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How to Create a Haggis Infographic in Adobe Photoshop

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Read Time: 15 min
This post is part of a series called Infographic Templates.
How to Create Infographics With Connector Tools in CorelDRAW
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What You'll Be Creating

As Burns Night draws in, I feel that the world needs to be educated about the rare and quite delicious creature that is the Haggis (Haggis Haggis in Latin).

Here is a photograph of a raw, plucked Haggis ready to be cooked for the Burns Supper.

Photodune Scottish Raw HaggisPhotodune Scottish Raw HaggisPhotodune Scottish Raw Haggis

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used in the creation of this tutorial.

Stock photos from Photodune:



1. Document Setup

For this illustration we will be setting up the artwork for print. We want to have an A3 size print, so in the New Document Dialogue (File > New or Control-N) we set: 

  • Width to 297 mm 
  • Height to 420 mm 
  • Resolution to 350 dpi (the standard Dots Per Inch for print) 

The Color Mode is set to CMYK as we will be printing this document. However, if your artwork is not for print then set the Color Mode to RGB.  Note that for this piece I have set the resolution to 350 dpi. This is because I may like to use the elements on a slightly larger print. It's always beneficial to work slightly larger than you require, as artwork scales better going from large to small than from small to large. 

Artwork dimensionsArtwork dimensionsArtwork dimensions

2. Artwork Brief

Here's a little history about the Haggis.

"Elusive and intelligent, this ground-dwelling marsupial has never been successfully bred in captivity. They lay eggs in burrows in the mountains once every three years, and occasionally if the females are unable to find a mate it has been known for them to try and hatch golf balls on the fairways. The Haggis is sized somewhere between a domesticated cat and a guinea pig.

There are two varieties of Haggis: Lefties and Righties. This refers to the Haggis's legs, which are shorter on one side than the other. This is of great benefit when navigating round hills, as it keeps their body upright (Haggis are very susceptible to motion sickness). Lefties navigate hills anti-clockwise, while Righties navigate clockwise. Although it's theoretically possible for Lefties and Righties to interbreed, it is physically impossible due to the leg situation. This is another reason why domestication of the haggis has proved incredibly difficult. 

Haggis Haggis shares a common ancestor with the modern day Platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus.

Photodune PlatypusPhotodune PlatypusPhotodune Platypus

Approximately 110 million years ago, the Haggis and Platypus's ancestor the Steropodon Galmani (also known colloquially to Palaeontologists as the Haggipus) roamed central Pangea. This creature lived alongside crocodiles, dinosaurs and early avians. It is thought that there were some mutations in the offspring of the ancestor that meant early Haggis lost the ability to swim, and grew medium but dense coats much like a guinea pig. 

Photodune Guinea PigPhotodune Guinea PigPhotodune Guinea Pig

They found themselves migrating to the Northern Hemisphere, while Platypus found themselves isolated in Australia as Pangea broke apart. 

The Haggipus was an extremely cranky creature, a trait which has been lost in modern Haggis, who actually enjoy a good ear scratch from humans and have been known to "boop" the legs of hunters hiding in the heather for larger game. It is mostly this friendliness that has made the Haggis reasonably easy to catch and ultimately has led to numbers dropping in the wild. The Address to the Haggis first began as Haggis hunters felt terrible about catching and killing the "wee timorous beastie", which was so friendly yet so very, very delicious. 

Haggis have few natural enemies, but they are plagued by "midgies", also known as mosquitoes, which drive them mental in August. In the glen of Loch Ness it is virtually impossible to find any evidence of Haggis, as it is believed that the Lock Ness Monster (Nessie) picked off the furry creatures as they came to the water's edge for a drink. 

Haggis love heather buds and blaeberries (blueberries), and if they live near farms or crofts they have been known to nibble on neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes). Haggis have a beak much like a zebra finch to crop the occasional thick heather branches.

Photodune Zebra FinchPhotodune Zebra FinchPhotodune Zebra Finch

As a tribute to the Haggis, the Burns Supper serves some of the food that Haggis enjoy themselves (well, the ones humans can eat—neeps and tatties). The flavour of Haggis is an acquired taste, which is emphasised by a "wee dram"—a measure of whisky. 

The pelt of the Haggis has been used for centuries to make yarn for the creation of tapestries, and occasionally the threads make their way into some tartans. Notably the purple fur is the most prized. The wearing of the sporran symbolised the great sacrifice this late January treat has made."

We need to make all this wonderful information into an easy-to-view graphic, so we will pick out some key features:

  • Ancestor: Steropodon Galmani (Haggipus)
  • Appearance and Anatomy: legs on one side shorter than the other, dense purple and green fur, short but high beak for eating blueberries and heather like a zebra finch
  • Enemies: midgies and Nessie
  • Relative Size: between cat and guinea pig 
  • Poison: shortbread
  • Food: blueberries, heather, neeps and tatties

We have all the information we need to start planning out our infographic! As this tutorial is about infographics, I won't be going too in-depth into my illustration process. Next comes the fun part, roughing out the elements! 

