How to Create a Shiny Tinsel Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

This tutorial will show you how to use brush settings, layer styles, healing tools, adjustment layers, and some tips and tricks to create a shiny, bright, fun tinsel text effect. Let’s get started!

This text effect was inspired by the many Layer Styles available on GraphicRiver.

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Create Background and Text Layers

Step 1

Create a new 1613 x 1075 px document, and go to File > Place Linked to open the Background Image.

Resize the Background Image to fit within the document and hit the Return key to commit the changes.

Background Image

Step 2

Create the text in All Caps using the font Quicksand Bold. Change the Size to 300 pt, the Kerning to Optical, and the Leading value to 325 pt if you have multiple lines of text.

Place the text however you like, and don’t worry about the background as we’ll fix it at the end of the tutorial.

Create the Text

2. How to Create Inner Work Paths

Next, we are going to create work paths inside the letters we have.

You can do that using the Pen Tool, but in this tutorial, we are going to use Photoshop’s new Curvature Pen Tool.

Step 1

Pick the Curvature Pen Tool, make sure to choose the Path option in the Options bar, and click once in the center of the first letter where you want to start creating the work path.

The Curvature Pen Tool is different from the Pen Tool. So to create corner points, you need to double-click when you add the point, and to create a curve, you can either click once or create a straight line instead, and then click on that line to add a point and drag it to create the curve.

When you finish creating the path, Command-click anywhere outside it.

Curvature Pen Tool

Step 2

You can also use any other shape tools to help you easily create the work path for some of the letters. For example, you can use the Ellipse Tool, with the Path option active, to create the work path for the letter O.

Ellipse Tool

Step 3

Make sure to create all the work paths needed to fill all the letters you have.

Create the Inner Work Paths

Step 4

It is very important to save the paths created. To do so, open the Paths panel, double-click the Work Path tab, and type Center in the Name field.

Save Work Path

This will save the work paths so that you can go back to them and use them any time.

Saved Work Path

Step 5

Right-click the text layer and choose Create Work Path to create the outer stroke path.

The dots on top of the letter E are a bit too big and will overlap with the letter when stroked with the tinsel brushes, so we’ll create smaller ones.

To do so, pick the Direct Selection Tool, select the dots, and hit the Delete key to delete them.

Create Work Path

Step 6

Then, use the Ellipse Tool to create smaller circular paths.

Once you’re done, double-click the new Work Path tab and name it Stroke.

Ellipse Tool

3. How to Create a Tinsel Brush Tip

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool, choose the Shape option in the Options bar, and create a small 3 x 30 px Black rectangle.

Ellipse Tool

Step 2

Pick the Add Anchor Point Tool, and click once in the middle of each of the rectangle’s vertical sides to add two anchor points.

Add Anchor Points

Step 3

Use the Direct Selection Tool to select both added points, and click the Left Arrow key three times to nudge the points 3 px to the left.

Nudge the Anchor Points

Step 4

Command-click the Rectangle shape layer’s thumbnail to load the selection.

Load Selection

Step 5

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset, and type Tinsel Brush in the Name field.

Define Brush Preset

4. How to Modify and Save Brush Tip Settings

Step 1

Pick the Brush Tool, choose the Tinsel Brush tip, and open the Brush panel to modify the settings:

Brush Tip Shape

Brush Tip Shape

Shape Dynamics

Shape Dynamics



Color Dynamics

Color Dynamics

Step 2

Click the Create new brush icon in the bottom right corner of the Brush panel, and change the Name to Brush 01.

Create New Brush

Step 3

Modify the same tip’s settings to create another variation:

Brush Tip Shape

Brush Tip Shape

Shape Dynamics

Shape Dynamics



Color Dynamics

Color Dynamics

Step 4

Click the Create new brush icon, and change the Name to Brush 02.

Create New Brush

Step 5

This is optional, but it’s a cool new feature in Photoshop that will help keep things a bit more organized.

Click the Brush Preset Picker icon in the Options bar, Command-click the icons of the three brush tips you’ve created for this tutorial (Tinsel Brush, Brush 01, and Brush 02), click the flyout menu icon, and choose New Brush Group.

Name the group Tinsel Brushes, and click OK.

New Brush Group

5. How to Stroke Work Paths

Step 1

We will create six new layers that will be used to create the main tinsel effect, and we will name them according to what they will contain. So it is important to name the layers as mentioned below to follow the tutorial easily.

The names from bottom to top are:

  • Stroke – Brush 01
  • Center – Brush 01
  • Center – Brush 02
  • Stroke – Brush 01 – White FG
  • Center – Brush 02 – White FG
  • Center – Brush 01 – Desaturated
Create New Layers

Step 2

Put all the new layers in a group and call it Tinsel, and set the Foreground Color to #d9001f and the Background Color to #300600.

New Group

Step 3

Open the Paths panel, and for each layer, select the path in the layer’s name, and stroke it with the brush tip mentioned along with it.

So if you select the Stroke – Brush 01 layer, you’ll need to click the Stroke work path in the Paths panel, pick the Brush Tool and choose the Brush 01 tip, and hit the Return key to stroke the path.

Stroke the Work Path

Step 4

To quickly switch between the brush tips, you can right-click anywhere to get the preset and choose the tip you need.

Switch Brush Tips

Step 5

Make sure to set the Foreground Color to White before you stroke the two layers that have White FG in their name.

White Foreground Color

Step 6

Change the Foreground Color back to #d9001f before creating the Center – Brush 01 – Desaturated layer’s stroke.

Stroke the Work Path

6. How to Add Glow and Shadow Effects

Double-click the Stroke – Brush 01 layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

Add an Inner Glow with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Linear Light
  • Opacity: 50%
  • Color: #a7a7a7
  • Size: 10
Inner Glow

Step 2

Add a Drop Shadow with these settings:

  • Opacity: 36%
  • Distance: 10
  • Size: 5
Drop Shadow

This will style the first layer.

Styled Layer

Step 3

Double-click the Center – Brush 01 layer to apply an Inner Glow effect with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Linear Light
  • Opacity: 74%
  • Color: #a7a7a7
  • Size: 10
Inner Glow

This will help build the glow effect to add more dimension to the tinsel.

You can hide the top layers to see the effects you apply, and then show them again.

Hide and Show Layers

Double-click the Center – Brush 02 layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 4

Add an Inner Glow with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Linear Light
  • Opacity: 74%
  • Color: #a7a7a7
  • Size: 10
Inner Glow

Step 5

Add a Drop Shadow with these settings:

  • Opacity: 50%
  • Distance: 0
  • Size: 5
Drop Shadow

Step 6

Change the Center – Brush 02 layer’s Blend Mode to Overlay.

Blend Mode

7. How to Style Layers

Step 1

Change the Stroke – Brush 01 – White FG layer’s Blend Mode to Linear Light and its Opacity to 60%.

Layer Settings

Double-click the Center – Brush 02 – White FG layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 2

Add a Pattern Overlay with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Vivid Light
  • Opacity: 70%
  • Pattern: FDR Glitter Pattern 02
Pattern Overlay

Step 3

Add a Drop Shadow with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Linear Burn
  • Color: #8e8e8e
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Distance: 0
  • Size: 5
Drop Shadow

Step 4

Change the Center – Brush 02 – White FG layer’s Blend Mode to Linear Light.

Blend Mode

Step 5

Select the Center – Brush 01 – Desaturated layer, and go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.


Step 6

Double-click the Center – Brush 01 – Desaturated layer to apply an Inner Glow effect with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Linear Light
  • Opacity: 60%
  • Color: #a7a7a7
  • Source: Center
  • Size: 7
Inner Glow

Step 7

Change the Center – Brush 01 – Desaturated layer’s Blend Mode to Soft Light.

Blend Mode

8. How to Colorize a Layer Group

Double-click the Tinsel group to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

Add a Color Overlay with these settings:

  • Color: #c29816
  • Blend Mode: Hue
Color Overlay

Step 2

Add another Color Overlay effect instance with these settings:

  • Color: #cecece
  • Blend Mode: Divide
Color Overlay

Step 3

Add a Drop Shadow with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Linear Burn
  • Color: #1e0700
  • Opacity: 10%
  • Distance: 30
  • Size: 5
Drop Shadow

This will create the final tinsel effect.

Tinsel Effect

9. How to Create a Texture Overlay Using Filters

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, name it Texture Overlay, fill it with White, and right-click it to choose Convert to Smart Object.

Set the Foreground and Background Colors to Black and White.

Texture Overlay

Step 2

Go to Filter > Render > Fibers, and change the Variance to 30 and the Strength to 3.

