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Create an Adorable Children's Illustration

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Read Time: 10 mins

What child wouldn't love a real-life teddy bear to have as a friend? In this tutorial, we will show you how to create an adorable children's illustration using digital painting techniques in Photoshop. Let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.

Step 1

Create a New File by going to File > New (Command/Ctrl + N). In Preset select International Paper and in Size, A4.

With Paint Bucket (G) and a light, desaturated blue, fill the Background Layer and add a new layer (Shift + Command/Ctrl + N). Use a darker tone and a brush with which you feel comfortable. In this case I used a regular round brush with Pen Pressure and Transfer Mode activated. I have drawn on different layers, several creatures quickly, no more than 3-5 minutes each. In the end I ruled out the ones I did not liked and I left three that seemed to work fine.

Step 2

Choose the sketch with which will work. Discard the other layers and using Command/Ctrl + T increased the size of the chosen layer. In a new layer above, with the Brush Tool (B) with Pen Pressure activated mode, Transfer mode (optional), start to clean and define the drawing.

Step 3

Select the layer with the sketch and turn down the opacity (15-20%). Create a new group below and add a separate layer for each part (body, feet, horns) filled out the form with plain color. You can also make paths instead of painting for the basic shapes.

Step 4

To begin defining the volume, you must first decide where the light comes. In this case, above and slightly to the left. We will use a shade of white (slightly blue, not pure white) and paint the large areas of light in a Clipping Mask. To create the Clipping Mask, creates a layer above that the one with the body and press ALT + click between the two layers or press ALT + Command/Ctrl + G. Use the Eraser Tool (E) at low opacity to create smooth gradients.

Repeat with the horns and legs. For the horns use a darker color than the brown base and for the legs, use blue, similar to the one for the body.

Step 5

With a hard brush and using dark blue, draw eyes, nose and mouth in a new layer.

Now, use white for contouring and brightness, and a little of blue for the eye sockets.

Step 6

In this step, we will use blue to mark the shadows of the volumes of the creature and if necessary a little white to further define. Use the brush with and without pressure depending on if you want to cover large areas, or draw and be more accurate contours. Use the Eraser tool to smooth gradients.

Step 7

Select all layers of the body and then duplicate them (drag the layers pressing ALT). With the new layers selected press Command/Ctrl + E to merge them.

Open the Levels panel (Command/Ctrl + L) and set as seen in the image to give a little bit of contrast.

Step 8

It is now up to the creature's hair. With the Smudge Tool, we do zigzag in the paint on the contours. Remember that the direction of the hair must be based on the volume of the body.

Keep drawing the hair, but this time on the inside. Especially in the color transitions.

Step 9

Let's take a break to create a brush to paint hair. Create a New File by going to File > New (Command/Ctrl + N). In Preset select Custom, Width and Height: 500 pixels, 300 pixels / inch.

Add a new layer and eliminates the background.

Go to Image > Mode, select Grayscale.

With a round brush, hard and without pressure, make several dots of different sizes or so as you see in the image. Click on the layer thumb by pressing Command/Ctrl to select the layer contents.

Click Edit > Define Brush Preset. Put a name to your brush.

Select your new brush and active and Transfer Mode Pen Pressure. Put the Spacing to zero. Go testing and adjusting in the canvas the brush characteristics, for example, with the direction or the roundness, until you are satisfied with the outcome of your brush.

Step 10

With the new brush, paint on a new layer the hair. Use the same color of the body, improving volume. Try to be a bit "messy" to be make it look more realistic with some wispy hairs, in some areas, like the back or the belly make them longer and shorter by the face or chest.

Continue defining the hair. Try to project the shadow of some strands and create a sense of movement.

Step 11

In a new layer paint some blue stains. Put in Multiply Mode, so that the hairs will be seen below.

With the Smudge Tool, mark hairs, always following the direction of the volume.

With the Eraser Tool (E) with very low opacity, erase the spots to integrate with the rest.

Step 12

Use a soft brush and paint over the dark blue shadow areas as shown in the image. Do it in a layer with Multiply mode at 33% opacity.

Soften this shadow with the help of the Eraser Tool with low opacity.

Step 13

Add a Clipping Mask Layer to the legs. In the same way that the body volume noticed, paint shadows. Remember that the direction of the gradient should follow the volume of the shape in question.

Use a brush like in the image with the Smudge Tool to simulate hairs that overlap the leg. (Do this in the base layer of the leg with the other even as Clipping Mask).

Step 14

As was done in Step 12, paint with white on light areas of the creature, in a layer with Overlay Mode.

Now it's time to paint the horns in a layer with Multiply Mode and using the same base brown for the shadows, using the Eraser Tool to soften.

