In this tutorial, I will tell you how to create a cartoon character from Photoshop. Let’s get started!
When creating characters, begin to mechanically draw a sketch of the future character in order to choose the shape and proportions, this is a good way to get something interesting, and a good start to create the basis for what the final creation will be.
After the idea is clear, let’s proceed to the creation. Create a new document, fill this document with a bright orange color, I usually start by creating an eye, for me they are the center of attention of the character, which reflect the special traits of his master, and why are they asymmetrical?
The answer to this question is simply personal preference; I prefer to draw the eyes of my characters in exactly this manner. Therefore, first draw two circles with the tool Oval area (Elliptical Marquee Tool (M), to do this, create a new layer, name this layer “Eye Base” and fill the eye base with white color, then apply Layer styles (Layer Style) option Shadow (Drop Shadow), as shown in the screenshot below.
Next, let’s create the iris, in order to save time, we will create one iris for one eye, and then copy and paste it into the other eye. In the middle of the white circle, create a circular selection with the tool. Oval area (Elliptical Marquee Tool (M), to do this, create a new layer, name this layer “Right iris”, and then fill the iris with a light blue color.
To create the effect of the convex surface of the iris of the eye, create a new layer, name this layer “Shadow of the Iris”, change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay), the opacity of the layer is 100%, and then apply a gradient from black to transparent, as shown in the screenshot below.
For the texture of the iris, you need to create a special brush, which later will come in handy when creating a character’s fur. Hide the visibility of the previous layers that we created before, next, create a new layer and use the tool Pen (Pen Tool (P) create a vertical line and then use the tool Bending line change (Convert Point Tool), create a bend line, as shown in the screenshot below.
Further, in the panel Brush settings (Brush Presets palette), select brush Medium hardness with rounded end (Flat Point Medium Stiff), then right-click on the layer so that the context menu appears, in the menu that appears, select the option Outline the contour (Stroke Path), in the window that appears, put a tick in the box Simulate pressure (Simulate Pressure), play with the size of the brush to get a thin line with blurred ends.
Next, go Edit– Define brush (Edit> Define Brush Preset) and save the created brush, name the brush as a lint brush or you can name the brush differently.
Once we created the brush, it’s time to customize it. Go to the bookmark Brushes (Brush Settings (F5) and option Brush Print Form (Brush Tip Shape), move the slider Intervals (Spacing), and in option Other dynamics (Shape Dynamics), customize options of control (controls), as shown in the screenshot below, play with these settings, try to test the brush until you get the necessary style, the idea is to draw a radial texture of the iris.
Create a new layer, name this layer “Iris Texture”, position this layer below the “Iris Shadow” layer, change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), opacity of the layer is 100%, choose black color and draw a texture pattern. Next, with the tool Finger (Smudge Tool), slightly modify the lines so that they do not look standard.
Repeat the same operation you did earlier, but this time using white. Create a new layer, name this layer “White rim of the iris texture”, change the mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), layer opacity is 100%. We need to lighten the area opposite the shadow, so we use a layer mask to hide the upper right corner of the layer.
As a rule, the iris is darker around the edge. Create a new layer. Name this layer “Stroke the iris”, change the blending mode for this layer to Multiplication (Multiply), layer opacity 60%, with the tool Fast selection (Wand Tool (W) create a selection around the iris of the eye, then go Edit – perform a stroke. (Edit> Stroke), select a position relative to the border Inside (Inside Location), set the width of the stroke to 4 px, then use the tool Finger (Smudge Tool), a little smear the stroke for better alignment with the texture.
The iris still needs to be modified to make it look more convex, duplicate the “Iris Shadow” layer. Change the blending mode for the duplicate layer to Multiplication (Multiply), opacity of the layer is 90%, now we have a more convex iris.
