Get a free year on Tuts+ this month when you purchase a Siteground hosting plan from $3.95/mo
Character design might be one of the most fun things that you can do in Photoshop. Today, we will demonstrate how to draw a pirate character in Photoshop. Let’s get started!
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
Let's start with a sketch, I always draw a sketch and scan it into my computer.
Create a new 2000 by 1800 pixel document with a white background. Fill the background layer with a blue color #3686c3. Put the layer in a group, name it "Background", duplicate the background layer, rename it "Background Color" and put it in the "Background" group. Delete the old background layer.
Put the sketch in a new layer and name it "Sketch".
Set the "Sketch" Opacity to 20%. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw the head shape.
Once the head path is complete, right click on the path, select Make Selection, then press OK.
Create a new layer and name it with a name easy to remember (in this example, name the layer "Head").
Fill the selection with a grey color, then deselect with Command/Ctrl + D.
Select the "Head" layer, create a group with Command/Ctrl + G and name this group "Head".
Create a new layer above the layer "Head" (Shift + Command/Ctrl + N), name it "Shadow", and choose "Multiply" mode.
Create a second layer (Shift + Command/Ctrl + N), name it "Light", and choose "Screen" mode.
Repeat steps 5 to 6 for all the character's parts.
Ok, It's time to bring some colors to our character. We are going to start with the head. Select the layer "Head", lock the transparency (by clicking the small icon "Lock" in the top left of the layers). Choose a color (#f4bc83), a hard brush (Opacity 100%) for coloring the head shape. Repeat this step for all the character's shapes.
Select the "Shadow" layer then get the head selection by clicking on the "Head" layer with Command/Ctrl + Left Click. Hide the selection (Command/Ctrl + H). We're now ready to work on the shadow's head.
I'm starting with a soft 66 pixel brush with the opacity set to 10%. Start to draw the shadows with the same base color (#f4bc83) as the head, then gradually, choose a darker color. Adjust the brush size to suit your needs.
Do the same things on the "Light" layer, but this time, gradually choose a lighter color when drawing.
Repeat steps 10 to 11 for all others parts of the character.
And voilà, the shadows and the lights has been added on most of the character's parts. But there're still some parts that deserve more details.
The hat looks good, but let's add a little texture to it.
Place the "Black and White Grunge" texture in the document (between the "Base" layer and the "Shadow" layer), name it "Texture" and resize it to fit the hat. Select the hat's shape with Command/Ctrl + Left Click by clicking on the "Hat" layer, invert the selection with Shift + Command/Ctrl + I. Hit Delete and deselect with Command/Ctrl + D.
Set the "Texture" layer to Multiply mode
Repeat steps 15 to 16 for the others clothes.
For the eyes, select the black border layer and apply a Gaussian filter on it.
Like the previous steps, add the shadows on the "Shadow" layer.
Add the light in the eyes on the "Light" layer.
With the Eraser Tool (E), give the eye a better look by erasing the black border a little bit.
Repeat steps 18 to 21 for the left eye.
For the mouth, create a new layer and set mode to "Color" and the opacity to 50-55%, add a little bit of red around the mouth with a soft brush.
Add some shadows on the "Shadow" layer.
And light on the "Light" layer.
Duplicate the "Mouth" layer and put it above the "Light" layer.
Select the mouth shape with Command/Ctrl + Left Click.
Move the selection a little bit down with the Down Key, erase by hitting the Del key.
Draw the teeth with a soft brush and a black color.
For the skull head, add shadow and light as usual.
Then add a Drop Shadow Style on the skull head layer.
Here is a detail of the scar, nothing special, just an extra "Color" mode layer with a little bit of red around the scar.
For the beard, add a new layer and set mode to "Multiply", select a soft brush and a brown color, then start to paint. I’ve shown you the "beard" zone in red on the thumbnail.
Then, add a new layer (Shift + Command/Ctrl + N), fill it with the Paint Bucket Tool (G) and a black color.
Add a "Noise" filter on the layer (Filter > Noise > Add Noise).
Command/Ctrl + Left Click on the "Beard" layer, reverse the selection with Shift + Command/Ctrl + I, erase with the "Del" key and deselect with Command/Ctrl + D.
Set to "Soft Light" mode and opacity to 40%.
For the hairs, use a 1 pixel soft brush with a dark brown color for the shadows, and a light brown for the lights.
Our pirate is finally finished!
For the ribbon, use the step 5 to 8 from the pirate's head. Use the colors: #f7eac5, #f0dcb3, #e5cc9d, #d2ac76. Erase the edges with the Eraser Tool (E) for the torn edges.
You can see all the parts in this picture.
Add the shadows on the ribbon.
Then add the lights.
Place the Grunge Paper texture in the document; resize it to fit the ribbon.
Select ALL the ribbon's shapes with Command/Ctrl + Left Click by clicking on the each layer, invert the selection with Shift + Command/Ctrl + I. Hit Del and deselect with Command/Ctrl + D.
Set the "Texture" layer to "Multiply" mode.
Add some text with the Type Tool (T), I've choose the free "Cloister Black" font".
Right Click on the Type layer, then choose Rasterize Type. Add some style on it. Erase some parts with the Eraser Tool (E) using à soft brush.