Step 15

Now, put aside the creature for a while. Make visible the layer with the sketch, and below, create two folders: one for the boy and one for the girl. For each, paint in different layers with plain colors: face, hair, body, legs, scarf etc. I used orange tones to create contrast with the blue, as they are complementary colors.

Step 16

On a new layer, paint two circles for the eyes and use white to do the highlights. Add a layer below, and use a pinkish-light brown for the eyelids and the underside of the nose and mouth. Use a light pink for the highlights.

On a new layer below set on Multiply Mode and 50% Opacity, use a light red for the cheeks.

With a hard and small brush make some freckles, some of them darker than the others, over the cheeks and nose.

Step 17

With the hair brush on a new layer, with an orange-brown, start painting the hair.

Add single hairs out, and in the fringe area. Also paints the shade of the strands to add volume.

In a new layer in Overlay Mode, paint the highlights with yellow.

Step 18

For the jacket, add a Clipping Mask in Multiply mode. Use the same orange to paint the shades.

Define a little more on another layer in Multiply Mode but this time with brown.

Use yellow to paint the light.

Step 19

Follow the same process for the rest of the cloth. The difference is that this time will mark some wrinkles from clothing.

Use darker brown for the shadows of the sleeves and hands and also to the folds and wrinkles. Use light brown for the lights.

Do the same with the gloves and shoes.

Step 20

For the scarf, try to recreate the folds using several shades of dark, especially below the face.

With a small brush and using the same colors in the scarf (light to dark background and vice versa), make random small stripes.

Step 21

Selects all the boy layers duplicate them (ALT + Drag) and merge them (Command/Ctrl + E). Add a Clipping Mask Layer set to Multiply Mode. Use a desaturated light blue and a soft brush, and darkens on the right side of the child.

In another layer set to Overlay Mode and 54% Opacity, use very light blue on the left.

Now, paint the girl following the same steps as the boy.

Step 22

Select all layers and duplicate the creature, add a new layer set to Multiply Mode, and paint with dark blue the shadow cast by the girl. Soften with the Erase Tool.

Darkens the parts of the little girl that are in contact with the creature.

Add the shadow cast by the boy on the belly of the creature.

Step 23

Add a layer in Multiply Mode between the characters and the background and paint the shadow cast on the ground.

Step 24

Add a layer underneath and paint the snow. Use a brush with Transfer mode to make variations in tone as the ground moves away.

With the Eraser Tool (E) with very low opacity, soften the shadow on the ground.

Step 25

Below the snow and on a new layer, create a gradient (orange-pink to transparent) With The Gradient Tool (G). Set the gradient options as seen in the image.

It's time to paint the clouds. Use a pink and white for the top. Paint in circles using the variety of brush opacity with Transfer Mode on.

Use the Eraser Tool to give less prominence to the clouds.

Step 26

Go to Adjustment Layer > Level and put it on top of the background. Set as seen in the image.

Step 27

Add a layer below the pink gradient and make another one with a cyan-blue to transparent, from top to bottom. Only this time make it a bit shorter than the first one.

Set the Shadow layer to Fill: 72%

Step 28

Add a layer on top of everything and make a gradient from dark red to transparent. Set the layer to Multiply, Fill: 33%

Erases a bit in the area of the characters, especially in the light zone, and less by the shadows.

Step 29

Let's take a second use to the brush hair: Snow. The main thing is to give much Spacing, to separate the dots. Then you can keep trying different variations depending on the effect you want to achieve. In this case I have set as you see in the image.

Put a new layer above the others and paint the snowflakes.

Duplicate the flakes layer and go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur

Set as seen in the image.

Erases some flakes of the first layer and some from the layer with motion blur.

Step 30

Create a new group and place there all the layers and groups.

Duplicate the group and merge it with Command/Ctrl + E.

Place the texture on top of the other layers, occupying all the canvas. Click with the right button on the thumb and choose Rasterize. With the Magic Wand Tool (W) with the options you see in the picture, click on the black.

Place the image on top of the texture and creates a Clipping Mask. Put a layer below and fill it with a color with the Paint Bucket tool (G). I used blue here, but later it will change.

Double click on the texture thumb to get the Layer Style. Select Drop Shadow and set as in the image below.

Duplicate the texture and place on top with Fill: 40%. Double click on the texture for the Layer Style. Select Inner Shadow and set as in the image below.

Step 31

Add a gradient with the same color as the background in a layer in Multiply Mode, Fill: 54% between the background and the base texture.

Go to Adjustments > Photo filter and place this layer on top as a clipping mask. Set as seen in the image.

Go to Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and place this layer over the background. Set as seen in the image to change the background color.

Step 32

Finally, I have added a layer to add a few details to the illustration, like some tweaks to the girl’s hair and the bow.

Final Image

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