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How to Create a Beautiful Set of Zodiac Portraits in Illustrator - Part Two

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Welcome back for part two of the kawaii zodiac set! In this tutorial, we'll focus on some of the techniques already gone over in the first part, complete the next six designs, and add a cute little background to each astrological sign. Get your Pen Tool ready because we're diving right in!


1. Capricorn: The Sea-Goat

Step 1

Capricorn is a fun sign: the sea goat! It's like a mermaid, but with half a goat body (OK, it is exactly that. Isn't mythology fun?). Sadly, the sea part isn't represented in this particular hair design. Instead, our Capricorn has little goat horns and sweet pink hair. To move us along quickly, her hair is similar to Taurus's, but the "horns" do not curve inward and the basic bang shape is different.

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Step 2

Quite unlike Leo, Capricorn's hair has soft gradients to define the overall shape of hair. Draw shapes that show which pieces of hair overlap the others. In this case, the main portion of bangs overlap the left side of hair and so the gradient goes from the top to the bottom.

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Step 3

A couple curved shapes were drawn to emphasize the swooping style of her bangs.

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Step 4

These shapes below are Grouped together and will be applied to the "horns" on top of her head. Draw three shapes with the Pen Tool (P) that follow the contour of the horns, Copy and Paste, right-click the selected pieces and hit Transform > Reflect and choose Vertical Axis. Doing so will mirror the pieces you drew and you can place them on the horn on the other side of the head.

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Step 5

Using the Pen Tool (P), draw a line that follows the contour of the top portion of bangs. The stroke has a weight of 1pt and both Corners and Caps are Rounded in the Stroke panel.

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Step 6

Like the other signs, thinner lines were added to show how strands of hair are moving within the hair style. A thick outline was added to the whole character to finish up the design.

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2. Libra: Fair and Balanced Hair

Step 1

A lighter, tan tone was chosen for Libra. Initially I was going with this look for her make-up and eyes. However, it was far too plain, in my opinion. Balanced, yes, but not as loud as I want a character with the hairstyle I'll be drawing quite soon to have.

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Step 2

Starting with the lips, I wanted them to be rosier than they were previously. Not only did I have to change the base lip colors, but alter the gradients and highlights as well.

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Step 3

To let the eyes pop, I chose teal again. I rather like teal. You'll find it in a lot of my tutorials.

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Step 4

Now that we've got the face sorted, it's time to start on the hair. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a bright fuchsiacircle on the left side of her face.

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Step 5

Copy and Paste four more of the circles and place them around the head. The left circles should be aligned with their ride-sided counterparts. The middle circle should align to the middle of the head. After all, we're working on "The Scales" and want to make sure the hairstyle reflects the balance of the sign.

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Step 6

In order to keep the design from being static, however, the bangs will begin with an asymmetrical middle bit that curves to the right.

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Step 7

The other two sides are mirrored and cover the rest of her head as well as come down into points, almost like spit curls (though not quite) on either side of her face.

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3. Libra: Detail the Hair

Step 1

Let's move on to everyone's favorite part: detailing the hair! The usual routine applies: shadow gradient shapes, thick and thin lines, highlight gradient shapes if you so choose, and a final outline of the whole character.

This shadow shape accentuates the curve of the middle bit of bangs. The gradient goes from a dark to light fuchsia and the angle of it is -98 degrees.

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Step 2

Continue adding shadow shapes around the front portion of hair. I've decided Libra's hair isn't as molded-looking as some of the other designs in this set. Rather, she's got wavy tresses that frame her face.

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Step 3

In forming these longer pieces, use the Pen Tool (P) and carefully start with a simple curve over to the left (this piece is on the right side of the head).

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Step 4

Keep curving left, then right, then left, and then right again and back up to the start. For a character who evokes thoughts of balance, I figured working out wavy shapes with precision was rather important. You may, of course, use the Pencil Tool (N) for this process to speed it up.

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Step 5

In adding details to the buns around her head, draw five circles, each smaller than the next, all aligned within each other, and alternating from the gradient shadow to the base hair color.