3. Rough Out the Elements

For this tutorial I will be using the basic Photoshop Hard Brush with pressure sensitivity. The Brush panel can be quickly accessed by pressing F5 on your keyboard.

Step 1: Family Tree

On a New Layer (Control-Shift-N), sketch out the two members of the family tree—Steropodon Galmani (Haggipus) and the Platypus. Keep each element on a separate layer, as it will make moving them around easier. If you accidentally draw them on the same layer, which can happen, you can Lasso (L) the desired area. Then Cut (C), create a New Layer (Control-Shift-N), and press Control-Shift-V to paste it into the same place. 

Platypus and steropodon galmaniPlatypus and steropodon galmaniPlatypus and steropodon galmani

Step 2: Appearance and Anatomy

We need a way to show appearance and anatomy. Rather than create a complex painting of Leftie and Rightie Haggis on a hill, we can simplify the form, as all we really want to show are the legs. Without too much fuss, this simple illustration shows how the Haggis navigate the steep slopes with their amazing leg adaptation. These guys are the stick men of the Haggis kingdom!

Leg graphicLeg graphicLeg graphic

Step 3: Predators

Most creatures in the wild are preyed upon, so we need to show the Haggis's enemies—the infamous Scottish Midgies, and Nessie of course! This is purely an artist's representation of Nessie, as no one actually know what she really looks like (she's sneaky!). Midgies are very similar to mosquitoes or other small biting flies across the world. Note that they are not to scale with Nessie in this illustration. Midgies are pretty much just flying dots, so let's draw them like that. Remember to keep Nessie and the Midgies on different layers!

Haggis PredatorsHaggis PredatorsHaggis Predators

Step 4: Relative Size

How big is a Haggis? This is useful to allow the reader to imagine how big the Haggis is by comparing the creature to more well-known animals. In this case I have chosen a domestic cat and a guinea pig, as Scottish explorers who visited the Andes thought that they were Haggis. They're not—guinea pigs make better pets. 

As a descendant of a Great Haggis Trapper, I know that Haggis are rarely larger than a domestic cat. For the sake of demonstration, here we have a cat, a guinea pig, and a shape to symbolise the Haggis. I haven't decided what pose I want our beastie in yet! 

Haggis size comparisonHaggis size comparisonHaggis size comparison

Step 5: Poison

Shortbread is poisonous to Haggis as the combination of flour and butter, not to mention the crumbly nature of the foodstuff, can give the Haggis terrible wind. Haggis are unable to fart, so too much consumption causes them to explode. 

Shortbread can come in a variety of shapes, so I decided to keep it simple with a simple finger of shortbread and an internationally recognised symbol for poison—the skull and crossbones. Make sure your viewer can relate to what you put in your infographic. 

Haggis PoisonHaggis PoisonHaggis Poison

Step 6: Food

Haggis love blueberries but their season is short and Haggis are greedy. Most of their diet consists of heather, and if they can they'll happily feast on neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes). It's a bit dull having the individual food elements in a line or set out as below, so in the graphic I shall arrange the foodstuffs into a pleasing array fit for any starving Haggis!

Haggis foodHaggis foodHaggis food

4. Rearrange Elements for the Infographic

Now that we have our main elements, we can arrange them in our infographic. As we have all these pieces in the same document, it's easy to select the layers you want, and while the Move Tool is selected you can rearrange pieces easily. Elements can be transformed by pressing Control-T to Transform or by going to Image > Image Rotation and using the presets there.

Luckily for me I have had the opportunity to study Haggis in the wild and I had some sketches readily available that I could drop into the document.

Haggis Rough Layout AHaggis Rough Layout AHaggis Rough Layout A

In my first layout it missed some key information regarding the leg types of the haggis. The predators also needed greater prominence, so I made them larger at the base of the poster. As each piece is on its own layer, they are easy to move around by using the Move Tool (V), and can be scaled by pressing Control-T to Transform.

Haggis Rough Layout BHaggis Rough Layout BHaggis Rough Layout B

5. Colour Palette

When it comes to infographics, you want to keep your colour choices limited. Here I am sticking to purple, green, and orange. To keep the illustrations from being flat, I add in some variations.

Purple: heather flowers, Haggis fur, blueberries, potatoes, mountains, turnips

Green: foliage, Nessie, Haggis beak

Orange: shortbread, cat, guinea pig, Haggis cheek fur

Haggis Basic PaletteHaggis Basic PaletteHaggis Basic Palette

Haggis Colour SchemeHaggis Colour SchemeHaggis Colour Scheme

Now here comes the really fun part: painting the elements!