Fibers Filter

Step 3

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Sketch > Bas Relief, and use these settings:

  • Detail: 13
  • Smoothness: 3
  • Light: Bottom
Bas Relief Filter

Step 4

Click the New effect layer icon in the bottom right corner, go to Texture > Grain, and use these settings:

  • Intensity: 40
  • Contrast: 50
  • Grain Type: Regular
Grain Filter

Step 5

Clip the Texture Overlay layer to the Tinsel group, and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity to 50%.

Layer Settings

10. How to Add Global Adjustments

Step 1

Add a Selective Color adjustment layer with these settings:


  • Cyan: -10
  • Magenta: -2
  • Black: -5
Selective Color

Step 2

Add a Color Lookup adjustment layer, choose the Fuji ETERNA 250D Kodak 2395 (by Adobe).cube table from the 3DLUT File menu, and change its Opacity to 15%.

Color Lookup

Step 3

Add a Solid Color fill layer with the Color #150806 and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity to 20%.

Solid Color

Step 4

Use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to create an elliptical selection around the text, select the Solid Color layer mask’s thumbnail, and fill the selection with Black.

Layer Mask

Step 5

With the mask’s thumbnail still selected, open the Properties panel, and change the Feather value to 52% to create a quick simple vignette effect.

Vignette Effect

11. How to Add Glitter Using Brush Settings

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of the Background Image layer, and name it Background Glitter.

Background Glitter

Double-click the Background Glitter layer to apply the following layer styles:

Step 2

Add a Pattern Overlay with these settings:

  • Pattern: FDR Glitter Pattern 16
Pattern Overlay

Step 3

Add a Drop Shadow with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Linear Burn
  • Color: #0a1119
  • Opacity: 15%
  • Distance: 1
  • Size: 2
Drop Shadow

Step 4

Pick the Brush Tool, choose the Airbrush Hard Low Density Grainy tip, and open the Brush panel to change the Scattering settings as needed.

The important thing for this to work is to use a big, 300px brush tip Size.


Step 5

Click-drag slightly to add the glitter behind the text. You can change the brush settings to get a result you like.

Add the Glitter

12. How to Modify a Background Image

Step 1

Double-click the Background Image Smart Object’s thumbnail to open its file.

Pick the Content-Aware Move Tool, and set the Mode to Move in the Options bar.

Select the object you want to move and place somewhere else, and make sure to include some empty space around it within the selection.

You can check the Transform on Drop box if you want to transform the object after moving it.

Content-Aware Move Tool

Step 2

Move the selected object to its new position, transform it if needed, and then hit Return.

Move the Selected Element

Step 3

After that, you can use any of the other Healing Tools to better blend the object’s edges with the new background.

You can also use the Dodge, Burn, and Sponge Tools wherever needed.

Blend with the New Background

Step 4

If there are any parts you want to remove completely, select them using any selection tool, and go to Edit > Fill and choose Content-Aware from the Content menu.

Content-Aware Fill

Step 5

Again, use the Healing Tools to make any further adjustment to the area after removing the object.

Healing Tools

Step 6

Make any other adjustment needed to the background using the same tools.

Adjust the Background

Step 7

You can save the file and go back to the original document to see the changes there and make any necessary adjustments.

Make Further Adjustments

13. How to Add Finishing Touches

Step 1

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and clip it to the Background Image layer.

Choose the Yellows channel, and change the Saturation value to -25.


Step 2

We need the Hue/Saturation layer to affect only the bells in the image.

So fill the Hue/Saturation layer mask with Black, set the Foreground Color to White, and use a soft round brush tip to brush over the bells.

Adjust the Layer Mask

Step 3

Select the Background Glitter layer and click the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Set the Foreground Color to Black, and paint over the areas you want to remove the glitter from, like the bells and the trees, since the glitter is supposed to be under them.

Modify the Background Glitter

Congratulations! You’re Done

In this tutorial, we created a simple brush tip and adjusted its settings to create the main tinsel effect.

Then, we styled the many layers used in creating the effect to achieve the final result. After that, we added glitter, modified the background image, and added global adjustments to the effect.

Finally, we used some more adjustment layers and layer masks to add final touches.

Please feel free to leave your comments, suggestions, and outcomes below.

Final Result

How to Create the USS Enterprise From Star Trek in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

If you’re a true Star Trek fan, then you’re going to love this tutorial
since we’re going to be recreating the iconic NCC-1701 starship, using a step-by-step
process based on some basic geometric shapes and tools.

You can always expand your collection by
heading over to GraphicRiver, where you’ll find a great selection of vector illustrated starships.

That being said, grab a hot cup of the energizing space juice, and let’s get started! 

1. How to Set Up a New Project File

Since I’m hoping you already have
Illustrator up and running in the background, bring it up and let’s set up a New Document (File > New or Control-N)
for our project using the following settings:

  • Number
    of Artboards:
  • Width:
  • Height:
  • Units:

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color
  • Raster
    Screen (72ppi)
  • Preview Mode: Default
setting up a new document

2. How to Set Up a Custom Grid

Even though today we’re not working on
icons, we’ll still want to create the illustration using a pixel-perfect
workflow, so let’s set up a nice little Grid so that we can have full control
over our shapes.

Step 1

Go to the Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid submenu, and adjust
the following settings:

  • Gridline
    1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1
setting up a custom grid

you can learn more about grids by reading this
in-depth piece on How Illustrator’s Grid System Works.

Step 2

Once we’ve set up our custom grid, all we
need to do in order to make sure our shapes look crisp is enable the Snap to Grid option found under the View menu (that’s if you’re using an
older version of Illustrator).

Now, if you’re new to
the whole “pixel-perfect workflow”, I strongly recommend you go through my How
to Create Pixel-Perfect Artwork
tutorial, which will help you widen your
technical skills in no time.

3. How to Set Up the Layers

Once we’ve finished setting up our project
file, it would be a good idea to structure our document using a few layers, since this way we can maintain a steady workflow by focusing on one
section of the illustration at a time.

That being said, bring up the Layers panel and create a total of four
layers, which we will rename as follows:

  • layer
  • layer
  • layer
    warp lines
  • layer 4: texture
setting up the layers

Quick tip: I’ve colored all of my layers using the same
green value, since it’s the easiest one to view when used to highlight your
selected shapes (whether they’re closed or open paths).

4. How to Create
the Background

We’re going to kick off the
project by quickly creating the interstellar background, so make sure you’re on
the right layer (that would be the first one), and then lock all the other ones
so that we can get started.

Step 1

Create a 360 x 360 px circle,
which we will color using #343434 and then center align to the underlying
Artboard, positioning it 108
from its top edge.

creating and positioning the background

Step 2

Take a couple of moments and add the static stars using a couple of 4 x 4 px circles, which we will color
using a lighter orange (#EFC36C) and a slightly darker one (#EF986C) and
position on the background as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done,
select and group all of them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the static stars

Step 3

Start working on the first of the moving objects by creating its tail
using a 4 x 16 px rectangle, to
which we will apply a 90º Linear Gradient using #6FCDE2 for both
color stops. Set the right color’s Opacity
to 0%, positioning the resulting
shape next to one of the static stars.

creating the tail for the moving object

Step 4

Add the head section using a 4 x 4 px circle, which we will color
using #6FCDE2 and then position onto the tail as seen in the reference image.
Once you have the shape in place, select and group (Control-G) the two together before moving on to the next step.

adding the head to the moving object

Step 5

Add a few more moving objects using copies (Control-C > Control-F) of the one that we’ve just finished
working on, which we will position on the sides of the background as seen in
the reference image. Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group (Control-G) all of them together.

adding the moving objects to the background

Step 6

As soon as you’ve finished working on the background, you can select and
group (Control-G) all its composing
shapes together, locking its layer before moving on to the next one.

locking the background layer

5. How to Create
the Starship

Assuming you’ve
finished working on the background, make your way to the next layer (that would
be the second one) and let’s start building the iconic USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Step 1

Create the main shape for the ship’s secondary hull using a 28 x 64 px rectangle, which we will
color using #AAAAAA and then center align to the underlying background,
positioning it 140 px from its top edge.

creating the upper section of the secondary hull

Step 2

Add the hull’s center section
using a 28 x 80 px rectangle (#AAAAAA),
which we will adjust by individually selecting its bottom anchor points using
the Direct Selection Tool (A), and
then pushing them to the inside by 4 px using the Move tool
(right click > Transform > Move
> Horizontal > +/- 4 px
depending on which side you start with).
Once you’re done, position the resulting shape as seen in the reference image.

creating the center section of the secondary hull

Step 3

Position another smaller 20 x 4
rectangle (#AAAAAA) beneath the one that we’ve just adjusted, and then
select and unite all three shapes into a single larger one using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode.

