Create a Christmas illustration in Photoshop

In this lesson you will learn how to create a beautiful Christmas illustration in Photoshop. You will learn how to use Photoshop tools, such as Pen (pen tool), we also apply layer styles, additional brushes, including a simple drawing technique.

The final result:

Download the archive with materials for the lesson

Note: Links to source materials from the author of the lesson are not active. In the archive you will find alternative brushes to perform the lesson.

Step 1

First, create a new document (Ctrl + N) with the following dimensions: 1280 px in width and 1024 px in height.

Step 2

Choose a tool Gradient (gradient tool (G)). Set the foreground color to # 03096d, and the background color to # aab0ff. In the Gradient Tool Settings, set Linear gradient (linear gradient). Click in the upper center of the image, hold the gradient, drag it down to the bottom of the image to fill the working document with the selected gradient.

Step 3

Create a new layer (Shift + Ctrl + N), select the tool Pen (pen tool (P)). From a new layer, click on the pen on the left side of the document to create the first anchor point. Next, click on the right side of the image, hold down the mouse button, drag the curve in the direction of the red arrow, as shown in the screenshot below, to distort the outline of the line and create a curve of the curve. Continue adding datum points until you close the contour of the line. When you close the contour of the line, right-click on the created contour and in the appeared window select the option To form selected region (make path selection). Thus, we will convert the contour into an active selection.

Step 4

Now set the foreground color to # 767cf6 and the background color to # f0f5ff. Select tool again Gradient (gradient tool) to fill the selected area with a gradient.

Step 5

Create a new layer below the layer we just created in Steps 3-4. Fill the new layer with black (Shift + F5). Now select the tool Brush (brush tool) on the toolbar. Install a soft brush. Varying opacity (opacity) brushes, draw white dots on a new layer. Try also to vary the size (size) brushes (between 25-30 px) so that the snowflakes are of different sizes. Finally, change the blending mode for the snowflake layer to Lightening basics (color dodge), opacity (opacity) layer 100%. Name this layer ‘Snow Flakes’.

Step 6

Next, we will add the moon to our scene. Create a new layer on which we will draw the moon. Select the brush tool. Set a soft round brush, the size (size) brush 500 px. Click on the image to add a white glow to the sky. Then, change the brush size to 400 px, and also set rigidity (hardness) brush to 100%. Click on the brush in the center of the white glow we created earlier. Name this layer ‘Moon’.

Step 7

Finally, we apply the filter Gaussian blur (Gaussian blur). Being on the layer with the moon, we go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian blur):

Step 8

Next, we add trees to our scene. Do not forget to install the brush trees in Photoshop. Select a brush Trees, brush color # 2c1e13, create a new layer, draw a tree. Name this layer ‘Tree’.

Step 9

Duplicate the tree layer (Ctrl + J). Flip the duplicate layer horizontally, and then place the duplicate tree on the opposite side of our scene. Decrease opacity (opacity) for both layers with trees up to 20-25%, save the blend mode Normal (normal).

Step 10

Create a new layer on top of the layer with the first tree. Remember to convert this layer to a clipping mask. Select tool again Brush (brush tool), set the foreground color to white. Choose a brush Spray 27 px (spatter 27 px). Using this brush, draw a snow effect on the trunk as well as on the branches of the tree. Do the same with another tree, adding to it the same snow effect.

Step 11

Next, we add leaves to the trees. First choose a soft round brush, set the following settings for the brush:

Step 12

Brush color # b2dafe, draw leaves on trees.

Step 13

From this step we will start creating a snowman. Create a new layer, select the tool. Ellipse (ellipse tool). With this tool, draw the bottom of the snowman in white. Create a new layer, draw another shape, it will be the head of a snowman.

Step 14

Go to the layer with the bottom of the snowman, and then go Layer – Layer Styles (layer> layer styles), apply the following settings for layer styles that are shown in the screenshot below:

Step 15

Add the same layer styles to the snowman’s head layer:

Step 16

Select the layer with the bottom of the snowman and the layer with the snowman’s head, then press the keys (Ctrl + E) to merge the layers into one layer. Name this layer ‘Head and body’. Next, create a new layer on top of the ‘Head and body’ layer. Convert this layer to a clipping mask. Choose a brush Spray (spatter brush), paint a snow effect on the body and head of the snowman.

