How to create a Halloween Illustration in Adobe Illustrator
- Program: Adobe Illustrator CS6
- Difficulty: Intermediate
- Topics Covered: Tracing a sketch, Pen Tool abilities, Character design
- Estimated Completion Time: 50 Minutes
1. Draw a sketch
Create a new document. Set the width to 1000 pixels and the height to 1000 pixels.
We will try to fill the artboard as much as we can with objects and details. So I made a sketch which includes the most iconic Halloween objects – a Jack-o-lantern, a ghost, two skulls, witches hat, an eye, a bat and some candy here and there.
If you too draw the sketch using a tablet, Rasterize it (Object>Rasterize). In the dialog box just click OK. In case you are importing your scanned handmade sketch, just lock the layer (Control+2).
2. Define a color palette
Before we start, let’s take a moment to define our color palette. It is of a crucial importance because our color palette will give the illustration the right mood. For Halloween, I would go with dark background and on it, candy warm shades of pink, yellow, orange and light blue.
3. Start tracing the sketch
To build our illustrated elements, we will use mostly the Pen Tool (P). The Pen Tool is one of the best things that ever happened in digital arts. It allows us to trace any shape we want with high accuracy. It might be difficult to adjust to it at first, but trust me – once you get used to it, you can do wonders.
Select the sketch, drop the opacity to 50% and lock it (Control + 2). This way the sketch will be faintly visible, allowing us to easily trace it.
We will trace object by object and I will guide you throughout the process.
Step 1 – Ghost
The ghost is our protagonist so we will trace it first. Start with the body and try not to make many anchor points so the round angles look smooth and nice. Then trace the face and hands. Color the ghost using the light blue color from our palette and the eyes and mouth with dark blue.
Step 2 – Jack O’ Lantern
Always start tracing the bigger objects and then move to the smaller ones. So, first goes the pumpkin head, then the face and the stem. Color the pumpkin in the lighter orange and the face elements in dark blue. When you are done, add simple crescent shapes over the pumpkin and color them in the darker orange. These details will make the Jack-O’-Lantern more appealing.
Step 3 – Skulls
These lovely skulls are possibly my favorite part of the illustration. Start tracing just the heads, then move on to their faces and the heart between them. Color one of them in dark yellow and the other one in pink.
Step 4 – Witches hat
Let’s trace the witches’ hat. Start with the main triangular shape and then add the half-circled bottom. Add the collar next. When coloring it, use pink for the hat and dark blue and dark yellow for the details.
Step 5 – The bat
Again, we’re tracing the larger part first – the body. Then we move to the smaller parts – the eyes and ears. Color it pink with dark blue details.
Step 6 – Eyeball
Start tracing the largest circle and then move on to the smaller circles. Finish with the blood vessel. Then color the eyeball in light blue and the iris in dark yellow and dark blue. Color the blood vessel in pink and orange. After this, add some details, like the capillaries and the eye glow. Form the capillaries by doing zig-zag shapes and color them in pink.
Step 7 – Smaller objects pt.1
The purpose of these smaller objects is filling the gaps in the illustration. These candies and lightning bolts are the perfect fillers of space. Start tracing the main shapes and then go in the details. Color them in the warm colors from our palette.
Step 8 – Smaller objects pt.2
Let’s not forget the bone, stars and the spider. As you can see from the sketch, these objects are also great fillers of empty space. After tracing, color them – light blue for the bone, dark yellow for the stars and pink and orange for the spider.
Step 9 – Text
Tracing the text might be the hardest part of this illustration. But don’t worry – we will finish this task letter by letter. Simply trace the letters without any restrictions and do not follow the sketch strictly. This way the letters will get nice retro look. When you are done, color the letters in dark blue and the holes in some of them (A,P, P and O) in dark yellow.
Let’s see how the illustration looks so far. Everything seems nice and balanced but we still have some gaps here and there. Let’s fill them with tiny details.
4. Fill the gaps
Using the pen tool, draw a few very simple shapes so we can position them between the objects and fill the negative space. I drew simple diamonds, triangles and circles. Duplicate them few times so you will have enough of them.
Arrange the details randomly in the illustration. If you see an empty space, feel free to place any of the detail objects. Also, multiply two star shapes and position them between the word HAPPY.
The illustration looks awesome so far. We will do one trick to make it even more appealing to the viewer’s eye – scaling down the size.
Select the whole illustration. Double click the Scale Tool (S). A dialog box will appear. Enter 90 as a Uniform Scale value and click OK.
Now we have some empty space between the illustration and the artboard edges.
Add a background. Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and click at any empty space. A dialog box will appear. Enter 1000 pixels for both values, Width and Height and click OK. Color the rectangle in dark blue. To position it as a background, click on the rectangle and go to Object>Arrange>Send to back. With this step we are done creating this fun Halloween illustration.
Great job! We just finished creating this awesome Halloween illustration and now we can put it in use. I believe it will make great phone wallpaper or an amazing t-shirt print. Remember – because this is a vector graphic, you can print it in any size you like.
I used this Freepik template and made these t-shirt mockup previews. Aren’t they ace?