Illustrator & Photoshop: The Illustration Power Couple | Hayden Aube | Skillshare

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Illustrator & Photoshop: The Illustration Power Couple

teacher avatar Hayden Aube, Illustrator & Designer

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

    • 1.

      Introducing the Power Couple


    • 2.

      Preparation and Execution


    • 3.

      From Illustrator to Photoshop


    • 4.

      Wielding Photoshop Brushes


    • 5.

      Photoshop Power Moves


    • 6.

      Instrument Demonstrations


    • 7.

      Now It's Your Turn


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About This Class

Bring your vector illustrations to life with Photoshop!

Love the precision of Adobe Illustrator but find it lacking when it comes to giving things an organic feeling? You and me both! In this class I show you how bringing your vector artwork into Photoshop is a lot easier than you think. Together, we'll be:

  • Exporting our Illustrator files into perfectly organized Photoshop files
  • Learning how to do a lot with just two free Photoshop brushes
  • Going over 7 Power Moves that will make working in Photoshop a breeze
  • Using all our knowledge to create our very own educational poster

Find out why when brought together, these two programs can make wonderful illustrations!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Hayden Aube

Illustrator & Designer


Hayden here and I am an illustrator, designer and most importantly to you, teacher!

I am constantly hunting for the actions that will have me producing my best work possible--I assure you it's no easy feat. That's why my primary goal in all of these classes isn't to give you just any information, but only the information that's going to make the biggest difference in your work. Think of it as optimizing your artistic development ;)

So if you're looking to level up your skills in design and illustration, consider checking out my classes. I've gone to great lengths to keep them short and to the point so you can get the information quickly and jump to creating.

