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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Character Design

Create the Wicked Witch of the West in Adobe Illustrator

This post is part of a series called The Wizard of Oz.
Adobe Photoshop for Kids: Become the Wizard of Oz!
Fly, My Pretty! How to Draw a Winged Monkey Step by Step
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

"I'll Get You My Pretty" has taken on a whole new meaning in this tutorial. The Wicked Witch of the West now dons a stylish collection of haute couture clothing to be rivaled only by her fabulously evil attitude. Join me in a maddening ride through form and color as we create a stunning witch and her entourage of flying monkeys. 

1. Stage the Sketch

Using my scanner at 200 dpi to catch as much of the detail as possible, I've captured this image from my sketchbook. 

We'll be working with a clean line quality from Photoshop and now we can begin to work. I'm working in Adobe Illustrator in RGB mode at a size of 11 x 17 inches for this specific project.

I'll label my first layer as "Sketch" and lock the layer to make sure I'm not accidentally working on this layer. We'll be loosely following this as our guideline. 


2. Add Initial Body Lines

Step 1

Using my Pen Tool (P) with a Stroke line weight of 2 pt, I've started to outline the contours of her face. You'll find that most of my forms start face first. You of course are welcome to start any way you'd like, but it allows me to map out the rest of my composition.

First Stroke Line in Pink

Step 2

While we are working on this vector, we'll play with the Line Weight by utilizing our Width Tool (Shift-W). I like to start with a rather thin Stroke line, usually around 0.15 pt, and expand it where needed. 

Line Weight of the Nose 1
Line Weight of the Nose 2
Line Weight of the Nose 3

Step 3

I'll be switching colors periodically while making my Stroke lines. This is in an effort to make it more visible. Had I stayed with a darker line, it would have been more difficult to see over the pencil sketch.   

Sideview of the Lower Half of the Face in Profile

Step 4

Here you can see that I've made my lashes with a Stroke weight of 0.25 pt, which will for the most part be the smallest weight we'll comfortably use for this project. 

Eye without Filled in Eyelashes
Eye with Filled in Eyelashes

Step 5

I've recolored the project to make it easier to see the differences between the details.

Filled in Eyelashes with Hollow Eyebrow 1
Filled in Eyelashes with Hollow Eyebrow 2

3. Put in Body Line Details

Step 1

You'll notice that I will lower the Transparency in order to see the sketch directly underneath. Normally 40–50% will do the trick.

Adding Detail to the Hair Line work 1
Adding Detail to the Hair Line work 2

Step 2

Here, I'm showing the clean version, without the Sketch. It makes a world of difference, doesn't it?

Clean Version of the Head Progress
Clean Version of the Body Progress

Step 3

At this stage I'm continuing showing the clean version over the sketch. You can see that we have plenty to complete, but our end result will be easier to color and scale. 

Adding the Head to the Body

4. Continue With the Intricate Details of the Witch's Body

Step 1

An easy way to make cleavage is to utilize the Width Tool. It's quick and a nice adjustable method for making the perfect "set". 

Adding Cleavage 1
Adding Cleavage 2

Step 2

During this step, I've made progress with the cape, fingers, hair, and feathers. I'm using relatively small Stroke lines made with my Pen Tool (P) and following the Sketch to develop my clean version of the project.

Adding Cape
Adding Additional Hair
Adding the Hand Details
Adding Details of Cape
Adding Feathers to the Hat

Step 3

At this point, I've started to add my dress details. I'm putting together simple shapes that can be easily colored later. 

It may seem complex, but the pearls really are just small circles made by the Ellipse Tool (L). 

Adding Details to the Dress 1
Adding Details to the Dress 2
Adding Details to the Dress 3
Adding Details to the Dress 4
Adding Details to the Arm

Step 4

I have also taken a bit of time to make my emerald crystals. The Stroke weight is quite a bit thicker. It's about 2.5 pt in thickness. It's a small detail, so this will allow the crystals to be more visible.  

Adding the Emeralds

Step 5

Here, we can see all of our detail brought into the upper half of the Witch's body. We've added folds to the scarf connected to the hat, as well as starting our clouds in the sky.  

Finishing Off the Hat Details

Step 6 

Next, I've added a Layer to include our Gradient background. Sometimes, it's helpful to step back to see how far along you are. I gain perspective this way.

Adding a Gradient to the Background

5. Add Background Elements

Step 1

The next step is to begin a new Layer to incorporate the background elements. This will be separate from the Gradient layer as well, to make working easier. Please note that I lock all of my unused Layers to prevent any selection errors.

Adding Background Elements 1

Step 2

I've proceeded to add the Emerald City buildings and Yellow Brick Road. I'm making my bricks via freehand, so don't think that you have to be completely accurate here. Even a few imperfections will add character. 

Adding the Yellow Brick Road 1
Adding the Yellow Brick Road 2

Step 3

During this step, I have made very simple flowers which I have then Grouped (Control-G) to make it easier to manage them. 

I've made a few little flower clusters here and there, but I'm doing this with a minimalist approach. I will not push for a detailed poppy field this time around, simply because it will be fully readable as a field once we've colored it.

