How to Create a Zodiac-Themed Portrait in Adobe Illustrator CS5

  • Author: Sharon Milne
  • Website:
  • It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to share with you my process of putting together this Zodiac/Leo the Lion themed vector portrait which I created using Adobe Illustrator CS5.

    Tutorial Details

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    Step 1

    For this tutorial, I’ve used a stock image as a reference. This great image comes from Photodune by AndresrPhotos.

    First, I like to visualise the concept I have in mind for my vectors, so I tend to either sketch in Adobe®"Photoshop® CS5 or Illustrator CS5, depending on how much manipulation I need to do. As I intend to manipulate the stock image, Photoshop is my weapon of choice to start with. I begin by increasing the size of the canvas by choosing Image > Canvas Size (Ctrl + Alt + C) from the main menu,"selecting" the bottom middle anchor and increasing both the width and height.

    Now I create a new layer "to put my sketch on. "To do this, select Create a New Layer at the bottom of the Layers panel. For the sketch work, select"the Brush Tool (B) and a color which stands out against the colors of the stock image, blue in this case.

    Step 1

    Step 2

    Now that I have the basic concept in mind, I’m going to manipulate the stock image. I like to make the eyes and lips bigger, while reducing the nose to make the portrait look more cartoon-like.

    First begin enlarging the eyes by using the Lasso tool (L) with a 15px feather. Select an area "around the eye, including the eyebrow. Use the Move tool (V) with “Show Transform Controls” enabled, increase the size of the eye, rotating it slightly to keep the dimensions in scale with the face.

    Step 2a

    Select and resize each eye individually rather than together so they remain in the same location they were originally.

    Step 2b

    Step 3

    Now we need to select the lips to enlarge them, but we want to make them larger in height than width. However, if we use the Move tool (V) for enlarging the lips, which are at an angle here, it won’t enlarge them evenly, which is what we want.

    Select the lips and use the Move tool (V) to rotate them so the parting of the lips is horizontally parallel. To commit to the change, press Enter (Windows) or"Return (Mac"OS), click the Commit button"? in the options bar, or double-click inside the transformation marquee. Now when you go back to using the Move tool (V), you can enlarge the lips knowing they will be scaled up in the manner you desire.

    Step 3a

    When rotating the lips back into the correct place, you can use the Rotate View tool (R) to rotate the canvas and then use the Move tool (V) to rotate the lips back into position. By having the face at the correct angle to you, you can better judge if you’ve put the lips back in the correct angle."To restore the canvas to the original angle, click Reset View in the Control panel.

    Step 3b

    Step 4

    Repeat the same process as Step 3 for the nose and reduce its size.

    Step 4

    Step 5

    At this stage, I now want to add more to my sketch and modify what I already have. The animal lovers reading this would have been the first to point out that one, female lions don’t have big manes of hair/fur and second, they don’t have pointed cat-like ears. While I can try and hide under “creative licence” for the mane since I want to maintain the look of a lion, I can’t with the ears!

    Draw a new ear, duplicate it and then use my favorite tool, the Move tool (V) to rotate and flip the ear so we have a pair.

    Step 5

    Step 6

    I’m going to Create a New Layer below the sketch and use the Brush Tool (B) to hide the hair. I don’t like erasing parts of a stock image in case I may need to refer back to it. I’m also going to add in where the parting will be in the hair. This will be my guide, if needed, when I start "rendering the hair in vector paths.

    Step 6a

    Draw in the front of the mane, which covers the bottom of the ears, and then draw the outline of the entire mane. Again this is just as a guide. we may not have the exact outline, but it helps serve as a reference later.

    Step 6b

    Step 7

    After hiding the blue sketch layer, select File > Save for Web & Devices, and save out the image, ready to bring it over into Illustrator.

    Now in Illustrator, create a new document.

    From the main menu, select File > New, and in the New Document dialog, select New Document Profile=Print, Number of"Artboards"=1, Size=A4. Using this New Document profile will set the document color mode as CMYK and the Raster Effects resolution to 300 dpi.

    Next, select File > Place and place your reference image into the center of the canvas. Select the Free Transform tool (V), and holding down the Shift key to maintain the aspect ratio, scale the image to the canvas.

