In this tutorial, Petros Afshar and I will be showing you how to create a fantasy character card design in a unique and modern style. We will be using Adobe Illustrator CS6/CC to create the illustration, going through simple and re-usable techniques that will give you a solid foundation to work upon for your future projects.
1. Create an Interesting Border
Let's start by creating a New document (File> New...) using the settings shown below.
Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle shape following the same outline as your art board.
By using a dark colour as our
background, the light colours we place on top will stand out more. Try and use
a colour which isn't pure black. I've used
Select the Rectangle Tool again, however this time give the rectangle a stroke instead. Apply the following settings:
- Fill set to none
Stroke set to 6pt
Stroke Colour set to
Choose a brighter colour for the stroke, but not too overpowering. We'll save our brightest colours for the focal points.
Now click-drag on the area to create your border. You can follow the same steps again using a different colour to create a double lined border as shown below.
Now let's finish the border by adding some simple graphical elements. Select the Pen Tool (P) and make sure that the settings are the same as what we have for the Rectangle Tool. Experiment with the stroke colour to create contrast and to make your border more exciting.
Start making a corner pattern by clicking on the artboard to create an anchor point. Click again to join the dots together. To create a curved line, click to create an anchor point and then before letting go of the mouse button, drag the mouse to create handles. Experiment with the other shape tools (like the Eclipse Tool (L)) as well and see what you can come up with.
Repeat the above steps until you have a graphical element you are happy with. Then place the graphical element onto your border. You can then use the Add Anchor Point tool to remove overlapping strokes by selecting points on your shape and then simply clicking delete.
Now complete your border by adding extra elements using the techniques explained above.
2. Create Character Head
Let's start the character illustration by drawing the head. This will be the focal point of the illustration so it's important to experiment with cool and interesting shapes. Create the basic shape for your character's head by using the Pen Tool and making sure the setting is set to fill instead of stroke. As this is a symmetrical card we can draw half of the head first.
Copy the head shape (Control-C) and paste it (Control-V). With the other half of the head flip it (Right-click > Transform > Reflect) and then line it up so that you have a complete head shape.
Once you have finalised your head shape, start experimenting by adding more shapes with different colours to create different features (eye brows, nose etc).
Remember to use a combination of strokes as well as fills in order to create an interesting and eye catching head design. Experiment by sending your new shapes behind the head (Control-[) or in front of the head (Control-]).
3. Create the Body
In this next step we will look at creating the body for your character. Let's start by creating the shoulders. You can follow the same steps as before when creating the head. However with this particular image I have chosen to use the strokes to create an outline for the shoulder first before filling it in with colours and elements.
Select the whole shoulder by click-dragging over it. Group all the elements together (Control-G) and then copy (Control-C) and paste it (Control-V). Select the second shoulder and flip it (Right-click > Transform > Reflect). Make sure both shoulders are aligned and that the head sits comfortably in the middle.
Follow the same steps as above to create the body.
And finally we can add the arms and sword on top of the body again by following the same steps as before. With the arms here I have added a slight rotation to both arms (Right-click > Transform > Rotate). Remember to use the Add Anchor Point Tool to remove any unwanted shapes and strokes (Step 4 when creating your border).
4. Final Touches
Place your border on top of the character, making sure that everything fits correctly.
Finally add some subtle glows and effects to the card to finish it off. To do this select the Ellipse Tool (L) and then select the gradient toolbar on the right (if this is not open go to the top menu bar and select Window > Gradient).
Next click on the outer colour (the colour on the right) and set it's Opacity setting to 0%.
Drag the new circle on top of your image and re-size it to the desired shape. Once you have done that set the Opacity to around 70% and the Blending Mode to Screen.
Repeat this process in several areas of the illustration, (making sure that you experiment with the Opacity and Blending Modes) until you are happy with the result.
You have completed your first Fantasy Card Design in the style of 'Eminence: Xander's Tales'. Experiment with your card designs by employing your own techniques and bringing your designs to different programs such as Adobe Photoshop.
Have fun creating your own card designs and please share your creations in the comments below.