Graphic illustration: Create colourful & energetic portraits in Adobe Illustrator | Bram Vanhaeren | Skillshare

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Graphic illustration: Create colourful & energetic portraits in Adobe Illustrator

teacher avatar Bram Vanhaeren, Visual artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (54m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Finding the perfect image

    • 3. Setting up Adobe illustrator

    • 4. Tracing your image & create the composition

    • 5. 3 techniques to draw with the pencil tool

    • 6. Create a unique colour palette (Kleurstaal)

    • 7. Applying colour to the illustration

    • 8. Enhance your illustration in Photoshop

    • 9. Export & share

    • 10. Submit your illustration & download resource

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About This Class

Looking to enhance your pencil tool drawing technique? Stuck using traditional colour swatches? Learn how to create a colourful & energetic portrait in Adobe illustrator today.

Join me, as I will reveal my personal drawing techniques & how I give a twist towards traditional colour swatches using my own "Kleurstaal". The key lessons of this class are:

  • 5 key elements to look for in search of the perfect image
  • Setup Adobe illustrator for efficiency
  • Use the pen tool to outline your images
  • Use the shape builder tool to speed up your work
  • Create your unique kleurstaal & apply to your illustration
  • Apply energetic colours to illustration

Discover new techniques to improve your own illustrations & explore new colouring approaches to boost your illustrations. I sincerely hope I can inspire you to experiment & enjoy the creative process.  

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Bram Vanhaeren

Visual artist


¡Hola! — My name is Bram (30), I'm a visual artist from Belgium with a passion for energetic & colourful illustrations. Selected as one of the most creative under 25 globally by Adobe in 2014. Today I have the privilege to work with Iconic brands on colourful & energetic projects.

Through my class "Graphic illustration: Create colourful & energetic portraits in Adobe Illustrator" I am on a mission to kick-start others on an exciting creative journey in the world of colourful portraits. Hopefully, inspire & optimise your illustration process and enhance your own techniques.

