Making of a Warrior Character in Illustrator
In this tutorial I will show you how I converted my hand drawn image into vector art in Adobe Illustrator. You'll learn how to take exciting character drawings, and shape by shape turn them into vector illustrations. You'll learn to color a character and control the highlights and shading to add drama and interest.
First of all I scanned my hand drawn image at 300 dpi resolution.
Then open Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. I keep the size at A4, resolution 300 dpi and then hit OK.
Now import the scanned image into Illustrator.
In the layer panel, I clicked on the small lock icon to lock the imported sketch of the warrior.
I started tracing the face of the warrior with the Pen Tool using a black stroke color. Now choose the fill color according to the skin tone.
I traced the left side horn after completing the path of face. The horn is made in three different parts. First I traced the base and filled it with a brown color, then the silver ring, and then the horn in a yellow color. Lastly, I grouped all the three parts together.
For the right side of horn, I simply reflected the left horn vertically and made it a little bigger than the left horn according to the sketch reference.
After completing the face and horn paths, I traced the other parts of the face, such as: the eyes, eyebrow, hair, mouth, beard and mustache. Then I filled them with color accordingly.
I traced the nose path and filled it with a little bit darker color than the face color.
Below shows the final traced face with brown hair, eyebrows, teeth, beard, mustache, nose stroke, eyeballs and horns.
I traced the kilt path and then the skirt leaf next.
I traced rest of the parts like hands and feet also.
For the left hand fingers, I took a rounded rectangle from the tool bar.
I then modified the round rectangle according to the reference sketch and filled the darker shade of skin color in the path.
Now copy the rectangle and make the other fingers too. I modified all the rectangles a little bit according to the finger shapes. I took a new rounded rectangle and made the nails of the fingers as well.
Now finally, I have a path ready for each part of the warrior: kilt, hand, sleeves, feet, slipper, nails, stone, belt, skirt, face, eyes and all. We're making progress.
You can see the left hand is holding a shield. But during working in illustrator I felt it's a little old style shield, so I changed the shape into a different style shield.
I traced the shield in three parts: the base, the upper round part, and the handle.
In the right hand, I created a spear, which was not originally in the sketch. It came into my mind while vectoring that he would look good holding a spear, so I ran with it.
On the spear pole, I created some circular shapes and the spearhead.
After the complete body, face, shield and spear, I traced the green sandals for the warrior's feet.
After tracing all the parts of my sketch, it's time to start giving them some good highlight and shadow effects to make them look more visually appealing. I started filling the gradient in the chest area. For that I chose a dark brown and light brown color and a circular type of gradient.
For the sharp parts and corners of the kilt, I took two dark brown color nodes at either side and kept the light brown color node in-between in the gradient palette.
I filled a dark and light gray color gradient in the metallic part of the warrior's kilt. I generally keep the highlighted area in the middle of the object path.
I picked a yellow-brown color tone for filling the gradient in both of the hand sleeves.
I filled a dark brown color and the light brown color gradient in the left side of lower kilt of the warrior.
For giving the lower kilt a round feel, I filled them with the lighter tone of brown color on the left side of the kilt.
Now it's time to fill a good color for the warrior's sandals. I picked a dark green and yellow green color for making it more beautiful.
After tracing all the parts and filling the required gradient effect in them, I designed some more shapes for making the warrior more interesting. So, first I placed two circles on the artboard.
After aligning both the circles in the center, I clicked on the window menu and picked pathfinder and used the Subtract button from the pathfinder window. Then clicked on the expand button.
To make it look much better, I filled the same kilt color gradient in the circle.
I copied the same circle shape and made it smaller than the outer circle. I created a little circle inside the bigger circular shape as well. Then I grouped all three shapes together.
Now I placed two bigger circular shapes on the chest of the warrior and several others on the abdominal part.
The placed the same pointed part of kilt's leaves.
