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As one of the most liked holidays is approaching, I will show you how to create a fun Halloween themed illustration using Adobe Illustrator. We'll start by forming some simple vector shapes using the Pen Tool and then with the help of brush strokes to add a dash of a vintage look to it. We will focus on detailing with objects and brushed strokes. For this particular illustration I've gone for a boy in a cute monster costume.
1. Prepare Your Document
Make a New print document with the size of 30 x 30cm. Since it's a vector image, you can export it according to your needs.
First, we're going to need a sketch. I use a tablet for sketching but you can do it old school - on paper and then scan it or take a photo of the sketch and import it into Illustrator.
Then, select the sketch and Rasterize it at 72ppi.
Drop the Opacity to 40% and lock the layer (Control-2). This way the sketch will be discreetly present and it won't bother you while you trace the artwork.
Create New Layer and rename it "illustration".
2. Begin Tracing Your Sketch
You can start the process of tracing out your image using the Pen Tool (P). Try not to add too many anchor points, this way your lines will be smooth and more appealing.
You should follow the lines and the idea of the sketch, but you don't have to do that 100%. Sometimes I add or remove some elements in order to achieve a better balance and composition.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to make the lettering too. You can add some detail to the letters, such as the dot for the "i" or the thunder bolt in the "R".
Open the Pathfinder panel. We will use the Minus Front function to "pierce" the forms in order to have a full shaped letter.
Place the shape you want to subtract from the object on top of that same object. Select them both and use the Minus Front command from the Pathfinder panel.
Repeat these simple steps on every letter that requires to be "pierced".
When you are done, select the letters you have just created and use the Make Compound Shape function. By doing so, all the letters will stick together as one object.
Now we add details on the horns. Follow the sketch lines in the horn area and go a bit outside of the area already traced.
Again we use the Pathfinder panel. To get the desired shape we will use the Intersect option.
Copy the horn shape (Control-C) and then Paste in Front of the detail shape (Control-F). Select them both and use the Intersect option of the Pathfinder panel.
Repeat those simple steps on the other horn too. This way your details will be precise and won't go outside the lines of the shape's base.
Once you are done tracing the outlines, you can delete the "sketch" layer.
3. Color Your Design
It's coloring time! Pick a palette for your illustration. Selecting the right palette is of great importance in setting the mood and tone for your illustration.
You can use one of the many Swatch Libraries (Window > Swatch Libraries), or if you find it easier, you can make colored squares and add the color's use next to them. I made seven of them (Background, Hair, Fur, Horns, Skin, Eyes/Letters and Nose)
Select the costume and with the Eyedropper Tool (I), pick the square labeled as "Fur".
Repeat the coloring step on all objects. Don't apply any strokes for now - we'll come back to this later.
Once we are done, we can add some extra details to the artwork.
4. Create Texture Using Brushes
I decided to make the costume a little bit furrier. So I am adding more details on the sides, using the Pen Tool (P).
To achieve a more natural feel to it, I will add strokes to most of the lines.
Select the horn shape, add stroke with a 1pt Stroke Weight. For the outline use the same color as you are using for the object's fill.
Open the Brushes panel and in the options menu, find the Open Brush Library. Click on it, and you will get brushes in various categories.
Open the Artistic category, and select the Chalk Charcoal Pencil subcategory.
You will get a library of rough brushes. Select a suitable brush. I will use the one labeled as "Charcoal Feather".
Repeat that step to most of the objects on our illustration (the horns, fur, face...)
5. Add Detailing
Let's add some more detail to the illustration. We can make simple shapes for the fur using the Pathfinder panel.
Try to follow the object's structure. Make a flow of the details around the gaps and additional objects in the shape.
Sometimes this can take a while, so I have a quick tip to save time. Make one half of the details, Group them, Copy and Paste them. Select the new group of details and right-click on it. Go to Transform > Reflect.
In the Reflect options window, choose the Vertical Axis.
Place the flipped objects on the other side of the fur shape. This way you will save a lot of time.
Using the Pen Tool (P), draw a few simple shapes on the hair. This way we'll add more details on the hair area
6. Add Details to the Background
Once we are satisfied with the details in the foreground, we can add details in the background as well.
Using the Pen Tool (P) again to draw a few simple shapes.
I drew lightning bolts, pumpkins, ghosts, trees and few geometric shapes (circles and spirals)
Once you finish them, start arranging them in the background.
To save time and patience, we will use again the trick we used on the fur. We'll arrange the details only on half of the visible background, and then we'll duplicate and flip them.
7. Add the Finishing Touches
Once we do this, we can double check our illustration. If you are not sure of the color choice, now is your chance to make changes before publishing your work. Also, try to fill the gaps in the detailed background.
For example, I think the lettering should be in dark orange instead of dark gray color. I also added two ghost shapes I used on the background.
If you think you need more space in order to achieve a balanced composition, you can extend just the background.
Have a Happy Halloween!
This illustration can be used as a personal themed greeting card, desktop wallpaper, poster... you name it! Hope you've had a lot of fun creating this and have a great Halloween!