Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating an illustrated photo, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Teacher] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. In this movie, I want to go over creating an illustrated photo. Now not everything I work on is project-based or specifically created for a client. I'm a big believer in pursuing personal projects for no other reason than to simply create whatever that may be. So in this movie, you're going to see me doing just that. I want to share with you how I combine 2D illustration with just some simple photography to produce some engaging results, so let's jump into this.
As with all of my projects, it starts with drawing, and this is my rough sketch for this project. Now whenever I work on a personal project, I'm obviously going to pick something that I'm personally interested in. Otherwise, you're not going to make it sustainable. So pick something that you're going to enjoy playing with and seeing where it leads you. That's all I did here, I sketched out this character, and he has a little buddy, a little bird, and he's talking to him. But even on a rough sketch like this, it can guide my vector-building effort.
So here's my base vectors, and one thing I should point out on this style is when I combine these shapes, for example, on his hand, these shapes that make up his right hand holding the bird, such as this finger going up, his palm, his other two fingers, these shapes right here are all going to be fused into one cohesive shape and have one fill. So the reason why there's these blue lines on the interior of that shape of the hand is because this is where I'll apply some brushes to those paths to bring out the detail and form the final hand, as you're going to see.
Now I love working with vector brushes in Illustrator. Now I kind of discovered it a little over a year ago, and I've been doing it ever since, and it's a lot of fun. I've created my own brush set, I've created a whole course on vector painting that you can check out. If I kind of go too fast or don't dive into it enough for your taste in this specific movie, don't worry about it. You can watch my whole course, Drawing Vector Graphics: Painting with Vectors, to get the full unfettered full access detailed account of how to pull this style off.
But I want to walk through a few things in this one because it might simplify the process enough that you will understand it. But it all starts off with base coloring. So here's all my base colors, and when I vector paint, I set up all my base vector art in color like this. And this could be a nice vector-based illustration as is, but it's going to really become a nice, immersive illustration once I start working in some of the painted brushes onto it. But all my shapes are simple fills. So on this skin tone, you can see a fill here, and a corresponding stroke color of the same color.
If I select his hair, same thing. Fill and stroke are the same, everything in here. Whether it's the bird's body, fill and stroke are the same. Elements of the hand, the same. His tie, for example, the same. His jacket, the same, fill and stroke are matching. The only exception to this are where I use paths. So paths are like the creases on his nose, are filled this darker shade of the nose color. And on his eyes, are just simple paths. The inset of his ears and the detailing of the suit are just black stroke lines.
Now it's at this point I'll start taking vector brushes, and what I mean by vector brushes is within this file, you're going to find these vector brushes, seven of them right here, will be inside of this file that you can use yourself. If you go to the Brushes pallet, you can see them loaded here. This first one is default in Illustrator already. That's always there, but these are the custom ones that I've created that you can take for a test run and see if you like them.
Now within the exercise files, you'll find a few more of these brushes you can use. Now another exception to the brushes is this bitmap TIFF tester, so if I go to keyline view, you can see that's just a place TIFF image, and I've use this in a previous movie, reusing it now because it works so well. So how do I vector paint? Well let's turn on the Vector Paint layer, and you can see how I've already applied a lot of the brushwork on this illustration, and if I zoom in on this just so you can appreciate the nice texturing and the brush detail, and I'm just going to toggle.
This is with brushes, without. With, without. So you can see how engaging and organic it becomes by utilizing these brushes. So I'm going to show you how to quickly apply brushes, or I quickly apply brushes, and if you think traditionally, yes I'm using a metaphor of a paint pallet since we're painting here, just with vectors, but if you think traditionally, it can help you digitally. Drawing is that way, drawing will help digital workflow, but also just thinking in traditional ways are going to help you in digital ways because it's the same methodology, it's just been digitized with software.
What people used to do by hand is just being done by digital but the principles can still apply and work very well. So for example, if we're focusing on this head area here, I'll zoom in, I like to paint with the Brush tool right here and what I'll do, once I have the Brush tool, make sure we're on the right layer, once I have the Brush tool selected, all I have to do is hold Command down, select a stroke I've already painted, so you can see the path here with the brush applied to it, if we go to the Brush pallet, you can see this brush is applied to this path that's colored a darker shade of the skin tone, and it also has the attribute of Multiply blend mode and 30 percent opacity.
