Transforming a beautiful portrait into a vector illustration is a fun task that doesn’t require outstanding drawing skills and can give you a great final piece of design. It does, however, require a good amount of time and patience. In this tutorial we will shed some light on how to create a vector portrait based on a picture.
Start by choosing a good picture
The final result will depend greatly on the kind of picture you choose. Look for something not only good looking, but also with good lighting, contrast (which will make your work a lot easier, as you will see later) and nice details. Least but not last, it’s preferable to use a high quality picture because you might zoom in and out a lot. If you need to remove a distracting background, see our tutorial on removing the background from an image.
This is the image we will use for this tutorial. It’s a beautiful portrait with good light and contrast, and some accessories as interesting details.
Create a new document
To get started, open Gravit Designer and create a new document with an Infinite Canvas to have plenty of space to work. To do that, leave the Width and Height fields empty and click “Create!”.
Import the image
With the document ready, it’s time to import the image you chose previously to Gravit’s canvas. To do that, you can use the Place Image option on the toolbar button, or go to menu File > Import > Place image.
The easiest way, though, is to drag the image directly from your computer folder to Gravit’s canvas.
Dominating the basic drawing tools
For the rest of this tutorial, it’s necessary to have a good notion of how to use the main drawing tools, the Pen and Bezigon. If you have already mastered those, go ahead!
If not, check our tutorials and our User Guide to learn the tricks on using Gravit Designer’s drawing tools. And remember: practice makes it perfect.
Time to actually get started. There are many different approaches, techniques and styles for creating a vector portrait, or any illustration for that matter, but in this tutorial we will use one particular style and follow a particular way. Let’s start with the base shapes of the portrait.
What you will do now is basically outline the major “pieces” of the picture with the Pen or Bezigon. In the case of the photo we chose, the main parts are the face, hair, blouse, arms, neck, the table and the background.
Choosing to using the Pen or Bezigon is entirely up to you. Use the tool that makes you feel more comfortable drawing, or even use both! The Pen is more of a “free drawing” tool, while the Bezigon can help you achieve perfect curves.
This is the final result of outlining. You can see how it looks with the outline only, without fills on the left, and using fills on the right.
You don’t need to worry much about the final colors just yet, as this can be defined later. For now, use whatever colors you see fit to continue with the work.
Tip: lock the picture layer to avoid moving it by mistake while you’re creating the outlines.
Now that you have the base shapes, you can start with the main features such as the eyebrows, eyes, mouth and accessories. The process is the same: outline with the Pen or Bezigon tools.
Leave the base shapes either hidden or leave just the outline visible so you can see the rest of the picture to continue outlining it. Lock the base shapes as well, to avoid moving them by mistake, same as with the picture layer.
Lights, shadows, mid-tones and outlines
It’s possible to divide the rest of the process in four steps: lights, mid-tones, shadows and outlines. As you can observe on the picture, besides the lighter reflexes, we have darker areas, that we will call mid-tones, and even darker parts, that we will call shadows. Besides that, at some intersection points we will need to add a more solid outline to better delineate them. One example of this is the place where the fingers touch other areas of skin, and the part of the arms that is bending.
The next step is to start creating solid shapes with the drawing tools for the shadows, lights, mid-tones and outlines. You can start wherever you feel more comfortable, but for this tutorial, let’s start with the lighter parts.
That is why it’s easier if you choose an image with a good contrast of lights/shadows and colors. In case your image is more washed up or you think you could use more contrast, you add a little contrast with Gravit’s Color Adjust effect.
The source of light on the picture defines where there are lighter tones and where there are darker tones. You can see in this picture that the light is coming from somewhere above/front of the woman because of the light reflexes on the top of the hair, face and on her shoulder, for example.
Not only the skin and hair are affected by the light, but also all solid shapes touched by it. The black blouse, lips and even the eyes and eyelids have darker and lighter details, even if very subtle.