Step 17

Create a new layer, select the tool. Pen (pen tool). Using the pen tool, draw the shape of the scarf, the color of the scarf # fc6664. Create another layer over the top with the scarf shape as a clipping mask and using the Pen tool, draw another scarf shape, the color of this scarf detail # fd9695:

Step 18

Create another new layer below the layer with the second shape (Step 17) as a clipping mask. On this layer, draw the shadows:

Step 19

Create another layer on top of the scarf layer as a clipping mask. Choose a soft round brush opacity (Opacity) 15-20%, brush color is black, draw shadows on the edges of the scarf:

Step 20

Select a detail of a scarf, and then go Filter – Noise – Add Noise (filter> noise> add noise) to add some noise:

Step 21

In this step, we will add elements to the scarf to give the scarf a fancy look. Create a new layer, add a red scarf detail, use the tool for this purpose. Pen (pen tool). Name this layer ‘Scarf Detail 1’. Next, create another layer as a clipping mask. Draw the second detail of the blue scarf. Name this layer ‘Scarf Detail 2’.

Step 22

Now, add noise to the ‘Detail of the scarf 2’ in the same way as you did in the previous Step 20, and also add shadows and highlights.

Step 23

Also add shadows to the first detail of the scarf:

Step 24

Next, create a new layer below the ‘Scarf Detail 1’. Draw the third part of the scarf. Name this layer ‘Scarf Detail 3’.

Step 25

On the ‘Detail of the scarf 3’, let’s go Layer – Layer Styles (layer> layer styles). Apply the following settings for the layer styles shown in the screenshot below:

Step 26

In this step we will draw a hat on the head of a snowman. Create a new layer and with the Pen tool, draw a cap:

Step 27

Next, we add light and shadow to the cap. For this purpose, select the tool Clarifier (dodge tool) in the toolbar. Set a soft round brush and strokes add light highlights on the cap. Switch to the tool Dimmer (burn tool) to add shadows:

Step 28

Create a new layer on top of the cap layer, once again select the Brush tool, set the Spray brush to add a snow effect to the cap;

Step 29

Add details to the cap, to do this, select the brush Pooh (fuzzball). Using a white brush, paint the cap to create a fur effect:

Step 30

Result at the moment lesson.

Step 31

Next, create another new layer. Draw two black dots on the snowman’s face, and then add white small dots inside each black dot.

Step 32

Next, create another new layer. Draw three blue dots on the body of a snowman. Apply a layer style to the three blue dot layer. Shadow (drop shadow):

Step 33

Add small white dots inside each blue dot:

Step 34

In this step we will add hands to the snowman. Select the Brush tool, set a hard round brush, including the settings shown in the screenshot below. Brush with color # 7a5031, draw a hand:

Step 35

Create a new layer on top of the layer with the hand drawn as a clipping mask. Draw the snow in the same way you did it before:

Step 36

So it will look like a snowman after adding a second hand.

Step 37

Next, we’ll add drifts to our scene. Create a new layer, draw the snowdrift shapes, fill them with the same gradient that we used in Step 4:

Step 38

Add another snowdrift.

Step 39

After creating snowdrifts, we will add snow to the ground. Create a new layer, select the Brush tool. Set a soft round brush, in the settings window of the brush set Form (roundness) brush 50%, Opacity (opacity) brush 30-40%. And finally paint over the ground with a brush. Vary the size (Size) brushes within 40-50 px:

Step 40

Finally, add the small white dots in the center of the white dots that you drew in the previous step. For these purposes, use a brush of small diameter and opacity (opacity) 70-80%:

Step 41

To give a Christmas mood, we will add Santa Claus to our scene. Do not forget to install an arbitrary figure of Santa Claus in Photoshop. Choose a tool Arbitrary shape (custom shape tool), in the shape set, select the Santa shape. Set the color to black. Click the brush across the sky, and, while holding the mouse button down, drag the bit across the sky to create a shape. When creating the shape, do not forget to hold the key (Shift). (Translator’s Note: the author creates a small dynamic effect). Place the figure of Santa over the image of the moon. Rasterize the layer with Santa and also reduce Opacity (opacity) layer up to 40%.

Step 42

Next, go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (layer> new adjustment layers> curve). Set the curves as shown in the screenshot below. Mode Normal (normal) Opacity (opacity) 70%.

Step 43

Create a new layer on top of all other layers. Fill a new layer with white, blending mode for this layer. Normal (normal) Opacity (opacity) 20%:

Step 44

Next, while still on the white fill layer, click on the layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel to add a layer mask to the white fill layer. On the mask layer, process the edges of the image (the area with a brush is highlighted in red) with a soft round brush.

Step 45

Press the keys (Shift + Ctrl + Alt + E) to create a merged layer from all visible layers. Next, go Filter – Other – Color Contrast (filter> others> high pass). With this filter, the merged layer is converted to a 50% gray fill. Change the blending mode to Multiplication (multiply), and then hide the filter effect on the mask:

Congratulations, we have completed the lesson!

The final result:

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