Joining us to walk all our Illustrator lovers through a character sketch tutorial was Dan Flores (A.K.A DaCreativeGenius), a multidisciplinary artist with over 20 years of experience in traditional and digital art! Dan leads "a team of eclectic artists to help brands craft engaging visual experiences to tell a story in a variety of styles & media." If you're curious about his style of work or want to learn how to use vector brushes to create character drawings, then this is the session for you!
Sketch the Characters in Sketchable
Think of a character and sketch a layout. Scribble ideas using a sketching brush. For this tutorial, Dan drew a human figure whom he called Sketchy.
Draw the body and head and add basic details to the character. You can draw a rough sketch either digitally or on paper.
Decide on a Figure
Add a background and basic elements like a sky. Start creating a cleaner sketch by adding elements to the character, like a coat or jacket. Sketchable is an app for Windows 10 devices, especially for surfaces. It's where you can do a lot of sketching.
Decrease the opacity and add details to the character. Draw a character in pencil art style that has a jacket, arms, arms set, a backpack with pouches and markers, and then refine the angles in the sketch.
Draw the cuffs on the bottom of the pants so you don’t have to worry about the ankles.
Once you have done the rough sketch, make it neater by getting rid of layers. Although you can also create your sketches in Illustrator, Dan likes to see the actual drawing to avoid the exploration process. Once you have done your work, you can take a screenshot.
Pro Tip: There is no wrong way. It's up to you whether you want to do a sketch on Sketchable or directly on Illustrator.
Examples of Different Sketches
Dan showed various examples of work he had created in Sketchable, a few of which are shown below:
Image from Sketchable to Illustrator
Switch and open Illustrator. Use the Inkwell Brushes with scribbly edges to emulate the traditional drawing look. Move your sketch to Illustrator and add shades to give it a 3D look. The reason is that you don't see a flat image and have more information for yourself to work on your drawing.
Pro Tip: The image can be seen in 3D due to shading. The benefit of shading is that you can focus more on paths and anchor points in the vector process.
Add the outlines by selecting them from layers. Make sure you name the layers so it’s easier to make adjustments to any layer afterwards.
Pro Tip: Always name your layers as it saves a lot of time. You don’t have to guess the layer every time you need to edit it.
Add Brush File
To draw an outline, select the Inkwell Narrow 6 brush and Narrow 5 brushes. Select your brushes from the right-hand side and drag the Brush box outside. Go to the Library and open the downloaded Illustrator Inkwell file.
When you download brushes, you're gonna get several files including an Illustrator creative suite.
Pro tip: Organize your files to be more efficient.
Selecting the Most Suitable Brush
The pens have a more organic feel than the pencil. Depending on the artwork and the art style that you want, you're going to want to choose what kind of brush or what process you're going to go through in your drawing. The good thing about brushes is that you can change the stroke size. Select Inkwell Dynamic Swipe 5 (change the stroke size to 25pt.) or Inkwell Tapered 7 from the Illustrator Inkwell brushes.
Pro tip: There are a lot of advantages to using the Creative Cloud, as you can use the same illustration in various apps such as Fresco, Illustrator and so much more on your iPad, MacBook, etc.
Turn on the soft lines from the layers. When you add the soft lines it gives a little bit of extra information on the drawing.
You can see the backpack, markers, little shoulder logo showing up. You can see some of the texture on the book, on the pencil. The pencil has a more wood-like look. Some of these soft lines add shadow to the drawing.
Use the Inkwell Brush and add the hill. Make sure to use strokes that are rough and sketchy in texture.
Add hard shadows to the sketch but reduce the opacity of the layer to 20% on Multiply. Adjust how hard or soft you want the shadows to be.
Pro tip: The more layers you add, the more the information gets added to the drawing.
Add a layer of soft shadows. Turn it up to 100% and turn off the layers with the hard shadows. Find a light source and add the shadows in the opposite direction. Avoid masking the layer and make sure to duplicate it.
Turn the layer off and erase the unwanted shadows and lines.
Create a shadow layer. Duplicate that layer and trim off the excess shadows. Repeat the process until you get a clean output with a cool gradient. Avoid masking the layers. Add a set of shadows at 27% and turn on the other set of shadows at 100%. Reduce the opacity to see an extra light and darker layer. Set it to Multiply to blend one layer with the other.
Add colors to the sketch by creating a layer below the soft lines. Pick any basic primary color and fill the layer. Pick a dark blue color for the pants. Pick a light blue for the sock areas. Choose a military green for the jacket. Add other colors to the sketch and set it to multiply to play with the hue and saturation.
Add highlights to the sketch to avoid it from looking opaque. Make the colors pop by adding a light source in front of the character and shadows at the back.
Similarly, add missing colors and highlights in the other sections of the Sketchy character.
Choose a gradient and add it to the background. Add elements to the background such as clouds and paint them in white. Add highlights, shadows, and linework to the clouds. Include the text “Sketchy Revolution” to the sketch.
Bravo, you’ve mastered how to sketch characters using vector brushes in Illustrator!