Body" layer folder, draw the outline of the white patch with a light brown color (C=10, M=10, Y=10, K=0) using the Paintbrush Tool (B) and Width Profile 1 brush. Using the same process as above, expand it, unite and use the Live Paint Bucket to fill the shape.



Step 12

Select the dark brown shape for the body and Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F). While still selected, click on the light brown shape and using the Pathfinder select Intersect.



Step 13

Using the Pen Tool (P) with a black fill color on Blending Mode Screen and Opacity 20%, draw in blocks of highlights to the face. Try to avoid straight lines and use more jagged lines, similar to the V shapes done for the other shapes.



Step 14

Repeat the same process for the ears. On one ear add further highlights by doubling the shape over.



Step 15

Repeat the same process for the body. However instead of a jagged line for the paws, try a smoother line. This is because the fur on paws is a lot less messy. This will help give a silky look later on.



Step 16

Now I have my basic shading, I want to balance the color more. At present it's looking too brown and it should be slightly darker. So playing with the Color Options window I've came up with a darker color using C=80, M=80, Y=80, and K=90.



Step 17

Create a New Layer above the "Body" layer folder and rename it "Scarf." Using the Pen Tool (P) with a blue stroke color, a weight of 50pt and a butt cap; draw one end of the scarf. It will be resting on part of the paw, so I've made sure that the scarf slightly curves over the paw.

Now draw a slightly lighter blue around the neck and then slightly lighter for on top. I've positioned the scarf so it doesn't hide the white tuft of fur at the front. The colors for the scarf I've used are from the bottom up: C=100, M=100, Y=0, K=20 to C=100, and M=100, Y=0, K=10 to C=100, M=100, Y=0, K=0.

Select the three scarf strokes and Object > Expand them.



Step 18

I'm going to add the St Andrew's Cross to the "scarf" layer. The St Andrew's Cross is not your traditional cross which you'd envision as a plus sign shaped cross "+" or a church cross. It's a diagonal shaped cross also known as a saltire. The Scottish flag is actually known as The Saltire!

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) draw a thin rectangle. Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F). Rotate this by going to Object > Transform > Rotate and rotate it but 70 degrees. Then in Pathfinder Unite them.

Use the Free Transform Tool (E) to resize the cross to the desired size, and position it on the end of the top scarf tail. Then Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) and drag the duplicated cross above the group for the tail in the back. Position the cross in place. Duplicate the groups the crosses are lying on. Now crop them using the Pathfinder.



Step 19

Create a New Layer above the "Ears" layer folder and rename it "Headphones."

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) draw a circle with the fill color of light gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=30). Then using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a slim rounded rectangle with the fill color of dark gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=70).

Using the Pen Tool (P), remove the anchor below the rounded rectangle on the circle and adjust the handle bars. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to add a dark gray circle at the tip of the light gray circle.

Now with the Free Transform Tool (E) resize and position the headphone and add a duplicated one on the sides of the head.



Step 20

Draw an ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L) with the stroke weight set to 7pt and the stroke color as a medium gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=50). Using the Free Transform Tool (E), rotate and position the ellipse so the side points are in line with the dark gray circles on the tips of the headphones.

Then use the Direct Selection Tool (V) to select the bottom point of the ellipse, then delete it and change the cap to a Round Cap.



Step 21

While the headband is selected, Copy (Command + C) it and Paste in Front (Command + F). Use the Pen Tool (P) to add points on either side towards the top. Then using the Direct Selection Tool (V), select the end points and delete them.

Change the stroke weight to 20pt, the stroke color to dark gray and the caps to a Projecting Cap. Select the headband and the padded headband and Object > Expand them.



Step 22

I've now prepared the base layers of the illustration. Now it's time to add further details, the first will be in the fur.

Create New Layer above the "Face" layer folder and rename it "Face Fur." Using the Paintbrush Tool (B) with the stroke weight of 3pt, the Width Profile 1 brush, the stroke color of a dark gray (C=5, M=5, Y=5, K=90), and Opacity of 25%, begin drawing in the fur with short curved strokes on the face.

I focus on the areas where I've added the previous highlighting layers and use the strokes to shape the face.



Step 23

Select All the strokes of fur (Command + A) and Group them (Command + G). Go into the "Face" layer folder and Copy (Command + C) the shape for the whole face. Lock the "Face" layer folder.

