Color and Shade Artwork in Adobe Illustrator

USE ILLUSTRATOR LIKE PHOTOSHOP FOR FAST AND COOL VECTOR ARTWORK! | Today we’ll look at the Blob Brush and the Direct Selection tool to build out a colored and shaded piece of vector artwork from a sketch in Illustrator.

In this Illustrator tutorial, we’ll break down a fast and easy way to take an inked sketch in Illustrator from some lines to an object that has some color and simple shading and highlights added to it. We’ll use the Blob Brush and a few simple colors to achieve our finished artwork today. I hope you enjoy it!

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Tutorial Recording Notes:

Disclaimer: these are the actual notes I used to record this video and are written in a language you may or may not understand. Hopefully, you find them useful or cool.

Here we are in Adobe Illustrator and I have an inked sketch that we made in an earlier tutorial. I’ll toss the link to that short video up on screen now. I like to begin the coloring and shading process and building out the highlights and shadows. This process begins by creating a new layer and dragging it directly below our inked artwork. I’ll name this layer “Gray Base” and then grab the Blob Brush tool and double-click the tool icon and set the size to something large. I’ll set my brush to 70pt or so and also tick off “Keep Selected” and then hit OK.

Next, I’m going to set my Fill color to 50% gray and go ahead and paint with this gray to create a big, rough gray blob beneath the inked lines.

Now I’ll create a new layer and name it “Shadows” and place it below the inked lines, but above our gray base layer. Grab the Blob Brush again and reset the size to 5pt and set the fill color to black. Before I begin painting, I’m going to open the Transparency panel and set the brush tool to Multiply and 35% opacity.

Now I’ll burn through this painting and sketch all my shadows as I see fit. If you mess up a bit of shading, just hit Cmd/Ctrl + Z to undo that stroke and try painting again. You can take as much or as little time for this step as you like.

Once we’ve got the shadows in place it’s time to create another new layer on top of this one and I’ll name this layer “Highlights”. Once more I’ll grab the Blob Brush tool and set my fill color to white and use the Transparency panel and set this tool to Overlay and 30% opacity. Now brush in highlights where you see fit.

Next, I’ll go back and hide the “Gray Base” layer and create a new layer that will live underneath our shadow, highlights, and inked lines layers here. Let’s go ahead and give it the name “Coloring” and reset the Blob Brush to Normal blend mode and 100% opacity over in the Transparency panel. I have a few squares here that hold the color palette, let’s check out the hex codes for these colors so you can follow along as well. We have a dark brown at #754c29. We have a lighter brown or tan at #b58f59. We have a yellow at #ffde17. And finally, we have a nice red color at #ed1c24.

I like to begin with the colors I’ll be using the most of so I’ll grab the tan color and open and adjust the Blob Brush again to get a nice big brush and also tick ON the “Keep Selected” functionality. This will ensure that each big blob of color will be connected and not a series of disjointed strokes. Next, I’ll paint in the bulk of the body color to set a solid base of color for ourselves. I don’t mind if the paint from this step leaks out over the cape or the collar or the hat because when we paint in the colors for those parts of the artwork it will be on top of that base color and cover it up.

Now we’ll paint the color into the hat and collar. If this paint leaks over into other parts of the drawing, we will grab the Direct Selection tool and select the path points and simply drag those path points underneath the thick lines of our ink to make sure everything is tucked away neatly.

After I wrap up painting in this hat and both collars, I’ll grab the yellow color and I will paint in the little badge marker on his hat, the gold buttons on his collar and the necktie/scarf apparatus that I gave to him. Again, I’ll use the Direct Selection tool to clean up any wayward strokes.

Lastly, I’ll grab the red color and I’ll paint in the cape region to complete the colored effect. As I did before, any wild strokes and stuff that’s going a little crazy, I’ll use the Direct Selection tool to clean that right up.

After all that is finished, you could choose to color in a little ground plane or just leave this as it is! That’s really it, I hope you enjoyed the video, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel and turn those notifications on.