We draw a doll Annabel in Photoshop

You will learn how to create an illustration from scratch using Brush Tool (B) (Brush), adjustment layers and resources from the Envato Market website.


The story of Annabel begins with an ordinary couple who are expecting their first child. The husband gives his wife a rare doll and soon it turns out that the neighbors of the couple were the victims of a brutal murder. One of the murderers was mortally wounded, and while he was dying, his spirit moved into the doll.

And the whole nightmare begins with this …


Before drawing any fan art, you must clearly understand who you are drawing and know the character’s story. Even if your plot has a different plot and character style, there must still be a few details that will connect your fan art with the original image.

Below I will give a few facts about Annabel’s doll, which will be useful to me in my work:

  • Annabel is a big vintage doll
  • She has red hair, braided in pigtails, and smooth bangs
  • The doll has big eyes, piercing eyes, mouth can be open or closed
  • Annabel is in a glass box that protects the world from this monster.

Having decided on the main features of the character, we can get to work.

1. Draw a glass box

Step 1

When Annabel was first shown to us, she was locked in a glass box in the house of Ed and Lorraine Warren from the film The Spell. Honestly, I’m not going to paint a box from scratch. Instead, I decided to use a stock photo with a frame from the Envato Market site.

Create a new document with a size of 1771 x 2656 pixels and a resolution of 150 dpi. If you wish, you can change the parameters of the document. Open the frame in Photoshop. Tool Magic Wand Tool (W) (Magic Wand) select white areas and use the Delete key to delete them. Then instrument Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) (Rectangular selection) select the inside of the frame and also delete it with the Delete key.

Step 2

Press Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer with the frame. Using the free transformation (Ctrl + T), reduce the copy and place it in the center of the original. So we created the back wall of the box.

Then instrument Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) (Rectangular Lasso) create a selection of any part of the frame and cut it onto a new layer (Ctrl + J). Activate the free transformation (Ctrl + T), rotate a piece of the frame and deform it in perspective to connect the front and back walls of the box. Duplicate this piece of the frame several times and reflect the copies horizontally and vertically to connect all the corners of the box, for this we use the commands Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal (Editing – Transformation – Flip Horizontal) and Flip Vertical (Flip Vertically).

When finished, merge all the layers with the box together (Ctrl + E). If the result looks too perfect, re-activate the transformation (Ctrl + T) and correct the perspective distortion of the box. Do not hurry, experiment and try to get the most suitable result.

Step 3

Let’s replace the bright purple frame color. Move on Image – Adjustments – Hue/ Saturation (Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation) and set Saturation (Saturation) at -100. The frame for the glass box is ready.

2. Draw a sketch Annabel

Step 1

On the new layer we make a rough sketch of the doll using a round hard brush. Please note that the position of Annabel’s body needs to be drawn taking into account that it is in the box.

If the frame of the box bothers you, simply unplug the layer with it.

Step 2

Decrease Opacity (opacity) outline. Create a new layer and circle the first sketch, adding more details. Try to include in the sketch more elements from the movie.

There are two important features on the box: a warning sign and a light that illuminates the doll. We also add these details to make the picture as authentic as possible. To add atmosphere, we will draw a cracked glass in the lower right corner.

This is what a finished sketch looks like.

3. Draw a black and white base

Step 1

If you have not yet decided on the color scheme of the pattern, it is best to start by filling it with shades of gray. Many digital artists use this method to fully work out the stage lighting, and then move on to filling with color.

Using Paint Bucket Tool (G) (Fill), fill the background with gray # 454545. Via Polygonal Lasso Tool (M) (Rectangular lasso) create a selection of the top face of the box and fill it with a dark gray color # 353535.

Step 2

We start working with the atmosphere of the picture. Create a new layer in blend mode. Multiply (Multiplication). Take Gradient Tool (G) (Gradient) and fill the layer with two gradients: the first one is top-down, and the second one is bottom-up.

Create a new layer under the sketch and fill the doll with a light gray color # b4b4b4, using a solid round brush with Hardness (Stiffness) 100%. Set the layer blending mode to Overlay (Overlap), then right-click on it and select Create clipping mask (Create clipping mask).

Step 3

For each re-applying of shadows we create a new layer and transform it into a clipping mask (Ctrl + Alt + G). Set the blending mode of the first layer to Multiply (Multiplication) and using Brush Tool (B) (Brush) draw the first layer of shadows. Try not to skip the areas and put a shadow everywhere, so that you do not have to modify it during the fill color.