    Although there are many ways to prep a file to work from a reference image, I’m a little stuck in my ways and always set up my files like this:

    First I place my reference image in its own layer named “Reference.” Then I select the Create New Layer at the bottom of the Layers panel and name the new layer “BG” for “background.” Within this layer I create a rectangle using the Rectangle tool (M), give it a white fill, and, from the"Control Panel, set the Opacity"to 40%. "Next I create a new layer for my first base shapes…in this case it’s named “Skin.”

    Using the Toggle Visibility option in the Layers Palette (the “eyeball”), the “BG” layer dims the stock image when required, and can be recolored should I need a more contrasting color to compare my strokes to the original image.

    Step 7

    Step 8

    Using the Pen tool (P), draw the first shape, which is going to be the skin base layer. We will use this to layer on many shapes of "lesser opacity. Use the shades from the “Skintones” swatch library, which you can find by selecting the Swatches Libraries menu from the bottom of the Swatches panel and selecting Skintones.

    These"swatches"are great, as you have a variety of ethnicities represented by them, and you can mix and match the colors to get different tones in the skin. As much as we want to have flawlessly clear skin, it’s not a reality! I’m using the Color Group “Skintone 1″ and "the swatch C=0, M=21, Y=35, K=7. I’m using a mid-toned color as I’ll use the colors either side of this swatch for highlights and shadows.

    Step 8

    Step 9

    To create the initial shading shapes over the base, "first duplicate the shape we drew for the skin base, and then draw shapes over it that should be in a lighter tone. Then, select Window > Pathfinder "and choose Minus Front from the Shape Modes to remove areas of lighter tone from the base layer. The shape that’s left will represent the darker areas of the skin.

    If you look at the screenshot on the left "below, you can see the original shape of the skin base faintly in gray and the shapes drawn on top are area that have lighter tones. The second screen shot shows the shapes removed from the base.

    Step 9a

    Add further shapes in this manner, all with the same skin shading tone as the base. To produce"progressively"darker shades, from the Control Panel, select the Opacity link, choose Multiply from the Blending Mode menu and set the Opacity to 5%. To learn more about Blending Modes in Illustrator, see this video"or check out this help document.

    Step 9b

    You can see from the screenshot below the modeling effect you gain from using this technique. It’s very faint, but as you build up the shapes by repeating these steps, you’ll see more!

    Step 9c

    Step 10

    The next shapes we create cover similar areas, but since they are more intricate and have more space between them, draw them individually rather than subtracting them from a duplicate of the skin base as above. These shapes are also set to the same settings as Step 9: Blending Mode="Multiply, Opacity=5%.

    Step 10a
    Step 10b

    Step 11

    You may notice that the shapes used to model the skin tones overlap the base shape. To tidy up these shapes, I used a Clipping Mask.

    To create this Clipping Mask, select the overlapping shapes and Group them (Ctrl + G), creating a group for the shapes created in Step 9 and Step 10.

    Next, duplicate the skin base shape and place it above the new group. Select the duplicate and one of the groups and, from the main menu, select Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Ctrl + 7). In the Layers panel, drag and drop the remaining group into the Clipping Mask layer to tidy up the edges as shown below:

    Step 11

    Step 12

    Now we need to add darker shadows on the skin, again drawing shapes to represent the darker areas, coloring them with a darker skin tone from the palette (C=0, M=24, Y=40, K=13) set to Blending Mode="Multiply and Opacity=10%.

    Step 12a
    Step 12b

    Once done, Group the shapes (Ctrl + G) and drag them into the Clipping Mask group. You’ll notice that I’m building up the shapes for the lips in a similar way. this is because the lips really are part of the skin. If you render them separately they may end up looking too independent from the skin and appear as if they are floating on top of the face.

    Step 12c

    Step 13

    Now we need to add highlights to the skin. To give these highlights a smooth appearance I use transparent radial gradients. I’m going to create a gradient with the lightest color in the “Skintone 1″ color group (C=0, M=9, Y=15, K=3), going from completely opaque to fully transparent. "These gradients will be set to Blending Move Screen and Opacity 10%.

    Once these highlights are"completed, Group them (Ctrl + G) and then add them to Clipping Mask group.