Tip: You don’t need to worry too much about making a “perfect” shape, after all, the shadows and light reflexes are diffuse and blurry, and we are going to represent them as solid shapes for this style of portrait. You just need to stick to what you can observe on the original picture and re-imagine it as a solid shape.
We will leave the accessories for last, so you don’t need to worry about them just yet.
Continue to the next step with the darker shades that we are calling mid-tones and outline them. So far we you three distinct tones: the base skin color, the lights and the darker shapes.
It’s okay to use different shades to represent darker tones and not-so-dark tones, like on the eyelids, for example. Even the teeth and nails have darker tones, so keep attention to the details.
Time to create shapes representing the darkest tones of the picture, like left side if the face, the neck, inner arms and parts right below the hands. The black blouse also has darker shades since the blouse itself is not 100% black, with the light reflecting on it.
Notice that it’s necessary to add a dark shape even right below the accessories, as they cast a dark shadow on the skin.
Finally, it’s time to add some final darker outlines where you find the necessity to better delineate the shapes. This will happen mainly with the lines of the fingers, arms and the division between the face and the neck.
We saved the accessories for last because, since they are made of metal, the light reflexes work a little differently. Starting with the bracelets, besides the base color you will add a lighter color and then small reflexes that are even lighter, representing the way that the light shines on a metal piece.
The same principle can be applied to the earrings and pendant. Note that the rings on the right hand don’t have as many light reflexes as the other pieces.
The necklace not only has two tones of highlights but also some shadows.
And you’ve come to the finish line! This is the final result so far. Feel free to tweak the color palette and change some hues and saturations.
You can even use the Color Adjust effect to make some alterations.
After finishing tweaking the color palette, you can still add a final extra detail. Create a rectangle with the same size of the background one and place it on top of the illustration. Set the layer Blending mode to Screen on the Appearance panel.
And now you can play with the color and opacity to create a cool color effect. You can try different blending modes as well.
For the final result of this tutorial, use the color #9900FF with the Screen blending mode with 14% Opacity.
This is just one of many different styles you can use to transform a picture into a vector portrait. The possibilities are many: you can use blurry shapes instead of solid, a minimalistic style or a more realistic one, or even use a greyscale pattern.
These are just some examples shared on Gravit Designer’s Instagram page:
Hopefully this tutorial was useful for you. Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to share with us the work you create with Gravit Designer!
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Hi, This is Gabby from Speedy Sep. And today I’m going to give you a tutorial on how to create a Minimalist Portrait.
First of all, start off with our source image. We’ll drop down the opacity so that it’s easier for us to trace over. we’ll take the pen tool and we’ll start outlining the shape of the face. We can separate them all on to different layers to keep our artwork file clean and easy to navigate. We’ll also outline the hair as the sunglasses in this photo. We’ll go ahead and pick a pretty neutral tone for skin color, just as a placeholder
And now let’s just go ahead and outlined an abstract shape of facial hair. And in this case, you don’t necessarily have to draw it to the shape of the face, because we can go ahead and clip mask it into our outline of the face that we made earlier. And the same goes for the hair. Maybe you’ll want to get a good shape on the inside for now. So it makes it easier later And then we can just clip mask it in
Now, obviously there’s a lot more work to get done, but our basic outlines are good to go. Now let’s just go ahead and try to match the colors to a pretty neutral tone. You can go back and forth between our drawing and our source image.
And now moving on from the head, which we can go back to later. Let’s go and minimalize the shirt in this image, which is the flannel, And I’m just going to follow the basic shapes that I see the distinct lines to create the shoulder and the arm, the collar And then I’m going to go through and trace the pattern. And Once we get the outlines of the pattern, they can start filling it in with color. Now, this doesn’t have to be perfect, but let’s try to get it as close to the source image as possible.
Now for the head, let’s start neutralizing the tones. If we can go with some, have tones of color backed by solid colors to drop the opacities down, just to make it look a little bit more of a natural tone, sort of outlining the definition, especially in the hair.
Thank you so much for watching this tutorial. I really hope this helps you to create minimalist portraits in the future.
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Illustrator minimalist portrait
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