Life & Style tutorial: Master painting in Illustrator

11. Now use the Pencil tool to model out the wings, adding a multicoloured frame to them. Put a Radial gradient from a light to a darker shade on the inner sections of the wings. Drawing custom strokes with the brushes helps add texture and another level of interest to this area.

12. Now turn your attention to the bottle. Adding two or three large areas of light tones over the bottle gives it believable lighting. Use dark tones to help model the shape. Spend some time adding splashes of colour throughout the wings, bottle and anywhere else you see fit.

13. Add some reflections to the bottle: sketch out a shape in an area where there will be a reflection, then put a transparent fill on it in a colour just adjacent to the object’s colour. Then draw a shape with a similar contour just beside it and colour it similarly. This will add a high-quality finish to the surface area of the illustration.

14. Next, we’ll make the skulls on the bottles really stand out. To do this, we’ll need to think about the direction the lighting is coming from to figure out where to add highlights and shadows. Adding transparent complementary colours to sculpt the skull’s face will make this image pop out. Try using blues for the shadows and yellows for the highlights. Opacity of 50-60% is generally effective for work like this.

15. Add accent colours to your illustration to give it a finishing touch. Try experimenting with oranges, yellows and blues to broaden the piece’s colour palette. Make sure you convert all your colours to CMYK for commercial printing.


Double-click on the Pencil tool to bring up the options for adjusting preferences such as Fidelity and Smoothness. It’s important to experiment with different setting until you find one that feels appropriate. Practice drawing abstract shapes, which overlap in the image. By adjusting the transparencies of these overlaid objects, you can add dimension to the shade.

Who: Based in the US, Patrick Auletto is an illustrator, designer and teacher who specializes in teaching traditional and digital illustration techniques to college students. Auletto is also a prepress professional, and spends his free time freelancing on everything from Web design to editorial illustrations.
Software: Adobe Illustrator CS3
Time to complete: 3-6 hours
On the CD: All files for this tutorial can be downloaded here or are available on the cover CD.

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