Hello there! The basic idea of this tutorial is to showcase  how the process of tracing the basic shapes and contours of a photograph using brush tool, as opposed to using predominately vector lines with strokes, as many beginning illustrators do, will result in a desirable, realistic yet stylized image.

Starting with a great photo is obviously a huge benefit to this style of illustration. Let’s get started.

Program : Adobe Illustrator CS4

1. Choose Your Image!

Open the source photo. In this case I’m using an image from Mr. Google himself. You can of course substitute your own image.

2. Image Lock

Lock the photo and make a new layer on top.

3. Outline Tracing

Start by tracing the outline of the lips. In this case Im using JokeArtBrush which can be download here. The brush can be found at Windows>Brush Libraries.

Notes : Copy the brush file into Adobe Illustrator file.

For PC : Program Files > Adobe > Illustrator > Presets > en_US > Brushes.

For Mac : Applications > Adobe Illustrator > Presets > en_US > Brushes.

4. Consistency

If you notice there are so many different shapes, shades, and highlights that make up the lips and teeth, specifically within the interior shapes of the teeth, so you have to make a decision on how detailed/complex you want to make the image. Since this tutorials purpose is not an extreme photo-realism look, I will keep it relatively simple.But please be sure to stay consistent on which shapes/shades you are following.

5. Technique

Same technique apply for the eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes part as Step 3. Fill the part with black just so you can see the difference. The nose can be a huge pain in the butt to get it to look natural. Do the simple line-work, tracing just the edges of the nose and cheeks. The key to drawing the mouth is to not outline the entire mouth with the dark line-work like a clown. Draw the shape of the pink-ish part of the lips, and change it to a Black. Then do the thin linework around the mouth, using only small shade shapes where needed.

6. Highlights

In addition to the highlights also trace the secondary highlights on the face, and the lips.

7. Vector Hair

Vector hair could be a tutorial all on its own, it could have numerous layers of highlights and shadows, but I prefer to leave it simply flat with the contour of the shape describing the form instead of highlights. Now go around the outside of the hair form, tracing some of the big hair spikes. You can get fairly free form and deviate from the photo, as long as the shapes you are drawing reference hair.

8. Bring It All Together

We’re almost there, time to bring it all together by pressing CTRL + A (for PC) or COMMAND + A (for Mac).

9. Colors

Go to Object > Live Paint > Make. You may choose different color for your artwork and start fill in those colors.

10. Composition

Put in the dimple and chin shapes and some line work in the ear. Just for composition, add a orange-ish #CC4842 background to the illustration.

11. Add Some Details For Hair & Face

This is the fun part, choose brush from the toolbar and start making the details for the hair and face with the same JokeArtBrush setting. Play around with the stroke setting to get the best outline stroke.

12. Background

After we’re done with the details, we can decorating the background.

13. Finishing

Make clipping mask for the artwork.

Tips : Draw a shape same as the background and put it on top of the artwork and hit CTRL+7 (for PC) or COMMAND+7 (for Mac).

14. Final Image

Thats it! Very basic, but learn to do it well and it can be a very useful illustration style. Enjoy!