Photoshop is not only powerful on image editing or photo manipulations, but also very useful to produce image creations. Even from scratch, pure from your imaginations. We can take character design for example. When you design a character, you put your imaginations on your canvas. You can do it although you start from a blank canvas, and this tutorial will help you to see the process.
What you’ll be creating
On this tutorial, you can draw a pirate character using Photoshop from blank page without any additional resources or stock images. You’ll use shape layers, understand the highlight and shadow, paint using Brush Tool manually, it just need your patience. Use Adobe Photoshop CS3 or higher, let’s jump in!
Create a new document. Then pick Rounded Rectangle Tool (U), set its radius to 40 px and its color to #ebbda1. Draw a rounded rectangle, this will be the face of the pirate. Holding down the shift key while creating rectangle constrains the rectangle to a square.
Then pick Pen Tool (P) and check the “Auto Add/Delete” option on the option bar. Go back to the rounded rectangle you’ve made and click on the center of its bottom side to add anchor point. While Pen Tool still active, hold the “Cmd/Ctrl” key to change it to Direct Selection Tool temporarily. Drag the new anchor point downward.
Release the “Cmd/Ctrl” and delete two anchor points near to it. The Pen Tool will be automatically converted to Delete Anchor Point Tool when you stick it on the anchor point.
To create ears, use Ellipse Tool (U). Hold down “Shift” key while drawing ellipse in order to be in one layer with the face. Then rotate and duplicate it.
Use Rectangle Tool (U) and set the color setting to #a42335 then draw a rectangle for Headband.
Add anchor point on the center of its bottom side and move it down.
With Pen Tool (P) draw the dangling part of the headband, place it behind the face’s layer.
Using Ellipse Tool (U) create a white ellipse for the iris of left eye and black one for the pupil on the center. Group them and name it “Left Eye”.
Draw black circle and small rectangle on the right side of the face to create eyes’s cover.
Then create mouth with white color.
Add layer style for the left eye. First, add Drop Shadow with 120 degrees Angle, 1 px Distance and Size. Then add Inner Shadow with same Angle and Distance, but give 5 px for the Size. And use Brush Tool (B) to create a highlight on a new layer above the pupil, with white color and soft round brush tip shape.
Also add layer style for the mouth. On Inner Shadow option, set the Choke to 30%. And for Outer Glow, use #5e0000 color.
Create a horizontal longish ellipse as shown on the image below. Then drag both of the center anchor points downward. After that, draw a vertical longish ellipse. You can see the following image for reference.
Draw an ellipse again for the mustache. Add two anchor poits on the top side and drag the anchor point on the center of top side downward.
Then use Pen Tool (P) to draw shape of the hair. You can just draw right side and then copy it by dragging, hold “Opt/Alt” and drag using Path Selection Tool (A) to duplicate, then press “Cmd/Ctrl + T” and Right Click > Flip Horizontal. Then you need to group them all and name it “Head”.
For the front part of the hat, draw this shape with black color.
And this back part, draw and place it behind the front part.
Draw the hem with #b47b02 color.
Make a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl +Shift + N) in front of “front part” and fill it with black. Create clipping mask (“Cmd + Opt + G” / “Ctrl + Alt + G”) and give filter, click menu Filter > Sketch > Chalk & Charcoal, and use the following setting.
Do the same way for the back part of the hat. Then group them and name it “Hat”.
Use Ellipse Tool (U) to create white circle, and place it behind face.
To create the legs you must draw them manually using Pen Tool (P). Draw the left or right first then “Opt/Alt + Drag” using Path Selection Tool (A) to duplicate it. When dragging, you have to hold down the Shift key to constrain your movement to perfect vertical.
Next, create your jacket shape using Pen Tool (P). This will need more than one path in a layer. When you’ve finished the first path, you have to hold down “Shift” key while drawing the other path in order to be in one layer. Use #361b0c for its color.
Make a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) in front of the jacket shape. Fill it with #7a7a7a and create clipping mask. Then go to Filter > Sketch > Note Paper. Set the Image Balance to 25, Graininess to 10 and Relief to 11 then click OK. Set the blending mode to Overlay.
Draw these white parts of cuff, an extra layer of fabric at the lower edge of the sleeve.
And black parts.
Next, create hands with #ebbda1 color.
Create a red rectangle using Rectangle Tool (U). Place it behind the jacket, it will be the belt.
Go back to the face. “Cmd/Ctrl + Click” its layer thumbnail to take selection. Then use Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) to subtract the selection. Hold down the “Opt/Alt” and create an elliptical marquee as shown below.
When you release your mouse, the face’s selection will be subtracted. Then create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) and fill it with #ebbda1.
Go to menu Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Set amount to 10%, choose “Gaussian Distribution” and check “Monochromatic”. Then create clipping mask (“Cmd + Opt + G”/”Ctrl + Alt + G”).
