In this tutorial we are going to draw a deer with custom Art Brushes, Graphic Styles and Blends in Adobe Illustrator, all of them created by us, so let's get started.
First we start by creating a New document (Cmd + N), the size of the artboard will be 600 x 1000 px. In the Layers panel, create four new layers: the bottom layer "Sketch" is where we are going to draw our sketch, the layer "Lines" we draw our base lines, in the layer "Shapes" is for some black figures that we need to do and finally in the layer "Details" its where all tiny details and magic is going to happen.
With the Blob Brush Tool (Shift + B) we start to draw half of our deer. You can use a picture as a reference or simply get inspired, personally I don't do my sketches clean I use the sketch just as a base for my final illustration so in the process I can add or remove details.
Now select your sketch and set the Opacity to 50%. Lock the "Sketch" layer and now we are going to start drawing our basic lines.
To make our brushes first draw four lines with different Stroke Weights, in my case are 3pt, 2pt, 1pt and .5pt, in black and white. Then select all and in the Stroke panel select the Profile and select the one as in the image, this will make our lines more like brushes.
You can select and drag one line by one to the Graphic Styles panel, give them a name to save them. With that you can now draw some lines and select them and use the Graphic Style that you need instead of changing the Stroke Profile in the Stroke panel. Every line you drag to the Graphic Style panel remember to rename it, this to make it easier to find. I also use in the options list, "Small list view" to find the Graphic Style I need a lot quicker, as the strokes will look the same it's only the Stroke Weight which is different.
We start by drawing the contour and some detail lines of our illustration. You can draw it all with the Pen Tool (P) or with the Pencil Tool (N). With the Pencil Tool when you draw a line you can select it and if you press Alt with the Pencil Tool selected you can use the Smooth Tool. With this tool you can make a line more smooth and curvy.
With the Smooth Tool you can make more fluid lines as we can see in the image below.
For most of our base lines we will use the 3pt Stroke Weight Black graphic style and sometimes the 2pt Stroke Weight, you can do it as you want.
To draw some fancy lines like the ones in the blue circles you can do them with the Transform Again Command (Cmd + D).
All you need to do is select your line and then with the Rotation Tool (R), put your rotation point with a click like in the image and then drag and Alt to duplicate the figure. Finally use the Transform Again Command (Cmd + D) and you get your line duplicated at the same distance and rotation.
You can also modify other lines with the Width Tool (Shift + W). To use this tool just select your line or click directly with the tool and you can change the width of the brush and adjust it at your will.
These are our base lines. Now go to the "Shapes" layer, remember to Lock the other layers.
As we can see in the screen shot below, there are some shapes that we add to give more detail and life to our illustration. Some of them are created with the Width Tool (Shift + W). Remember to change your cap and corner of the stroke in the Stroke panel to make the ends rounded.
Experiment with simple lines and the Width Tool (Shift + W) you can create some cool shapes in a quick and easy way.
You can draw some shapes with the help of the Pathfinder panel.
The nose was traced with the Pen Tool (P), and adjusted with the Smooth Tool.
Now go to the "Details" layer and here we are going to draw some lines, most of them with the 0.5pt Black and make some effects with the Blend Tool (W).
Here is a detail of the face, where we used our 0.5pt Black Graphic Style and Blend Tool (W).
To do this lines all you need is two lines with the same Graphic Style applied, in this case 0.5pt Black, then select the Blend Tool (W) and click one and then the other line. Then with the blend selected press Enter and in the spacing option put Specified Steps and click preview to see your result. Experiment with the lines and the spaces between them to obtain different results.
As I see the illustration I think it need more details. So I go back to my "Sketch" layer and start to draw some more lines and shapes. You can always modify your illustration just do it during the process and not after finishing the work, try to see what your work needs to get better.
Now we go back to our "Details" layer and draw the figures with the process we've seen through out the tutorial: some shapes, some blends, some Width Tool (Shift + W).
Our "Details" layer is done. Focus on little things like the eyes add some lines and shapes to give them more detail. We also need some more layers to make a more detailed illustration. At this time you can remove your "Sketch" layer.
Here's a closer look at the additional details I've added.
And here is some more.
Create a couple of new layers: one named "Brushes", in this one we are going to use some brushes we are going to make, and another called "White Details" in this one we are going to do with the white Graphic Styles for our final details of the illustration.
To create brushes its pretty easy, just draw some lines with the profile you need or some shapes, for instance a circle. Almost everything can be turned into a brush and in this case we are going to create some pretty simple brushes.
Drag your figures one by one to the Brushes panel, select Art Brush in the New Brush dialog window and then click OK. I've used the settings below.
To create this brush we draw a circle and adjust one of the nodes as in the image below. In the Brush Scale Options we select Stretch Between Guides. Position the Start and End of the guides between the stretched out node, so the Art Brush doesn't alter the ratio of the circle/dot.
This brush is created with five lines and then select the nodes of one side and align them to the center with the Align Panel. With all of the brushes, create a black and a white version.
Finally we create another Stroke to add to our Graphic Style panel. To create this one adjust the values of stroke as in the image below. Put the dash in 0pt and the gap adjust it at your preference (this is the space between circles), just put your Cap and Corner in rounded to obtain a line of circles.
We use our brushes to create some more fancy detailing. You can adjust the strokes with the Smooth Tool remember that and can change the Stroke Weight too, so with this you can have some pretty forms.
Using the original lines, you can apply some of your newly created brushes. Experiment with different Stroke Weights to create either bold or more delicate effects.
You can also, with the "dot" brush can segment the lines of a circle. In this case we made four cuts with the Scissors Tool (C) and there are four brushes and create forms like this.
Now in the "White details" layer we add the final touches to our illustration. In this part just have fun adding details to the black shapes and to some of lines use the methods we've seen through out the tutorial.
For example in the eye I added a three line brush and some simple lines, in the nose the dot brush and a little texture i made with the Pathfinder panel and circles, in some lines I add circles.
You can add as much detail as you want but try to keep the lines fluid and taking as base the form of the shapes. You can create some good effects by using our fun white brush like in the image, try to experiment with shapes and brushes.
Now that we have everything we can select our drawing and duplicate it, then reflect it with the Reflection Tool (O).
I aligned it from the bottom of the illustration and then modified it from there.
If some lines cross or don't look good, draw a vertical line along the edge of your illustration, as shown below and then subtract any elements which overlap. Then reflect your illustration again and align it.
This is our final illustration! I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, and hope you got some new tips. Keep on drawing and experimenting, saludos!