Origami Cupcake

The Origami Cupcake Tutorial: Part 1 Structuring your Image

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For a while now I’ve been posting updates on my works in progress, explaining a bit about how these works come into being. But these posts were never intended as a proper tutorial… until now.

This is the definitive tutorial to making anime/comic styled artworks in Adobe Illustrator using my own method.

But before I begin with the hard stuff, let’s get an overview of the way I work and the way I structure my layers.

The basic process:
  1. Create your linework.
  2. Create a layer for the base color; this is the local color, or actual color of an object.
  3. Create a layer for shadows, depending on the lighting you will probably want another layer for very dark shadows as well.
  4. Create a layer for highlights.
  5. Create a layer for lighting and atmospheric effects. Finish off your image by tweaking colors, layer opacity etc until you’re satisfied.

Each of these steps correlate to separate layers in your image (this is a simplification; each layer is actually a group of multiple layers). These layers build up to create you final work.

 

The basic structure of my artworks. Layer 1 is at the top, and Layer 6 is at the bottom:
  1. Specular highlights
  2. Atmosphere/Light effects
  3. Normal highlights
  4. Linework
  5. Shadows
  6. Base color
  7. Duplicates (Invisible)

Your layer order will get even more complicated if you want to objects to overlap, which is useful if you want to change things later on.
Here’s an example. This image is actually made up of four pictures: foreground , object, middle ground and background:

This means the layers look something like this:
  1. Specular highlights
  2. Atmosphere/Light effects
  3. Foregound (Yellow)
    1. Normal highlights
    2. Linework
    3. Shadows
    4. Base color
  4. Object (Green)
    1. Normal highlights
    2. Linework
    3. Shadows
    4. Base color
  5. Middle ground (Aqua)
    1. Normal highlights
    2. Linework
    3. Shadows
    4. Base color
  6. Background (Purple)
    1. Normal highlights
    2. Linework
    3. Shadows
    4. Base color
  7. Duplicates (Invisible)

 

I hope this gives you some appreciation of the complexity of these images. That’s why naming layers and groups in so important, I’d literally be lost without them.

There’s another thing that’s really important is that Duplicates layer. Whenever I do something to radically change a layer, I make a duplicate, and I move it to my Duplicate layer. I do it occasionally, just in case something happens.

It can be difficult to copy from one vector file to another. Because of the way I color my images I need the placement of each layer to be pixel perfect, and Illustrator doesn’t copy the multitude of opacity settings assigned to group of layers (if someone knows a way around this let me know). My solution is just to make a duplicate. It’s quick and easy, and when you need it you’ll thank me.

And this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t save you progress… regularly save and  save as.

 

Part 2 of The Origami Cupcake Tutorial will focus on the foundation of your image, the linework.

2 Responses to this post
  1. Posted on March 16, 2012 by Trey Jackson

    Just stumbled on these tutorials the other day. I do most of my digital drawing in Photoshop, it’s very cool to see it done in Illustrator. Thanks for posting your process!

    • Posted on March 30, 2012 by Origami Cupcake

      Thanks for the comment ^_^
      I’ve been away for the last two weeks but I’ll have more tutorials up soon talking about the coloring process.

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