Adding Poppies 1
Adding Poppies 2
Adding Poppies 3

6. Build a Hot Air Balloon and a Tornado

Step 1

The next step is to make our hot air balloon. I've started with a simple Ellipse (L) and will Unite the upper and lower halves to make a full balloon shape. 

Creating the Hot Air Balloon 1
Creating the Hot Air Balloon 2
Creating the Hot Air Balloon 3

Step 2

After finishing the hot air balloon lines, I've turned on my Gradient layer to see how my colors will look behind it. This isn't the final color, but it allows me to visually rule out this color and experiment with the next. 

Finishing the Line work for the Balloon

Step 3

The previous sketch had an angular tornado. I didn't feel that this worked with the composition, and therefore didn't read well. Using a series of simple curves, I mimicked the previous tornado and came up with a much better representation. 

Creating the Tornado

7. Add a Thick Stroke to the Witch

Step 1

At this point, we're ready to create a nice thick Stroke of about 2.5 pt around our Witch. I suggest making a duplicate of all of her parts and Uniting the pieces while creating the line work with Rounded Caps and Rounded Join Corners. These settings will be found on your Pathfinder tab. 

Grouping the Witch

Step 2

Once you've applied your Stroke line, your Witch will look more pronounced. We're trying to achieve an almost Art Nouveau look.

Creating a Thick Stroke on the Witch 1
Creating a Thick Stroke on the Witch 2

8. Add Monkeys

On a separate Layer, we'll start working on our Flying Monkeys. The Stroke line will be 1.75 pt, just a hair thinner than the Witch, to allow her to remain our focal point. 

Adding Monkeys 1
Adding Monkeys 2
Adding Monkeys 3
Adding Monkeys 4

9. Layers of Composition

Once we've made all of our initial lines, we can see just how many Layers we made. You can see in this step the clean version on top of the sketch, as well as the clean version by itself. We honestly could leave it as it is, but what would be the fun in that?

Showing Layers 1
Showing Layers 2

10. Separate the Line Work From the Fill

From here, we'll do our prep work to make way for our colors. I recommend making duplicates to work from and saving a copy of your originals just in case, since this is where it gets a little tricky. Put all of your vectors on one Layer and make sure to select all of your Paths. Expand only your Strokes. In your Pathfinder tab, click Divide and this should jigsaw all of the layers together. 

Once you're at this stage, create a new Layer. Select either the white or colored Fill and in your Task bar, hit Select > Same > Fill Color. This will highlight all the pieces associated with that particular color. 

Take your mouse or pen and select the space on your Layer in the Layers tab that is located next to the small circle on the right hand side of it. Drag to the empty Layer. This should drag all Fill layers of that color to the new Layer. Hide the Layer with the white Fill. I've recolored the necessary lines black. We're now ready to color!

Separating the Stroke from the Fill 1
Separating the Stroke from the Fill 2
Separating the Stroke from the Fill 3

11. Add Initial Color

Step 1

Now that we have our black lines, we have two options. We can utilize the white Fill that's already there and edit the colors, or we can make a New Layer to create all of our new shades. Here, I'm showing you how to utilize the already separated white Fill.

Adding Initial Color

Step 2

With this step, I have decided to create all of the under color. I'm using two color Gradients for most of my work. I try to keep it under three for a project with this much detail.

Adding Main Color 1
Adding Main Color 2

12. Add Background and Foreground Elements

For the buildings, I'm sticking to a similar color palette as the dress. I'm attempting to keep a theme going throughout our artwork.

Coloring Landscape 1
Coloring Landscape 2

13. Add Large Gradient Elements

Since the grass initially was this color, I decided to stick with it for our crystal ball. I've added feathers to her hat, as well as the initial monkey fur color. Try to block in the larger colors first before starting on the details. 

Adding Larger Gradients 1
Adding Larger Gradients 2
Adding Larger Gradients 3
Adding Larger Gradients 4

14. Create Glowing Smoke

For the Witch's smoke, I'll be doing a two-step process. Once I have my initial color blocked in under the black line, I'll return to the my black line Layer and I'll edit the colors of some of my lines. Doing so with the smoke gives it a very eerie feel, and allows it to stand apart from the rest of the composition. 

Making Glowing Smoke 1
Making Glowing Smoke 2
Making Glowing Smoke 3

15. Continuation of the Glowing Smoke

Step 1

I've only begun to work out the smoke outlines. Be very careful of small pieces that you might miss along the way.

Continuation of Glowing Smoke 1
Continuation of Glowing Smoke 2
Continuation of Glowing Smoke 3

Step 2

Once you've finished putting in the larger amounts of color, you can go back in and add organic curves to enhance our billowy smoke. 

Smoke Details 1
Smoke Details 2
Smoke Details 3

Step 3

Add a bit of smoke also to parts of the dress. I like to think of this Witch as melting into her own magic, so don't be afraid to allow your colors to mix together. 

