Today we will create a detailed vector illustration of Santa Claus pointing to a text or another image. Along with this, you will learn how to:
- develop your own work flow
- use gradients
- add shading and lighting
- organize your work into layers
Completion time: 1 hour
Tools: Illustrator CS3, graphic tablet
I made this paper sketch to get an idea of how the final image will look like. Based on this outline, we will create our vector.
Draw a Cute Santa Final Image Preview
Create a new document of Letter format in RGB color mode at 72 dpi.
Click-drag the picture onto the canvas and set Blending mode to Multiply, double-click the layer’s name and rename it to “sketch”. Then lock the layer. The picture was a little crooked, so I rotated it a bit.
Click the “Create New Layer” button and add the layers below. Make sure the “sketch” layer stays on top of the others.
For each element, use the Path Tool (P) and trace them, making sure that you have the respective layer selected (ex., trace the beard on the “beard” layer). Also use different colors so you can easily select them later.
Go to the Brushes palette (F5), double-click a brush and use the following settings. Hit Ok, then double-click another brush and use the settings below.
Grab the Direct Selection Tool (V) and recolor every element: make the beard and the whites on the suit a light blue tint, recolor the eyes to green, the face to ochre, the suit and the glasses to red. I’ve added a gray background so you can see better all the shapes.
Grab the Brush Tool (B), grab the first brush created in STEP 5, grab a light blue color (but darker than the beard), select the “beard” layer and draw a stroke of the entire beard. Use a lighter color to draw the shadow of the beard and hit CTRL+SHIFT+[ to send it to back.
Hey, I saw what you did there. You went for the Stroke setting, didn’t you? We want to keep this to an artistic level and the perfect Stroke setting will ruin that. So don’t do that.
Draw more strokes in the inner side of the beard, to add more detail of the hair. Then trace the contour of the hands. Make sure the respective layers are selected at all times, else it will be very difficult for you to draw details.
Select the “clothing” layer, grab a bright red color and the Brush Tool (B), select the second brush and paint the lights on the red ares of the suit. Then pick a dark red color and draw the shadows. Keep in mind that the light is above him.
Repeat STEP 9 for the red area of the hat.
Grab a light blue color (lighter than the stroke of the beard and lighter than the fill) and paint the shadows of the hat’s border. Select the “hands” layer and draw some small shadows for the hands too.
Select the “face” layer. Select one of the pupils, click-drag its fill color into the Swatches palette, double-click the Fill and make a lighter color. Hit OK and click-drag this one too into the Swatches palette.
Go to the Gradient window (Window > Gradient) and click-drag these two colors in the gradient mixer. Then click-drag the resulting gradient into the pupils. Grab the Gradient Tool (G) and click-drag like below to apply another direction to the gradient. Do the same for the face.
Repeat STEPS 12-13 for the beard, but use white and a light blue color for the gradient.
Click-drag the gradient from STEP 14 into the Swatches palette. Then click-drag it on the hands and onto the hat’s border. For the hands, hat border, change the setting to Radial.
Unlock all layers (except “sketch”) and go to Object > Expand Appearance, then go to Object > Path > Clean up. Then lock the “hands” layer. Select all artwork, grab the Eraser Tool (SHIFT+E), hold the ALT key and click-drag to make a linear erase, like below.
Create a new layer, grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a light gray rectangle. Make it fit the edge created in the previous step.
Open the “winter background”, grab the Selection Tool (V), click the santa silhouette and hit Delete. Then select all artwork (CTRL+A), copy it (CTRL+C) and paste it into our drawing. Resize it to the aproximate width of the rectangle.
Place the background like below, then copy the Width value. Grab the Selection Tool (V), select the gray rectangle and replace its Width with the copied value. Select both the background and the rectangle and hit the “Horizontal Align Center”.
Lock all layers except “hands”. Select the right hand and copy it (CTRL+C) and paste it to back (CTRL+B).Grab the Eyedropper Tool (I) and click the contour of the hand. Set Opacity to 25% and Blending mode to Multiply. Rotate it like below. repeat this for the other hand.
Grab the Crop Area Tool (SHIFT+O) and draw an area like below. Then click the Selection Tool (V) to exit crop marks mode.