Go into the "Face Fur" folder and Paste in Front (Command + F) the shape and color it black. Select the group of fur strokes and the duplicated face shape, and then create a clipping mask (Command + 7).



Step 24

Duplicate steps 22 and 23 for the ears and for the body. However where the scarf and headphones are covering the areas, I'm going to put less fur strokes to give the impression of shadow.



Step 25

I'm going to go into the "Body" layer folder and reduce the Opacity for the shape used for the "white" tuft to 10%.

Then going into the "Body Fur" layer folder, begin adding strokes with the off white color used for the tuft with Width Profile 1 brush, Opacity 35% and stroke weight 3pt.

As with the previous steps, I'm going to group the strokes and use the large body shape for a clipping mask.



Step 26

Create a New Layer above all the other layer folders and rename it "Fur Detail."

Now add further strokes to the fur using the Paintbrush Tool (B) with the Width Profile 1 brush, Blending Mode of Screen and Opacity of 10%, stroke weight 1pt and stroke color of light brown (C=10, M=10, Y=10, K=0). This is adding more highlights to give it more depth.

Around the paws, add the highlights to help shape the digits. When finished, Group all the strokes (Command + G).



Step 27

Create a New Layer above the "Fur Detail" layer folder and rename it "Eyes." Using the reference image to help me with the shapes of the eyes, I draw an initial shape with the Pen Tool (P) to cover the eyeball and surrounding area with a dark brown/off black (C=80, M=80, Y=80, K=90), then set it to 40% Opacity.

Now draw the actual eyeball with a medium brown color (C=50, M=50, Y=60, K=25) at 15% Opacity. Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the medium brown shape. Use a transparent radial gradient with the center black at 0% Opacity and the end being 100% Opacity. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply at 100% Opacity.



Step 28

I'm going to add shine to the eyes like on the reference image, coloring with a linear transparent gradient with the off white color used for the tuft of fur (C=10, M=10, Y=10, K=0). Remember to flip the gradient for the other eye. Set it at 45% Opacity.



Step 29

Using the same colors, change the linear transparent gradient to a radial transparent gradient. This will be used for further reflections of parts of the eyelid. This completes the eyes.




Step 30

Create a New Layer above the "Eyes" layer folder and rename it "Nose." Using the same off white radial transparent gradient, I'm going to add highlights to the nose with an Opacity of 15%.



Step 31

Using the Paintbrush Tool (B), the off white color as the stroke and the Width Profile 1 brush, I'm going to add short strokes to the nose to give it a highlight. This will also give the impression it's slightly moist. I'm going to set the opacity to 10%.

I'm going to add less random strokes around the edges of the nostrils to give them more definition as well.



Step 32

Using the same Width Profile 1 brush but with a stroke color of dark brown/off black (C=80, M=80, Y=80, K=90), blending mode Multiply and Opacity 30%, add dark strokes on the nose, especially in the darker areas where the highlighting gradients have not been placed.



Step 33

I'm going to add a standard Illustrator pattern into my swatch. By going into Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Decorative > Decorative_Classic and selecting the Lattice pattern.

Then in the Scarf layer folder using the Rectangle Tool (M) with the Lattice pattern as a fill, draw a large rectangle which is almost as large as the canvas. Then expand the pattern twice by going to Object > Expand and clicking on OK. This is because I want to expand the strokes in the pattern.

Now to make it editable via Envelope Distort, so holding down Alt + Command + M, you should get the Mesh options prompt. Select 6 rows and columns and click on OK.

Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the first scarf shape and change the stroke color to black and the fill color to null. Lock all shapes in the layer folder apart from the mesh. The outline of the scarf will be acting as a template. I've increased the stroke weight to show you the outline better on the screenshot.



Step 34

Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) twice so you have three copies of the mesh. This is so we have the same meshes for the other pieces of the scarf. Hide two of them for now.

Using the Free Transform Tool (E), rotate and resize the mesh so the side of the shape is parallel with the end of the scarf. Position the mesh so you can imagine one of the rows is running along the center of the scarf. Remember this for future parts of putting together the scarf.



Step 35

I'm going to shape the mesh along the shape of the scarf. In order to do this, I'm going to use the Lasso Tool (Q) to select each block of columns and use the Free Transform Tool (E) to rotate and position the mesh so the row is running central along the scarf.

Below are the first two columns rotated and positioned. I'm going to continue this along the whole length of this section of the scarf.



Step 36

Unlock the shape used as the template and change the fill color to black and the stroke to null. Select this shape and the mesh and create a Clipping Mask (Command + 7). Then change the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 50%.



