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Illustration: Make Your Own Pop-art Portrait

Beginner level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator

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In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a pop-art inspired portrait. You can use your own portrait or you can even use a picture of a loved one to make this artwork for him or her. This is a good beginning for creating illustrations in illustrator without needing to draw from scratch. If you’re really into the bright colors and pop art feel, then follow the rest of the tutorial!

Step 1

Open a new file, I’m going to work with a big squared shaped canvas of 2000x2000 px. The advantage of making everything on a big scale is that you maintain a lot of details when you scale it down. After creating a new file, make sure the color mode is set at RGB, go to File > Document Color Mode > RGB Color.


Step 2

Place the picture you want to use, File > Place > Choose picture > OK. If you want to use the same picture as you see here, then go to the attachments section. Make sure the picture is selected with the Selection Tool or Shortcut V and click on Opacity > 80%.

Illustrating the girl

Step 1

Add a new layer by going to layers panel on the right or go to Window > Layers > Create a new layer. Lock the first layer, double click on the layer name and change it to "photo/picture". Change the name of the second layer to "outline". Now that the first layer is locked, we can’t change and/or adjust it.


Step 2

Select in the panel above the black outline color and select the Pen Tool in the toolbar or use Shortcut P and start drawing the main outlines of the picture. Click to draw an anchor point and move the handlebars to adjust the curves. Don’t connect all the lines together, leave them open to make it look like as if they have been sketched. To start a new line, select the Pen Tool (P).

Step 3

When you change the thickness of the lines, think of where you want to place the emphasis. To draw the eye closer to the face, add more thickness to the lines around the face. The thickness used in this image varies between 5 and 10.

Step 4

Now that the main lines are done, lock the layer with the outlines, create a new layer and call it "fill color". Drag this layer underneath the "outline" layer.

Step 5

Now it’s time to give it color, we are only going to use a very limited selection, blue, red, yellow and two composed colors for the skin and an extra one for the shading in the hair. The two composed colors are made out of different colors e.g. purple = blue + red. The halftones will divide these colors by using dots of varying sizes and this effect will visually blend into smooth tones. The other colors can be found by clicking on the Color Panel in the bar above.

Step 6

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create the fill shapes underneath the ‘brushstrokes’, click to make the first anchor point. And by clicking and dragging, you adjust the shape. Close the shape by clicking again on the first anchor point. The shape doesn’t have to be perfect, there’s no problem if the shape sticks out underneath the lines. Change the color to one of the colors assigned in the last step. You can also choose your own colors, but keep in mind that colors red, blue, yellow, black and white are typical colors used in this style.

Step 7

What you’ll notice is that some shapes are overlapping each other. To fix that problem, select the Selection Tool (A) in de sidebar or press Shortcut V, select the shape you want to place behind or before another shape (one step at a time), use Arrange > Bring Forward/Send backward. But if you want to have the shapes all the way to the front/back go to Arrange > Bring to the front/Send to the back or Command + Shift + [ or ].

Step 8

Tweak the shapes a bit.There’s a possibility that some lines don’t really go where you would like them to go. Select the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the shape and you will see the anchor points pop up, click on the anchor point you want to adjust, and click and drag it to the place you want it and/or adjust the handlebars to create the right curve.

Step 9

Go to the Layers Panel on the right and lock the layer with the fill colors, open a new layer and place it above the last one. Name this layer "shadows". Select the Pencil Tool (N) to draw out the shape; to close the shape, use Shortcut Command + J. And give the shape a fill color, repeat this step with the rest of the shapes. 

Tip: keep a copy of the picture on the side to see where the shadows go.

Step 10

As you probably already have noticed, some shapes are placed above other shapes. To fix this problem, you need to cut the shape that is overlapping by selecting the shape with the Selection Tool (V) and pressing Command + X to cut it and go to another layer. In this case, I went back to the fill color layer and place it by pressing Command + V. And don’t forget to place the shape behind other object by arranging it (see step 7).

Step 11

Lock the layers you’ve just used, and add a new layer for the highlights, just above the fill color layer or above the shadow layer. Select the Pencil Tool (N) and draw out the shape that you want to highlight, use Shortcut Command + J to close the shape and change the fill color to white. Repeat this step with all the highlights.

Creating the background

Step 1

Lock the highlight layer and open up the shadow layer again. This time, it’s to give some more intensity to the shadows. We do that by looking for the darkest parts of the pictures and drawing over the darkest shadows by using the Pencil Tool again, and changing the color to black.

Step 2

And again, we are going to create a new layer. But this time, we’re going to place it underneath everything, but above the photo. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and click and drag to create the background with the size of the art board. Change the color to red.

Step 3

Go back to the Outline Layer and draw more details in the hair by using the Pen Tool (see Step 6 from the previous chapter) don’t make it too busy, but it doesn’t hurt to add more definition to the hair. While you’re at it, change the line thickness where you think it's necessary. Especially, now that all the colors are placed, it’s clearer to see where you want to have bolder lines.

Step 4

This is the last chance to tweak, go into the layer in which you want to touch up some shapes. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the shape and click on the anchor point you would like to adjust, if you want to add more anchor points to your path, use the Pen Tool (P), while having the shape selected and click on the Path, add as many as you want.


Step 5

Unlock the red background layer and select the background with the Selection Tool (V) and go to the right slidebar, Gradient > Linear and you will see the color switch to black and white. Double click on the white block > Swatches > RGB red.

Step 6

Double click on the black box and select the same red in the swatches panel, go to Color and change the value to R 210 to make it darker.

Step 7

The gradient goes from left to right, but we want the gradient to go from down to up. To do that, click and drag a line while still having the Gradient Tool selected and hold Shift (to keep the line straight) let loose when you reach the top.

Step 8

It’s time for the first halftone effect, select the background with the Selection Tool and go to Effect > Pixelate > Color Halftone > Max Radius 35 > OK.

Step 9

Unblock the other layers and select the skin color (no shades, no highlights) and go to Effect > Pixelate > Color Halftone > Max Radius 4 > OK. As you can see, the dots with a radius of 4 are a lot finer and smaller than ones with a larger radius.

Step 10

Select the shadows (but not the black ones), an easy way of selecting them all is to select one and go to Select > Same > Fill Color and go again to Effect > Pixelate > Color Halftone > Max Radius 6 > OK. Do the same with the shadows in the hair but use a radius of 4 instead.

Congratulations! We’re done!

We are almost finished, the hair, lips and nails are not going to change. In my opinion, using a halftone effect for everything seems a bit too much. So the last thing that I would like to change are the two round shapes of the sunglasses. Select both shapes and use the Gradient again (see step 5-6 from the previous chapter), but change the colors to RGB blue and make the second one a bit darker, B 190. And again, Effect > Pixelate > Max Radius 8 > OK . And finished!


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Discussion

8 months ago
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Thanks for awesome tutorial! I love the result! 

8 months ago

Hey!

Thanks for sharing your project with us, it's great! We'd love if you could upload your project to the project section of the tutorial, so the rest of the students and the tutor can see it :)

Create your illustrations in the purest pop-art style and illustrate yourself as if you were Andy Warhol.

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