I can select that, I have my brush now, and you can see, it pre-loads my brush. Just like you would load a brush with pigment from a pallet, it pre-loads my brush with this color, with this Multiply setting, with the blend mode Multiply, that is, and with an opacity of 30, so all I have to do now is just go to my artwork and I can just paint down with this brush, and simply do my painting like this. I want another color, in this case a highlight for the nose, I can select this path, which has white, it's at 40 percent opacity, it loads my brush, I go back to the nose and I can just pull down like this and paint the detail on his nose like that.
That's how fast it can go. It applies to any area you're painting. So maybe we're on this jacket, I select the shading color, and then I paint down his sleeve like that to add shading, maybe I select the highlight, and I put a nice highlight in there as well. We can go over to this area with the bird, I can select the shading on this kind of orange-ish color, and we can create the shading on the bird's wing, select the highlight and do the top of the shading.
I don't like that, Command+Z. I use Command+Z a lot doing this, by the way, until I get the look and feel I like, that looks good. Select the darker hue of blue here and paint an under-shadow on the body of the bird, select the white, and we'll give a nice little highlight on top of his head. And that's how fast this process can go in terms of vector painting. It's not hard, it just takes time to get the hang of it, but once you get the hang of it, it will go fast.
Now I should point out, if I go to keyline view here, this is all it is, is just a bunch of paths with brushes applied. You can create a very compelling traditional look and feel with vector art. So if you want to know more about that, make sure to check out my course. Now when it's all said and done, I have my final Mr. Warblers illustration you can see here, and it's at this point I'll save him as an independent file, just this artwork in its final form, because I'm going to move to PhotoShop now, and we're going to place him into a photograph and have some fun with it.
We're in PhotoShop now, and you can see a photograph I've taken of a downtown alley in the town I live in. Whenever I start working in Photoshop, I always like saving a PSD file of a project and saving it in a way I can always go back to it and make any edits or changes later. So even though I have a source photo, I'm not going to work on my source photo. I'll make a duplicate of this layer, and in this case, we'll just call it Customize, be really original with our name. We can turn off the source, and once I've done that, now I want to bring in my artwork, Mr. Warblers, as a smart object.
So I'm going to go up to File, I'm going to pull down to Place Embedded, then we're going to select him, he's on our desktop here, and we'll click Place. Now there's one choice you have to make when this dialog window comes up, and in this case, we want Art Box, so we'll select that and click OK. He places into Photoshop. Once he places into PhotoShop, you can size him if you want, but in this case, I've already sized him, but you can see the dimensions. It's not at exact 100 percent, so I'm going to go ahead and go 100 and just click this so it does it proportionately, and then we'll go ahead and place him, and then I'm going to move him into place here like this, and I'm going to position him on the layer I want him on because I already have a pre-fabricated, I'm like a cooking show, I have some stuff pre-baked, like the drop shadow, and we're going to turn him on, that locks him into place.
So we brought Mr. Warblers into this environment, maybe he's hanging out in the alley with his bird for whatever reason, but I think we can improve the visual narrative of this image. So the first thing I want to do is, right now his jacket kind of gets lost with the ground of the alleyway, and I want to kind of bring more contrast there so he pops off that surface a little better. So I'm going to add a layer in between my photo and the character, and we'll call this Light FX, and then I'm going to go over and select Gradient, Radial Gradient, and you want a gradient that goes from white to transparent, and then I can go over here, and I'm going to go ahead and create a radial gradient, and find the center point of where I want it, and we'll pull it out like this.
And now I just want to adjust it, so I'll go to Transform > Scale, and I'm just going to position it, size it down a little bit like this, and bring in this a little bit, and maybe a little more, that looks good and we'll go Apply. Now I'm going to turn him off really quickly. I don't want it to look like this, but with this layer selected, I'm going to go to blend mode, and I'm going to go to Overlay, and you can see you get kind of that appearance of light shining in here.
In between the two buildings, there's light hitting this tree and this side building here, and it's reflecting into the alleyway, so I'm just kind of mimicking that. I don't want it 100 percent, I'm going to bring it down to like 80 value-wise, and then turn him on. So now he kind of pops off the background. That's what I wanted, I like that. And the next thing I want to do now is, I want to use an effect that a lot of people use in mobile apps, and that's Tilt-Shift. And we want to tilt-shift our photograph background here.