creating the lower section of the secondary hull

Step 4

Create the hangar’s entry section using a 12 x 4 px rectangle (#7F7F7F), which we
will adjust by setting the Radius of
its bottom corners to 4 px from
within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties. Position the
resulting shape beneath the larger hull, making sure to leave a 4 px gap between them, which will act
as a hard shadow.

adding the hangar section to the secondary hull

Step 5

Start adding details to the current section of the ship by creating an 8 x 8 px circle (#7F7F7F), on top of
which we’ll add a smaller 4 x 4 px one
(#F2A16B), which we will group (Control-G)
and then position at a distance of 2 px from
its bottom edge.

adding the circular detail to the secondary hull

Step 6

Add the vertical detail line using a 2 x 56 px rounded rectangle (#7F7F7F)
with a 1 px Corner Radius, which we
will center align to the hull, positioning it at a distance of 2 px from its circular detail.

adding the vertical detail line to the secondary hull

Step 7

Create a slightly bigger 8 x 24
rounded rectangle (#7F7F7F) with a 4
px Corner Radius
, which we will position on the vertical detail line so
that it overlaps its bottom section by 4 px.

adding the rounded rectangle to the secondary hull

Step 8

Next, take a couple of moments and add the
little rectangular details using fourteen 2
x 4 px
rectangles (#7F7F7F), which we will position onto the sides of the
hull as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, make sure
you select and group all of them together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the rectangular details to the secondary hull

Step 9

Add the shadow cast by the ship’s main hull
using a 152 x 152 px circle, which
we will color using #343434 and then center align to the current section’s top

adding the projected shadow to the secondary hull

Step 10

Mask the shadow that we’ve just created using a
copy (Control-C) of the ship’s
secondary hull (highlighted with red), which we will paste in front (Control-F), and then with both shapes
selected, right click > Make Clipping
. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the current section’s composing shapes together,
before moving on to the next step.

masking the circular shadow

Step 11

Star working on the ship’s main hull by creating
a 136 x 136 px circle, which we will
color using #D8D8D8 and then center align to the previous section’s top edge.

creating the main hull

Step 12

Add a subtle highlight by creating two copies
(Control-C > Control-F twice) of
the circle that we’ve just positioned, and then pushing the top
one to the bottom by 4 px,
cutting it out from the one from underneath afterwards using Pathfinder’s Minus Front Shape Mode. Color the resulting shape using white
(#FFFFFF), before moving on to the next step.

adding the highlight to the main hull

Step 13

Add the ring
sections using five 2 px thick
circles (#AAAAAA), with the following Width
and Height values:

  • first circle: 126 x 126 px
  • second circle: 106 x 106 px
  • third circle: 86 x 86 px
  • fourth circle: 66 x 66 px
  • fifth circle: 46 x 46 px

Position the shapes as seen in the reference image, making sure to select
and group all of them together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the ring sections to the main hull

Step 14

Start working on the detail lines by creating the vertical one using a 140 px tall 2 px thick Stroke (#AAAAAA),
which we will center align to the ship’s main hull.

adding the vertical detail line to the main hull

Step 15

Create the second line using the Rotate
tool, by selecting the one that we’ve already have and then right click > Transform > Rotate >
Angle >
360 / 16 (which gives
you a 22.5º angle), making sure to
use the Copy function. The first
value is the actual circumference of the circle, while the second one is the
number of segments that we want to delimit after adding all the line details.

adding the second detail line to the main hull

Step 16

Gradually add the remaining strokes using
Illustrator’s repeat function, by pressing Control-D six times, until you have the same result as in the reference image.

adding the remaining detail lines to the main hull

Step 17

Make sure that all of the lines’ anchor points
are snapped to the underlying pixel grid, by turning on Pixel Preview mode (Alt-Control-Y) and then manually
selecting and repositioning them with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A). Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group all of the adjusted strokes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

example of anchor snapping

Step 18

Create an 8
x 6 px
rectangle, which we will color using #7F7F7F and then center align
to the circle’s bottom edge.

adding the bottom rectangular detail to the main hull

Step 19

Add a 4 x
24 px
rectangle (#7F7F7F) above the shape that we’ve just created,
adjusting it afterwards by setting the Radius
of its top corners to 2 px from
within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties.

adding the taller detail shape to the main hull

Step 20

Select and group all of the main hull’s details, masking them afterwards using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the larger underlying circle (right click > Make Clipping Mask).

masking the details of the main hull

Step 21

Start working on the bridge section by creating
a 28 x 28 px circle, which we will
color using #EDEDED and then center align to the larger underlying circle.

creating the main shape for the bridge section

Step 22

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by selecting its bottom anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and then
pushing it to the bottom by 12 px using the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > 12 px).

adjusting the shape of the bridge section

Step 23

As we did with the ship’s main hull, give the bridge section a 2 px tall highlight which we
will color using #FFFFFF.

adding the highlight to the bridge section

Step 24

Add the hard shadow using a copy (Control-C
> Control-B
) of the shape that we adjusted a few steps ago, which we
will color using #343434 and then push to the bottom by 4 px using either the keyboard’s
directional arrows or the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move >
Vertical > 4 px

adding the shadow to the bridge section

Step 25

Create the center section of the bridge using a 12 x 12 px circle (#7F7F7F), on top of which we will add a smaller 4 x 4 px one (#EDEDED), which we will
group (Control-G) and then center
align to the larger underlying shape.

adding the center section to the bridge

Step 26

Add some of the bridge’s details using a few rectangles (#7F7F7F)
and a circle (#7F7F7F), which we will position as seen in the reference image.
Take your time, and once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the current
section’s composing shapes before moving on to the next step.

adding the little details to the bridge section

Step 27

Create the rectangular details sitting on top of the hull’s second ring
section, using four 8 x 4 px rectangles
(#AAAAAA), which we will rotate using a 45º
angle (right click > Transform >
Rotate > 45º
), making sure to snap their anchors back to the Pixel Grid.

adding the detail rectangles to the main hull

Step 28

Finish off the hull by adding the two circular details using an 8 x 8 px circle (#7F7F7F), on top of
which we will add a smaller 4 x 4 px one
(#F2A16B), which we will group (Control-G), duplicate (Control-C > Control-F), and then position onto the sides of the ship as seen in the reference image.
Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G)
all of the current section’s composing shapes, before moving on to the next

adding the circular details to the main hull

Step 29

Start working on the left propulsion unit’s wing by creating a 24 x 12 px rectangle (#D8D8D8), which we
will position at a distance of 22 px from
the secondary hull’s bottom edge and 6
from its vertical detail line.

creating the main shape for the left wing

Step 30

Give the shape that we’ve just created a subtle highlight using a 24 x 2 px rectangle, which we will
color using #FFFFFF and then center align to its top edge.

adding the highlight to the left wing

Step 31

Add three 4 x 4 px detail
squares (#7F7F7F) positioned 2 px from
one another, which we will group (Control-G)
and then position 2 px from
the wing’s left edge and its top highlight. Once you have them in place, select
and group (Control-G) all of the
current section’s composing shapes before moving on to the next step.

adding the detail squares to the left wing

Step 32

Create the main shape for the ship’s left warp engine using a 16 x
128 px
rectangle, which we will color using #EDEDED, and then position at a
distance of 4 px from the smaller
wing and 28 px from the ship’s main

creating and positioning the main shape for the left warp drive

Step 33

Add the tip using a 12 x 12 px circle
(#F2A16B), which we will center align to the taller rectangle, positioning it
at a distance of 8 px from its top

adding the tip to the left warp drive

Step 34

Create a 16 x 8 px rectangle
(#EDEDED), which we will adjust as seen in the reference image, positioning the
resulting shape on the lower half of the tip.

adding the upper rectangular detail to the left warp drive

Step 35

Fill in the gap between the warp engine’s main body and its tip by
positioning a 16 x 2 px rectangle, which we will color using #EDEDED.

adding the smaller detail rectangle to the left warp drive

Step 36

Add some of the current section’s highlights (#FFFFFF) using the reference image as your main guide.
Take your time, and once you’re done, move on to the next step.

adding the highlights to the left warp drive

Step 37

Create the left wing segment using a 4 x 32 px rectangle (#AAAAAA), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its left corners to 2 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties. Center align a 2 x 12 px rectangle (#7F7F7F) to the resulting shape’s right edge,
grouping (Control-G) and then
positioning the two at a distance of 2
from the current section’s bottom edge.

adding the left wing to the left warp drive

Step 38

Add the right wing using a copy (Control-C
> Control-F
) of the one that we’ve just created, which we will
vertically reflect (right click >
Transform > Reflect > Vertical
) and then position on the opposite
side of the warp engine.

adding the right wing to the left warp drive

Step 39

Create a 16 x 4 px rectangle,
which we will color using #636363 and then position below the warp engine’s
main body.

adding the bottom rectangle to the left warp drive

Step 40

Add the rear end of the engine using a 16 x 16 px square (#7F7F7F), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 6 px.

adding the rear end to the left warp drive

Step 41

Give the shape that we’ve just created a set of four 2 x 16 px rectangles (#636363)
positioned 2 px from one another,
which we will group (Control-G) and
then mask. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of the left warp engine’s composing shapes together,
before moving on to the next step.

adding the vertical lines to the rear end of the left warp drive

Step 42

Finish up the ship by creating the right warp engine using a copy of
the one that we’ve just finished working on, which we will vertically reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect
> Vertical
), and then position on the opposite side. Once you’re done,
select and group all of its composing sections using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

adding the right warp drive

6. How to Create
the Warp Lines

Assuming you’ve locked
the previous layer and already moved on to the next one (that would be the
third one), let’s take a couple of moments and add the little warp lines that help
create the illusion of movement.