So, it’s time to create light highlights on the iris. Create a new layer, name this layer “Highlight 1 ?, change the blending mode for this layer to Glow (Luminosity), the opacity of the layer is 100%. Next on this layer, draw a white round bezel as a ring with a diameter smaller than the diameter of the iris, for this use a soft round brush with low opacity.
Next, create another layer “Highlight 2 ?, change the blending mode for this layer to Lightening (Lighten), the opacity of the layer is 57%, enhance the highlight at the bottom of the iris with additional white strokes, and also use the tool Finger (Smudge Tool) to simulate the surface of the iris.
Next, draw a pupil. Create a new layer, name this layer “Pupil”. Draw a black dot in the center of the iris, then, using the tool Finger (Smudge Tool), slightly smear the edges of the pupil. Now, we will add a reflection on the retina, create a new layer, name this layer “Reflection on the retina”. Draw a white spot in the upper right corner, slightly smear the edges with the tool Finger (Smudge Tool).
To simulate reflection, also with a brush and finger, draw and smear the blue and orange highlights in the lower left to create a reflection from the blue light and the surrounding red hair of the character.
On all reflective surfaces there is a strong contrast between light and shadow, and in order to achieve this, create a new layer, name this layer “Retinal Shadow”. Blend mode for this layer Normal (Normal), the opacity of the layer is 60%, place this layer below all layers with iris and pupil. On this layer, draw a gradient from black to transparent at the bottom, just in the opposite place from the light.
Finally, after creating reflective highlights, create a new layer, name this layer “Orange Tint”. Change the blending mode for this layer to Multiplication (Multiply), layer opacity 30%. Create a selection of the eye and fill the active selection with orange color, background color, due to this, the surface of the eye will reflect the color of the hair around the eyes.
The last effect will be a reflection of the horizon on the surface of the eye, for this, create a new layer, name this layer “Reflection of the horizon”. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), the opacity of the layer is 20%, using black color, draw a curved line in the middle of the eye, fill the area below this line with black color, and then using a layer mask, hide the extra areas that were drawn over the border of the iris.
Merge all the visible layers that were used to create the eye, with the exception of the “Eye Base” layer, name the merged layer “Right Eye”, duplicate it, name the duplicate layer “Left eye.” From the “Left eye” layer, we go Editing – Transformation – Scaling (Edit> Transform> Scale) to scale the left eye, next, using the tool Move (Move Tool (V), shift the left eye to the appropriate place. Merge the layers with the eyes.
The eyes are ready, it’s time to start building the torso. Create a new layer on top of the orange background layer. Choose a soft round brush of black color, and with the help of this brush start to draw the shape of the body, it is not necessary to be exact, just draw the outlines of the main shapes. Next, go Filter – Plastic (Filter> Liquify) and using the tool Deformation (Forward Warp Tool (W), give the created forms such as arms, legs, cheeks, head more detailed look.
Next, we will add the details along the edge of the body contour, for this we first use the tool Finger (Smudge Tool), and then a hard round brush. Start with large tufts of wool, gradually changing the size of the brush during the process in order to get the best result, the more arbitrary you will do it, the more real the character’s fur will look like. Also change the direction and angle of the strokes applied while creating the parts.
In the next step, apply a 14px Spray brush, this brush will give more torn effect; Also vary the size and angle of the brush for a great result. After applying the Finger tool, use a small brush to create fine hairs so that they are slightly bent.
Next, we draw eyebrows. Create a new layer, name this layer “Eyebrows”, placing this layer on top of the layer with eyes. Using tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee Tool (M)), create a rectangular selection above the eyes. Fill this selection with orange, body color, and then apply Layer styles (Layer Style) option Shadow (Drop Shadow) and apply the settings that are shown in the screenshot below. Once again, use the Finger and Splatter 14px tool to create eyebrow hairs, since we applied a shadow to the layer, then each stroke we apply will project its own shadow, which will give us the effect of depth.