Since the light source is in the upper part of the box, as well as in front of the doll, I will not completely paint over the light gray color of the base and leave some areas as highlights. Note that I draw a shadow on the bottom of each part to show its distance from the light source.

Solid round brush detail the face of the doll. Try not to make too dark shadows, otherwise it will spoil us further work on filling with color.

4. Add color

Step 1

Merge the layers with the doll together. Create a new layer above the doll and transform it into a clipping mask (Ctrl + Alt + G). Set the layer blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication) and choose the base colors for drawing the doll. Primary colors will be yellow # b58562, red # b40909 and cream # bba08e.

Step 2

Now a little brighten the doll. Create a new layer in mode. Color Dodge (Lightening the base) and transform it into a clipping mask. Light color # 96908d, using a soft round brush, paint the highlights on the face, dress and hair.

Step 3

Do not forget that we are limited to the width of the glass box, and the lighting we draw, taking into account this factor. Create a new layer above the background layer and transform it into a clipping mask (Ctrl + Alt + G). Fill this layer with the brown color # 8c611d and change the blending mode to Color Burn (Blackout base) to darken the background.

Go to the frame box. Create another new layer above the frame and transform it into a clipping mask. Change layer blend mode to Multiply (Multiplication) and draw a shadow on the frame. I advise you to work with texture brushes to slightly age the frame. Then create a new layer, fill it with brown color # 6d5241 and set the blending mode to Soft Light (Soft light).

Step 4

Before we continue detailing the picture, we need to add another major detail. Via Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) (Rectangular selection) create a selection in place of the warning label and fill it with the color # 877266. Click the right button on the layer and select Blending Options (Blending options). Apply layer style Gradient Overlay (Gradient overlay):

5. Create an atmosphere with corrective layers

Step 1

At the moment, the colors look too dim, because we mixed them with a gray base. To make them brighter, we will use blending modes and adjustment layers.

Create a new layer in blend mode. Color Dodge (Lightening the basics). Choose a dark orange color # 6a3926 and soft round brush paint over the picture.

Step 2

Please note that the drawing process must be combined with the addition of adjustment layers. To make the doll’s face and dress more textured, use the Chulk brush from the standard Photoshop set.

Step 3

Before we continue, let’s play a little with the flowers. For this we use corrective layers. Apply first Gradient Map (Gradient map) and Color Lookup (Search color) which can be found in the menu Layer – New Adjustment Layer (Layer – New Adjustment Layer) to muffle warm colors.

Layer blend mode Gradient Map (Gradient map) we set to Lighten (Replacing light) and reduce Opacity (opacity) up to 17%. Then reduce the layer opacity Color Lookup (Search for colors) up to 25%.

6. We finish drawing

Step 1

At first, working with fine-tuning of colors may seem difficult, since the possibilities of Photoshop are endless, and the number of tools and settings are sometimes introduced into a stupor. But you should try to finish the job and get a satisfactory result. Now that the color scheme meets my expectations, I can switch to adding small details on my face, hair, and clothes.

Round hard brush (B) we modify the face and hair. We draw hairs with subtle strokes, and add a slightly oiled makeup on the face. Enhance the effect of a few blood stains on clothes.

Step 2

Let’s briefly digress from the doll and finalize the warning label. We select the appropriate font and write the inscription. In my case, I used the combination of Old English Text MT and Corsiva Monotype for the upper and lower inscriptions, respectively. Do not forget to add the uniqueness of the work in the form of pieces of adhesive tape, glare on the broken glass in the corner and smeared blood.

Step 3

Using corrective layers Color Balance (Color balance) and Color Lookup (Color search) edit the color gamut:

Step 4

In the film, Annabelle left a terrible bloody inscription “Miss Me?” (“Did you miss?”). Let us and we will strengthen the eerie atmosphere of the picture with the help of such a message. Activate Brush Tool (B) (Brush) and manually write the text. Click on the layer with the right mouse button and select Blending Options (Blending options). Add a layer style Outer Glow (External glow). Then add white highlights.

Step 5

We continue to refine the drawing. Try to achieve a balance between an innocent doll and a merciless demon trying to break out. Duplicate the doll to create reflections on the side walls of the box. We also paint highlights and a small lock on the door.

Using a hard round brush (B), add a thin light stroke along the contour of the doll and continue to detail the drawing. Below you can see the final version.


Most likely, I can not fall asleep after such work. Fan art is a great way to practice and hone your artistic skills, since the concept of the character is ready, and you just have to portray your favorite character in your own style. Adjustment layers such as Color Lookup (Search color) will help you improve the overall atmosphere of the pattern.

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