Step 1

Create the left-sided warp lines using five 2 px wide rounded rectangles (#FFFFFF)
with a 1 px Corner Radius and
varying heights, which we will position as seen in the reference image, making
sure to select and group (Control-G)
them together afterwards.

creating the left warp lines

Step 2

Add the right-sided warp line using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the ones
that we’ve just finished working on, which we will vertically reflect (right click > Transform > Reflect
> Vertical
) and then position on the opposite side of the ship.

adding the right warp lines

Step 3

Finish off the current section by adding the
bottom warp lines (#FFFFFF), making sure to select and group all of them
together afterwards using the Control-G keyboard

adding the bottom warp lines

7. How to Create the Texture

Since we’re pretty much done working on our starship, we can now move on to
the fourth and last layer, where we will create the subtle texture covering the
entire illustration.

Step 1

Unlock the first two layers and then quickly grab
a copy (Control-C) of the background
and the ship’s sections that go outside of its surface, which we will paste (Control-F) back onto the texture layer,
making sure to color them using black (#000000) afterwards.

creating the main shapes for the texture

Step 2

Select all of the shapes that we’ve just pasted, and make them behave
like a single larger one by using Pathfinder’s
Make Compound Shape advanced option.

turning the texture shapes into a compound shape

Step 3

Select the resulting compound shape and turn it into a texture by going
to Effect > Photoshop Effects >
Texture > Grain
 and setting the Intensity
to 58, making sure to set the Grain Type to Sprinkles.

texture settings

Step 4

Finally, set the resulting texture’s Blending Mode to Soft Light,
lowering its Opacity all the way
down to 20%.

adjusting the blending mode

Live Long and

It might have taken us a while to get here, but I truly believe the end
result makes it all worth it. That being said, I hope you’ve managed to follow
each and every step, and if you have any questions, feel free to post them
within the comments area and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

final result preview

How to Create Unique Paint Effects With Watercolour and Gouache

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

I love the unpredictability of watercolour and gouache, and in this tutorial I will introduce you to the materials I use while painting and the effect they have on the paints I use.

Why Use Paint Effects?

is fun. Part of that fun is experimenting, and part of that experimentation
is not knowing what is going to happen with a painting as you work on it. I find
all of this very exciting.

Texture adds a great deal of interest to a painting,
and watching someone walk up close to one of my pieces because they want to see what I have done more
clearly is thrilling.

What You Will Need

imagination. Anything goes—you just need your usual paper and paint and patience to see if your ideas work. 

Here are just some of the things I’ve been known to use in my paintings:

  • silicone
  • alcohol
  • salt
  • bleach
  • thread
  • clingfilm
  • gesso

An example of some of the items I use in my paintings

Water-Based Effects

Like every artist, I use plain water with my watercolour and gouache, but you don’t have to do that all the time. I like to add a few things to it, resulting in different appearances. Below is a mix of watercolour and gouache with just plain tap water.

Plain water

All the examples below are of a water mix put down
on clean paper and then adding the paint in after.

1. Water Plus Salt

If I sprinkle a good helping of salt in my water, swirling it until it has dissolved, the paint spreads more and becomes granular.

Water plus salt

2. Water Plus Bleach

I love this effect. The colours are so soft, and they feather at the edges. Experiment with how much bleach you mix into your water—it’s up to you, of course.

Water plus bleach

3. Water Plus Alcohol

I use either vodka (I’m a non-drinker, so I don’t have any qualms about using it to paint with) or rubbing alcohol (bought online) for this. The alcohol puts a stop to the spreading of my paint. 

Water plus alcohol


Depending on where you are from, you may call this stuff something different—cellophane, cling wrap, or saran wrap are all different names
for what I know as clingfilm. But it all does the same thing with watercolour
and gouache.

Lay down your paint first, and while it is wet,
place a strip of clingfilm on top. I move it around to get the patterns and
shapes I want, and to get the direction I want them to be moving in.


When the paint is dry, lift the clingfilm and you will be left with this…

Clingfilm - the result

I leave the dried paint and clingfilm and feed a new, more watery colour down inside
while moving my paper at different angles, forcing the paint to spread about as
it desires. I then wait until this is dry before lifting the clingfilm.


Gesso is wonderful. It can be watered down to any consistency you prefer. I like painting it onto my paper and leaving the brush strokes in it. When it’s dry, it is easy to paint over and scrape into (using a knife, nail, or pin), and it dries quickly.


You can also build it up into shapes you want (below), and if you make a huge mistake with something you are working on, you can use gesso to paint over it and start again.

Gesso snodrops


A lot of watercolour artists swear by this, but I have to admit I find it a bit hit or miss (it just means I get to do more experimenting). The effects can be spectacular, but I find that although I do get a 2D texture, it isn’t enough for me. I thought I should include it, though, because you may have more luck. I may have to look at the type of paper I use—I prefer to use rough, but smooth may work better. However, I have found that the type of salt does make a difference. I sprinkle the salt onto wet watercolour, and it does its magic as it dries.

This is what dried paint looks like without salt…

Paint without salt

1. Table Salt

This tends to be the least successful as I find the grains are too fine.

Wait until the paint is dry before brushing off the salt. Some is likely to remain stuck to your paper, though.

Table salt

You will end up with a slightly granulated effect and an uneven spread of colour, but that’s what I tend to be looking for when I use salt.

Table salt dried

2. Flaked Salt

Flaked salt

This works better than table salt, and is easier to remove when it dries.

Flaked salt dried

3. Rock Salt

My favourite. It soaks up the colour, leaving little star effects in the dried paint, and it’s easily removed.

Rock salt

Just be patient when letting it dry as shaking it off your painting too early could leave you with wet paint trails where the salt has moved.

Rock salt dried


I use this as pure bleach or watered down. I sprinkle it or paint it into my work. I use it on wet paint or dry. Something always happens, and the higher the concentration of the bleach, the more colour you lose. It’s smelly but exciting stuff. Just be careful not to splash it on your clothes.

Below is bleach dropped onto dry paint. I have used pure bleach here, without watering it down. 

Bleach dropped onto dry paint

Below is bleach dropped onto wet paint—there is more of a spread into the colour.

Bleach dropped onto wet paint


It’s not all about what you can add to your paint. Sometimes, just blowing and manipulating the directions you blow your paint in makes all the difference. You can also change the angle of your board, tilting it as you work to move the paint around your paper.

Blowing your paint around your paper works too

Crackle Glaze

I rather like this one. It dries clear, so it can be painted on top of what you have already done and can also be painted over.

Crackle glaze painted over

Or you can rub into it, leaving a different colour in the cracks (below), and wiping off the excess on top, which allows the colour underneath to shine through.

Crackle glaze with paint rubbed into the cracks

PVA Glue

You can use this in a couple of ways. There’s the obvious use as, well, glue, sticking papers and whatever else you wish to your work. I tend to thin it a bit with water when I do this as I use tissue or handmade paper that I can manipulate into the shapes that I want, like trees. It is then easy to paint on top of.

Tissue paper trees

And then there is the option of mixing the glue directly into the paint. It gives it a soft sheen when it’s dry…

PVA mixed with watercolour

… but it is not easy to paint on top of. I like the effect, though.

Painting on top of PVA

You can also mix sand into the glue for added texture—I’ve circled the effect below. In this example, I then did a thin coat of gesso on top, which allowed me to add paint without any problems. You could add sand to the gesso too.

PVA mixed with sand


You can either just drop the thread directly onto your paper or lay down a layer of paint first. The thread can be dipped in paint before placing it on paper or dabbed with paint after putting it on your paper. Or both.


Wait until the paint is dry and then lift the thread off. You can also use straw or hair for this.

