Photoshop and Illustrator compliment each other in many ways. Today we will demonstrate how you can use them in tandem to draw and color a graffiti-inspired illustration. Let’s get started!

Before You Begin

Before you begin, it’s always good to do a bit of planning. For graffiti art, do some research and keep it in mind when you begin planning out your sketch. Use thicker lines for the outline, thinner lines for the inner details, and wispy lines for more defined creases.

Step 2

Sketch out a drawing and scan it at 300 DPI. When you’re finished, go ahead and make a new document in Illustrator. Go to File > Place and place your image on the canvas.

Step 3

Use your favorite brush to do the thick outline of your character and add in the face’s main details such as eyes, mouth, ears and nose. I changed up the eyes and nose for a more flowing appearance. The brushes I used are just the default circles.

Step 4

To add a more Graffiti look to your piece, you’ll create five brushes of your choice but keep in mind to make sure they have some sort of point at the end, and also make one white. Now use these brushes to trace the lines of your sketch.

Step 5

Once you’ve traced your sketch, it’s now time to start adding in the details. I’ve added speckles to the tongue, eyebrows and neck while adding rough lines to parts of the piece. I also decided to add white highlights to it so it would balance out the dense look. Once you’ve finished with the line art, save this Illustrator file and bring it in to Photoshop to add color. You could do this in Illustrator if you wanted to but for the purposes of this tutorial we will do it in Photoshop.

Step 6

Now open up your lovely file in Photoshop. First, I choose where and how I’m going to incorporate my base colors in my piece. I decide to make the outline a darkish brown, while highlights and coloring will be a mix of light brown and blue. I start by holding down Cmd/Ctrl and clicking on my line art layer to make a selection. With the selection still active, delete the line art layer, make a new one and fill it you’re your desired color.

Step 7

Next, choose your base color. For mine, the face will be colored a light brown. First, make a new layer underneath the line art, then take the Magic Wand Tool and select the whole inside of the face. Go to Select > Modify > Expand and expand the selection by 1 or 2 pixels. This is so we won’t have ugly spaces between the coloring and the outline while keeping a smooth appearance. Repeat until every space of this color is filled in, which should only be the parts you’ve decided will have it.

Step 8

Go ahead and choose a slightly darker version of the base color you used, we will be adding the shadows. Pick places where you think shading would look best and use the pen tool to create fills.

Step 9

Take your third color, which will be for filling certain areas of the piece and making it more colorful. As I said, I chose a blue in which I colored places like Eyebrows, tongue, and certain places of the neck. Remember to add a darker shade of blue for shadows in these areas as well.

Step 10

I chose to put more highlights in this piece, which usually gives it a more vibrant and detailed look. I decided to put blue highlights under the line art in creases to add to the appearance.

Step 11

Color in everything else you’ve missed, but remember to balance the colors evenly throughout the whole piece.

Step 12

We can’t just have a plain background, right? Add a gradient to the background. I chose white and blue, the same colors I used for shading.

Step 13

To outline the figure, flatten your coloring layers and outline together to form one layer, which you can easily do by just Right Click > Merge Down. Next Cmd/Ctrl + Click on that layer and go to Select > Modify > Expand and expand by 8 pixels. Make a new layer underneath your character and fill it with white.

Step 14

Take your pen tool and start drawing the desired shapes underneath both the white outline and figure layers. Then fill it in with a color in sync with the rest of your piece. You can keep adding to this layer until you achieve a desired result. One thing to keep in mind though, background effects for single illustrations always make it look more appealing.

Final Image

I’m very pleased you’ve read through the whole tutorial, and hopefully you got some needed tips on how to make a full-blown illustration in the Graffiti style. There are tons of different versions of this style, but I wanted to share my own with all of you and the process I go through. Make sure to keep experimenting and make up your own crazy elements to which you could take to the streets!