Makin’ Artstuffs

I don’t usually get sick. I’ve started biking around the city in an attempt to get my body moving more, and it seems the “fresh” San Francisco air has caused me to come down with a terrible cold. Go figure.

The benefit of illness is it forces me to stay indoors and gives me an opportunity to pay attention to hobbies I otherwise tend to neglect. Illustrator took care of me, taking my mind of the rapidly growing pile of Kleenex on my floor. Date night with AI, here’s the result.


The linework — total drawing time approximately 6 hours.


Hair is always challenging when working with vectors. I’ve tried a few techniques, and I’ve landed on a combination I feel works well:

  • Stroke width profiles
  • Gradient strokes

Using gradient strokes allows you to get a “softer” touch on the hair, while the stroke width profiles make it incredibly easy to draw natural strand shapes. Illustrator comes with some profiles baked in, and for the above I used a combination of the following two.

Stroke Width Profiles

Protip: If you’re making lots of strands (which will take time and patience) save yourself some time by having your selected stroke profile set as the current selection for each new stroke. This one took me a while to find — under the “Appearances” panel, deselect the “New Art has Basic Appearance” option.

New Art


Now every new shape you make will inherit the settings of your previously drawn art.

The rest of the piece was a combination of drawing shapes with the pen tool (I’m not fancy enough for a tablet) and blurs/gradient mesh. The shoulders and neck use a gradient mesh, while the facial tones use gradient-filled shapes with a 30px blur applied.

The rain was probably the easiest part to make with a scatter brush. If you’ve never used custom brushes before, I’d recommend checking them out since they can save you tons of time for creating variable-but-similar artwork.

To make a scatter brush, draw something on the Artboard. Note: Brushes only apply to stroke styles. In the case of the rain, I drew a short line with the pen tool at a 45° angle. Next, with the line selected, I made a new brush:



And set it to scatter with the following settings:

Scatter Brush

Boom. Make it rain!

You can learn more about art brushes, the different types and what they do here.

And now I’m going to bed.

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Posted on March 16, 2014 by Sarah · 1 comment

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