Thread effect


There are so many ways you can do this. Use a small brush, a large one, or a toothbrush. Splash onto dry paint, splash onto wet paint, or onto just water (or water with bleach, salt, or alcohol in it). Bang on the side of your brush’s handle, or flick the loaded brush bristles themselves. Hold your brush high or very low, near to the paper. Whatever you do, the result always looks good.



I’ve only just started to experiment with this, so who knows what I’ll discover over the next while. Just make sure you wash your brush thoroughly with soap and water after use.

Here, the image above is split into two. I put down a layer of silicone, and on the left, I painted into it while it was still wet. The right was painted when the silicone dried.

Granulation Medium

I use granulation medium straight from the bottle instead of water. I mix it into my watercolour (it doesn’t work with gouache) as I paint and angle my board, moving the paint around my paper. It breaks the pigment into tiny granules, giving added texture. It’s wonderful layered on top of contrasting colours.

Granulation medium


As I write this, I am coming up with all sorts of ideas I haven’t yet tried or noting down ideas for future experimentation. What if I watered down silicone and used that as a water mix? Or what if I try mixing colour directly into the silicone? I need to try painting with pure alcohol and not mixing it with any water.

Your ideas may not always work, but the ones that do will be a wonderful surprise and make experimenting more than worthwhile. You are only limited by your own imagination.

How to Create an Animated Character with Photoshop and CrazyTalk Animator 3

What You’ll Be Creating

As a graphic designer, you may be very familiar with working in Adobe Photoshop. But Photoshop, though very powerful, isn’t good for everything—just try to animate something more advanced than a bouncing ball! Luckily, there are other programs you can use to animate a character created directly in Photoshop, so that you can design in the software meant for designing, and animate in the software meant for animating.

In this tutorial I will show you how to use such a program, CrazyTalk Animator 3, to animate a character created in Photoshop. I’ll teach you how to prepare the character for editing, how to add the bones, how to import it to CrazyTalk Animator, and then how to animate its body and facial features—with both simple and advanced techniques.

1. How to Create a Character for Animation

This part is optional. You don’t need to follow me directly; you can
create any other character or use one you’ve created before. Just make sure it’s layered like mine.

A character is the easiest to animate if it’s made of simple shapes. In Photoshop they can be created as Shapes with the Pen Tool. It’s not hard to use this tool, but if you want to learn about it, try our super short course How to Use the Pen Tool and Paths in Adobe Photoshop. We also have an older tutorial with a great exercise that will help you grasp the tool in no time:

If you have Photoshop CC, you can also use the more intuitive Curvature Pen Tool.

Make sure you use the Pen Tool in Shape mode. This will color the paths automatically, and you’ll be able to change the colors anytime by double clicking the thumbnail.

how to draw shapes in photoshop

Step 1

Start with a torso. It shouldn’t be completely oval; try to make the front slightly smaller. Use #acb6b8 to color it. You don’t need to copy my shape perfectly—just make sure it’s smooth and round.

simple oval torso

Step 2

Create the front leg and the paw separately (on different layers). Use the same color to blend the leg nicely with the torso. This will help us hide any potential inconsistencies in the movement.

simple cat paw

Step 3

Copy the leg with the paw, and place them behind the other layers. Change their color to #919a9c.

cat two front legs drawing

Step 4

Create two other legs the same way.

simple cat hind leg
simple cat legs drawing

Step 5

Create the tail with a simple oval. Color it with #919a9c.

simple cat tail

Step 6

Add the head. Color it with #c1cdcf.

simple cat head

Step 7

Add two ellipses for the patches around the eyes. Use the color of the torso for them.

simple cat eye patches

Step 8

Add the eyes: a black circle, a white oval for the shine, and a dark gray shape in the bottom for the reflection. Keep the eyes on separate layers.

simple cat eye vector
how to draw simple cat eyes in vector

Step 9

Create the mouth out of three circles: two of them colored like the torso, and one colored like the legs in the background.

simple cat mouth

Step 10

Add a simple ellipse for the nose. Color it with #ff7dd1.

simple cat nose

Step 11

Add the ears. Color them like the torso.

simple cat ears

Step 12

We’ve created all the body parts, but the face is just as important as the legs or tail. You can add some variations of the eyes and mouth to achieve various facial expressions you can use later in the animation. Keep them all in the same place, so you can change the expression just by showing/hiding the layers.

various facial experessions for cat

Step 13

These are all my layers. The basic ones are:

  • Front right leg
  • Front right paw
  • Back right leg
  • Back right paw
  • Tail
  • Torso
  • Front left leg
  • Front left paw
  • Back left leg
  • Back left paw
  • Head

If you want to animate the body only, merge the eyes and mouth with the head (you can merge the ears as well). If you’d like to animate the face as well, you’ll need more layers:

  • Left eye normal
  • Right eye normal
  • Left eye closed
  • Right eye closed
  • Left eye smile
  • Right eye smile
  • Left eye scared
  • Right eye scared
  • Mouth normal
  • Mouth open
  • Mouth surprised
  • Mouth smile
  • Mouth teeth
  • Right ear
  • Left ear
photoshop layered for animation

2. How to Add Bones to a Character in Photoshop

To animate our character, we need to assign a “bone” to each body part. All the bones will create a “skeleton” together, allowing you to create a fluid, realistic animation. You can easily add the bones directly in Photoshop by using a special template for quadruped motion.

Step 1

Download the templates pack and go to 01_Templates > Quadruped Template to open the template in Photoshop.

quadruped motion template

Step 2

We need to bring the template into the file with our character. To do this, make both windows visible, select all layers in the template, and drag them over the character window.

how to bring layers from a file to another file in photoshop

Step 3

With the layers still selected, use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to resize the skeleton to fit the character roughly.

how to resize in photoshop

Step 4

The template file contains four types of elements:

  • Images: the parts of animation that we can see.
  • Bones: the parts of animation that direct the movement of the images, though they are not visible during the animation.
  • Labels: they help us assign the bones to the correct images.
  • Pivot: it defines the ground level.

First, we need to replace the template images with our own, part by part. Open the RL_Image group, and then open a folder inside it, and delete its content.

find the folder

Replace it with a body part of your character.

replace the image inside a folder

Do this with all the folders expect the Neck (which we don’t have), and, if you want to create facial animations later, also the Head. The ears can be animated as a part of the body, but in the case of a forward-facing cat we don’t want them to move too much, so exclude them as well.

layer order ready for animation
Remember that “left” and “right” mean the directions on the body, not how you see them. So the Right Eye is the right eye of the cat.

Step 5

The images for facial expressions should be prepared the same way, except they have their own folders inside the RL_TalkingHead > HeadImage group. Place the “normal” eyes in the Iris group, and the others in the EyeWhite group.

facial expression layers eyes
facial expression layers head
facial expression layers mouth

Step 6

The images are ready, so we can add the bones now. Bones will be created automatically in CrazyTalk Animator; you just need to tell the program where the joints are. You can use the template as a reference to see where the dog has its joints and how they apply to your character.

character in photoshop how to add bones

Open the RL_Bone_Quadruped group. Each body part has its own folder containing the joints’ marks. To place the marks correctly, you can hide the other images while working on one. Start with the tail: place the marks along it, staying away from the borders of the shape. These marks will be the points of bending.

how to prepare tail for animation

Step 7

Show one of the hind paws now and find its corresponding folder with joints. Place the Foot_Nub mark almost at the tip of the foot, and the Foot mark in the middle.

how to prepare foot for animation

Step 8

Show the rest of the leg, and add the other joints: Shank for the heel, Thigh for the knee, and UpThigh for the hip.

how to prepare leg for animation

Step 9

Add joints to the other leg of the pair as well.

how to prepare cat hind legs for animation

Step 10

Come to the legs in the front now. Here, Shank is the wrist, Thigh is the elbow, and UpThigh is the shoulder (the names come from the template for a human character; that’s why they’re a little confusing when you’re creating a cat!).

cat front leg ready for animation

Step 11

Finish the other leg the same way.

how to add bones to cat front leg

Step 12

Open the Torso folder to assign the joints for the hip and the spine.

cat hip spine how to animate

Step 13

My character doesn’t really have a visible neck, but we still need to show where it is.

add neck for animation

Step 14

If you want the ears to move as a part of the body, add bones to them as well.

how to add bones to ears for animation

Step 15

If you want to animate the facial features, go to RL_TalkingHead and open the HeadBone folder. Place the marks on the corresponding facial features.

how to prepare facial features for animation

Step 16

Finally, place the ObjectPivot directly under the paws of your character (you’ll find it in the RL_Bone_Quadruped group) and take a final look at the whole skeleton. You can see it as a complete structure now, so it should be easier to see if something’s not placed right. If you spot any mistake, just go to the group and shift the mark to the correct place.

how to add bones to photoshop character

3. How to Import a Character Into CrazyTalk Animator

Step 1

Once the character is done and saved, open CrazyTalk Animator and click Create G3 Free Bone Actor.

create g3 free bone actor

Your character will be transferred into the program and shown automatically in Composer Mode. You can see how the bones have been created between the joints you’ve assigned in Photoshop. The ears don’t have real bones because I’ve made them a part of the head to stop them from moving (if you want them to move, just place them in their folder in the RL_Image group).

photoshop character imported to crazytalk

Step 2

In Composer Mode, you can play a bit with the character to see if it’s ready for animation. For example, you can click Preview to test the joints.

