Create a Western Cowboy Illustration in Adobe Illustrator!

Learn to create this awesome vector cowboy western desert illustration scene in Adobe Illustrator!

Learn to build a color scheme with Adobe Color, build a scene from a pencil sketch, create distressed and organic edges, fill a scene with color, and so much more in this Illustrator tutorial.

Download the sketch to follow this tutorial here.

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Recording notes:

  • Create new doc 2560×1440
  • Drag in the sketch and size appropriately
  • Show trick to stretch the sketch wider to fit the scene but only use that stretched sketch for the desert scene and save a non-stretched copy for the main character
  • Set sketch layer to Multiply
  • Find a stock photo of desert and bring it into Adobe Color and show how to get a color scheme and save it.
  • Screenshot it if you don’t like using Creative Cloud libraries
  • Add the theme to the swatches in Illustrator
  • Add a layer for the artwork below the sketch and mask to the artboard
  • Use ellipse tool and create ground hills
  • Use Pen tool to create the ledge area where cowboy will stand
  • Use Pencil to create craggy rocks and hills
  • Use Pen tool to create smooth cacti
  • Drop in the sky and create the sun
  • Use the Arc tool and the variable width tool to create grass and spend time duplicating, flipping, resizing and playing with all the grass to get it in position
  • Create a couple birds in the sky
  • Check on the colors and lay down the base colors by using Recolor artwork
  • Copy over rough outline of the cowboy. Point out how I outlined his head and hat apart from his body
  • Draw his cape and adjust as needed
  • Flip the head so he’s looking the other way
  • Draw in a rough lasso and put it in his hand
  • Group all pieces of him together and add a mask to the layer
  • Draw cutting black shapes with the pencil tool into the mask to roughen the edges of him a little.
  • Use the Wrinkle tool set to 100×100 at 20% power with 50% H and V wrinkling and 1 complexity and 6 detail to detail up the cacti and ground edges
  • Change to 40% power with 90% horizontal wrinkle and texture the edges of the cliffs and ground cowboy stands on and the ridges in the piece, too.