Illustration: Create a Realistic Vector Painting

Advanced level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator

Getting Started

Step 1

Open Adobe Illustrator. Create a new document. Set the width to 800 pixels and the height to 800 pixels. Actually, you can use any size you like.

Step 2

Pick your reference image. In this example, we're going to draw a pineapple. You could choose a different one or you could follow the same one as me. 

Step 3

Create a color palette using your reference image.

Usually, I do it like this: first I use the Eyedropper Tool (I), pick the color from the photo, and then press Cmd + X and then use the Brush (B).

Step 4

Create a brush, that we're going to use for this illustration. Go to the brush panel and set the preferences from the screenshot below.

Our brush will be sensitive to pressure, so for that, you need to use a graphics tablet. For this illustration, I used a Wacom Intuos tablet.

Drawing the first layers

Step 1

Let’s create the first basic layer.

Brush opacity – 100%.

Here, I used these colors: #c37648 and #8eb55c.

Step 2

Lock the first layer. And create a new layer.

Step 3

Change the brush opacity to 30%. And add some details to the pineapple.

We're going to add some layers. We're also going to use brushstrokes similar to an oil painting. Step by step and layer by layer.

Here, I used this color: #6b6006.

Step 4

Again lock the layer and create the next layer. Add more details with a different color. The brush opacity is still at 30%.

Here, I used this color: #f5c500e.

Step 5

Also, you can adjust the stroke weight in the Stroke panel. I'll make it 1 or 1,5 pt for the big elements, and 0,25 pt for  the small details.

Add halftones and shadows

Step 1

To add halftones, set the opacity to 20%.

Here, I used this color: #f5c500e.

Step 2

Play around with the opacity, and also with the brush size.

To draw these white details, I used this color: #fbeece and set the brush opacity to 45%.

Step 3

Here I added more details and set the opacity to 27%.

So you start with some rough lines and then refine it in the end.

I used the same color: #fbeece.

Step 4

Add more brushstrokes, more colors, play around with the opacity.

For each new color, I create a new layer.

Step 5

Add some shadows to the green part.

Use this color: #0a1902 and set the brush opacity to 32%.

Step 6

After adding some shadows and halftones, add highlights with this color: #e5ffba and set the opacity to 40%.

Well done!

You can add a background color or a background pattern if you like.

Now you can try creating other fruit illustrations as well. It doesn’t have to look exactly like my illustration. Discover your own methods and release your creativity!

If you press Cmd + Y you can see all the strokes used to make this illustration.

What do you think of this tutorial?


Did you know you could achieve a result like this in Illustrator? In this tutorial, we'll explore a unique method of vector painting: a realistic hand-drawn vector illustration without gradients or a gradient mesh!

Tut Details

Advanced level 1h 10m 19,253 views