Click preview
test joints in crazytalk animator

Step 3

If you click Edit Pose, you’ll be able to adjust the character.

edit pose crazytalk animator

For example, you can move the whole body part along with its bones, if you’ve discovered a mistake…

how to adjust character pose crazytal kanimator

… or you can open the Bones Editor to move the bones separately.

how to move bones in crazytalk animator
move the bone crazytalk animator

Step 4

If these options are not enough for you, and you want to change something more comfortably in Photoshop, just click Launch to External PSD Editor. Or you can simply open your file again, modify it, and import one more time.

launch to external psd editor crazytalk animator

Step 5

You can notice that some of the layers have been messed up in the process of assigning the bones. We can fix it now. Just go to the Layer Manager

layer manager crazytalk animator

… and drag the layers where you want them to be. I’ve placed the ears over the face, and the front right leg and paw above the head.

how to change the layers crazytalk animator

Step 6

When you’re ready to start animating, just exit Composer Mode by clicking Back stage.

leave composer mode crazytalk animator

4. How to Add a Simple Animation to Your Character

Step 1

Once you have the character done, it’s very easy to animate it! First, open the Window > Timeline editor.

how to open timeline editor crazytalk animator

Step 2

Click Motion to see a typical timeline under your character.

where to find timeline in crazytalk animator

Step 3

CrazyTalk Animator has a set of sample animations that you can use right off the bat. Just go to Content Manager

content manager crazytalk animator

… open the Animation tab…

animation tab crazytalk animator

… go to Motion

motion templates crazytalk animator

… and go through the folders: G3 Animals

g3 animals templates crazytalk animator


cats motion templates crazytalk animator


motion templates crazytalk animator

… until you get to the list of the available motions. There are many types of motions. Here, for example, you have a starting motion (1S), a loop motion (2L), and an ending motion (3E). You can use all of them to create a fluid movement.

To add the animation, simply select your character and double click the motion. For a simple walking animation, add one Walk(1S), two Walk(2L), and one Walk(3E).

how to make character walk crazytalk animator

Step 4

To play the animation, you can use the simple controls right over the timeline. To establish the start and the end of the animation, drag the red markers.

animation controls crazytalk animator

It’s walking!

If you want more ready-made motions like this, you can find them in the G3-Animals: Cats pack.

g3 animals cat motions crazytalk animator

5. How to Create a Custom Animation

The ready-made motions are universal, designed for the bones but not for the images, so sometimes they may not fit your character completely. For example, the Sit and Lick motion wasn’t designed for a forward-facing character like mine. But it’s not a problem—we can create such an animation (and many, many more) by ourselves!

sit and lick animation crazytalk animator

Step 1

Open the 2D Motion Key Editor.

2d motion key editor crazytalk animator

Step 2

Move the marker over the frame where you want your motion to happen.

how to start animation crazytalk animator

Step 3

Apply your changes. Move and rotate the bones to position your character.

bend the spine crazytalk animator
rotate the hips crazytalk animator
bend the knees crazytalk animator
put down the tail crazytalk animator

If you play the animation now, you’ll see the character change its position gradually from the first frame.

Step 4

So our kitten sits down. Now we want it to move its paw up and lick it. As you’ve just noticed, the animation happens between the keyframes—the ones where something was changed (as indicated by a dot on the timeline). If you want your character to stay in the pose for a while before getting animated towards another change, just add a keyframe manually by pressing V.

add a keyframe manually crazytalk animator

Step 5

Move the marker to the frame where you want another motion to stop.

move the marker on timeline

Step 6

Position the bones again as you like.

bring the paw up crazytalk animator
tilt the head crazytalk animator

Step 7

Play the animation to see the results! Remember: if something happens too fast or too slow, you can always drag the keyframes to change the intervals between them.

6. How to Animate Facial Expressions

Now you know how to animate the body, but what about the face? It’s not so difficult either!

Step 1

Add a keyframe where you want your motion to start.

select the time crazytalk animator

Step 2

Open the Face Puppet editor.

face puppet editor crazytalk animator

Step 3

Select the cat as the Face Animation Profile.

cat face animation profile crazytalk animator

Step 4

Click Preview and move your cursor to the center of your character’s face. Press Space and move the cursor around to see the kitten look at it!

make the character look around crazytalk animator

Step 5

There are various default facial expressions available, and their effect will depend on the assets you’ve used. I’ve discovered that the “angry” expression is actually pretty good for licking, if I move the cursor to the left, and quickly up and down!

angry animation licking crazytalk animator

You can make the character blink by clicking the left mouse button during the preview. This is going to be useful!

make character blink crazytalk animator

Step 6

Practice for a while with the preview until you are sure you know how to move the head to achieve the effect you want. Then click Record and press Space or Enter to record the motion. Press Space again to finish.

how to record facial animation crazytalk animator

Looking good!

Step 7

After the animation of licking stops, I’d like the kitten to move its paw to the ground again. To do this, place a keyframe after the animation.

add a new keyframe

Step 8

Place the marker some distance from this keyframe…

add distance between keyframes crazytalk animator

… and position the character again.

position the bones of character crazytalk animator

Step 9

After the animation is complete, I’d like the kitten to tilt its head and smile. The first part can be done with the 2D Motion Key Editor

kitten tilt head animation crazytalk animator

… and the other with the Sprite Editor.

sprote editor crazytalk animator

Step 10

With the marker in the proper frame, select the element of the face you want to change and then select the image you want to replace it with.

sprite editor change eyes to smile crazytalk animator
smiling eyes crazytalk animator

It’s smiling!

Step 11

To finish the animation, you can add another keyframe later, with the facial features back to normal.

niormal facial features crazytalk animator

7. How to Finish the Animation

But what if you want to add some animation at the start, where there are too few frames to add anything? No problem! Let’s just add more frames.

Step 1

Make sure you have the Project on your list.

how to make project visible crazytalk animator

Step 2

Click Collect Clip.

collect clip crazytalk animator

Step 3

Click Insert Frame.

how to insert frames crazytalk animator

Step 4

Type the number of frames you want to add. Don’t be afraid to add too many; it’s easy to remove the empty ones.

how to add more frames crazytalk animator

Step 5

The frames have been added! I’ve decided to fill them with a walking animation.

add walking animation on the beginning crazytalk animator

Step 6

Make sure your two animations both have enough space on the timeline, and that they meet at the correct moment.

how to connect two animations crazytalk animator

Step 7

The kitten is walking in place for now, but it can be fixed. Just go to the first frame and move the character outside of the scene.

move the character outside of the scene crazytalk animator

The motion speed will be adjusted to the distance automatically.

Step 8

I’ve added more frames between the walking and licking animations to make it all slower. My kitten will now blink cutely and move its tail as well.

cat blinking crazytalk animator

Step 9

When your animation is finished and ready to be shown to the world, go to Render > Render Video.

render video crazytalk animator

Step 10

Adjust the options to your liking. Make sure the Range of frames is correct!

render video options crazytalk animator

Good Job!

My kitten is walking, smiling, and licking its paw! And how about your character? I’d love to see your result, so don’t be afraid to share it in the comments!

How to Create a Menorah Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In this tutorial we’ll be creating a Hanukkah holiday card and illustrating one of the most popular Jewish symbols, the Hanukkah Menorah. The Menorah is one of the oldest symbols in Judaism. Sometimes called the ‘Chanukiah’, the Menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum that is used on Hanukkah. It stands for light, wisdom, and Divine inspiration.

We’ll be creating a trendy flat design style, using a lot of basic geometric shapes, combining and transforming them with the help of the Pathfinder panel, Rounded Rectangle and Ellipse Tool. We’ll also learn some useful shortcuts that actually help us to create an illustration without requiring any drawing skills!

You can visit Envato Elements, where you’ll find a wide selection of elements to help you create beautiful card layouts for every occasion.

1. How to Set Up a Card Design File

Step 1

We will be designing a simple 5″ x 7″, one-page Hanukkah holiday card.