6. Painting the Food

Step 1

On individual layers, paint in the flat colours of the foodstuffs. Quickly create a New Layer by pressing Control-Shift-N.

Food colours - flatsFood colours - flatsFood colours - flats

Step 2

Using the lighter purple from the palette, paint in highlights to the potatoes. Next, in Photoshop's colour palette, add some more white to the light purple and paint in the base of the turnips. For the tops of the turnips, use the darkest purple in the palette. Add highlights to the leaves and stalk of the turnips. Keep the details simple so the viewer isn't distracted.

Turnip baseTurnip baseTurnip base

Step 3

On the blueberries layer, paint over the lighter blue to make the berries look round.

Blueberry paintBlueberry paintBlueberry paint

Step 4

In Photoshop's colour picker, select a blue with more white for a highlight, and then paint this over.

Blueberry HighlightBlueberry HighlightBlueberry Highlight

Step 5

On a New Layer (Control-Shift-N) above the heather stalks, with the brush set to 60% flow and opacity, manually dot in the heather flowers. The pressure change will create a variety in the purples for realism.

Heather flowersHeather flowersHeather flowers

Step 6

Continue dotting flowers over the stalks. This is time-consuming, but I find it creates a nicer effect than creating a scatter brush—plus you have more control.

Additional Heather FlowersAdditional Heather FlowersAdditional Heather Flowers

Step 7

On a New Layer (Control-Shift-N) behind the heather flowers, continue the dotting process with the darkest green for some leaves.

Heather leavesHeather leavesHeather leaves

Step 8

To make the heather look more lush, Copy (C) and Paste (V) the flowers layer. Then, pressing Control-T to transform, scale the flowers down approximately 33%.

 Scale flowers Scale flowers Scale flowers

Step 9

Reduce the opacity of the scaled flowers layer by sliding the Layer Opacity in the Layers panel to approximately 50%.

Extra heather flowers scaled down and lowered in opacityExtra heather flowers scaled down and lowered in opacityExtra heather flowers scaled down and lowered in opacity

Here we have our finished Haggis Food Element.

Complete Haggis Food IllustrationComplete Haggis Food IllustrationComplete Haggis Food Illustration

7. Painting the Guinea Pig and the Cat

Step 1

Take the lighter orange and paint in the base shapes of the animals as before. The orange will contrast nicely with the purple Haggis that will be between them.

Guinea Pig and Cat Base FlatsGuinea Pig and Cat Base FlatsGuinea Pig and Cat Base Flats

Step 2

Add in shadow and darker areas with the dark orange.

Cat and guinea pig colour roughsCat and guinea pig colour roughsCat and guinea pig colour roughs

Step 3

Create a brown/orange in the Photoshop colour palette and quickly draw over some defining lines for stripes, paws and face. Remember to keep it loose! Here we have our finished cat illustration!

Finished cat illustrationFinished cat illustrationFinished cat illustration

Step 4

Rough in some markings for the guinea pig and shadows under its ear.

Guinea pig colour patchesGuinea pig colour patchesGuinea pig colour patches

Step 5

Taking the same brown from the cat, draw in the feet, ear edge, eye, mouth, and some spots.

Guinea Pig Brown DetailsGuinea Pig Brown DetailsGuinea Pig Brown Details

Step 6

Use the Smudge tool to soften the edge of the creature. This tool can be found in the toolbar and it looks like a pointed finger.

Guinea Pig Fluffy EdgeGuinea Pig Fluffy EdgeGuinea Pig Fluffy Edge

Step 7

Draw in some random stray furs and whiskers. Here we have our finished guinea pig illustration!

Finished detailed Guinea Pig IllustrationFinished detailed Guinea Pig IllustrationFinished detailed Guinea Pig Illustration
Cat and Guinea Pig Illustrations side by sideCat and Guinea Pig Illustrations side by sideCat and Guinea Pig Illustrations side by side

8. Painting the Members of the Family Tree

Step 1

Paint in the base flat colours as before.

Family flatsFamily flatsFamily flats

Step 2

Rough in the lighter colours. Looking at the Haggipus I think it looks a bit reptilian; am I misremembering its colour? Concerned by this, I check my dusty, well-thumbed copy of The Haggis Trapper's Almanac and lo it states that the Haggipus was primarily purple, with a lighter lower half and orange cheeks. Luckily in Photoshop this is a quick fix.
Green HaggipusGreen HaggipusGreen Haggipus

Step 3

To quickly change the colour of the Haggipus, I create a New Layer (Control-Shift-N) which I set to Color. I right-click on this layer and set it to Clipping Mask. I then paint over the entire Haggipus with a dark purple. Next I merge the Color layer with the green base and begin painting in the fur using light and dark purples. On the platypus I rough in some fur, blending in the lighter and darker areas with some detail to the feet and tail.