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Bram and I'm a visual artist from Belgium with a passion for energetic and colourful illustrations. Today I'm going to show you how we can create this illustration together in Adobe Illustrator. My style is very colorful and energetic. Recently I try to mesmerize the viewer by blending different portraits into one. I'm on a mission to let people wonder and interpret the puzzle themselves. Hopefully, creating short - vibrant experiences - before they continue sliding through their feed. This class is for people with a little bit of experience in Adobe Illustrator, using a pencil or other techniques are pretty straightforward and you don't need to panic. We will start by finding the perfect images, trace them, and create a composition. Next, I will share my three favorite techniques for drawing with a pencil tool and finally, produce our own unique colour pallette "kleurstaal" to apply to our illustration. I hope to inspire you with my colourful approach & help you improve your techniques to draw your portraits. Now, let's get the pen tool and create this illustration together! 2. Finding the perfect image: Before we open Adobe illustrator I want to show you how I have to rely on my inner art director voice to find the perfect image. I will also share five key elements I look for to select the best image. When it comes down to finding the perfect images from my passion projects. I love to go to Pinterest, jumped from one image to another and really get inspired, saved to my collections and enjoy the rabbit hole experience. Well, it is at this moment I really have to rely on my inner art director voice to guide me towards finding the perfect image. Spot the right image while scrolling through hundreds of images at a time. So how can you develop your own inner art director voice? Well, the simple trick that worked for me is developing the habit. Consciously understand and figure out why specific images grab your attention Reflect on your collections & study why all these images are in the first place and if they have something in common. Another exercise I try to do on a daily basis is role-playing. Pretend to be the art director and give honest feedback and figure out how you like to improve it. I love to open to Behance network in the morning pick a few projects and train my inner voice. After a while, you will notice you start finding your unique voice and better understand what kind of work speaks to you. This will assist you in identifying images that fit your project best and ultimately enhance your portfolio. I've also noticed I start to feel more confident in giving feedback to friends and colleagues. When you need to license your work, I recommend using Adobe Stock images simply because of the ease of adding previews via your library into your workspace, do your magic and license once it's approved by the client for the class today, I've been longing to use the following images by Jacob Lund. You know that feeling an image is following you around, no matter what you are looking for. Proof, they pop up in your search results and grab your attention. Well, it happened with this series. I am so happy to finally make this idea happen. I'm thinking to blend the style of this powerful portrait I created recently and combined with a touch of energy, athletism. Now, before we set up Adobe Illustrator, let me try and explain to you what I look for in my search for the perfect image. Start with her expression with a focus on eyes and lips. Notice expressive look. Absolutely love this! Focused and determined, ready to rumble. And then from the other side, just pure joy, the satisfaction of achievement, getting it done. Next, I'm looking for the posture. I loved, the athletic slim appearance, the visible strong body parts, making our life pretty easy when we have to trace it later on. I believe the right goals will probably emphasize her character even more - for sure Then we have the composition. The way we can blend these images into one is simply gorgeous and I believe a gift from the creative god. I also think we can apply the golden ratio without any effort. So that's great. Then we check for the lighting with a focus on creative interpretation. Checking the bright light on the models. I don't think we are going to need any filters to enhance our drawing. We do miss some creative interpretation, but all of the above easily compensate for this missing. So that's not a problem. Finally, the X-factor, intuition. it simply makes me stop scrolling and wonder from the experience I mentioned before, somehow these images keep triggering me and I don't want to ignore this any lower. I think it's time to follow my intuition and make this idea happen. 3. Setting up Adobe illustrator : Time to start Adobe Illustrator and open a new document. I'm going to show you how I've optimized my workspace and which tools we are going to use. Let's start at Adobe Illustrator. To begin with, I am not a certified Adobe master, so don't expect me to give a deep dive in my Adobe Illustrator settings, Two things I do find quite handy, are the user interface preferences & the appearance of black Depending on the type of illustration or project you're working on, keep in mind you can easily change the brightness of your workspace with a simple tap on one of these buttons. with a simple tap on one of these buttons. You can also adjust the size of your interface here as well. You can also adjust the appearance of black and setup, how you like to display all blacks from your screen and how it exports a colour black for printing. I prefer rich black, a 100 K CMYK for print to get most out of the contrast with my illustrations, you do have to keep in mind the color values do not change. So it's your personal display experience on your screen. For this class, I'm going to open a new document using the preset "Print > A3 A3 and change orientation. Quickly check the pixels and change our colour mode to RGB. If you change your mind, you can always change this to CMYK for print via the document settings later on. Do you notice the clutter of open windows and tools, items you probably never use. So let's clean this up and create ourself and neat and more efficient workspace. Go to Window new workspace and give it a name. Let's start by removing all unnecessary windows from the right toolbar. The floating windows here are the pathfinder tool, (handy for easy merging and trimming groups of shapes) Well, we're not going trace anything So say goodbye to this And then the playful gradient tool, which we are going to use. Finally, we have the left toolbar with same issue, an overload of tools you barely use. Let's