Step 37

Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the original blue shape of the scarf. Change the fill color to a black to black transparent radial gradient.

Using the Gradient Tool (G), position the gradient just under the face and change the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 60%. It's good to view the vector as a whole at this point so you can ensure you have the shadow in the right place.



Step 38

Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the shape again and invert the gradient so the center is transparent. Position and reshape the gradient using the Gradient Tool (G) to give the impression of shadow on one side of the scarf. This will give it extra depth.



Step 39

Using the Pen Tool (P) with the stroke color of white and the fill as null, draw along the outside of the Saltire within the scarf. I've colored the line pink to show you in the screen shot.

Then using the Stroke options, turn the lines into a Dashed 3pt line, aligning the dashes to the corners and rounding the caps. Then just lower the opacity to 80%. Group (Command + G) all the shapes used for this section of the scarf.



Step 40

Repeat steps 34 to 39 for the rest of the scarf. The only change I made was changing the opacity of the dashed lines on the Saltire to 70% instead of 80%.



Step 41

Staying within the "Scarf" layer folder, lock the three groups which are present for the scarf. Now I'm going to begin drawing the tassels on the scarf.

Using the Pen Tool (P) with the Width Profile 1 brush and varying between grays, draw some upside down V shapes.

Then use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a slim circle with light gray. Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) this, apply a black to black transparent radial gradient on top, and set the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 40%.

Add a zig zag line on top with the Pen Tool (P), giving them Bevelled Joints. Change the Blending Mode to Screen and the Opacity to 70%.

Finally, add a zig zag at the top of the tassels and change the Blending Mode to Multiply.



Step 42

Once you've grouped the elements for a single tassel together (Command + G), Copy (Command + C) and Paste them (Command + V) until you have eight tassels in total.

Line them up so they are touching each other slightly at the bulb. Now select them all and then using Pathfinder, Vertical Top Align. Now Group them (Command + G).

Use the Free Transform Tool (E) to rotate the group and resize it to be on the end of the scarf. Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) them, rotate, and place again for the other scarf end.



Step 43

Now I'm going to work on the headphones. Although some of the base layers have been drawn, I'm going to replace some of them.

Firstly, I'm going to create a 3D feel to the domes of the headphones. So select the light gray domes on either side of the head for now.

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a light gray circle about the same size as the previous one and use the below 3D options from Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel.



Step 44

Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) the circle with the 3D effect on it. Then go into the Appearance panel and click on the 3D effect. I'm going to change the direction of the light source slightly. Position the circles to where the domes should be.



Step 45

Select one of the bases to the headphones and rotate it horizontally using the Free Transform Tool (E). Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Back (Command + B) the shape. Using the Mesh Tool (M) add a point in the center of the rounded rectangle with a light gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=30). Then add further points so it is split into eight.



Step 46

Now I'm going to add darker gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=90) sections in between the sections and along the top of the mesh shape.
Using the duplicated shape, drag it in front of the mesh and add a transparent black radial gradient. Position it and set the blending mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 80%.



Step 47

Group together the two shapes (Command + G) and then Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) them. Using the Free Transform Tool (E), rotate and place the bases of the headphones.

Going into the group, modify the gradient using the Gradient Tool (G) to give more shadow where the fur covers them. Delete the previous shapes for the bases so the two groups remain.



Step 48

I'm going to add a 3D effect to the knobs on the ends of the domes. Select the circle at the end of a dome and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel and apply the below settings. Repeat this for the other circle.



Step 49

Select the curved shape for the headband and add 0.5pt, Align Inside black strokes on Blending Mode Multiply and Opacity 10% up to 3.5pts as shown below.



Step 50

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag a long slim rectangle using a medium/dark gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=100). Then se the same process from steps 45 and 46, except bringing in some of the points towards the center, create the below cushioned effect:



Step 51

While the mesh is still selected, go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp and click on OK for the default Arc option. Using the Free Transform Tool (E), position and resize the warped mesh into place and then delete the previous cushion which was in place on the headband.




Step 52

I'm going to add some shadow on the headband bar. In order to do this I'm going to Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the long slim curved bar and add a black radial transparent gradient on it and set it to Multiply. Duplicate this further to add another shadow so there is one on either side of the padded headband.



Step 53

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a circle underneath the headband where it overlaps the headphone dome with the fill color of a black transparent radial gradient.