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Step 6

Repeat for each bun and place behind the head, over the bun shapes, in the Layers panel.

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Step 7

Trace the contour of the bangs with a 1pt weight stroked line.

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Step 8

Continue adding lines in the hair and finish up with a final outline for the character. As ever, the final outline is accomplished by Grouping the design together, Copying, Pasting, setting the stroke and fill color to dark brown, and Uniting the shapes in the Pathfinder panel. Align it behind the main character group and your design is complete.

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4. Aquarius: The Water Bearer

Step 1

It's happened at long last: Jupiter has aligned with Mars, in the seventh house, and we're on to Aquarius! Also, I'm making some truly bad 5th dimension jokes here.

This sign's skin tone is light in my design. You can opt for any skin tone you dig most, however. Her eyes are bright and makeup is very pink.

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Step 2

For her hair, I like using bright blue (it matches her eyes). Although Aquarius is an air sign, she is the Water Bearer, and as such I like for her hair to mimic flowing water as though it's being poured around her head.

This portion of hair begins the bangs (or fringe, if you're across the pond) with a high curving swoop from left to right going down and slightly up again.

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Step 3

Follow the curve you made, in reverse, to be parallel from the original anchor point. This line on the left side is the start of the hair's part. Rotate the shape as you see fit.

Add another, large piece of hair to be placed behind the first.

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Step 4

Change the color of the second piece to a darker blue than the first.

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Step 5

Place this shape behind the first one. We've now begun the layering process for this hair style.

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Step 6

Repeat the process on the left side of the head. Remember to keep the shapes flowing over the curves of her face and downward.

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Step 7

Group these pieces together.

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Step 8

Work on the right side of the hair with an even darker blue piece that will extend beyond the others. Add as many as you deem necessary to create a full, flowing effect.

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5. Aquarius: Detail the Hair

Step 1

Let's play with gradients! Grab your Pen Tool (P) and draw a shape that accentuates the angle between the part in Aquarius's hair. Using the Gradient Tool (G), apply a linear gradient that goes from dark brown to the same brown at 0% Opacity. Add these kinds of shapes on top of each other, and adjust their overall transparency as well.

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Step 2

In addition to shadow gradients, we'll be adding bright, highlight gradient shapes. This one mimics the contour of the front part of the bangs and goes from a light, bright blue to the blue used in the eyes.

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Step 3

Similar to the concave highlights added to Taurus's hair, these make the style so very, very shiny. Because it's over multiple tones of blue, dial down the opacity of the darker blue in the Gradient panel to 0% Opacity.

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Step 4

When you're satisfied with adding shadows and highlights to your Aquarius's hair, outline some of the shapes and define the hair's movement across the head. Vary the stroke weight. Inner lines should be thinner than those on the outer portions of the hair.

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Step 5

Group your Aquarius pieces together in two groups: lines drawn on the hair, and the rest of the design. Copy and Paste the whole head, Unite the design in Pathfinder, set the fill and stroke color to dark brown with a line weight of 4pt or more, and align behind the original head.

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Step 6

Voila! Your Aquarius is ready to go back to the stars.

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6. Sagittarius: The Archer

Step 1

For Sagittarius, I changed the skin tone to a warm, summery tan and chose a dark blonde for the hair. The overall shape of her hairstyle will be reminiscent of the curves and point of an arrow's head.

Starting with the bangs, I drew two curves that converge into a point near her brows.

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Step 2

Repeat with variations on that shape around the face. Each shape, four in total, curves around at the top and tapers down to a point at the bottom.

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Step 3

Select your hair shapes and Group (Control + G) them together.

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Step 4

Once you're satisfied with the short, choppy pieces of hair that comprise this character's hairstyle, let's move on to the gradient stage of our tenth zodiac sign today. I applied a dark ocher to honey-yellow gradient to the entire leftmost piece of hair. Once you're set with the angle of the gradient, start working on some pieces for the hair. Follow the contour of the bangs while you do so.

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Step 5

These pieces show how the hair seems to be brushed forward, onto itself to create such a full fringe.