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introducing the Power Couple: Hello. My name is Hayden Aube, and I'm an illustrator and graphic designer. Now, whether you've taken my classes on Adobe Illustrator, or have discovered this for yourself, the program offers an outstanding range of features. While there's something nice about creating a robust illustration that is a 100 percent vector, oftentimes, it isn't necessary. As I've explained in my playing with texture class, getting a textured look is totally doable inside of Illustrator alone. However, if you truly want to be freed up in your illustration, that's where Photoshop shines. In this class, I'm going to be showing you that when brought together, Illustrator and Photoshop truly are the illustration power couple. I will be showing you how to take something made in Illustrator, such as this, and turn it into this. We're going to convert your Illustrator file into a perfectly organized Photoshop file, then go over which brushes to use once in Photoshop. Then learn and apply seven key power moves that bring efficiency, and control to working in Photoshop. In addition to these lessons, I'm going to be including a free set of Photoshop brushes, so that you too can achieve the style we'll be going over. This class is for anyone who is looking to bring a more organic feeling to the artwork they create with Illustrator. If that sounds like you, come find out why Photoshop and Illustrator are meant for each other. 2. Preparation and Execution: I want you to imagine that there are two phases to creating your art, preparation and execution. Just as rehearsing for performance will ensure that everything goes smoothly once it's showtime, Proper preparation for a designer illustration makes sure that when it comes to producing a final piece, you knock it out of the park. While the preparation phase can look very different depending on how you work, the scale of the project, or just the time that you have. It is an essential step and will not only make your life easier, but make your work that much better. So how does this apply to what we're doing? So the final piece, in my case, this poster, will be created in Photo shop. Once I moved there, that will signal the execution phase. In knowing that I want to figure out as much as possible but my piece beforehand, so that it's just a matter of putting the time in. Here's what I've done to prepare for my execution phase. First, I've drawn a detailed sketch and in effort to save time. It can be very attractive to leave out certain details and choose to figure them out later. Not only does this cost you later on in having to decide things when you have less wiggle room. But it makes the execution phase overwhelming because you'll have a lot on your plate stepping into it. The less you have to worry about when executing, the more freedom you'll have to enjoy the process and make something great. Second, I have decided on the composition. Working digitally means we can move our elements around as much as we want, which is great. This also means, however, that it can once again be easy to save that part for execution. Just as with the sketch, I encourage you to make a definite decision about the layout of your piece. Yes, it's okay to shuffle things around down the road. I even did that with some of the instruments in this piece. But it's only because the rest of my composition was chosen that I had the freedom to do so. Finally, in preparation, I decided on my colors. Don't save colors for the final piece, decide ahead of time. Color is a huge factor and you don't want that clogging up your brain when you're executing. Again, I added some tweaks the color in the final, but it was easy to do that when the major decisions about it we're already set in stone. Imagine knowing exactly what everything is going to look like, where it's going to be and what color it's going to be before you even start your final. That's what we want to accomplish in the preparation phase. Yes, there are always going to be things we change around in the final piece. But with the major decisions made already, we are free to make those changes instead of being distracted with things like, what color will this person's clothes be? 3. From Illustrator to Photoshop: Once you feel sufficiently prepared, you'll need to create your basic shapes in Illustrator as I've done here. Now while we won't cover working Illustrator in this class, most of my other classes do. For the most thorough demonstration of how I build shapes in Illustrator, checkout my making a fantasy weapon in class. If you're unsure of what basic shapes you should and shouldn't be creating in Illustrator, I'd recommend holding off until the end of class. Once you understand how we are going to be working with them, you'll better know what needs to be made at this point. In addition to that, when you're in doubt about a certain element, just make it. I knew I'd be recreating these dotted lines with a brush in the end, but I included them at this point anyway, just so I could get a good visual idea of how they look. For all the pieces that you want in their own folder once in Photoshop, for instance, this girl and her symbols put them on their own layer in Illustrator. Then within that layer, create a group for everything that you want to be on its own layer inside of that folder. Very important is to make sure that you name everything. Remember that it's all about making your life easier once you execute. I assure you that the future you won't really appreciate a 100 untitled layers. For this example, I made a group for her head, each arm, each symbol, each partner hair, and so on. If you don't create groups inside of those illustrator layers, everything is going to be flattened into one layer once you bring it into Photoshop. Now you may only have 10 or basic shapes, in each case, feel free to give each piece its own layer and ignore grouping. But if you're like me and have well over a 100 pieces you want separated, it pays to organize. Also note that any layer that has been turned off won't be exported. In my case, I do want my sketch to be taken into Photoshop, so I'm going to turn that layer on. Once everything is organized how you'd like, go to File, Export As and select PSD from the drop-down menu. Of course, the settings you make here will depend entirely on what your pieces for. This poster is ultimately going to be printed at a big size for artist education. I'm going to change the resolution to 300. The color I'm going to keep at RGB, because it will be printed digitally, and very important, make sure that right layers is selected. Let's take a look at what we got.Just as planned, we see that each section has its own folder and within it, a layer for each piece we wanted separated. I also want to point out that when possible, I combine similar objects into their own layer. We can see that for the label boxes, I made a layer for each section rather than a layer for each individual box. For my own sake, I'm going to group things one step further. I'll put all of the instruments of a particular kind in their own folder and the rest in another. If you really want to be organized, you can color your different sections as well. I'll make my woodwinds orange, strings green, brass yellow, and percussion blue. Once you have your file set up exactly as you like, be sure to save it and we can get into bringing it to life with brushes. 