    Step 13a
    Step 13b

    Step 14

    When it comes to skin shading, it’s like a balancing act… as you add shadows you may need to provide more contrast in your artwork and thus need to add more highlights. As I’ve added the"highlights"to my art, the shadows need deepening. So I add smaller areas of shadow with the darkest color from the “Skintone 2″ color group (C=6, M=33, Y=38, K=29). These shapes are set to Blending Mode="Multiply and Opacity "=10%. Once done, Group them (Ctrl + G) and then add them to the Clipping Mask group.

    Step 14a
    Step 14b

    Step 15

    Add further highlight shapes with the same transparent radial gradient. This time set to Blending Mode=Screen, Opacity=20%.

    Step 15

    Step 16

    To provide an overall highlight to the middle of the portrait and and warm the edges, but still allow the shading shapes above to sculpt the features, we will add some overall radial gradients. To do this, duplicate the skin base twice. On the first duplicate add a transparent radial gradient with Blending Mode="Color Dodge and Opacity=20%. To the second duplicate add "an inverted transparent radial gradient using the darkest shade from “Skintone 3″ set to Blending Mode=Color Burn and Opacity=60%.

    These du;plicate shapes with their gradients are placed within the Clipping Mask group, set below all the other shapes.

    Step 16

    Step 17

    Next we’ll add a slight rose blush to the cheeks by adding magenta transparent radial gradients within Ellipses (L). These are set to Blending Mode=Color Burn and Opacity=10%. Make sure to place them in the Clipping Mask once done.

    Step 17

    Step 18

    When building out the lips, I first like to alter the color of them but also highlight the shapes previously created by working on the skin shading.

    Add a shape with a transparent radial gradient (C=15, M=100, Y=90, K=10) within the skin shading Clipping Mask (at the bottom). I’ve used the Appearance Panel to add the same shape but with different Blending Modes.

    Step 18

    Step 19

    Create a New Layer and rename it “Lips.” Use the skin highlight transparent radial gradient to add highlights to the lips.

    Create irregular shapes for the highlights with the Pen Tool (P) and set the Blending Mode=Screen and Opacity=30%. Group these shapes (Ctrl + G) and lock them "(Cmd + 2) to make it easier work on the other highlights.. The next series of small shapes are drawn with the Ellipse Tool (L) and are set to Blending Mode "=Color Dodge and Opacity=30%.

    Step 19

    Step 20

    To add shadow and depth to the lips, add shapes filled with dark brown found in the default CMYK palette in your Swatches panel (C=50, M=70, Y=80, K=70). These shapes are set to Blending Mode=Color Burn and Opacity=15%.

    Step 20

    Step 21

    Using the same dark brown color (C=50, M=70, Y=80, K=70)"set to the Stroke"attribute, use the Pencil tool "(N) to draw in the creases in the lips. To give mode"dimension"to these lines, from the Control Panel, open the Stroke Panel and from the Variable Width Profile menu select Width Profile 1. If you’re working with a version of Illustrator "prior to Illustrator CS5, you can use the brushes I created in a tutorial on VectorTuts+"to produce a"similar"look.

    These stokes are set to Blending Mode Color="Burn and Opacity "=20%.

    Step 21

    Step 22

    Create "a New Layer and name it “Eyes.” When rendering the eyes, remember one thing… eyeballs are not white! Using the lightest skin tone shade from the Skintones swatch library, add two oval shapes for each eye, set to Blending Mode "=Color Dodge and Opacity "=30%.

    Step 22

    Step 23

    To give our Leo lion-like eyes, draw two Ellipses (L) for each eye, with the top"ellipse"slightly smaller than the bottom. Set both shapes to Opacity=50%.

    Step 23a

    Duplicate"the smaller shape from the eyeball, and "this to create a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7) for each of the irises.

    Step 23b

    Step 24

    To maintain a consistent look to each of the eyes, use the Appearance panel to create a Graphic Style. First mix a variety of brown transparent radial gradients, a yellow radial gradient to add a golden shine.

    To create the pupil, select the smaller ellipse, then"choose Add New Effect from the bottom of the Appearance Panel. Select Path > Offset Path and enter "-5 for the offset. Repeat this "and enter -6 for the offset.