create a new toolbar, starting by tapping on the three dots here and give it a name. Three dots We are going to use the selection and direct selection tool. The Pen tool, the rectangle and ellipse tool the pencil tool to draw. The Type Tool, The gradient tool and shape builder tool. And finally the eyedropper tool. Then show me the fill and stroke controls and the colouring one. Remove the other toolbar and save your document so we are ready to go. 4. Tracing your image & create the composition: Meanwhile, our document is really, we can now load our images, starts racing and really build our composition. Before we continue with our new document open, I quickly save as named the file and save the document. Now we can start, let's load our images. If you have your images saved, drag-and-drop the images into this layer and let's rename it quickly. Images. As you can see, my images from Adobe stock loaded into my library, skill share clause, a license, three of them already. You can tell by the license icon on the fourth image. We're not going to use this one. I'm going to select my three images and drag it into the our board. Let me give you an overview again of the three images we're going to use for this class. Oh, before I forget, these images are all part of the layer one images. From our three images, I'm thinking of using the bottom two images to blend them into one new base image. I think we can easily combine these two, just looking at their posture. I love how she's holding the basketball in the right image. Our arms crossed her body, giving us nice shapes to work with later. From the left image, I adored the focus determined look. So we definitely using the body of the right image and the head from the left, combine it into a new image. To see if this ID works, I will quickly trace the images roughly so we can play with the positioning and scale it if necessary. I'm using the pen tool to create a new clipping mask. Once you have the round your shape, select boat but an image right-click, create a clipping mask. Repeat this process for the second image. So we have to use for clipping marks to merge our images into one. Change the opacity of one image to 70%. So we can see if boat images fit. I noticed this image needs some scaling to align better with the ADA. Now, look for that sweet spot. I'm really getting inside over here watching a Sholes who overtook the possible blend with the arms and the basketball is awesome. Look how beautiful these two images blend. And now we have the perfect blend with the folks in our expression and a more playful posture, how she's holding a basketball. Group, these two layers as one new image. And let's see how we can blend out third image. Next, let's repeat our clipping mask process and mask our third image as well. Notice how lovely boat images represent opposite fields and blend so creatively. Let's find that sweet spot to blend boat looking for good interactions with his top shoulders and how both heads over each other. Make sure boat images scale up correctly so you don't walk because you don't want a bubble head. Again, we're going to apply the same technique, lowered obesity defined and learn how boat images interact. At this moment, I noticed the nice shape greater by hovering both heads. I also noticed her shoulders enter arm interacting with the orange stops are they possibly are able to create a pulsing effect when trace later on. And I also check if the basketballs placed correctly according to the body. When it comes to finding the sweet spot of blending vote heads and make sure boat shapes don't cover any ice. I want to make sure the eyes and lips can be drawn a realistic later in the class. Make sure to experiment and try things out. You will find interesting ways to blend different images simply by doing move them around, scaled them if necessary. I make sure I have checked all possible overlays until I'm satisfied. Only when that excitement kicks in, I will start tracing the images. When you are satisfied with your composition, it's time to trace the images with the Benton. Let's focus on one image at a time. Hide everything else. They depend or from your toolbar filled stroke with any color that stands out to make tracing easier and start tracing the outline of your model, create a new layer. Outline image are start tracing. At this moment it helps if you have some experienced and knows how to use a bundle efficiently. If you prefer to draw on a tablet, Go ahead. The goal is to create outline strokes from our model to get an overview of our illustration to blend later on. We will be using the different shapes later on to blend both images and cut emerged them with the shape of that tool. Don't mind the perfect finishing off your outline. What I like to do, use a shape will have to holding Alt to remove the shapes. Well, the tool will gray out the shapes you were about to remove, hold and drought to remove more, or simply click one-by-one to get a sense of how your illustration is taking shape, switch from filled shapes to outline stroke, hide your base images, and examine your results. With the outline of her body being done, we can actually speed up the rest of the Trey's work by ignoring the lies outside her body and really focus on the inner lines. Uses shape or tool to clean up any lines outside of the body. And well, let's insert a second body for the body to demonstrate this. Now continue to use have been told to completely trace the image focused on primary shapes, such as the top, body bards like the shoulders and arms, the basketball heads. The watch em finding depends. Don't mind the mess with overlaying lines. We clean this up afterwards. We are shaped builder to him. And when the tracings complete, it's time to use a table or a tool to define all the shapes. Canem, the quick lines outside the body, and check for any mistakes. Time to experience the effect of our current work. Hide the base images and switch again from Phil goes to an outline stroke. Jake, if you didn't forget any shapes your desired or cleanup when it's too much. When the first image is completed, we're going to repeat the same process for our second image, high differs image and let's focus on a second. Now, I am going to save you the time lapse, but use the results from the second image. Next, we're going to merge both illustrations into one using our favorite tool so far is the Xia Bu tool. To assist Ukraine in our puzzle, I like to create gaining outlines in a new leader. Duplicate our outlines into a new layer and change the outline strokes into a complete different color. Lockett, and grab your table two. Now it's time to focus and create our blend of two illustrations. It's necessary to feel an experiment, look for a key merge between each line and find the balance between what's clearly visible and how far can you push the boundaries with burdening effect emerged shapes into one by holding your primary mouse button and hopefully your shapes illustrator were highlighted shapes. We'd agreed to assist you. A quick tip. Use a different salt golden your Quran shapes to get an overview of which area of the association you have already completed. The actual coloring of our illustration follows later. Okay. To verify our shapes, I just copied a simple color swatch to get a quick idea on how I like to call it the Berbers to define the puzzle and shake if all shapes match your desired effect. A quick dip, my go-to fills our red for body parts and blue for clothing. Tried to avoid shapes. We'd same goals, touching each other at anytime. When our illustration is done, we can tap into our drowning techniques for the pencil tool, a really defined. 