4. Wielding Photoshop Brushes: While there is an endless supply of brushes, both in Photoshop already and online, we're going to be using just two for this project. We'll need a brush for line work and a brush for texture. I'm going to be using the Skool brush and NuPastel brush from Kyle Webster's Megapack. While I highly recommend checking out these or any other brush made by Kyle, I've also created a pair of free brushes specifically for this class. They can be found in the Resources. Knowing that, there is an Internet full of great free and paid brushes, and you can even experiment with making your own. However you do it, make sure that as I do, you have one brush for line work and one brush for texture. 5. Photoshop Power Moves: Creating this poster took a long time and most of it was quite repetitive. Rather than walk you through the entire process, I've assembled everything you need to know into seven power moves. This way, if you need to review any of these techniques again, they will be easy to find. Let's jump in. While it's possible for us to create line work in Illustrator, doing it in Photoshop provides us with a great opportunity to add an organic fields to the piece. Parts in Illustrator can sometimes be a little too precise, so by using our line work brush, we can do these parts by hand. Let's say I'm trying to add some decoration to these maracas, all I need to do is create a new layer on top of them. Select the line work brush at the appropriate size and draw. My recommendation is that you aim to keep your brush at a similar size for most of your line work for consistency sake. That being said, there may be times when you want a variety in width. As you can see, I have used the same technique all over the piece. The vowels of the clarinet, the faces of each character, and even subtle movement lines and music notes all over the place. There are even some cases like with these dotted lines where I created that first in Illustrator, but then decided to redraw it in Photoshop so that it would better fit the look that I was going for. While doing line work by hand, we'll work in most cases, sometimes life would be a lot easier if you could just base lines on a path, just like an Illustrator. Well, you can. To create the strings for this upright bass, all I did was use Photoshop's, pen tool and draw out the path that I wanted them to take. Now, I can switch to the brush tool, make sure that my line work brush is selected and not the size that I want and under the Path Window, I can select this button. Now I'll not only how the straight lines that I wanted, but they will also maintain the textured look of the brush. While it's possible to create additional layers and clip them to your existing ones, it can often times be easier to paint all on one layer. To do this without ruining the shape that you've created, all you need to do is highlight your layer and press the lock transparent pixels button. Locking transparent pixels is exactly as it sounds. By pressing this button, you can no longer paint on any pixels that are see-through. In the case of this snare drum head, that would be anything other than the ellipse that makes it up. This means I am free to paint all over it and not worry about going outside the boundaries, which makes all the difference in playing shadows and highlights. Sometimes you're not going to want to paint directly onto one of your layers, but you still want your paint to adhere to the boundaries of shape. For example, I want the lines of the trumpet players shirt to be on a separate layer so that I can keep them separate from the highlights and shadows that I'll be adding. Since I still don't want these lines to go off of his shirt, all I need to do is clip it to the shirt layer by holding option and clicking between them. Now this top layer will only display what shows up on the layer below it. While clipping masks will only show parts of a layer based on what is clipped to, layer masks give us the freedom to essentially erase parts of a layer without actually losing it. We call these nondestructive edits. For example, say that I want the edges of this section to fade off into the background. Sure, I could use the eraser tool to get rid of the color that I don't want, but that means that if I ever want to go back to how it originally was, I'll need to either re-import it or try and recreate it exactly in Photoshop. A better approach is to press this button, creating a layer mask. Layer masks work like this, all of the white areas will display the layer that is masked, while all of the black areas will hide that part of the layer. If I want to hide parts of a layer to make it look like it's fading, all I need to do is grab my texture brush and paint with black on the layer mask. Doing it this way, if I ever decide I want to add or take away the effect in certain areas, all I need to do is paint on the layer mask and then I get to leave the actual layer untouched. If I really want, I can just delete the mask entirely and my original layer is still there. While our intention is to create all of our basic shapes during the Illustrator stage, sometimes we need to create some in Photoshop. To do this, we have a couple of option. Let's say I need to create the trumpet player's hair. First, I can try and draw the shape of the brush, but I think you'll find quickly that unless we want something rough looking, this isn't a good option. Second, we can use the lasso tool to draw out the shape we want and then fill it in using the paint bucket. Depending on the circumstance, this can work quite well and be fairly quick. However, I find it only produces shapes as smooth as your hand is steady and mine really isn't. What I would recommend is to bring out our familiar friendly pen tool and draw the shape as we would in Illustrator. Then, just as we did for creating lines from paths earlier, we can fill in our path to produce a new smooth shape. Adding shadows and highlights is as simple as grabbing your texture brush and painting on your layer with brighter and darker colors, making sure you're transparent pixels are locked of course. That being said, there are a few good things to keep in mind as you do this. First of all, consider your light source. Mine is coming from the top-left, so as I paint each of these objects, I'm going to be sure to add highlights where the light would hit and shadows where it wouldn't. If you're having trouble figuring out what should be light and dark, don't worry, it takes a lot of practice to study to get really good at it. If you want to see me go more in depth into my lighting decisions, then you can check out my make a fantasy weapon class. But outside of that, there are countless tutorials online for learning to shade objects. Second thing we want to keep in mind when painting with the texture brush, is to increase saturation as we darken colors. This shouldn't always be the case as it'll depend on the look that you're going for, but I often find that when I'm making a color darker, it is also helpful for me to pump up the saturation sum so it doesn't look too washed out. For this reason while I'm painting, I like to keep my color panel open at the hue saturation and brightness sliders. Finally, recycle your colors. By holding the option key while you're using the brush tool, you can sample any color on your piece. If you've already created a dark blue shadow like I've done here, then you can just reuse it. In total, I only have around five or six different tints for each of the colors in this piece. This limited color palette helps things feel consistent and saves me from having to create a new color each time. 6. Instrument Demonstrations: So first up we're going to look at how I made the cello. We're going to create what's on the right from what's on the