How to draw a cartoon girl in Adobe Photoshop

Step 1

First, let's open a new file. We're going to make use the standard Letter size.

Step 2

We'll also need some inspiration!. is a great site to find reference images!

Step 3

This is the reference photo I've chosen for the design.

Step 4

Let's put it in our workspace so it's easier for us to sketch.

Step 5

Try and base the sketch on the reference image as much as possible; pay attention to the movement of her body, her hand on her hip, the angle of her elbow... 

Step 6

Make a new layer with this sketch and set the mode to Multiply.

Step 7

Now, let's add some colors to the background. This will help us decide which colors we're going to use for the character later.

Step 8

OK. Now we'll apply some flat base colors to the character.

Step 9

Let's start adding in some light.

Step 10

At this point we can pause for a moment. Are we happy with the character so far? Is there anything we want to change? 

Step 11

Let's add some details!

Step 12

It's time to start painting our body. Make sure that the edges are clean.

Step 13

Now let's add some volume to her clothes!

Step 14

So we'll keep on adding detail and volume to the clothes, paying attention to our reference.

It's always a good idea to have three colors: a base, a mid tone, and a lighter one. this way, we can achieve a more realistic look.

Step 15

Let's do a little texturing.

Make sure you place each element in a Layer folder so your document is nice and organised. 

Step 16

We can have fun and experiment with the background, making a mixture of colors.

Step 17

It's possible that while your painting you might want to change some details of the body or any part of the character. In this case I wanted to change the face a bit and add a pair of glasses.

Step 18

We'll add a layer in Multiply mode to generate what's called an Ambient Occlusion.

Step 19

Maybe you can add some lights in this step.

Step 20

You can use the Outer Glow effect in one of the Layers taking advantage of the backlight, creating some reflections.

Step 21

A layer in Overlay mode lets us to play with lights and color.

Step 22

And finally, we can play around with the small details. Here, feel free to add whatever you want.

Select the Particles Brush (you can download any kind of particle brush), and choose the Smudge tool to drag the particles around the illustration. 

Make a simple circle and use the Outer Glow effect in the Layer.  Check the Menu Options and input the values shown below. When the circle has "light", grab the Eraser tool, with texture, and go over the circle.

Step 23

And here we have our final result.

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Javier Salas
Javier Salas
Javier SalasTeacher

Javier Salas, colombian freelance artist and designer working for the entertainment and videogame industry. Enjoys sharing his knowledge as a teacher in an art academy and creating tutorials for the web. He also a lover of classic art and good movies.

To learn more, visit


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