Adding Shading 1
Adding Shading 2

16. Add Details to the Dress

Step 1

Add small accents using the color from our crystal ball, and take advantage of your ability to use Transparencies in order to add to the dress details. 

Adding Dress Details 1
Adding Dress Details 2

Step 2

This could be a very flat-looking piece, so we need to incorporate light and dark treatments. I'm using the colors taken from the smoke to enhance her body. I've used a Feather effect with a Radius of 0.3 in and an Opacity of 30%. 

Adding Lighting 1
Adding Lighting 2

17. Add Details to the Face

Step 1

Details to the face are a must. Since this is a fabulous, fashion-forward Witch, we'll give her daring ruby red lips and just a hint of eye shadow. 

Adding Details to the Face 1
Adding Details to the Face 2
Adding Details to the Face 3

Step 2

We've also gone as far as to enhance her chest. I imagine this woman thinks that beauty is pain, therefore she's most likely alright with the lack of oxygen.  

Adding Lighting to the Chest 1
Adding Lighting to the Chest 2

Step 3

At this stage, I've decided that her hair was a bit too dark for the overall project. There's a bit more blue to the general deep-green mix previously used. 

Changing the Hair Color

18. Finish the Details of the Hot Air Balloon and Sky

Step 1

By this stage, we're ready to add the hot air balloon colors and clouds. We can also add a few layers of color to the entire sky to give it a dreamy sunset appearance.  

Adding Detailing to the Hot Air Balloon 1
Adding Detailing to the Hot Air Balloon 2
Adding Detailing to the Hot Air Balloon 3

Step 2

I also want to note that the color of the background has changed to incorporate light and dark, but in a more dramatic fashion. 

Changing the Background Gradient

19. Add Lighting Details

Step 1

Make sure to add light to your composition. The smallest detail can be overlooked, but when you give it a bit more attention, it can turn into a game changer. The feathers were a bit tedious, but well worth the patience!

Adding More Lighting 1
Adding More Lighting 2
Adding More Lighting 3
Adding More Lighting 4
Adding More Lighting 5

Step 2

I'm now ready to add color to the tornado and hot air balloon's line work. By using the colors of our sky, we've managed to incorporate more light without much effort. 

Adding Color to the Tornado
Adding Light Details to the Balloon

Step 3

The Emerald City wouldn't be the same if it wasn't a spiraling metropolis of glittering green, so we'll add a bit of glow to give it that dream-like look. 

I've also designed a few circular light rays, which was a popular touch in most propaganda posters in the 1930s and 1940s. I like to mingle new and old ideas. It creates a whole new look that becomes more relatable to a wider scope of people. Both the glow and light rays have been placed in a Mask to keep our beautiful edges flawless. 

Giving the Emerald City Lights 1
Giving the Emerald City Lights 2
Giving the Emerald City Lights 3
Giving the Emerald City Lights 4

20. Add Rays of Light Behind the Hot Air Balloon

Since I'm enjoying the finished look of the Emerald City, I thought I'd carry the theme over to the hot air balloon. 

Adding Light Rays Behind the Balloon 1
Adding Light Rays Behind the Balloon 2
Adding Light Rays Behind the Balloon 3

21. Add Details to the Monkey

With our sweet but completely devious monkeys, we'll add hair details and teeth. It doesn't take much detailing at this point, since we took all of that time to create the line work. 

Adding Coloring to the Monkeys 1
Adding Coloring to the Monkeys 2
Adding Coloring to the Monkeys 3

22. Add Additional Lighting

We'll finish off our yellow brick road with just a bit of our glowy green. I love the idea that as you approach the city, it becomes a whole new source of light. 

Adding Glow to the Yellow Brick Road 1
Adding Glow to the Yellow Brick Road 2
Adding Light to the Monkey Tail

23. Color the Ruby Slippers

Step 1

We'll create our beautiful haute couture ruby high heels at this point. I'm using a pre-made Symbol for my glitter. You can find the instructions for it in my Create a Lisa Frank Inspired Colourful Pegasus in Adobe Illustrator tutorial. 

Coloring the Ruby Slippers 1
Coloring the Ruby Slippers 2
Coloring the Ruby Slippers 3

Step 2

If you need to recolor the Symbol, merely double-click on the Symbol in your Symbols tab and recolor your artwork. This will be linked to any that you have previously put into your composition, so keep that in mind. 

Recoloring the Glitter
Adding Bling 1
Adding Bling 2
Adding Bling 3

24. Add the Last Rays of Light to the Emerald Crystals

My final act of insanity is to incorporate our rays of light into our emerald crystals as well. You can Mask these for a cleaner presentation around your composition. 

Adding Light to the Emerald Crystals 1
Adding Light to the Emerald Crystals 2
Adding Light to the Emerald Crystals 3

I'm Melting...

Hopefully you've made it past the lions, tigers, and bears, and your end result is just as fun and festive. Remember to make room for fun, and nothing has to be exact to look perfect in your eyes. The purpose is to enjoy what you do and explore the vector world at your own pace. Thanks for taking another "sizable" journey with me. Stay fabulously colorful, friends!

Final Color
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