Draw perfect figures Japanese illustration

Japanese woman

Download files for this tutorial [handmade.zip 204 kb]



Download handmade.jpg onto your hard disk, open Adobe Illustrator, go to File > Place and select handmade.jpg. The sketch will appear on your blank page. You’ll need to block this image Object > Lock so that you can add vectors without moving the image below.



Using the Pen tool start on the face lines, Choose a bright colour from the Colors Palette so that your vectors are clearly visible. These points must be consecutive to follow the sketch lines as closely as possible. Try to close the path and divide the image in zones.



With the Direct Selection Tool (A), click on the path so that the direction lines appear. You can now start to move them closer to the sketch lines. Move the direction lines or click once on the anchor points and drag them to the required position.



Continue to close all the required paths. Once you’ve completed the main image, unlock the background sketch Object > Unlock and then Select and Cancel it using the Backspace key on your keyboard.



You can now start to fill these lines using stroke widths and colour. Select the black arrow, a single path, and decide on a colour by selecting the Fill and Stroke icons from the Tool bar. Then using the Object > Arrange menu, place every element in the right position, level by level, on Layer 1.



Colour the whole image using the Eyedropper Tool (I) and start to add some detail. By using the black arrow (V) and Shift, you can select all the parts that will use the same colour – the soft pink of the hands and neck for example. Use the Pencil tool (P) for smaller light reflections and areas of shade.



Use a Gradient Fill to give a softer feeling. Select the object and open the Gradient box (Window > Gradient). Select Gradient Fill and on the Gradient Slider below, select one of the two or more colour parts of the Gradient and decide on a colour for each. Using the Gradient tool (G), click and drag to determine the Gradient direction and length.



Using the Pen tool (P), design a circle and a petal, Select it and Rotate to drag the petal to the centre of the circle while holding down Alt-Shift. Key-in a Rotation of 72 and press Copy to rotate and duplicate the petal. Duplicate the petal three more times.



Duplicate the flower six or seven times at different sizes and rotation angles. You could also change some of the colours or Gradient directions. Group them using Object > Group and then, with the black arrow (V), place the group of flowers on the girl’s head. Repeat this on the other side of her head and send the group backwards by selecting Object > Arrange.



You can now build the fan. Using the Rotation tool (R) again, create a stripe and duplicate it by selecting the bottom of the stripe as a centre. Duplicate the stripe increasing the angle each time until you create a fan shape.



Design a crown of hearts using the Rotate/duplicate method used for the flowers and the bars, place it on top of the wooden handle and click Divide in the Pathfinder window, Now with the Direct Selection tool (A) Select and Cancel the heart shape to create holes. Group the whole fan and place it under the girl’s hand.



Now the umbrella. Use the Rotate tool (R), create and duplicate the rays and then group them. You can now design three concentric circles, each with a different colour, and with the Align tool (Window > Align) align them all with the same centre.



Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Free Transform and start to tilt and rotate the umbrella. Next, go to Effect > Warp > Bulge and Effect > Warp > Inflate and play around until you achieve a concave effect.



You can now work on the decoration of the girl’s kimono. First design two different petals, Starting from a circle, you can use the white arrow (A) to select one anchor point and drag it, or distort the circle using the arrows on your keyboard.



To create the spiky petal, just drag the anchor point up, click on it and direction lines will appear. The closer the handle is to the anchor point, the sharper the curve will be,



Now use the rotate/duplicate method to create two crowns of petals (one is repeated with Copy and Paste in Back and rotated of few degrees and place them one over the other. Next, use the Pen too (P) to design the stem, place every element in an aligned position and group the decoration.



Duplicate the decoration and place it over the kimono, Select the decoration and choose Effect > Free Transform and Effect > Distort & Transform > Twist/ZigZag or any of the Effect > Warp options. Play around with the effects until the images follow the curves of the clothes.



Now group all of the decorating flowers and create a unique texture. Select the area of the kimono you would like to decorate, Copy, Paste in Front and bring it ‘to the front’. This will be the only area where the decoration is clearly visible.



Select the green area and the grouped decoration and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make, The decoration will now be masked. Repeat for the other parts of the kimono where the decoration can be seen.



Make the mask smaller in certain points so that the decoration does not cover any part of the stroke. Using the Direct Selection tool (A), click on the white spots, and drag and move the direction lines until the stroke of the kimono is uncovered.



To design the cherry branch, open handmade2.gif into Illustrator, It’s good to have these scans in low resolution so that the CPU will work is easier. You can now start to trace the image with the Pen tool (P).



Once the branch is complete, you’ll need to start on the red/pink flowers. This effect can be easily achieved using the Pencil tool (P). Trace them, select the paths and use Pathfinder > Merge to close the path, Using the Direct Selection tool (A), select any superfluous parts and cancel them with the Backspace key on your keyboard.



Using just the Pen Tool (P), draw the tree behind the girl. Select the Knife Tool (under the Scissors Tool) and with a fast, simple move of the mouse cut it into stripes. You can then change the colours to create the desired wood effect.



It’s very easy to create a precise fan shape, Create two concentric circles and two oblique symmetric lines that cross each other. Align everything to the centre using Window > Align. Now divide the structure using Pathfinder > Divide. Cancel all the zones except the fan shape (Yellow in the example)



Finally, create a background using this fan shape to Mask the first background made by a gradient rectangle of sky, trees, petals and flowers. Then, on a level underneath, copy, paste and duplicate some ornaments.

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