    Step 24a

    When done and with the newly created object selected, "from the the"Graphic"Styles panel choose Add New Graphic Style. This will save the options you have in the Appearance Panel as a new Graphic Style. Now select the other iris ellipse and select your newly created Graphic style to reproduce the look of the first iris.

    Step 24b

    Step 25

    To add some color to the inside and the corner of the eyes,"draw"triangular"shapes and"place them at the corner of the eyes Using the darkest red in the default CMYK swatches, color these shapes with an inverted transparent radial gradient"set to Blending Mode=Color Burn, Opacity=50%.

    Step 25a

    Use solid filled shapes to add detailing to the inside of the eyelid and corner of the eye. Set these shapes to Blending Mode=Color Burn, Opacity=30%.

    Step 25b

    Selecting the darkest shade from “Skintone 4″ (C=0, M=32, Y=38, K=50), add further details around the eye. Set these shapes to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=15%.

    Step 25c

    Step 26

    Eyeballs aren’t white and they are flat flat surfaces, either.

    To show depth, add highlights and shadows on the eyeball using transparent radial gradients. Draw a shape as shown below to create a highlight area, and apply an elliptical gradient. Set the shape to Blending Mode=Screen and Opacity=100%.

    Next, duplicate the largest shape used for the eyeball, and apply a an inverted"transparent"radial gradient using "the darkest shade from “Skintone 7″ (C=30, M=48, Y=50, K=66). Set this shape to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=50%.

    Step 26a

    Use a slightly lighter shade from the same color group (C=19, M=39, Y=45, K=54), and draw shapes to add further depth to the eyeball and eyelid. These shapes are set to Blending Mode=Multiply and Opacity=10%.

    Step 26b

    Step 27

    To darken around the eyes, create"shapes"with the darkest color from the “Skintone 7″ palette."These shapes are set to Blending Mode=Multiply and Opacity=50%. They help to make the eyes more bold and also hide any inconsistent areas of skin shading from earlier!

    Step 27

    Step 28

    Now it’s time to draw in the eyelashes. Select the Pencil tool (N), set the Stroke color to the "darkest color from the “Skintone 7″ palette, and draw in lines for the eyelashes From the"Variable Width"Profiles"menu in the"Control panel, select Width Profile 5 and apply this profile to the lines you’ve just drawn for the eyelashes. Make sure that the larger end of the Width Profile starts at the eyelid. If you need to change the direction of the Width Profile, from the Stroke panel, chose the Flip Along option at the bottom of the panel.

    The top lashes are set to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=100% and the lower lashes to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=50%.

    As eyelashes have a shine and often catch the light, draw in lines to add a subtle shine on the bottoms of the top lashes. Set these lines to Width Profile 1, Blending Mode=Screen with the same shade.

    Step 28

    Step 29

    The eyelashes "require highlights, so using the Pencil tool (N) draw strokes with the lightest skin tone color, and apply Width Profile 1, making sure that the direction of the Width"Profile"is thickest at the eyelid. Set these lines to Blending Mode=Color Dodge, Opacity=50%.

    Step 29a

    Next with the highlighting transparent radial gradient selected, add a shape to create a catch light in the eyes. The brightest reflections are set to Blending Mode="Screen and Opacity=75%. The shapes in the corner of the eyes are set to Screen=30%.

    Step 29b

    Step 30

    As noted earlier,when adding"highlights"and shading some areas may need more contrast. Looking at the nose, it could do with some more contrast.

    Add shapes, using the mid tone in the “Skintone 8″ palette. Set these shape to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=20%. The main shading needed is within the nostrils.

    Step 30

    Step 31

    Next, we need to work on creating the hair. For this, we will create an Art Brush to give a structured look to the hair. The base of the brush will be a modified Width Profile 5 shape.

    Using the Line tool (\), draw a vertical line with a Stroke Weight of 10pt"and apply Width Profile 5. Then select Object > Expand Appearance and use"the Direct Selection Tool (V) to"flatten the bottom of the shape by modifying the points in the shape.

    Now to add more"dimension"to the hair at the hair line, use the Pencil tool (N) and "add 2pt lines at the bottom and top of the shape and apply Width Profile 1. Select these new strokes and Expand them. Modify the points so they are fully covering the bottom of the brush shape. Then select all of the shapes and from the Main menu, "choose Pathfinder > Unite.