Have Adobe Illustrator CC 2018 up and running. Let’s set up a New Document (File > New or Command-N) using the following Print format settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 5 in
  • Height: 7 in
  • Units: Inches
Create and set up New dDocument Width height Units

Step 2

Next, let’s set up our layers for the artwork.

Open the Layers panel: Window > Layers. Name Layer 1 as ‘Background’ and click the Create New Layer icon to create another layer on top. Name it ‘Menorah’.

Create Name and Set up layers panel

2. How to Design the Card Background 

Step 1

Lets start by designing our background.

Make sure you are on the ‘Background’ layer. Turn on your Smart Guides (Command-U). These are short-term snap‑to guides that appear when you manoeuvre objects. 

Select the Rectangle Tool (M). Tap once on the artboard and create a rectangle that’s the same size as the artboard: Width: 5″ and Height: 7″

Give the rectangle a Fill hex color of #FFF3DA and use the Smart Guides to center it.

Create Rectangle with Hex color and Align with Smart guides

Step 2

Let’s create a frame for our card.

Select the Rectangle Tool (M), and create a rectangle that’s 4.6″ Width and 6.6″ Height.

There’s a new cool feature in Adobe Illustrator CC 2018, which is the Properties panel. The new Properties panel (Window > Properties) lets you view settings and controls, plus it provides you with all the editing options when selecting shapes. It also allows quick access to options, alignment, pathfinder options, positioning and transform options all on one panel!

Select a Fill and a black Stroke of 6 pt, and use the Smart Guides to center it on the artboard.

Use properties panel set stroke width height

Step 3

Next, we need to create four ellipses on the edges of the frame to give a simple design.

Take the Ellipse Tool (L), and tap once on the artboard to open the Ellipse Options dialog box. Set Width and Height to 3.5 in, and with the Selection Tool (V), use the Smart Guides to center the ellipse on the left corner.

Next, with the ellipse selected, hold down the ShiftAlt keys to constrain movement and duplicate the ellipse. Drag the selection to the right, until ‘intersect‘ appears within the Smart Guides.

Then select both ellipses on the top and Shift-Alt-Drag downwards until the new duplicated ellipses are centred on the bottom edge, as in the image.

Ellipse Tool duplicate shift-alt-drag align with Smart Guides

Step 4

Select all four ellipses, and then, in the Properties panel, you will find the Pathfinder options. Select the Unite icon.

Then hold down the Shift key and select the black border line, and click the Minus Front icon from the Properties panel Pathfinder Options.

Properties panel pathfinder minus front option

Step 5

Object > Expand the black stroke to open the Expand dialog box, and check Fill and Stroke, and then OK.

Give the frame shape a hex color of beige #F9bd5d. Then give the frame a Stroke of 1 pt from the Properties panel, and hex color #EF7A2B.

Expand Stroke shape and give hex color

3. How to Illustrate the Menorah

Step 1

Lock the ‘Background’ layer, and move onto the ‘Menorah’ layer.

Select the Rounded Rectangle Tool, under the Rectangle Tool from the Tools menu. Tap once on the artboard to open the Rounded Rectangle dialog box and choose the following settings:

  • Width: 0.8 in
  • Height: 3 in
  • Corner Radius: 0.6 in
  • OK

Use the Selection Tool (V) to center the shape onto the artboard using the Smart Guides.

Set the Stroke from Properties panel to 13 pt.

Rounded rectangle tool set width height corner radius stroke

Step 2

With the rounded rectangle selected, Object > Path > Offset Path, and set the Offset to 0.4 pt.

Repeat the action twice until it looks like the image below.

Object path offset path to create candelabra

Step 3

Select the four rounded rectangles, and then Object > Expand, and check Stroke, and OK. Then, to create a compound shape, Object > Compound Path > Make (Command-8).

Object expand select stroke and Unite from Pathfiner

Step 4

To crop the top of the candelabra, select the Rectangle Tool (M), and draw a rectangle to cover the upper part of the candelabra shape.

Select both shapes, and then Minus Front from the Pathfinder options. Give the shape a hex color of #B27B3E.

Create rectangle and Minus front from Pathfinder give hex color

Step 5

Now let’s create a highlight color for the bars. Object > Path > Offset. Set the Offset to -0.04 in. Give the shape a Fill Hex color of #E8B44BEffect > Stylize > Feather. Set the Feather to 0.06 in.

Offset path and set effect as stylize feather

Step 6

Next, let’s create the center stem for the candelabra.

Select the Rectangle Tool (M), and create a rectangle with Width of 0.14 in and Height of 2.9 in, and center it in the middle of the branches, using the Smart Guides.

Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow, to open the Inner Glow dialog box, and set the settings as:

  • Mode: Multiply
  • Hex Color: #9A6527
  • Blur: 0.08 in
  • Check Edge
  • OK
Rectangle Tool Stylize with Inner glow settings

Step 7 

Now for the base of the candelabra.

Select the Rectangle Tool (M), and use the Smart Guides to draw two rectangles on top each other and center-aligned with the branches.

Give the top rectangle a Fill Hex color of #E8B44B and the bottom #C1843F.

Create base with rectangle Tool set hex color

Step 8

Select the Rounded Rectangle Tool, and create a rectangle with the following settings:

  • Width: 0.3 in
  • Height: 0.1 in
  • Corner Radius: 0.4 in
  • OK

Give the rounded rectangle with Fill Hex color of #E8B44B, and use the Smart Guides to center it on the far left branch.

Then, with the rounded rectangle selected, Shift-Alt-Drag down slightly to create a parallel duplicate, as shown below.

create decoration with rounded rectangle duplicate parallel

Step 9

Select both rounded rectangles and Group (Command-G). 

Then Alt-Drag the group to the right branch. 

Repeat the action, but place your bars on different levels to create diversity, as in the image below, and use the Smart Guides for assistance.

Group bars and duplicate with alt Drag

Step 10

Let’s create a spherical bead shape to decorate the menorah.

Select the Ellipse Tool (L), and let’s draw three circles within each other:

  • circle one with Width & Height of 2.5 in, and with Fill Hex color of #E8B44B
  • circle two with Width & Height of 0.17in, and with Fill Hex color of #FFCC71
  • circle three with Width & Height of 0.095in, and with Fill Hex color of #FFF3DA

Group (Command-G) them all together.

ellipse tool set width height group together 3 ellipses

Step 11

Select the round bead form and duplicate it by Alt-Dragging, and then center align them on top of each branch.

Looking good.

Duplicate bead for all branches

Step 12

Now let’s create a leaf-like form on top of the beads to lay our candles on.

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create two intersecting ellipses that are 0.4 inches in Width and Height.

Select both circles and click the Intersect icon from the Pathfinder options in the Properties panel, and give the leaf a Fill Hex color of #E8B44B .

Intersect two circles from Pathfinder option in properties panel

Step 13

Copy (Command-C) and Paste (Command-P) to duplicate the leaf. 

Object > Transform > Rotate and set the Angle to 40°. Then select the leaf behind and Object > Transform > Rotate and set the Angle to -40°.

Give the front leaf a Hex color of #FFCC71 and use the Right Arrow key to position the leaf to the right slightly.

Now, Group (Command-G) the two leaves together.

duplicate leaf copy paste to front rotate angle and group

Step 14

Select the leaf group and send to back: Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Position the leaf group behind the bead, and then Scale (Object > Transform > Scale), and set Scale to Uniform, at 80%.

scale uniform leaf object 80

Step 15

Position the leaf behind the branch head, and then Alt-Drag to duplicate the pattern and position it behind the other branches.

Place one in the center as in the image, and Object > Arrange > Bring Forward (Command-]) until it’s arranged behind the bead.

duplicate then Object arrange bring forward shortcut

Step 16

Now lets draw the Star of David.

Select the Star Tool, from the Rectangle Tool drop-down. 

Chose a Stroke Hex color of #3D77B2 and a Stroke Weight of 3 pt. Click once on the artboard and set the Points to 3.

Delete the shape that’s created, and then hold down the Shift-Alt keys and draw an upright triangle.

Draw star of David star tool Stroke Weight Set Points

Step 17

Copy (Command-C) and Paste (Command-P) to duplicate the triangle.

Object > Transform > Reflect and select Horizontal, and OK. Then use the Down Arrow key to align.

Select both triangles, and Object > Path > Offset, and set the Offset to 0.05 pt

Give the offset null Stroke and a Fill Hex color of #164875 and Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Shift-Command-[).

Then, with both offset triangles selected, Object > Path > Offset, and set the Offset to 0.0 pt

Give the offset null Stroke and a Fill Hex color of #1FFCC73 and Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Shift-Command-[).

Duplicate Reflect triangle and offset path send to back

4. How to Add Candles & Details to the Artwork

Step 1

Let’s add some candles.