5. 3 techniques to draw with the pencil tool: After that, our outlines are taking shape. I'm going to show you three different approaches on how I drama watered study. With our basic reference images in place, I create the new layer to start drawing with a pencil tool. I will go over the settings for the pencil tool in a minute as part of our techniques for our ongoing illustration, I will use a shape overhead as the Layer Mask to help me guide during the drawing. Show me the exact area I need to cover. Now before we get into drown, I would like to show you my drawing process and three drying techniques on how you can draw the shading and give it your twist. To explain how I start and create my portraits, I opened a finished illustration to share my layers and how I build up my own situation. I always start by reducing the opacity of my reference image and locking it. Reduce the opacity just enough so you can define the shading, a swell that you see just enough what you're doing for coloring. I always finished illustration in black and white and color it afterwards. Next, I start driving the most prominent elements of the board's incomplete black, the eyes, the nose, and lips. When you've done this well, you can barely make any mistakes from here. Once all the black work is done, I define the level of shading. How detailed do you alive to define the borders? In the past, I stuck to the only web colors, black and white, a four different domains of grape complete in six scholars. Today, I there to stick to three, black and white with one more color to shade. Experiment and see what works best for you. From hereon, based on your preference, I worked my way from dark to bright or shades down. Each group in one layer. At the end, I add y details on top to finish the portrait loaded within Adobe Photoshop and colored the work into lie like it's the first technique I call flow. Because of the fluid style which simply adds flow to the work. It feels like the ink is almost dripping or flowing away from the boarded, which in return can result in very cool, energetic 5s, as you wish. Watch not to overuse his technique because it can come off quickly, a sloppy or even vague kind of what's happening in this border to be fair, most shading is covered by smooth shapes. And I love to use this to draw details in the eyes and pieces of glutenin. It also comes handy when you are in need to draw abstract goal for shapes like the ones at the bottom of this illustration. When it comes to drown in the flow technique, I suggest changing or pencil sittings to fidelity smooth. Assisting you with smooth lines automatically. Allow me to demonstrate this graphically by drawing a few shapes of her lips. It all comes down to experience and preferences. Paper births measure hotkeys to undo awkward lines and correct on lingo. I like to draw in the style to create secondary shades of clothing at the higher level. Simply experiment to find out if it works or not. The second technique is called flux, because of the rapid instant drown Sal, following your intuition and drove fast, crisp shapes to create motion here portrait. I love it because it guarantees mistakes and gives you an identical look as if it was meant to drive these cutting lines. Combine this with the flow technique and you can get a lovely balanced like the ying and yang effect, sharp and smooth. Lately, I always use this technique for rough shading work went into requires one sharp definition of shade. When it comes to drown in the flux technique, I suggest changing or pencil sittings to fidelity accurate. Assisting ubiquitous flights allow me to demonstrate these quickly by drawing the potential single don't shading on our head of our queue and illustration. Last but not least, the Holy Grail, that 2D base technique. It's actually in the name and you build are drawn using duit based like shapes and get these beautiful results. This method is my absolute favorite way to draw hair as stack details. Nobody notices. It's all about stacking the shapes. The one sharper, waiver or shorter than another, yet combined so good-looking. When it comes down to drowning in this technique suggests changing or pencil settings of fidelity to exactly in the middle, perfectly balanced out to help you drought these shapes fast. Allow me to demonstrate this quickly by drawing the beautiful eyes from our model. Ashoka is a buyer of stacking our 2D base shapes. When it comes to join my Porter's, I've always been using a mouse for over 15 years now. I've never used a Wacom tablet so far. Just letting you know, nothing can stop you. I'm now going to play a short time lapse to showcase how I've drawn the bartered for our illustration. Stick around and let's create our color palette next. Okay. Okay. Beautiful. Yeah. And very often. Okay. 6. Create a unique colour palette (Kleurstaal): Eventually our illustrations making form, I think it's time to create our unique ClustalW and figure out how we like to call our illustration. Let's talk about color. Clustalw in particular. The idea of Clarissa comes from my experience with traditional color swatches and how they didn't really get it for me. What I mean by that, five simple cores without any context are just five colors. I was longing for more depth and understanding how different colors get along. How some even small portions could influence the whole composition. In other words, I'm basically trying to make my own recipes with coerced and apply them to my work afterwards. Now let's start by applying our traditional five core Swatch into the cluster and experienced the dynamics of your course yourself. You can't make any mistakes. It's really all about feelings. Shift the 5s simply by