    Step 31

    Step 32

    To make the shape appear more like hair, add some additional strokes to the shape. These stokes are all set to Width Profile 1.The first strokes are light brown set to Blending Mode=Normal, Opacity=50% to give an initial texture to the shape. Then add darker brown lines, set to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=30%. Finally add lines to highlight with a lighter, grey-brown (to avoid having copper tones) using Blending Mode=Color Dodge and Opacity=40%. Further shading to the hair will be added later to make these clumps of hair look more unique.

    For now, Select All of the shapes and strokes (Ctrl + A) and then Group them (Ctrl + G).

    Step 32

    Step 33

    Now we’ll create the brush. Select the group and, from the Brushes panel, select New Brush at the bottom of the panel. Choose Art Brush from the New Brush types and click OK.

    Name the brush “Hair,” and from the Direction options, change the direction of the stroke to Stroke From Beginning to Top, so the first point of the brush will be the base/root of the hair and the last will be the tip. When done, click OK.

    Step 33

    Step 34

    Create "a New Layer and name it “Hair Top.” This layer will be for the hair that sits right on the hairline.

    The initial hair sections will be along the hairline, created by using "our new Hair brush. Set the Stroke Weight to 0.75pt so the hair line looks more in proportion. I’ve followed my guide so I know to where I want to place the sections of hair, however I just go with the flow to create the curves and waves in the lines. As long as they are all touching each other and there are no odd gaps in the hair line, you’re doing fine! Once done, Group all the strokes (Ctrl + G).

    Step 34

    Step 35

    Duplicate the group with the hair sections and choose Object > Expand until they are all shapes with a fill. Then use Pathfinder > Unite. Duplicate this shape and create a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7). Use the other shape to add a dark brown transparent radial gradient within set to Blending Mode=Color Burn, Opacity=100%. This is to darken the roots of the hair as the tips of hair are usually bleached slightly by the sun.

    Step 35

    Step 36

    Create a New Layer and name it “Hair Behind,” and make sure it is below the “Lips” layer folder. Repeat Steps 34 and 35, using a Stroke Weight of 1pt for the Hair brush, and begin adding groups of hair.

    Step 36a
    Step 36b
    Step 36c
    Step 36d

    Step 37

    The keen eyed will notice that the hair in the “Hair Behind” layer folder is overlapping onto the skin. So we’re going to tidy this up by using another Clipping Mask. Duplicate the skin shading base and use Pathfinder > Unite to combine it with a shape you draw with the Pen Tool (P) to the hair on the back you don’t want hidden.

    Then use Pathfinder > Minus Front to remove this shape from a Rectangle (M).

    Step 37a

    This shape will be used in our Clipping Mask group as shown below:

    Step 37b

    Step 38

    Create a New Layer below the “Hair Top” layer folder and rename it “Ears.”

    Now draw two shapes for each ear, using the same color. Set the shape that represents the inside of the ear "to Blending Mode=Screen and Opacity=20%.

    Step 38a

    Then apply the following options in the Appearance panel to both of the larger shapes to help give depth to the ears.

    Step 38b

    Step 39

    Using the mid tone from “Skintone 7,” add strokes to represent fur around the ears, The strokes have Width Profile 1 and are set to Blending Mode=Multiply and Opacity=50%. Make sure the strokes go beyond the ear bases so it gives a complete fur like effect.

    Step 39a

    Next draw strokes focused within the ears with a Stroke Weight of 2pts, Blending Mode=Normal and Opacity=50%.

    Step 39b

    These next strokes will be all draw over the ear and will help mix in the colors from the edges and inside the ear. These will be a darker shade and set to Blending Mode=Multiply and Opacity=20%.

    Step 39c

    Step 40

    From "the Brushes panel, create a New Brush and select Bristle Brush from the Brush Type menu. From the Bristle Brush Options dialog, name this brush Ear Texturing and set the Bristle Brush Options as shown in the screenshot below This brush will be used for general texturing throughout the portrait, but for now it’s going to be used for adding color within the inside of the ear.