Using the Fur texture, which you can download from the link at the beginning of this tutorial, we will create a fur base for our character. Using tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool), select the areas of fur on the texture, then copy and paste them onto our working paper (each section of fur on a separate layer), once you have located the section of fur on a new layer, use the movement or rotation according to the hair wool, arrows on the screenshot show where the hair on the head, on the body should be directed.
In some cases it is necessary to apply the tool Deformation (Warp Transform Tool) to correct the direction of hair hair.
Further, using layer masks, hide unwanted or unnecessary areas of wool, while maintaining small areas at the seams, avoiding the appearance of voids where there is no texture.
Next, we will merge areas of wool, to begin with, set the blending mode for all layers to Multiplication (Multiply), opacity is 100%. On the layer mask of each layer, apply the Finger and Splash Brush tool at 14px to align the adjacent areas of wool. Observe the direction of the wool, to avoid sudden transitions between areas of wool.
Exhibiting Push (Strength) for each stroke during the whole process will help to achieve the best results. Do not forget that we do not paint over the transition between areas of wool, we simply process the areas on the layer mask, using the transparency of the layer mask, therefore, on the layer mask we use black or white brushes to hide the extra areas or to cancel act.
Once all areas of wool are combined, combine all layers with wool. Change the blending mode for the merged layer to Multiplication (Multiply) and then we go Filter – Sharpness – Smart Sharpen (Filters> Sharpen> Smart Sharpen), and apply the sharpness value Effect (sharpen amount) 50%.
We need to draw a mouth to give expression to our character. Create a new layer, name this layer “Mouth.” Change the blending mode for this layer to Multiplication (Multiply), layer opacity is 100%. Select a hard round brush, set the brush size to about 3 px and then draw a mouth line, and then lightly use the Finger tool to create an imitation of the hairs around.
The body of our character still does not have the form to fix it, create two new layers, set the blending mode and opacity, as shown in the screenshot below. What we will do is draw shadows in order to shape the body, such parts of the body as paws, chin, eye sockets, etc., use black for this, and also play with the opacity of the layer.
In this step, we will add a side blue light that will enrich our color palette. Create a new layer, name this layer “Blue Light”. Change the blending mode for this layer to Chromaticity (Color), layer opacity 100%. Choose a soft round brush and stroke the brush with strokes on the left side of our character, then use the Finger tool and the Splatter Brush 14px, process the strokes to combine the side light with the fur texture.
Now the stage begins when we additionally trim the fur over the main fur base, which we created from the real fur texture. Select the brush we created in Step 4, and then go to the bookmark Brushes (Brushes (F5), where we have to play with various options options Brush Print Form (Brush Tip Shape). First, the size of the brush, each time the size of the brush to create hairs will vary depending on the part of the body, the hairs will be shorter or longer.
Another option is customization. Tilt angle (Angle), this option is necessary to adjust the location of the hairs in the desired direction according to the direction of the wool in Step 14. Finally, the option Interval (Spacing) will be used to adjust the interval of hairs of hair, in open areas, like the belly, the hairs will be more scattered, and on the cheeks, on the contrary, will be located close to each other.
Using the option Other Dynamics (Shape Dynamics), we can control the direction of the wool more by adjusting the value of the option Angle swings (Angle Jitter) we can create ruffled wool, and when adjusting the option Shape oscillation (Roundness Jitter), the wool will be more wavy. Well, let’s have some fun creating wool for our character.
To create wool, use two new layers. One layer called “Red wool”, on which we use orange, is lighter than the color of the body. Another layer is called “White wool”, on which we will draw a white coat. Blending mode for both layers Normal (Normal), layer opacity is 100%. A layer with a white coat should be placed on top of a layer with a red coat. As you can see in the screenshot below, do not try to cover the entire torso with additional fur, just add fur on some parts of the body that will help complement the surface of the fur. Create an additional layer “Shadow under the eyebrows”, choose a darker shade of orange to draw the shadows in the eyebrows.