I designed a semi-circular shape with the same brown gradient for the metallic gray belt of the warrior.
I filled a little darker brown gradient for the darker part of the shield and a lighter golden brown gradient for giving a metallic look to the shield.
And for the shining effect I filled a lighter yellow color node and a brown color node in the gradient pallet. Then I created another small path inside the fingers as the hand was holding the shield.
I filled the gray metallic gradient in the spear pole and the spearhead. I filled the brown gradient in the round part of the pole. For the spearhead and pole I chose a linear type of gradient.
I picked the traced path of the eye, copied this shape, and made it smaller than the outer shape.
I selected both of the shapes and opened the Pathfinder from the Window menu. I subtracted both the shapes and then clicked on expand also.
Now I filled the dark purple linear gradient in the eye shape.
I placed the dark purple outline shape on the eye. With the white part of the eye selected I filled it with a white and slightly yellow gray gradient.
I did the same for the left eye too. I made an outline for the left eye also and filled the white gradient in the white part too. Then I filled a darker color around the eye to make the warrior look more aggressive. I filled dark and light purple in a radial gradient. Now both the eyes are looking aggressive.
To make the horns more detailed I did the same as I did for the eyes outline. I selected the left horn shape and copied it again and placed both of them onto each other as shown.
I subtracted the shape with the help of the pathfinder. After clicking on subtract, I clicked on the expand button in the pathfinder window to get the final expanded shape.
With the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and Pen Tool, I changed the corner part of the shape to a little rounded curve. And then I filled dark brown in the shape.
Same as the dark part, I created the lighter part of the horn and filled it with a lighter yellow brown color in this shape. And with the help of the Pen Tool I created a drop shape and filled it with a white color.
Like the yellow part of the horn, I created the brown base with both shadow and highlighted parts. I did the same with the right side horn as well.
For the warrior face I created a path and filled a lighter skin color in it. This will be used for the highlight on the face.
And I created another shape and filled it with a darker skin color for the shadow part of the face.
To make the angry warrior look more furious, I created some forehead lines.
Now we'll make the warrior eyes more realistic. I subtracted some half moon shapes on the black eye ball and white circles inside the eye ball using the pathfinder tools.
Like the horns and eyes, I subtracted the teeth shape as well. It's the same possess I repeated for the the other teeth.
After creating all the shapes for the teeth, I filled them with a darker color and arranged them accordingly.
Repeating the same subtracting possesses from the pathfinder, I created a shape for the neck, then filled it with a little darker color to create the shadow area.
I copied the hand shape and overlapped it again. Then from the pathfinder window I clicked on subtract.
After clicking on subtract, I expanded it to get a single shape. Then I filled it with a little light color. I repeated the same possess and made a path for the shadow part of the hand. I filled it with a dark skin color.
After placing highlight and shadow parts on the main hand path, I changed the stroke color of the finger to be a little darker than the filled color.
This time I used the Pen Tool to create the path that gives the feel of crinkled cloth. I created a light pointed path and filled it with a light yellow gradient. Then in another shape I filled it with a darker color.
After copying the path and subtracting from the pathfinder, again I created a lighter and darker part for the legs.
After creating a darker and lighter path for both the left and right legs, I filled a white and yellow light gradient in all the nails of the feet and hands.
For making the falling shadow of the skirt leaf on the thigh of the warrior, I copied and moved the leaf a bit, then clicked on filter and added a Feather Effect (0.02 inch) on the selected shape.
I filled a dark and light brown gradient in the stone, then created a path onto it.
I grouped all the stone paths, then I copied it, and made it a bit smaller. Then I placed it at the back side of the big stone.
I created a rectangle box and sent it backward, as the last layer, and filled a little dark and light yellow gray gradient in it. Finally, I added some star shapes on the spearhead, shield, and horns to make it visually attractive. And now, my angry warrior is ready in Adobe Illustrator.
You can use this same process to vector and color your own character sketches.