photoshop creative

Construct an illustration using shapes

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
October 4, 2017

Discover how to combine, create and manipulate shapes to produce a glowing and vibrant piece of art

1. Mixing tools

Start by opening an image of a subject from the FileSilo. Ensuring Shape Layer is selected, use the Ellipse tool to create a circle around the model’s head. Then grab the Pen tool to draw her chin and jaw line. Click the + key to draw two or more shapes in one shape layer.

2. Adding a gradient

When you created your first shape, you will have noticed a shape layer appear in your Layers panel. Double-click on this layer to bring up the Layer Style window. Select Gradient Overlay and click on the gradient bar, make a off-white to light blue gradient and hit OK.

3. Constructing an oval

Use the Ellipse tool to draw a long oval from the top of the head to just above her jaw. Add a purple to blue gradient to the oval and alter the Scale to 150%. Finally, change the Opacity of this layer to 80%.

4. Duplicating shapes

Use the Pen to draw an eye socket. Select the shape using the Path Selection tool, then hold down Alt/Shift and drag the shape to the left of her face. Now go to Edit>Transform Path>Flip Horizontally to mirror the shape. Add the same gradient as step 3, this time change the gradient’s blend mode to Multiply and set Fill to 0%.

5. Resizing an existing shape

Duplicate the head shape layer and move it above the eye socket layer. Then go to Edit>Transform>Scale and in the tool Options bar, click the middle-top square. Set the Vertical Scale to 98%. Finally, modify the shape layer’s colour to light pink and change its blend mode to Soft Light.

6. Draw the forehead

Use the Pen to draw a half oval, complete the shape by drawing two points at the base. Now give this shape a light pink to pink gradient, make the gradient’s blend mode Multiply and the Fill 0%. Draw a purple diamond from the Custom Shape tool and change the blend mode to Overlay and set Opacity to 80%.

7. Combining shapes together

Draw a half oval frame with a pointy tip using the Pen. As in step 4, duplicate and mirror the shape. Next, use the Path Selection tool and hold down Shift to select both shapes, then click the Combine button from the top bar. Add a navy to dark purple Multiply gradient and make the Fill 0%.

8. Build the nose

With the Ellipse tool, draw a light blue oval for the tip; set the Opacity to 80%. Then use the Pen to draw the bridge of the nose, making it purple. Now draw two navy nostrils and finally draw an airplane shape over the top part of the bridge and make its Opacity 80%.

9. Create glowing tears

Use the Pen to draw the eyelid and eyebrow. Use similar gradients and colours from previous steps. Draw white tears and select an Outer Glow layer style set to: Opacity: 70%, Color: #00ffff, Spread: 5% and Size: 20px. Finally draw on her lips and use the diamond shape for her philtrum.

10. Perfect proportions

It will look better if your illustration is symmetrical, so whatever features the model has two of, just draw one, duplicate it and then flip it. For example, with the eyes, place all the shape layers into a folder, go to Edit>Transform>Horizontal Flip, then use the Move tool to move the shapes into place.

11. Glowing brush

Create a new layer and grab a soft brush at 50% Opacity and pick out a bright pink. Lightly paint over both sides of her cheek. Double-click the layer to bring up the Layer Style window and select Outer Glow. Use the default settings but alter the Opacity to 50% and Size to 98px.

12. Masking the brush layer

Create a mask on the brush layer to ensure that only her face is affected. Firstly, Cmd/Ctrl-click on the vector mask thumbnail of her face shape layer to create a selection around it. Then select the painted layer and click Add Layer Mask from the bottom of the Layers palette.

13. Distorting shapes

Start by using the Pen to draw a basic headband and make it pink. Then grab the 5 Point Star from the Custom Shape tool. Once drawn, go to Edit>Transform Path>Distort and drag a corner handle to stretch the bounding box to distort the start to fit on the headband.

14. Different glows

Draw and distort three more stars and bring up the Layer Style window. Use these settings for Inner Glow; Opacity: 75% select Edge, Choke: 86% and Size: 81px. And these setting for Outer Glow: Opacity: 70%, Color: White, Spread: 5% and Size: 20px.

15. Drawing wavy hair

Use the Pen to draw the base shape of her hair, and then draw a few individual strands of hair. Vary the colours from blue to bright pink and change the blend mode on all the stand layers to Color Dodge and Opacity to 30%. Then, as in steps 12 and 13, create and mask glowing brushes.

16. Rotating butterflies

Start by using the Butterfly shape from the Custom Shape tool. To avoid having multiple shape layers, click on the + key every time you add a new butterfly. Create yellow, blue, pink and green butterflies and ensure they are different sizes. Rotate a few by going to Edit>Rotate.

17. Glowing butterflies

Change the shape layers of the butterflies to Color Dodge and change their Opacity to 40%. Then add an outer glow using these settings; Opacity: 75%, Color: use the colour of the butterflies and Size: 35px. Add an inner glow and alter the settings to; Opacity: 26% and Size: 38px.

18. Creating the body

Using the previous steps as a guide, use the Pen to draw the body of the model. Plus use the heart frame and heart from the Custom Shape tool to draw on the glow tattoos, plus the Ellipse tool to draw her necklace. Also add the glowing brush effect from steps 11 and 12.

19. The galaxy background

Go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color and make it purple. Grab a soft brush at 50% Opacity and paint a few spots of magenta on one layer, another with cyan, a third with yellow and the fourth green. Create a final layer above all these layers and paint a few spots of magenta.

20. Making shiny stars

Create a new layer and add a white outer glow. Set Opacity: 100% and Size: 100px. Grab a soft 10px brush at 50% Opacity. Then in the Brush panel, use all the default settings by checking the following boxes: Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Transfer, Wet Edges and Smoothing. Now dot a few stars around the canvas.

21. Add a vignette

Start by creating a black Solid Fill layer, make the blend mode Multiply and then add a layer mask to it. Now grab a soft brush at 100% Opacity and Size: 2500px and click on the centre of your mask a few times to rub away the centre of the black fill.

22. Edit with adjustment layers

Firstly go to Layer>Adjustment Layers>Hue/Saturation and make the Saturation +50. Then go to Layer>Adjustment Layers>Brightness/ Contrast and make the Contrast 75. By doing this, your illustration will become that little bit more vibrant and give it some depth by boosting the colours.