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How To Create a Cartoon-Style Illustration in Photoshop

How To Create a Cartoon-Style Illustration in Photoshop

In this video-tutorial we're going to show you how to create a cartoon-style illustration of an ax in Photoshop. We will be spending time with layer masks, the pen tool, and Photoshop brushes. We will finally import and apply a vector pattern from Illustrator to Photoshop. At the end of this tutorial you should be able to easily create your own cartoon-style illustrations of just about any object.

Video transcription, images, and included resources are available after the jump:

Materials needed:

To realize the illustration, I used these 2 awesome sets from the Medialoot library:

Tutorial Highlights: the benefits of using reference images

Reference images will speed up your process. Using a reference doesn't mean that you have to copy it or reproduce something identical to the original. Even if we all have an idea of how an ax is supposed to be, an empty Photoshop document can be a scary starting point! In the example below you can see the reference image on the left, and the 2 main shapes I created in Photoshop on the right. Just remember: spending few minutes looking for some reference images can help you getting sooner on the right track. ax illustration in Photoshop img

The pen tool is your best friend

Most beginners don't like it. Well, if there was a way to be good at Photoshop without using at all the pen tool, the World would be a better place! But the truth is: the sooner you learn how to handle this tool, the sooner you realize how indispensable it is. Anytime you need to start your illustration, you do it by creating shapes. The best way to create these shapes is by using the pen tool.

Tip: if you don't like what you came up with using the pen tool, remember that you can always modify your shapes with the direct selection tool (A). Just click on the outline of your shape to show up the anchor points, then click and drag to move them.

ax illustration in Photoshop img

Use layer masks to confine your elements

Layer Masks come in handy when you want to confine a specific element. Lets say that you want to apply a texture/pattern to a shape A. The space occupied by that shape represents your "limit". You can select the pixels occupied by an element by holding down cmd (ctrl on Windows) and clicking on the layer - inside the layer windows. In a simpler way: in the layer windows, cmd + click on the layer whose pixel you want to select. Then you select the texture to be confined and press the "add layer mask" button to remove the unwanted pixels. Piece of cake, isn't it? ;)

ax illustration in Photoshop img

If it's too clean, play with grunge brushes

If the result is too clean, add some dirty effects with brushes and textures. In this tutorial I used a great set of 50 grunge Photoshop brushes created by Tony. Just create a new layer, pick up one of the brushes and click. If the result is too strong, reduce a bit the layer opacity.

ax illustration in Photoshop img

That's all for today! I hope you enjoyed the video and see you soon for a new tutorial!


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