Completed Haggipus and PlatypusCompleted Haggipus and PlatypusCompleted Haggipus and Platypus

9. Painting Nessie and Midgies

Step 1

Paint in the base colours.

Nessie FlatsNessie FlatsNessie Flats

Step 2

Rough in the highlights on the body and begin to blend with a stippling motion with the brush by pressing Alt to colour pick as you paint.

Nessie base tonesNessie base tonesNessie base tones

Step 3

Continue blending the green all over the piece and add in some of the bright green. On the back fins draw in a centre line with the dark green, and add a few dots to imply texture.

Nessie Scale DetailNessie Scale DetailNessie Scale Detail

Step 4

Take the blue and add in some waves to give the illusion that Nessie is in the water. Take an almost black and draw in a facial expression.

Nessie wavesNessie wavesNessie waves

Step 5

Add a light purple highlight to the midgies and draw in doodled wings and legs with the black. Here we have our finished Predators!

Midgie DetailMidgie DetailMidgie Detail

10. Painting the Haggis

Step 1

Rough in the base colours. The Haggis has dark purple feet (to hide dirt), a light purple body, a green bill, orange cheek patches, and a purple mating feather called the "Lady Feather" if the creature happens to be male. This attracts the ladies!

Haggis FlatsHaggis FlatsHaggis Flats

Step 2

Use the darker purple to paint in shadows under the chin and around the legs and belly. Mix a very pale purple to imply some dense fur, and paint this where the light would naturally catch. Emphasise the cheeks by brightening the orange with yellow, and reflect this on the "Lady Feather".

That's our beastie, isn't he handsome?

Haggis RenderedHaggis RenderedHaggis Rendered

11. Mountain Illustration

Here's our simple illustration to show how the Lefties and Righties navigate the slopes. Blend in purples to the mountain in a similar way to Nessie's scales, and highlight the snow-capped peak. The Stick Haggis are just simple representations in the dark blue. Their purpose is just to show their legs (haha) so there's no need for lots of detail!

Haggis MountainHaggis MountainHaggis Mountain

12. Headings and Annotation

I decided to keep the heading quite simple. Using the Horizontal Type Tool (T) I selected the font Futura Handwritten in a dark purple, and then typed "The Haggis: A Simple Guide".

Step 1

To get the text centralised with the Horizontal Type Tool (T) selected, click on center text in the toolbar and change "The Haggis:" to 98 pt. Then press Enter to move "A Simple Guide" onto the next line. Next, highlight these words with the Horizontal Type Tool (T) and change the size to 50 pt. In this case the Leading (space between the words horizontally) is spaced to 70 pt. Depending on fonts and taste, this can be amended by changing the point size.

Text SampleText SampleText Sample

Step 2

Repeat this process for the Latin names, facts, and labels. Make the headings large and dark blue to draw attention.

Illustration LabellingIllustration LabellingIllustration Labelling

Step 3

The mountain illustration needs some annotation, so I draw in some curved arrows to show the direction of movement. 

Direction of MovementDirection of MovementDirection of Movement

13. Finishing Touches

Step 1

To improve the composition I moved the elements around to make sure no elements were too close to each other. I have grouped the elements (text and illustrations) into individual folders so that they can be easily moved around the canvas with the Move Tool (V).

Haggis Guide - No ArrowsHaggis Guide - No ArrowsHaggis Guide - No Arrows

Step 2

To give focus to the piece, I add in orange arrows to link text to illustrations or to draw attention to certain areas.  

Haggis Guide - ArrowsHaggis Guide - ArrowsHaggis Guide - Arrows

Step 3

Double-click on your arrow layer to bring up Layer Styles.

Using Layer Styles I use a Drop Shadow set to Multiply, with the blue as the shadow colour. This makes the arrows really stand out against the white background.

If you wish to use the same settings on another layer, simply right-click on the layer with the Layer Styles, and select Copy Layer Style. Then on your desired layer, right-click again and select Paste Layer Style. If, for example, you have arrows on individual layers, this saves you making a note of all the settings and manually entering them for every layer.

Drop Shadow Layer StyleDrop Shadow Layer StyleDrop Shadow Layer Style

The Finished Infographic!

Completed Haggis InfographicCompleted Haggis InfographicCompleted Haggis Infographic

You will notice that in the final version I omitted the fur and body types in favour of a fact to break up the infographic. The most important thing is that there is not too much information on one piece. A good mix is roughly 2/3 illustration to 1/3 text.


I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial on how to create a Haggis infographic and learned something along the way too! It may make you think next time you tuck into a Burns Supper! Sláinte!

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