How to create "5 Femmes"

Tutorial by ob27

Step 1:

To save the image of the sketch on your desktop and place it in Illustrator:
- Move the mouse over the image, right click, select "save image as" - or drag the image to the desktop icon.

- Create an Adobe Illustrator file (A4). Then, go to File > Place to insert your image.

Step 2:

With the sketch now imported, the next step is to transform the scanned bitmap into a vector image to make it easier to work with – and also to allow us to improve the quality of the final image. Select the image with your mouse to highlight it. Go to Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options. A table with different options will appear.

Step 3:

Make sure you have the preview box ticked to be able to see what’s happening to your drawing when trying the different options. Set the tracing options to Mode: Black and white; Threshold: 118; and Blur: 0. You don’t need to use the options on the left of the box. Your image is now traced. Select and highlight it. On the top bar, you will need to click the Expand button to convert the tracing object into path. Your image should be now highlighted with blue dots, and the sketch
is vectorized.

Step 4:

Holding down the Ctrl key, click on your mouse (right-click on Windows). On the window that appears, select Ungroup. It is better to separate out each element of the scanned sketch so they are independent from each other. When the image was saved as a JPG, it acquired a white background. Click on the white space next to the elements of the image in order to highlight the background. Then delete it. You don’t need it.

Step 5:

As you have probably observed, the image is now a vector but it looks far from clean and sexy. Each individual element of the image will need to be adjusted to achieve the finished look. We’ll start with the eyes, as they are the first thing that people will look at. Select and highlight one eye from one of the women.

Select the Smooth tool from the toolbar palette, and apply it around the eye until you have a shape that looks correct. It is best to use this tool as if you were drawing naturally with it. Apply this technique to all the eyes of the illustration. Don’t forget to zoom in your image for greater precision.

Step 6:

Now, that you have correct shapes for the eyes, you need to work on the second element that will make each of the women look even sexier: their mouth. Some of the mouth shapes will just need to have the previous technique applied. For others, you will have to draw them from scratch with your mouse, using the pen tool.

Step 7:

Be sure to start drawing with the Outline, not the Fill-in option. When you are happy with the shape of the mouth, invert the option of Fill and Outline. Press the double-curved arrow in the corner. The mouth should now be filled in and have a nice shape. If the mouth needs further improvement, apply the technique from the previous step.

Step 8:

Highlight the mouth. Choose Window > Swatches. Click on the pure magenta. Your mouth should now be in a bright pink.

Step 9:

Now to start working with the swirls. Around the composition of the sketch, are swirls drawn by hand. You are going to delete them and replace them with some made using Illustrator – as they will look better and more elaborate. On the palette select the Direct Selection Tool. Now select the handmade swirls and delete the part you wish to remove. The selected part that will be deleted should be highlighted in blue. The dots in white represent the parts that will remain.

Step 10:

Next, create an independent rectangle and apply the swirl effect. Make sure you obtain the right effect to avoid it looking too clumsy. Move the swirl onto the main composition. Some swirls will be coloured in dark yellow and grey to give some volume.

Step 11:

Create and apply the four branches of stars. First, design a square. With the Add Anchor Points tool, click on the middle of each segment to add an anchor point. Select Direct Select tool, move each middle points toward the centre of the square until you have the required shape. Copy-&-paste the stars in order to have a lot on your composition. Give them different scales and put them around the composition to give a feeling of snowflakes or shining stars (placing some smaller than others will accentuate this effect).

Step 12:

The final touch will be a star on the top of the woman at the right. She is a rebel and is a reference to the “Che”. Select the Star tool and draw one star around the composition. When done, put it to the top of the hair of the woman.


5 Femmes concept:

5 Femmes, was created using Adobe Illustrator. The brief for the illustration was to create an image based on the theme of the human ‘melting pot'.
The idea was to create a mix of different kinds of women from our society, with the premise that society is in effect a melting pot of different people (and therefore, for this piece, different women).
They are all the same as human beings but all different as individual people. This work started with a sketche to clarify and develop the different ideas before being imported into Illustrator. This work begun with black pens and markers.

Tip - 01

01. Don’t forget, you can save your custom colour swatches by clicking the fly-out menu in the Swatches panel and selecting “Save Swatch Library as ASE. Once saved as a Swatch Exchange document, you can import that swatch file into InDesign or Photoshop to ensure all your colours match perfectly.

Tips - 02

02.To place multiple images at once into Illustrator CS, do this: From Adobe Bridge, the Mac OS Finder, or from any Windows window, drag the files right onto your Illustrator artboard. Using this method, Illustrator place-links the files. To place- embed images while dragging them into your document, hold the Shift key while dragging the images.

Adobe Illustrator

Time to complete
One hour

Digital Arts

This tutorial was written for Digital Arts Magazine.