Illustrator Tutorial – Little Bo Peep

illustrator tutorial

An Adobe illustrator tutorial using the Pen and Live Paint Bucket Tools

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I have lots of different ways I create my digital illustrations. Sometimes I use the pencil tool to create imperfect lines and circles, or I use the pen and shape tool for more precise lines and shapes. But one of my favourite ways to illustrate is using the using paint bucket tool and filling in the outlines I have carefully drawn with the pen tool.

Most of my illustrations are created digitally without outlines (as this is more suited to my style of design) but occasionally I finish a drawing, scan it into the computer and stare at it for a while in Illustrator before I decide it would look much better with outlines.

I thought I would share this process with you while I digitally illustrate a Little Bo Peep drawing. This illustrator tutorial is best suited for people who have a basic understanding of illustrator and it’s tools.

Step 1:

Begin this illustrator tutorial with a doodle. Yep, that’s right. Get the pencil and paper out and doodle your heart out. I always begin my designs with a concept doodle or drawing with pencil and paper. I always feel that I have a lot more freedom and artistic expression when I begin my drawings with pencil and paper.

When I am happy with my drawing, I scan the image into illustrator – or if you don’t have a scanner handy, take a photo of the image and upload it to your computer and into illustrator. Here is Little Bo Peep scanned and imported into Illustrator.

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Step 2:

Create a new layer and lock the previous layer with the scanned image. This way, you can create and edit lines without changing or moving the scanned image underneath. If you like, change the scanned image layer to 50% transparency for better visibility of you pen lines.

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Step 3.

I begin by zooming in to Little Bo Beep’s head and start drawing my outlines here. Use the pen tool to begin drawing all your lines. This is going to take me a while but I make sure each line or curve is perfect before moving on to the next.

If you draw a line and it’s not quite perfect, use the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift C on a Mac) to adjust the nodes of your line until it’s just right.

To avoid adding anchor points or adjusting previous lines when drawing a new line, lock all your layers and create a new layer to draw your new line on. When you have 10 or so layers, select them all in the layers tool bar (except the scanned image layer), go to the top right drop down menu of the layers tool bar and select ‘merge selected’. Make sure you do this often, or you’ll end up with 100’s of layers!

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You want to make sure that when it comes time to use the paint bucket tool, your areas of colour need to be separated and defined. To do this, you want to make sure all your lines intersect each other and there are no gaps between fill areas.

For example, zoom into your image and if you see this:

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Use the Direct Selection Tool (A on a mac) and move the node at the end of the curve to intersect the other line like this. I always work with Smart Guides on. This acts as a guide to let you know when you have intersected other lines. Go to the View drop down menu on your main menu to turn Smart Guides on.



Step 4.

I have finally drawn all my lines and made a few adjustments and am happy with the way it all looks. Merge all your line layers and hide your locked scanned image layer. Select all your lines and group them together (command G on a Mac).

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Step 5.

I like to have an idea of the color scheme that I am going to use before I start coloring. I add some little boxes above my image with some colors I will be using to fill my image in with.

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Step 6.

And now for the fun part. Select your eyedropper tool (i on a mac) and select a color from your color palette that you would like to begin with. Now swap back to your Selection Tool (V on a mac) and select your grouped lines. Select the Paint Bucket tool (k on a mac) and simply click in the area between the lines that you want to fill with your chosen color. Voila!
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Step 7.

Go between your eyedropper tool to select the next color you want to use and your paint bucket tool to use that color and repeat until your image has been completely coloured in. If you don’t like a color you have used, you can simply pick another color and use the paint bucket tool to re color over it.
illustrator tutorial
If you are daring enough, duplicate and copy your image and try another color scheme on your duplicated image and discover how color can change the mood and feel of your illustration.
illustrator tutorial
I hope you have enjoyed this illustrator tutorial and have learnt a few tips and tricks along the way.
illustrator tutorial
And here is my finished Little Bo Peep illustration. I hope you like her.
illustrator tutorial
Little Bo Peep can be purchased as a high resolution png file here on my website.
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  1. This really help me to work better with illustrator – Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial! :) *heart

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