    Step 40a

    Using the darkest shade of “Skintone 3, draw a bit of a swirl within the inside of the ears set to Blending Mode=Color Burn and Opacity=65%. The good thing about the Bristle Brush is that you can create randomised textured shapes, so when it comes to adding subtle alternations in color to areas of your piece, it can give a more painted/organic look to the work. I prefer to use the Bristle Brush to add texture and this randomised coloring effect, using it more of a supportive tool than a standalone effect.

    Step 40b

    Step 41

    Create a New Bristle Brush, name it Hair Shading and set the Bristle Brush Options as shown in the screenshot below. This brush will be more precise/focused but will still have the randomised texture we’re looking for. Use this Hair Shading brush to create shading on the hair.

    Step 41a

    Create a New Layer above “Hair Top” and rename it “Hair Detailing.”

    Using the Hair Shading brush, draw short zigzagged strokes around the base of the hairline with a dark brown shade to add more depth and texture to the hairline. These strokes will also overlap onto the skin to give a subtle shadow. Set these strokes to Blending Mode=Color Burn and Opacity=100%.

    Step 41b

    Step 42

    Now add strokes with the same settings as Step 41 for behind the ears and between the sections of hair. Create a New Layer above the “Hair Behind” layer folder and rename it “Bristle Brush.” This keeps the strokes from overlapping onto the ears.

    Step 42

    Step 43

    Selecting the "”Hair Detailing” layer folder, use Width Profile 1 with a grey brown shade, Blending Mode=Color Dodge and Opacity=50% to add highlights into the hair. These strokes will be a lot more precise compared to the textured look of the Bristle Brush. These will help make the hair section look more randomised and less like duplicated shapes. Focus these strokes towards the tips of the hair.

    Step 43

    Step 44

    To make the mane look more morphed into the face, we’ll use a subtle make up effect. Startby drawing a shape which covers the forehead up to the bottom of the eyebrows, but not overlapping onto the highlights of the brow bone.

    Within this shape, apply a light brown to dark brown transparent radial gradient set to Blending Mode=Multiply and Opacity=100%. When using the Gradient Tool (G), make sure the source of the gradient (where it is at 0% Opacity) is between the eyebrows so there is no signs of a shape overlapping this area.

    Step 44

    Step 45

    Duplicate the forehead gradient shape and form the Toolbar, select the option to Draw Inside or use Shift + D to switch modes. You should get a cornered box around the shape as shown below:

    Step 45a

    Using the Paintbrush Tool (B), draw zigzagged strokes with a dark brown, using the Ear Texturing Bristle Brush around the hairline and eyebrows to give a dirty/scruffy effect. These strokes will be set to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=20%. If you look in the group that’s been created, with the Draw Inside option you’ve created an automatic Clipping Mask group.

    Step 45b

    Step 46

    Now add the eyebrows to the portrait. This will be with medium brown strokes set to Width Profile 1, Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity 5=0%. Then add highlights to the eyebrows with the same shade with Blending Mode=Color Dodge, Opacity=50%.

    Step 46

    Step 47

    The hair at the sides of the face and near the neck will be cast in shadow. Also the neck looks rather awkward, so we need to darken this area regardless! "Add dark brown transparent linear gradients to the sides of the hair set to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=100%. These will be placed within the Clipping Mask in the “Hair Behind” layer folder.

    Step 47

    Step 48

    Using the same gradient, add gradients behind the hair at the front of the mane to add further depth. For quickness and ease, add them within rectangles draw using the Rectangle Tool (M) and then use the Free Transform Tool (E) to rotate them. Use the Gradient Tool (G) to modify the direction of the gradients and set them to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=100%.

    Step 48a

    Then place them within the “Hair Behind” Clipping Mask as shown below within a Group (Ctrl + G).

    Step 48b

    Step 49

    Now add some shading to the skin to bring the contrast up a notch. The first shading will be around the neck. Use a dark brown transparent gradient"—"the same used in the hair —"set to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=100%.

    Once done, place this object within the Clipping Mask for the Skin Shading.

    Step 49

    Step 50

    Select the Clipping Mask shape within the “Skin” layer folder and select the Draw Inside option from the Tool panel "(Shift + D). Using the Pen Tool (P), "draw dark brown shapes (C=50, M=70, Y=80, K=70) around the neck and chest/arms set to Blending Mode=Color Burn, Opacity=20%.