Translator’s Note: when creating the shadow under the eyebrows, you can use the same brush as with the additional application of wool.
For a white spin of wool that goes down from the chin to the chest, we once again used a piece of the texture of the fur. Using tool Lasso (Lasso Tool (L) or tool Oval area (Elliptical Marquee Tool (M), select the wool strand, and then copy and paste to a new layer. Name this layer “White strand”, blending mode for this layer Normal (Normal), layer opacity 75%. Next, on a layer with strand wool, apply a layer mask to hide excess hair. Next, we will give a white shade of wool, for this we go Image – Correction – Levels (Image> Adjust> Levels) and shift the right slider to brighten.
Make the hairs slightly curly, and also make a slight correction to the direction of the hairs with the tool. Finger (Smudge tool) using high value Intensity (Strength), add more details to the hairs of the wool.
At this stage of the lesson, I decided to lighten the area a little under the eyes of our pet. To do this, create a new layer. Name this layer “Brightening Correction”. Blend mode for this layer Normal (Normal), the opacity of the layer is 25%, then, using an orange brush, the color of the body, go around the eyes.
So let’s start creating the background, we need to go down in the layers palette. Create a new layer on top of the “Torso base” layer, name this layer “Blue background”, blending mode for this layer Normal (Normal), opacity is 35%. Select medium shades of blue, then use the tool Gradient (Gradient Tool (G) from blue to transparent, drag the gradient line from top to bottom. Next, go to the “Base Torso” layer to create a torso selection using the tool Fast selection (Wand Tool (W)), apply the inversion and without removing the active selection, go to the layer “Blue background” and add a layer mask to this layer that cut the outline of our pet’s body on a blue background.
Create a new layer, name this layer “White Backlight”. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft shine(Soft Light), layer opacity 75%. Next, copy and paste the layer mask, which we created in the previous step, onto our new layer, also with the selection of the pet’s torso. Next, select the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B), setting a soft round brush in white. Draw a large enough white spot behind our pet to create a white highlight in the background.
To create the ground on which our pet will stand, we use a gravel texture, which can be downloaded from the link at the beginning of this lesson. Move the texture to our document, name this layer “Earth”. Blend mode for this layer Normal(Normal), opacity is 100%. Next, go Editing – Transformation – Perspective (Edit> Transform> Perspective) and transform the plot of soil in accordance with the perspective of the character.
Next, with the tool Oval area (Elliptical Marquee Tool (M), create an oval selection of soil on which our pet will stand. Then, without removing the selection, go Selection – Refine Edge (Select> Refine Edge) and apply Shading radius (Feather Edge) 15 px, in conclusion, apply a layer mask. To hide the texture areas where it covers our pet’s paws, go to the “Torso base” layer and use the tool Fast selection (Wand Tool (W), create a selection of the pet’s torso, then select the tool Fill (Paint Bucket Tool (G) and fill the layer mask with black.
To balance the surrounding color with the ground, create a new layer, name this layer “Blue Tint”. Change the blending mode for this layer to Chromaticity (Color), the opacity of the layer is 35%, then fill this layer with the color shade that we used when creating the gradient.
In conclusion, it is necessary to create a shadow from our character, which will be projected on the ground. Create a new layer, name this layer “Character Shadow”. Change the mode for this layer to Multiplication (Multiply), layer opacity is 71%. Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool (B), set the soft round brush to black and then draw a shadow.
We have completed work on the creation of our character and the background, it remains to add a vignette effect, for this we go Filter – Correction of Distortion (Filter> Lens Correction) and apply the values that are shown in the screenshot below.
To make the image a little clearer, let’s go Filter – Sharpness – Smart Sharpen (Filter> Sharpen> Smart Sharpen) and apply the following settings:
To complete the work, merge all the layers. I usually create a duplicate of the merged layer, and then I work with a duplicate of the original layer. Next, make a small correction using the levels, for this we go Image – Correction – Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels) to enhance the contrast.