Stock Illustration Tutorial – 9 Steps to a Woman’s Face in Photoshop

There is little more satisfying than creating a graphic completely from scratch. It is a great feeling of accomplishment – and the graphics you create yourself don’t have pesky little copyright issues attached to your use of them. In this guide, I’ll help you create a fashion-style woman, a stock illustration.

You will need Photoshop, any version from 7 – CS2 will work. Anything else? Nope, just a little bit of patience. You may want to reference the illustrations attached to this article as you go along. Each “part” is in a separate graphic to make the tutorial (hopefully) a bit easier to read and follow.

Part One – The Base

One: Create a new canvas (File, New) … sized at about 500 x 500 pixels. You can work at a larger size if you’re comfortable, and size it down as needed. The idea is to work at as large of a size as you can, because when you size it down later, it will keep the quality. Make the background of your canvas white, and make sure it’s in RGB mode.

Two: One thing that’s important to know about all my tutorials is that I try to offer the easiest route,and the one that allows you the easiest customization later. There are always other ways of doing things – not necessarily better or worse, but this is my way.

What we’re going to do first is create a gradient that will represent our illustration woman’s hair. To do this and keep with my easy goal, first duplicate your background layer (right-click it and choose “Duplicate Layer”). If you double-click the layer’s text, you can change the layer name to “Hair”.

Now, set your foreground color to #c03c85 and your background color to #d27db8. Then, go to your layer styles (Layer – Layer Styles – Gradient Overlay) and choose “Gradient Overlay”. Apply the dark-to-light pink gradient. Leave all settings at default, but click the “Inverse” box.

Three: Now we’re going to create the base for our illustration woman’s face. Set your foreground color to #da7a96 and your background color to #f9f0f1. Then, use your elliptical (circle) SHAPE tool, not the marquee, to draw a long, oval face that is off-set to the right (not perfectly centered). It will look like the shape is filled with a gradient – don’t worry, it’s not. It’s just an optical illusion. Double-click the layer’s text and name this layer “Face”.

Once you create the oval for the face, you need to rasterize the shape. This is an important step that allows you to
create the smooth, non-pixellated lines that make crisp, professional graphics and illustrations. It is this step that
makes using the shape tool, rather than the marquee, so important.

Finally, we’re going to apply a Gradient Overlay to the face. Click Layer – Layer Styles – Gradient Overlay and
apply the pink-to-almost white gradient. Again, leave all the settings at default, but tick the “Inverse” box.

At this point, make sure you save your progress as a Photoshop (PSD) file by choosing File – Save As. You never know when something strange might happen!

Part Two – Basic Additions

One: What we have right now is so abstract it’s not going to get us anywhere. So we need to add the basic elements of a face – eyes, nose, and mouth. The easiest part to start with is the nose. To create the nose, set your foreground color to #bb5674.

Then, create a new layer (Layer, New, New Layer) and grab your Paintbrush tool. Load the Calligraphic Brushes set, and
choose the 15 px oval.

Now, click once on the new layer to create the right nostril. Duplicate this layer (Right-click and choose “Duplicate Layer”)
and click Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal. You can now move the left nostril into place.

When you’re satisfied with positioning, right-click the duplicate layer and choose “Merge Down”. Then, name this layer “Nose”. (Optionally, you can play with the “Smudge” tool to alter the nostril shapes)

Two: Now we want a mouth. And we want it to be easy to make. So, first, download this free shape set – – and install it. Then, select your Custom Shape
Tool and load up these shapes, select the mouth, and draw it out. You can hold the Shift key down as you draw it to make
the shape keep proper proportions.

Pretty easy, huh? Now to add a bit of shine. Set your foreground color to white, and add a long oval to the lower lip.
Lower the “fill” of this shape to about 21%. Then, right-click and choose “Merge Down”. Name the layer “Mouth”.

Three: Before we try to create the eyes, we want to create eyebrows. It just makes positioning all the pieces easier if we do them first. The easiest way to create eyebrows is to use your elliptical shape tool and create an oval with the right shape at the top. Then, use your elliptical marquee tool to cut out the bits you don’t want. Duplicate, flip, and merge.

Part Three – The Eyes

One: The eyes, unfortunately, are not so easy as everything else we’ve done. This will take a few steps. First, make your foreground color white and draw an oval. Use Edit – Free Transform to tilt the shape downward at the inside. We’ll be altering the shape as we go along. Duplicate the layer and flip it, move it into place, and merge it down.

Now, select your face layer. Use your magic wand to select the shape of the face, and then click “Select” and choose “Inverse”. Then, go right back to your eyes and select that layer. Hit the backspace key on your keyboard to remove all the white that currently goes into the hair.

Two: We’ve got the basic shape, but need eyelashes. Use the same method of drawing a black oval and deleting portions of it to frame your eyes with black eyelashes. Like the eyebrows, the eyelashes will extend past the border of the face.

Three: Finally, the bits that actually make these eyes look like … well, eyes. It’s a series of 5 circles, and rather than try to explain, I’ve shown each step in Illustration 03. Basically, create a black circle. Several pixels inside that, create a light purple circle for the iris. Several more pixels inside, create a dark purple circle for the pupil. Then, create a pure white highlight circle. Finally, create a pure white highlight oval and lower the Fill to about 25%.

With that, you’re finished! You can try adding extras like make-up or face jewels (bindhi style, maybe). Also try adjusting the color scheme to achieve totally different looks without any work – just use your layer styles.

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