Now before I do this, I could leave the slide effects on its own layer, but now that I know I like it, I'm going to go ahead and, let's see, we're just going to merge down with my photograph so it's embedded on that. Now with our Customize photo layer selected, I'm going to go up to Filter > Blur Gallery > Tilt-Shift, it'll open up controls for Tilt-Shift. And if you've used this feature in mobile, it's pretty much the same way you can handle creating a tilt-shift. This middle part of it is how you can kind of position it, so I use that to orient it with my illustration, and then as you hover over this little node here, this is how you can rotate it, and I'm going to go ahead and rotate it like this, and I want this below his feet.
I don't want his feet getting blurred. And this, I think I'm going to bring this down, right about there, that looks pretty good. And then this one can go up there, and it is blurring the background, but I don't think it's blurring it enough. Right now it's 15, I'm going to kick this up quite a bit. So we'll go to maybe 35, see what that looks like. Oh yeah, I like that a lot better. And I'm going to bring this one down just a little bit.
And that looks pretty good. So I'm going to go ahead and click OK, and we're going to commit this now. It's going to blur out our photograph, and by doing that, it punches our character out of the background. If I turn on the original and we compare, he kind of blended in with the background. Even though he's an illustration, he kind of got lost with all that detail, but as soon as we put Tilt-Shift and add this nice effect behind him to pop him off the background, now he's really coming forward. And there's one more thing I'm going to do, so I'm going to add a new layer, we'll call this Fade FX, and we'll go to Gradient, we'll kep it on white, I'm just going to fade in some white as if the light is bouncing off that building.
I don't want it at 100 percent value, I want it pretty faint, so we'll go to 40, and that looks good. Now if I toggle this off, before that, with it, I just think it adds to it. So this is how you can create a really fun visual narrative. Now this is just one photographic scene with Mr. Warblers. Let's turn on this one, here he is at another alley. I guess he likes alleyways, not sure why that is. But we're going to simply zoom out a little bit 'cause I want to show you how I handle this, is I'll take the Lasso tool, and we're just going to make a quick and dirty selection.
So I'm going to do that right now, and I just wanted to show you how to make a quick and dirty kind of, not Tilt-Shift, but depth of field in a photograph if you don't want to use Tilt-Shift. So I'll make a selection like this, and then I'll go up to Select, pull down to Modify and go to Feather, and normally this defaults at about 5, but in this case, we want a lot, so we're going to do 200, we're going to go OK, you can see how the selection is feathered now.
Now with that selection still loaded, we'll go to Filter, we'll go to Blur, and we're going to go to Gaussian Blur, and then this is just visually, this is too much, I think, this isn't enough, but I want it at enough that it really pops him off the background, so I think 8 will do it. We'll click on that, and this is how you can really quickly create some depth of field in a composition like this if you're mashing together 2D illustration with a photograph.
So I thought that was a lot of fun as well. I'm going to show you one more thing with Mr. Warblers, and it's going to show the power of smart objects. So here he is, I placed this artwork like I did previously in the other one, but I blew it up 175 percent, positioned it, but I decided I want to alter something in Mr. Warblers himself, not in PhotoShop, but in the smart object itself. So we're going to double-click on the smart object, and it's going to open in Illustrator. After you double-click it, this window will pop up.
Just click OK. Now we're inside Illustrator with our Mr. Warblers character and look at the Layers pallet you can see it has Happy Eyes. This is the beauty about smart objects. You can have a whole ton of stuff in here, but just have it turned off and it won't display inside PhotoShop. We're going to turn off his Happy Eyes, and turn on his Look Eyes, and we're just going to save the file now. So I'm going to go ahead and Command+S.
Now because this is vector painting, this might take a little bit to save, so if you get a beach ball, don't worry about it, just let it save. Once it saves, close the file, go back to PhotoShop. Now that the file is saved, we can close it and we can go back to PhotoShop and see how it changed it. Now we're back in PhotoShop, and you can see how it's opened his eyes so it looks like he's engaging with the photographic background that he's in now.
So that's how you can use smart objects. They're very flexible, very powerful, and they're vector-based, which is the beauty of them. So smart objects are a great way to partner PhotoShop with Illustrator and combine two creative disciplines like photography and illustration. I encourage you to experiment with these type of methods and see what you can create in the process. Thank you again for watching DVG lab, and until next time, remember, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.