Using the Gradient Tool (G), reshape the gradient and shift the source so it elongates the gradient. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 70%. Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the circle and then place it under the other side.



Step 54

Create a New Layer above all the other layer folders and rename it "Eyebrow Ring." Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a 2pt stroke weight circle on the eyebrow with the stroke color of light gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=20).

Using the Free Transform Tool (E) squash it slightly and rotate appropriately. Then expand the shape by going to Object > Expand and click on OK. Using the Pen Tool (P), draw a shape where the ring would be going under the fur/eyebrow. Then selecting the ring and the shape use Pathfinder > Minus Front.



Step 55

Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the ring twice and apply some black transparent radial gradients set to Multiply. This gives the impression of shadow at the base of the ring where it goes through the eyebrow, and then where the ball will be on the ring.

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a stroke null, light gray filled circle on top. Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) this circle and apply a black transparent radial gradient with the center at 0% on Multiply. Using the Gradient Tool (G), shift the center of the gradient slightly to the side.



Step 56

Using the Pen Tool (P), add highlights to the eyebrow ring with a light gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=20) on Screen at 60%. Then add shadow using a medium gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=60) on Multiply at 100%.



Step 57

Create a New Layer above the "Scarf" layer folder and rename it "Scarf Detailing."

Add some highlighted knots on the scarf using the Paintbrush Tool (B) with the Basic brush, 3pt stroke weight, rounded caps and a light gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=10), on Blending Mode Overlay and Opacity at 50%. Select all the strokes and then Group them (Command + G).



Step 58

Repeat the above process but using a medium gray (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=50) on Multiply at 50%. Then select all of these strokes and Group them (Command + G).



Step 59

Go into the "Fur Detail" layer folder. With the Paintbrush Tool (B) I'm going to add further highlights to the fur and build up the eyes more. I'm using the Width Profile 1 brush on Screen at 15%, with a stroke color of a light/medium brown (C=50, M=50, Y=60, K=25). Once done, Group up all the strands (Command + G).



Step 60

Going into the "Eyes" layer folder, I'm going to add additional details. By adding a 2pt stroke along the bottom of the eye with the Pen Tool (P), I can give the impression of moisture on the eyeball. This is done with the Width Profile 1 brush, 2pt and a light gray color set to 40% Screen.

I'm also going to add a light gray filled tapered shape set to Screen at 40% on one eye. This is to give the impression of the eyebrow ring reflecting on the eye's surface. It's only a small detail, but sometimes people pick up on it.



Step 61

Create a New Layer below the "Body" layer folder and rename it "Hairs." Draw some single strands of fur along the outside of the bases using the Paintbrush Tool (B) with the Width Profile 1 brush and stroke color of a dark brown/off black (C=80, M=80, Y=80, K=90). This is so it looks less flat. I've used the off white color around the white tuft of fur.



Step 62

Using the Artboard Tool (Shift + O) change the artboard shape to a portrait composition. Before I do this, I'm going to lock all my layer folders.



Step 63

Go into the "BG" layer folder and use the Free Transform Tool (E) to change the shape of the white rectangle shape and change the Opacity to 100%. Then Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the white rectangle and fill it with a black transparent radial gradient. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply. Using the Gradient Tool (G) change the scale so it creates a soft vignette effect.



Step 64

Create a New Layer above the "BG" layer folder and rename it "Shadow." Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a circle and fill it with a black transparent radial gradient with the center at 100% Opacity. Then use the Free Transform Tool (E) to shape it to the desired size, then place it under a paw/tummy. Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) this and move it under another area where the shadow will be cast. I'll continue this until I have enough shadow.

Then Select All (Command + A) and change the Blending Mode to Multiply.



Step 65

Go into the "Headphone" layer folder and change the color of the knobs on the ends of the domes. At present they are lost in the fur and I want to add a dash of color into the composition. So I'm going to change it to magenta (C=0, M=100, Y=0, K=0).

As the 3D effect has been applied to the shape and not expanded, you can change the color to any you require and it wont change the 3D effect.



Step 66

Finally, to add further color to the piece I'm going to go into the "BG" layer folder and Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F) the top rectangle with the vignette on it. Now I'm going to change the fill color to cyan and reduce the opacity to 15%.



Conclusion

Adding basic elements from a pet owners' personality can give a more personal touch to a pet portrait. Researching your clients interests and background can help you add sentimental properties to the piece and leave the pet owner with a unique looking portrait of their best friend.