    As you’re “drawing inside” the previously created Clipping Mask, your shapes will be automatically added to the Clipping Mask group without the need to drag and drop them in.

    Step 50

    Step 51

    Since there are so many layer folders now, create a New Layer, rename it “Leo” and put all the layer folders for our portrait within this new layer.

    Now let’s begin work on the background. Create a New Layer and name it “BG1,” Within this layer, draw a rectangle with the "Rectangle tool "(M) that covers the canvas. Select the Swatches panel, selet "Swatch Libraries > Nature > Foliage Fill and this rectangle with a nice green shade from a palette found from the FOliage 5 color group.

    Step 51a

    Create a slight vignette effect by duplicating the fill within the Appearance panel and applying an inverted transparent radial gradient set to Color Burn=80%.

    Step 51b

    Step 52

    Duplicate the rectangle and remove the Appearance of it. Select Draw Inside and use the Ear Texturing Bristle Brush with a 2pt Stroke Weight around the frame of the rectangle with the same green used in the background. These strokes will be set to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=40% and will help to add a texture to the background.

    Step 52a

    Then add some strokes across the canvas with the same brush, changing the Blending Mode=Color Dodge and Opacity=20%.

    Step 52b

    Step 53

    Create a slight backlit effect by adding dark brown 2pt strokes set to Width Profile 1 around the hair. These will be set to Blending Mode=Color Dodge, Opacity=50%.

    Step 53

    Step 54

    With Draw Inside still enabled, add some Ellipses (L) with the same brown in a transparent radial gradient set to Blending Mode=Color Dodge, Opacity=30% around the body and parts of the hair.

    Step 54

    Step 55

    To make the Zodiac theme a little more obvious, give our “lion” a tattoo with the symbol of Leo. o reate this combining a curved line with Stroke Weight of 4pt and Rounded Caps with a small circle created using the Ellipse Tool (L). WIth both the line and the circle"selected,"choose Object > Expand "to expand the strokes and choose Pathfinder > Unite to make them one shape.

    Step 55a

    Use the Transform panel to Shear the symbol by -20 degrees and the Free Transform Tool (E) to rotate the symbol and place it on the shoulder. With the Ear Texturing Bristle Brush and the Draw Inside option selected, create a rough texture over the symbol with a dark brown set to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=100%. Place this Clipping Mask group within the Skin shading Clipping Mask, above the base shape so it benefits from the shading of the skin.

    Step 55b

    Step 56

    With all my portraits, I like to add a mole to the skin for a variety of reasons. Firstly I believe there is such beauty in a person’s “flaws”… moles especially. They are quick and easy to create and can be placed anywhere on the skin. Secondly, did you know the placement of a mole or a beauty spot back in the French Revolution was used as a subtle message to people of a girls intentions or how she’d like to be perceived? Although there isn’t a definite explanation as to what placement meant, I like to make up my own explanations. For this one, as the two Leo’s in my life (my Granddad and my partner) are very clever people and like to look over and look after me, I feel a beauty spot/mole above the eyebrow and on the forehead would be appropriate in this portrait. I’ve placed it above her right eyebrow, as they only want to see me doing the “right” thing in life. Who would have thought such a small element would have so much thought in it!

    Create he mole is created drawing two dark brown transparent radial gradients, slightly overlapping, set to Blending Mode=Multiply, Opacity=70%.

    Step 56

    Step 57

    I was going to leave this portrait as it is, as I like to put the mole on last. However after leaving it for a day or so, I went back to it and decided to modify it so the Zodiac theme was more obvious.

    I first placed a Rectangle over the “BG1″ area with a blue fill (C=85, M=50, Y=0, K=0) and set it to Blending Mode=Color, Opacity=100%.

    I then added “stars” in the background by using the skin highlighting transparent radial gradient within Ellipses (L) set to Blending Mode=Color Dodge, Opacity=100%.

    Step 57


    I hope you’ve enjoyed following this tutorial on creating a zodiac themed portrait from a stock reference. This won’t be the last tutorial you see from me here on the Adobe Illustrator blog, so I look forward to our next encounter. If you’ve any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Leo the Lion