Next, you are going to paint shadow (dark parts) and highlight (light parts) that will form the curve of face. You need to start trying to understand the lighting and the face curve. Now create a new clipping masked layer named “Shadow 1” and set its blending mode to “multiply”. Paint the dark part of the face using Brush Tool (B) with soft rounded brush. Set the opacity to 10% and hardness to 0%. Give #ebbda1 for its color. See image below for reference, the soft dark areas are shown by green arrows. Paint carefully.
Next, gradually, choose a darker color to paint the shadow. Create a new layer and create clipping mask then name it “Shadow 2”. Use #d69e7b for this second shadow. And don’t forget to set “multiply” blending mode and paint like before. You can use 20% for brush’s opacity in order to get thicker shadow.
Like before, paint the third shadow on these particular areas with darker color (use #c27545) on a new clipping masked layer with “multiply” blending mode. Set thicker opacity and you may adjust the size of the brush to suit your need. On this step you can add facial wrinkle to impress fierce expression.
You also need to add the darkest shadow (you can use black) near the headband and eye’s cover because those areas are darker than others. And after that, add the highlights on a new clipping masked layer with “screen” blending mode. Paint softly using #ebbda1 on these areas which shown by yellow arrows at the right picture below.
To add depth to the mouth, create a new clipping masked layer in front of mouth’s layer. Paint soft black shadow with soft round Brush Tool (B), low opacity and 0% hardness.
Add details for the headband like previous steps. Use “Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N” to create a new layer above the headband’s layer. Then create clipping mask and choose multiply blending mode. Give name for this new layer “Shadow 1” and prepare your Brush Tool (B). Use soft round type, low opacity and 0% hardness. You can increase or decrease the size of brush according your needs. Start to paint on right and left parts because there are no much lights reach those parts. And paint on the other part if you want to make a curve so that it will seen as if it’s a bent object. Paint with #a42335. Then use a darker color (#940c1f) to paint on a new clipping masked layer. Next, use #770213. And use soft black for the darkest areas.
Then give the highlight area using #a42335 on a clipping masked layer with “screen” blending mode.
For these parts you can only add shadows.
Next, paint soft white for the highlight of the eye’s cover. Of course on a new clipping masked layer.
Create new layer above beard, mustache and hair. Activate Brush Tool (B) and choose “Dune Grass” brush. Open brush’s window (F5) and enter following setting.
Set foreground color to black and background color to #2a2b2b. Use 100% opacity and paint like this. You can adjust the brush size and its flip as you need.
For the hat, add its highlight area on the front part. Use #2a2a2a and #555555 color. Remember to set your brush to “Soft Round”.
Do the same way for the back part.
And for its hem, add #b47b02 on a clipping masked layer. Use “multiply” blending mode for its shadow and “screen” for its highlight.
Next for the belt, use #a42335. Also use “multiply” blending mode for its shadow and “screen” for its highlight.
For the white shirt, you just need to add shadow. Use #d8d8d8, #b3b3b3 and #818181 with “multiply” blending mode.
Then start to paint indentation on the jacket. Use #361b0c, for its shadow use multiply blending, and for its highlight use screen blending. See image below for reference.
Add shadows for the white part of cuff.
And add highlights for the black part.
For the hand, paint the shadow using #ebbda1, #d69e7b and c27545 with multiply blending. Then paint its highlight using #ebbda1 with screen blending.
Next go to the legs, add only the highlight using #2a2a2a and #555555 with screen blending.
Double click on the Background layer to turn it into plain layer. Set foreground color to #4e606e and background color to white. Then go to menu Filter > Render > Clouds. To make the clouds background sharper, hold “Opt/Alt” when you access the menu filter. And you have to hold your left click while you hold “opt/Alt”.
Just like this, hold your “Opt/Alt” key, then put your cursor onto menu Filter, then click and hold, move to Render > Cloud, release your click. Your clouds result will be sharper.
Add layer style for this clouds background, that is Gradient Overlay. Enter following settings shown on image below.
Paint the shadows under the pirate on new layer behind legs. Note that there are two shadows here. First, the thinner shadow, it is wider and softer. And the second one is the thicker shadow, it is closer to the legs. Paint them all with soft black.
Go to the uppermost layer, then create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) above it. Set the background and foreground color to default black and white by pressing “D”. Then add clouds using menu filter like before. Filter > Render > Clouds.
Set its blending mode to “Screen” then reduce its opacity layer to 75%. Add layer mask by clicking layer mask icon on layer palette. And then use Brush Tool (B) with soft round brush, 0% hardness and black color to mask the upper parts of the image.
Download the PSD
Tutorial by Mokhtaar Faqeeh
Thank you for following this tutorial! We hope you will get inspirations about character design or image creations from blank page after you read this tutorial.
Best regards, visual art lover from Indonesia.
– Mokhtaar Faqeeh