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2.3 Vectoring Fur: Highlights and Shadows

After laying your foundations, it's time to add detail to the fur by creating highlights and shadows within it.

2.3 Vectoring Fur: Highlights and Shadows

Hey all, welcome back to Vector Pet Portraits- Cats. My name is Sharon Millen and in this lesson I'm going to show you how to add detail to the fur by adding shadows and highlights. So we've drawn our base gradients and fur, it's time add depth and shape to the pet portrait by adding shadows and highlights. First I'm going to show you the highlights and in order to better guide you in this task, let's look at where the highlights would need to go. Before you look at creating the highlights you need to take a close look at your stock image. Where are the brightest points of the portrait? What key areas help define the shape of the face? The first areas may be towards the center of face, between the eyes and towards the nose. The next areas are perhaps around the eyes. So on top of the eyes or around the eyebrows, or on the cheek area. The cheek area also helps define the shape of the face. These shapes will be true of all cats, and the shape size will vary depending on the length of fur and the breed of cat. The next series of shapes will depend on the stock image being used. There's plenty of peaks of fur on the chest. You won't need to be strict in this area for drawing the highlights, and you can more or less freestyle this area. Depending on the length of fur, and often coloring of the cat, you may see peaks of light on top of the head. Finally you may see a tuft of highlight on the chin area. So now you know where the main highlights are, you'll know I'll be adding dense groups of hair in these areas. I'm just going to select these pink lines and remove them for now. Let's unhide the blue BG layer and select the light grey stroke color and the fur brush. I'm going set the blending mode to screen. As the stroke color is the same as the fur bg color, by changing the blending mode to screen it will look pale in comparison. I've reduced the opacity to 50% so it's not too bright and then I've select the good old Paintbrush Tool. I'm going to start by drawing strokes in the places where I have pointed out where the highlights are. So first time tackling between the eyes on the lower forehead, paying attention not to put too many strokes in the center parting, which is created naturally. Then I begin adding the strokes around the eyebrow area. Throughout the process, pay attention to the direction of the fur and the length of the fur. If in doubt, draw shorter strokes. Now for the strokes on the cheek under the eye area. You'll notice that towards the nose and the bottom of the cheek area, the strokes are shorter. As the fur moves away from the face, the strokes are longer. I'm going to add strokes to the lower cheek area to help define the area where the whiskers come from. Then it's working on the nose. You'll find the shorter strokes on the nose, towards the actual nose tip. The strokes almost don't even cover the area completely. If you find this area difficult to render, try zooming in to make it easier. Then I add strokes to define the chin and mouth area, just short strokes again. When I view the fur together with fur BG and fur shading layers, I notice that the strokes are bit too bright. They're not really showing much of the texture and the variety in the highlights of the fur. So I select all of the fur and change it's opacity to 15%. Now with the fur BG and fur shading layers visible I begin adding fur highlights to the top of the head. And then adding small strokes to the other highlighted parts of the face. With the highlights on the chest, as they don't define the bone structure of the face, you can freestyle this. So when I do the fur on the chest I tend to do zigzag strokes in the region and create clumps of fur. I make sure that these strokes are also blended into the gradient layers to help create contrast. By going freestyle here, you can define your own clumps of fur and put your own spin on the portrait. It's this part of rendering fur that I find the most enjoyable and relaxing. Then I continue to add strokes and expand the areas I've already worked on. This helps to double over strokes in some places, therefore increasing the intensity of the highlights. It also creates a more realistic texture of the fur because fur isn't all one shade. Now that I'm happy with my highlights, I group them all together and move all the strokes into one layer. Remember this is so my artwork isn't lagging Illustrator down. It's time to work on the shadows and not surprisingly the shadows are found in places the highlights aren't, So these main areas of the side of the cheeks, for instance. This will help to define the shape of the face. There's some subtle shadows in the temples, but this is partly because there isn't as dense fur in this area. Then there's shadow around the mouth area, which helps define the chin and mouth. The small areas around the face which define more creased areas, such as middle of the forehead and the indent for the whiskers. So when rendering these, you'll just need to use shorter, more precise strokes. Then there are shadows in the chest. However since we freestyled our highlights, the specific placement of these shadows on the chest won't match up to what we've been working on. So let's remove the shapes and begin creating our shadow strokes. Adding the shadow strokes is very similar to adding the highlights. It's just that settings are different and they are placed in locations where the highlights aren't present. So effectively you could follow your own highlights as a guide and place these new strokes where there are no strokes. Now the settings I'm using for these strokes are using the darkest stroke color and they're set to blender mode multiply, opacity 3%. I'm literally placing them in spots where the highlights aren't present. This means you can sort of go on autopilot. The good thing about the highlight strokes being there already is that they also dictate the length of the strokes that they should be. So pay attention to this as you're building up your strokes. There will be places where there are a mix of highlights and shallow strokes. For instance, around the forehead towards the top of the head. This is because there are neither strong highlights nor shadows. So combining the strokes will create a more mid tone effect in these areas. When you're finished adding your shadow strokes, group them together so we can work on the next set of first runs. The next set of strokes are going to have the same settings. However, this time, the stroke weight is increased from one point to three points. With a larger stroke, it will cover a greater area. You may be tempted to increase the length, but try to avoid this. Place these strokes in the highest concentrated shadow spots. Then we're going to do the same with the highlights strokes. So, blender mode screen, opacity to 15, and stroke weight 3 points. As you may see, this covers the highlight areas quickly and increases the contrast in the face and chest. A good thing to remember when adding fur strokes, when you add the highlights, remember to add shadows. If you do add further highlights, remember to add further shadows and vice versa. This will help balance out the contrast. That helps a bit more contrast and enhance the smooth transition between the light and dark behind the fur. First, create a new layer underneath the fur layer. I'm going to use a dark transparent radial gradient set to blender mode multiply, opacity 5% and 15% depending on the location I place the gradients. Using the pencil tool, I'm going to add shapes of shadow around the portrait to add darkness underneath the rendered fur. If you notice the edges have a zigzag like edge. This is to help add to the texture of the fur and avoid any harsh lines the shape may create. And as I've added shadows, I'm going to add highlights. So using a light to transparent radial gradient set to blender mode screen, opacity 25 to 50%, depending on the location. I add highlights underneath the fur. Once I'm done, I'm going to just rename the layer gradients. You can have a closer look at these shapes in the source file you'll get with this course. Next time on Vector Pet Portraits Cats, it's time to start working on the cat features. So I'll start with working inside of the ears and the nose. Thanks for listening.

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