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Step 6

Complete the shadow gradient stage as you see fit. Seven gradients and five new pieces were added in total.

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Step 7

Outline the bits of hair that intersect with the face and add some stroked lines to the hairdo itself. The shiny highlight bits are linear gradients going from bright canary yellow to a fully transparent base blonde used previously.

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Step 8

Give the whole shape a thick outline and Group your character together.

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7. Pisces: The Fish

Step 1

For our splashy fish sign, Pisces, I decided that she needed some brighter makeup used on other signs designed with dark skin throughout this tutorial. So, attack your base head with some new colors. She's got bright, orange eyes like the scales of a goldfish and coral pink cheeks. As you can see from the image below, the cheek gradient goes from pink to a fully transparent version of the skin's brown.

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Step 2

For her hair design, start at the top right, curve down to the left, and back over a bit to the right (an "S" shape).

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Step 3

To close this shape, follow the contour of the head back to the origin anchor point.

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Step 4

The right side curves around the eye. Note how it changes direction right when it intersects with the eyelid/lash line. And the ponytail has a direct line from the separation in the bangs (seen below-left), starts in a point and curves around to a fishtail-like shape. The fish-like ponytail shapes are doubled up and rotated so they look exactly alike.

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Step 5

For the shadow gradients, I've started with a shape that follows the contour of the overlapping bang pieces. It's set with an orange fill color here, but will transition to the more golden color of the rest of the hair in the next step.

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Step 6

Check out the gradient's angle in the Gradient panel. You want the darker color to come from the ponytail and spread out over the left side of the head.

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Step 7

Gradient pieces on the fishtail shapes are meant to accentuate their curves as well as show where they overlap.

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Step 8

Add in thick and thin lines that show how strands and portions of hair are gathered into this style. The thicker lines outline larger portions of hair while the thinner ones show the directions those sections are moving.

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Step 9

With the Pen Tool (P), add some highlight shapes to each of the four main parts of the hair. The gradient goes from light yellow to a fully transparent golden yellow (the same color as the base hair shapes). Place these highlight shapes underneath the line segments in the Layers panel or adjust the opacity of the whole shape and keep it on top. Don't tone down the highlights too much, as Pisces should have bright, shiny hair like fish scales.

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Step 10

Complete your design with a thick outline.

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8. Scorpio: The Scorpion

Step 1

At long last, we're on our final sign. My Scorpio has tan skin and bright red hair.

The bulk of her bangs are comprised of three anchor points. I started the shape at the far left, curved over the head, down to the right, and back up to the left, covering part of the right eye and most of the right eyebrow.

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Step 2

The left side of the hair looks like it loops around the back of the head, rather than a piece that hangs freely. Leave a gap between the head and hair.

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Step 3

Draw a similar shape on the other side of the head. Add dark red shapes to go beneath the head to act as undersides of the hair.

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Step 4

while you're at it, give Scorpio some ears so she can hear so many lovely things.

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Step 5

Using the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), add a dark shadow that's cast over the ear, beneath the hair. This linear gradient goes from dark brown (the same used in the face) to dark brown set at 0% Opacity.

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Step 6

Repeat the same gradient for the shadow cast by the giant, floppy bangs.

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Step 7

When your shape is complete set it beneath the hair and above the face in the Layers panel.

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9. Scorpio: The Tail

Step 1

The ponytail is reminiscent of a scorpion's tail in its bumps and overall curve. In this case, however, it looks more like a braid than a lethal appendage. Starting at the top, draw a shape similar to the one seen below. this will start the braid, and is the largest/thickest part of the ponytail.

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Step 2

Draw a smaller, similar shape with the Pen Tool for the next braid section.

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Step 3

for the curved section of the braid, it'll be comprised of four components, each sort of leaf-shaped and decreasing in size.

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Step 4

Move the rest of the braid shapes and rotate them as needed to create the formation seen below. The basic hair shapes are ready to be detailed and better defined.