replacing the colors. How much a royal blue do I need to balance our rates? What effect does the rows shapes have in combination with the red? Does it have the same dynamic? And what's the effect of using dark and white tones? Of course. Now you can find the file I'm using in this class within the resource section. Feel free to use it as a foundation or as inspiration. Create your own Gladstone. Don't hesitate to share your unique Lewis Dot in the project of their words along with your illustration, I would love to see what you come up with and how you apply. It. Makes sure to play around. You'll notice how a single swatch can have a broad range of inspiring outcomes, each with their own story. During my experimentation, I really got into the pursuit defined singer goals that will sing up Dutch goods Stan that very powerfully. For instance, boys in green in combination with blues in a red or orange in it, combinations of purples. Don't hesitate to scale your palate. Don't limit yourself with five. Once you feel confident, try and mix up your belt, which solo gradients. Explore new combinations and play around with a rich pallet of solids and gradients. Remember, the goal of the crystal is to get a better understanding of which portion of color you apply later into your illustration. When you are satisfied, we return to our illustration and apply our learnings from using closed-off towards outlook. 7. Applying colour to the illustration: When we have defined our Clarissa, We are going to apply to our real situation and find out if it needs any more changes. With the learnings from creating our Clustal, we can now apply our colors into the illustration. Let's grab our eyedropper tool and let's start exploring our colors. Again. I start by following my own design principles. The first principle being is using tones of red and orange for body parts, such as the arms and tones of blue for clothing. This provides me with a great foundation to start with. Depending on the outcome, i balance it out with secondary goals, such as White, Black, or even posing green or pink. The second principle is to avoid touching shapes with same color, avoided at any cost or using gradient tool and adjusted gradient orientation. This technique actually gives a pretty cool results and we're using it for our Head parts. Remember your approach from the ClustalW? Learn from the color portions are just along the way. And I really enjoyed this creative process. Ok. Okay. 8. Enhance your illustration in Photoshop: At last hour, criticism in Illustrator is what allows to do next is opening Adobe Photoshop, load our illustration and see if I can play with the course, maybe add some debt and even play with pictures. All patterns were entering the final stage of our creative session. To finish things off, I'd like to try out some playful purchase to add movement and depth. Let's start with integrating patterns, graphical elements or textures. I have created dissuaded element who freed to exchange this with any pictures you like or patterns to give it your own twist. With the wavy element, I'm looking for shapes to use as a mosque in embedded into our illustration, the flow of the elements give this funky contrasts. In actinic Dutch, I love how this element gets flow from one shape to another within the illustration. So I need to be precise on how to position it and which shapes fits best. Technical, simply copy base your specific shape in place. Hotkeys are command C and F. Select your element or pattern along with the shape and create a layer mask. Yeah. Once you are satisfied, it's stamped to open Adobe Photoshop and see if we can add any depth or movements. Before we get into adding blurry hovering objects, I like to give you a closer look into my personal approach to core in my illustration. This group works as a filter created over the years from a combination of solid cores with different blending styles. Giving my work does dreamy, rosy color effect. By adjusting the opacity, I look for the sweet spot to go rise illustration. After busting your illustration from Adobe illustrated into your new document, I loved the work with simple circular shapes and the blur tool to add depth, nothing fancy necessary. It simply needs to give the illustration there is depth in movement. You can apply a fibrin gradient to your shape with a free form Gradient tool. And it just a gold pins within your shapes loaded into Photoshop at the Gaussian Blur and you're all set. Save your work and take some time to enjoy it. I like to give it some time and convect with within a few days to see if it's still excites me or not. Make some changes if necessary, and prepare my export and shared with some friends. 9. Export & share: Time to share our illustration, which friends? Before I do so, I always review my work on a small device just to see how the details come true. Before I publish my work into my portfolio, share it on Instagram or the Behance network. I take a quick look at how I experienced the artwork on my mobile phone. In doing so, I noticed I have made the shift over the years to drop Fewer details and use even more vibrant colors. Probably through the lens of experiencing my work on my phone. I tried to spend less time on the nuances and really focus on the composition instead. To my surprise, I actually like to start shift. Well imprint on finite paper that the core do its work and keep it as clean with little noise as possible. Now, when it looks good on the mobile, I'd like to share the preview with some friends and ask for honest feedback. My friends are a mix of creative people in sport and digest. So I can always count on a range of different eyes. And finally, it's time to post it on Instagram, publishes on Behance, and update your portfolio. When it comes to taking the upper level and try to evolve from your hobby and turn it into your business. Use your personal strategies to give it a boost. Use hashtags, DM friends to help you out, reached out to potential clients and propose a collaboration. Don't hold yourself back and be proactive to get your workout. Remember to print it and celebrate the small victories. You're doing a great job and please enjoy the exciting creative journey together. 10. Submit your illustration & download resource: Thank you so much for watching this class for me, it means a lot. I hope I've inspired some of you, we declare style approach and that you can find new ways to improve your work. Before you go. Don't forget to download the resource and share your unique closer along with your illustration. Now, don't hesitate to ask any questions and sharing over down below and looking forward to help you any return learn from you.