left. Here you can just see how I've separated the different elements. These were my basic shapes in Illustrator. The first thing I'm going to do is lock the transparent pixels of all of these layers. That way as I've shown you, I don't paint outside of the boundaries when I'm using my brushes. Before I get into any of the actual texturing, I'm going to use my line brush to create all the elements that aren't created yet, starting with the sound holds in the body of the cello. All I'm doing is on a new layer, I'm drawing out these S shapes. Once I have one how I like it, all I'm going to do is actually duplicate this rather than draw it out again. So holding option, I'm going to drag it out and I'll create a new layer and then I'm going to flip it horizontally and reposition it so it's on the other side. Then I'm going to merge the two layers just so that it's easier to keep track of. The next thing we're going to do with the line brush is I'm actually going to draw in the pegs that are on the top of the instrument. While this is something that I could have created as a shape in Illustrator, I thought that was a small enough piece that would be easy for me just to draw it in. Again, instead of drawing up four of them, I'm just going to create one and then I'm going to keep duplicating it. Then once it's all positioned, how I'd like it, I'm going to merge it into a single layer once again to keep things organized. The last thing I'm going to do with the line work brush is I'm going to create the strings. To do this, I'm going to use the path based technique and I'm actually just going to draw out a single path that kind of snakes up and down along this cello. Once the path is how I like it, I'm going to select the path in the path window. Make sure that my brush is selected at the appropriate size that I want. Then I'm going to press the button to create a stroke from the path. Now if you're like me and you've got the wrong size, maybe it's a bit too big. It's simply you just undo it and then you can change the brush size and try again. I'm just going to take an eraser and get rid of these bits at the end that I don't want. The last thing I'm going to do is just add a layer mask and then using the texture brush, I'm actually going to mask out the top of the strings so that it looks like they're fading into the top. Now I can get into using the texture brush. Just as I showed you before, I'm just going to use the texture brush and paint in shadows and highlights where I believe that they will be. So the right side of the cello, I'm going to add a lot of shadows. On the left side I'm going to add a lot of highlights. This just works with my current lighting scheme. You'll also notice as I'm working, I'm constantly using the eyedropper tool by holding option just to sample different colors. These little pieces here, I'm just adding a little bit of a highlight to them and again, I'm sampling a color that I've already created. I'm not creating a new color every time. For this part here at helps that I understand how the shape looks that I can put in these lines to give it a sense of form. This is where it's really helpful to have some reference. You can find some images of a cello if that's what you're doing online and just figure out how the lighting hits it, how the shadows hit it and then you can replicate that in your own piece. Aside it for the end pinned at the bottom here, I want it a bit darker. For painting something like this bow, which to me is a little more cylindrical, I'm painting it as I would a cylinder. You can see that with this method, even if I decide to change some of the colors around, it's totally fine as long as I have the basic shape down, it's not too big a deal for me to decide that the end of this bow is darker than it once was. Just add a couple of highlights. The last time I'm going to take is once again taking my texture brush and just painting in the background with a brighter color. This is just to make the instruments stand out more. There you have it. Now for the cornet once again, you can look at the basic shapes that I used in creating this instrument. I'm also going to once again lock all of the transparent pixels because I don't want to be painting outside of the instrument. Now I'm actually going to paint the entire piece step by step, by going from dark to bright and then adding in the final shadows. Right now I'm going through all of the pieces and applying a slightly brighter texture to it. Really, I'm just trying to paint it how I've seen brass instruments look when I was looking for reference photos. After I've done the first brighter color, I'm going to go one step brighter and this time I'm really going to be here to where my light sources, which is kind of the top left and I'm going to mostly put this color there. You'll see step by step, I'm going through each layer and applying the color. Knowing we're going to put your highlights and your shadows is something that just takes practice. While, when I started, it was just looked like a flat shape. You can now understand why I separated out into pieces that I did. Now I have been the majority of the highlights, I'm going to go in with the shadows. Here I'm really applying it to the opposite of where my light source is coming from as well as I'm adding in some darker points where the pipes overlap one another. Once again, really just where I think that the shadows are going to be. As always, if you're having trouble figuring this out, look for reference online of how something of the same material that you're creating is shaded. I'm just going to add another brighter highlight just for a final touch. Now I'm going to go in and add the buttons for this instrument. Even though normally used to line work brush for this kind of element, I thought I'd be kind of me if I use the texture one instead. Here you can say on a new layer, I've just created these buttons and then I've locked to transparent pixels once again and now a painting on it with the highlights. The last elements of this instrument that I need to include are just these little joining pieces between some of the pipes and then the spit valve. Again, I'm just going to draw that on a separate layer behind everything. Just as with the cello, I'm going to end it off by adding some brighter texture behind the instrument once again to make it stand out. Then we have a fully finished cornet 7. Now It's Your Turn: For your project, you're going to be creating your own educational poster. Decide on a topic that you love. It could be sports, math, reading, even dinosaurs, and design your very own poster using the steps we talk in class. You're going to be sketching out your design, creating your posters, basic shapes and colors in Illustrator, and then bringing it into Photoshop to introduce shading, texture and details. It's worth noting that at both the beginning and end of the design, I perform some techniques from my level up your color class to really harmonize the colors. If your colors aren't quite where you'd like them, consider checking that out. I also really want to encourage you to apply what you've learned today through this project. Watching is one thing, but doing the steps yourself is where you're really going to get the benefit. If you're looking for inspiration for your poster, you can head on over to Not only are there some great quality posters there, but they're doing great things by helping teachers get educational art for their classrooms. It's worth supporting. Finally, thank you for taking the class. I hope you've learned a lot and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.