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10. Scorpio: Detail the Hair

Step 1

Using the same gradient from the shadows cast on the face, create a shape the follows the contour of the hair on the left side of the face. this shape shows how some of the hair is curving underneath the rest of it and as though it's looped around the head or pinned behind. Adjust the transparency of the shape so the shadow isn't overly harsh.

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Step 2

Add gradient shapes, thin ones, throughout the hair to show the direction of each hair section.

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Step 3

This shape was added to show a separation between the ponytail and the rest of the hair around the head as well as acting as a shadow cast from the ponytail (think of it as an indication of shadow versus a perfect cast shadow).

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Step 4

Add whatever shadow pieces you'd like to the hair around her head and start adding some lines to indicate the direction of strands of hair.

Use a thicker line (1pt weight or more) for the middle of the hair, showing which way it has been part.

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Step 5

Select all of the lines drawn you've drawn on the hair and Group (G) them together.

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Step 6

For the details on the braid itself, I added thin lines of no more than 0.5pt in weight. Each line mimics the contour of either edge is the braid shapes. Group the braid lines together and set them behind the head but on top of the braid shapes in the Layers panel.

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Step 7

Group together and Copy and Paste the entire head design except for the hair lines (they should be in the main group, but don't need to be copied and pasted). Set the fill color to dark brown.

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Step 8

Unite the shapes in Pathfinder and set the Stroke Weight to 4pt or higher. Align the dark brown shape with the main head shape.

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Step 9

Before I forget, add a shiny highlight or two to the character's hair. This gradient goes from peach to bright red (the red is entirely transparent) and its opacity has been reduced overall.

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Step 10

Scorpio is now complete.

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The entire set is now complete, in fact. All they need are some cute little backgrounds. You can line them up in a particular way, draw up some bodies for the floating heads, or prepare them for button badges or other cute media.

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11. Create the Background

Step 1

It's high time we completed this project with some cute little backgrounds. Each sign will be contained within a star-patterned circle.

Grab the Star Tool and draw a five point star in light yellow.

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Step 2

With the star selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners.

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Step 3

Have preview selected on the dialogue box that pops up and play with the corner radius. I liked the look of half an inch, but you might want a pointier or squishier star. Hit OK when you're keen on the star's shape.

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Step 4

Go to Object > Expand so your star's new shape is permanent.

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Step 5

Set your star aside and draw a circle with the Ellipse Tool (L). Apply a radial gradient to it with the Gradient Tool that goes from dark purple to a lighter, purple-blue color (seen below).

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Step 6

Prepare your first character's head. Copy and Paste the head,Unite the shape in Pathfinder, and set the fill and stroke color to light yellow and the Stroke Weight to 7pt or more. Align it behind the girl's head. You want the stroke to appear beyond the head shape, so your stroke weights may vary, depending on the size of your design.

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Step 7

Time to bring it all together. Group together the head and outline shapes. Place it on top of the gradient filled circle. for the star pattern, I resized the rounded star drawn earlier and Copied and Pasted them into staggered lines. Unite the stars in Pathfinder when you're satisfied with their placement.

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Step 8

Hide the head in the Layers panel. We're going to delete the stars that don't intersect with the gradient circle. Copy and Paste the circle and align it with the other one

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Step 9

I change the new circle's color so the stars stay yellow in the next step. Hide the original gradient circle in the Layers panel.

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Step 10

With both the new circle and the star pattern selected, hit Intersect in Pathfinder and your star pattern will now conform to the circle's shape.

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Step 11

Unhide the gradient circle and make sure both shapes are aligned.

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Step 12

Unhide your Aries head, place it where you want within the circle, and group together your character and her new background. Copy and Paste the background for the other heads and line up your circles as you see fit.

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Awesome Work, You're Now Done!

At long last, we're got all twelve of our zodiac designs completed! I hope you had fun in the process and either learned some new techniques, or got through making a series of quick, little illustrations. More changes can be made to the facial features, hair can be pushed further in terms of design that describes their astrological sign, and backgrounds can explode into a star field or some other geometrical design if you so wish.
For further info about skin tone palettes in vector, check out my Quick Lesson on Using Different Skin Tones in Portrait Illustration.

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