When creating your illustrations, you should take full advantage of the features in Adobe Illustrator that make building your artwork easier. The first one is layers. This feature has been available in Illustrator for the past 20 years. But I am surprised at how many creatives illustrator specifically I find not using layers. They build everything on one single layer and then wander why it is hard to isolate content, select shapes, and make adjustments. Layers are your friend, so use them. The other feature used more often but still not enough in my opinion is masks. Masks will help you group and isolate detailing and when you skillfully can assist in creating illustrative illusion.
So let's take a look at how you can use layers and masks to your full creative advantage. This is an illustration I created for an illustrator wow book. And it uses an extensive amount of layers in order to pull off. Everything you see now on screen. And without layers, it really would've been hard to illustrate this piece of artwork just because it's so elaborate and there are so many detailing methods going on in it. If I isolate just the Pattern layer alone. Just to create this pattern, it utilized layers in order to get that kind of dimensional quality going to it.
And so just that layer alone utilizes layers in the process of creating that repeat pattern. But I'm just gonna click through this just to deconstruct why I put certain things on certain layers. The next thing. This is the base shadow. I'll turn that on last actually. From here, we're gonna go to, this is just the conjure, it says beautiful in Japanese. And, this is the outline for just the top part of the figure's head, since she has black hair that's black.
This is the base skin. Here is the shadowing we've created. Here's the nose detail for that shadowing. And here's the darker skin detail. I'm gonna get back to that shortly and show you how I use layering to manage those detailing assets. And then here's the nose. You know, obviously when the eyes pop in they really bring everything to life. Her dress, here's the cast shadow, this we'll dive into, to explore that a little more too, and the subtle coloring. And the subtle coloring is just a little detail just on that eye that sits underneath her hair hanging down in front of her face, so. Even subtle approaches like that help when you organize everything by layers. And then obviously, the hair detail, to pull out all those highlights.
If I go back down in my Layers palette here, you can see I have to kind of push her off of the background and to create an illusion of depth here, I've added this shadow to the background. So that's on its own layer. So I can access that and control that however I want. So in this illustration, I'm using a lot of what are called Gaussian blur. And all that is, as you can take any kind of vector shape. And you can go up under your Effects>Photoshop. And apply a Gaussian Blur to it. Now, we're gonna go over that in another movie. But, I want to point that out, because in this illustration, if I zoom in on her face, you'll see that I've used that to create this shape on her nose to shade that. But the thing is, is, this nose shape is massed inside of a greater shape, which is her face here. So you can see that. So if I double-click this, I go into that shape. So I'm in Isolation mode. I can drag, and I won't select anything, because this is acting.
Kind of like inception. You can see up here that I'm in the nose mask detail. And the clip group you know, consists of this nose shading shape. And this highlight shape on the bridge of her nose. So, that's how you can use layers to isolate content and just make it easier to edit. Now we can go back to. Our layers here, and back to the original like that. Or you can click outside of the area on the background of your illustration and it will do the same thing. So that's how I use layers and mask to isolate the detailing in her nose. Now the other part is this cast shadow. This cast shadow. Is once again, contained within a mask. If I double-click that, it'll take us within that shape, and you can see that the actual shape here is showing here and all that is, is if we go to our gradient it is a base fleshed tone shadow color. Blending out to 0 alpha of the base color flesh and that shape itself has had a Gaussian blur effect applied to it. So, even though it is a vector shape, it is not a hard edge. It is a diffused edge and that gives the illusion of the cache shadow and because I've isolated it and masked it into the shape, it also helps us to control that detailing. That's why masks are important because they allow you to organize your detailing, contain it and control it. Combine that with layers and that's how you can pull off very extensive and complicated illustration such as this one.
- Choosing a style
- Establishing primary and secondary light sources
- How lighting affects color
- Working with the color wheel
- Building a global color wheel
- Creating emotion through color
- Using gradient blends
- Spit detailing
- Using custom brushes
- Rounding detail with the VectorScribe plugin
- Adding depth
- Finding inspiration