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle with a Width of 0.15 pt and Height of 0.8 pt. Give it a Fill Hex color of #1FFCC73 .

Then select the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an ellipse with a Width of 0.06 pt and give it a Fill Hex color of #6CA6E5. Position the ellipse on top of the rectangle using the Smart Guides for guidance.

Again use the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an ellipse with a Width of 0.12 pt and Height of 0.77 pt. Position it in the middle of the rectangle and give it a Fill Hex color of #6FA4D8

draw candle with rectangle ellipse tools

Step 2

Let’s place a flame and glow.

Select the Pen Tool (P) and draw in a flame shape.

Then select the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an ellipse with a Width of 0.03 pt and Height of 0.08 pt. Position it within the flame and give it a Fill Hex color of #FBD76D

Open the Gradient panel: Window > Gradient. Give the flame a yellow-orange 90° Gradient Angle.

give flame gradient angle and create ellipse flame

Step 3

Let’s draw the flame glow. 

With the Ellipse Tool (L), draw an ellipse with a Width and Height of 0.35 pt.

Make the Fill a Radial Gradient from light yellow to white.

Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

create ellipse glow with gradient arrange send to back

Step 4

Select all the candle parts and Group (Command-G). Then Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Select the candle and duplicate it by Alt-Dragging, and then center align it on top of each branch, and on different levels, as in the image below.

Duplicate candles by Alt Drag and position

Step 5

Let’s create a wreath-like decor at the base of the candles.

Select one of the leaf groups on the middle branch, and Shift-Alt-Drag to the base of the candelabra. 

Then duplicate another copy by selecting the leaf group and Alt-Drag slightly to the right. Object > Transform > Rotate.

Set the Rotation Angle to –63°.

Shift Alt Drag to duplicate then object rotate angle

Step 6

Then duplicate another copy by selecting the leaf group and Alt-Dragging to half the branch distance.

Select the Free Transform Tool (E) and scale the group slightly down from the bounding box by holding the Shift key to constrain proportions, and rotate it slightly.

Select both the leaf groups, and then Object > Blend > Make.

Then Object > Blend > Blend Options to open the Blend Options dialog box, and set:

  • Spacing: Specified Steps: 3
  • Orientation: Align to Page
  • OK
Make Blend Set Options Specified Steps and orientation align to page

Step 7

Select the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), and pull the path slightly down.

Use Anchor point to tug path

Step 8

Select the Pen Tool (P) and draw a path from the base to the top of the leaf group, to create a branch.

Give it a Stroke of 3 pt and a Hex color of #C1843F

Object > Arrange > Send to Back

Pen tool create branch stroke and arrange send to back

Step 9

From the Tools panel, select the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B).

Select a Stroke Hex color of #EE7A29.

To control the Blob Brush Tool brush size, hold the left square bracket key ([) to decrease and the right square bracket (]) to enlarge.

Decorate the lower wreath, and then select all the related shapes with the Selection Tool (V), while holding down the Shift key to add on to the selection. Then Group (Command-G) them together.

Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Step 10 

Let’s create a symmetrical branch, with the branch selected.

Take the Reflect Tool (O) and set the center reference point at the end of the branch; Option-Shift-Drag and release when the group is mirrored into position. 

use reflect tool to create symmetrical branch

Step 11

Select the Ellipse Tool (L), and create a circle with Width and Height of 2.5 in, and with Hex color of #F8BD5D.

Duplicate the ellipse by Alt-Dragging, and place the circle between the rounded rectangle on the menorah and the base of the branches.

ellipse tool to decorate menorah branches

Step 12

Select the Star Tool, from the Rectangle Tool drop-down. 

Click once on the artboard to open the Star dialog box, and set:

  • Radius 1: 0.1 in
  • Radius 2: 0.05 in
  • Points: 6
  • OK

Then randomly draw six-pointed stars around the menorah and give them a Fill Hex color of #EFA4D8.

draw 6 point stars set radius and points star tool

Step 13

Select the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B), and with a white Stroke draw in several white circles around the candles of the menorah. Also draw some dots around with Hex Stroke color of #FFDE8D.

Don’t forget, you can control the Blob Brush Tool brush size with the left square bracket key ([) to decrease and the right square bracket (]) to increase.

blob brush tool create dots white stroke hex color

Happy Hanukkah!!!

I hope you’ve learned some new tricks from this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects. Show your friends, loved ones and fans how you can create some stunning cards!

Feel free to adjust the final design and make it your own, and then share your results in the comments below. 

Let’s kindle light for Hanukkah!!

Final Menorah Hanukkah car by Miss Chatz

20 Creative Free Christmas Labels to Download

This holidays you can create postcards, flyers, invitations, and gift tags yourself. Just use these fantastic Christmas labels we have collected for you. This way you can add a personal handmade touch to your gifts and cards. Besides, it will help you to save money.

These incredible free Christmas labels can be downloaded, print and used for your postcard or gift tags. Here you’ll see Christmas labels with various decorations, snowflakes, trees, stickers, bells, and flowers. Just scroll down and choose which one you like.

1. Beautiful Christmas Label Set


2. Free Christmas Vector Labels


3. Typographic Christmas Label Set


4. Pack of elegant christmas stickers


5. Christmas logo collection


6. Cute Hand Drawn Christmas Labels


7. Merry Christmas Background


8. Hand Drawn Marker Pen Style Christmas Labels


9. Merry Christmas Greeting Labels


10. Creative christmas tree design made with dots background


11. Free Vintage Hand Drawn Christmas Ball With Lettering


12. Free Vintage Hand Drawn Christmas Card Background


13. Christmas Chalkboard Labels


14. Ornamental Merry Christmas Template


15. Christmas Vector Badges And Labels


16. Free Vector Christmas Floral Background


17. Free Vector Christmas Tree


18. Free Vector Christmas Bell


19. Retro Merry Christmas Illustration


20. Free Christmas Deer Vector


Art History: Expressionism and Modern Pop Art

The Scream by Edward Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch

In this final edition of our Art History series, we bring you the origin of modern art. Discover the artists behind today’s great design.

Expressionism and Modern Pop Art

There is closure in expression. Laughter in expression. Love and misery in expression. And we need it all.

We have collected colorful reflections of people’s thoughts throughout time, all the while learning to do better—well, at least sometimes. Art shows us that we still can.

The industrial world rapidly grew, and so did the cities of Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A modernist movement, as it was called, swept through with varying styles that rebelled against the romanticism of earlier art.

In turn, artists used simplified shapes and created new mediums to express their innermost reflections. These expressions would become some of the greatest contributions to our modern design world today.

Let’s take a look at a few of the influential artists from this period.

Edvard Munch

Walking through the streets with his friends one night, Edvard Munch panicked as he saw the sky turn red. His accounts of that night, later noted as possibly the eruption of Krakatoa, inspired one of the most famous works of modern expressionism.

But perhaps The Scream was just about love.

Anxiety by Edvard Munch
Anxiety by Edvard Munch

Edvard said,

“You know my picture, ‘The Scream?’ I was stretched to the limit—nature
was screaming in my blood… After that I gave up hope of ever being able
to love again.”

What we call modern art was a brother expressing sorrow after the death of his sister. Like many artists, Edvard used his creativity as a cathartic way to deal with some of the harsh realities of life. Edvard would continue to mourn his loss with The Sick Child and other work.

The Sick Child by Edvard Munich
The Sick Child by Edvard Munch

Always incredibly personal, his style used simple lines and textural brush strokes to translate the emotions of that moment.

“I do not believe in the art which is not the compulsive result of Man’s urge to open his heart.”

Edvard explored many more topics throughout his work, including anxiety and the different stages of life. He continued to open his heart in his later years, as he painted while living in solitude in Norway.

Munch Museum Oslo
Munch Museum, Oslo

Piet Mondrian

One of the pioneers of abstract art, Piet Mondrian changed the direction of traditional art. While most artists still specialized in figurative painting, Mondrian’s taste for bold shapes and simplified lines set him apart from others.

When describing his work, he said:

“I construct lines and color combinations on a flat surface, in order to express general beauty with the utmost awareness.”

Composition II in Red Blue and Yellow 1930 by Piet Mondrian
Composition II in Red Blue and Yellow 1930 by Piet Mondrian

Piet loved shape and form so much so that he became incredibly influenced by other art movements like Impressionism, Cubism, and Fauvism. These styles showed him that he could isolate certain
moments in nature and represent them with abstracted colors.

And after relocating to Paris during the early 20th century, Piet just did that. His paintings grew to large compositions of intersecting lines and colors.

Composition 10 by PIet Mondrian
Composition 10 by PIet Mondrian

Piet worked diligently on his colorful creations, often until his hands bled or until he cried from exhaustion. During the later years of his work, he explored depth of perception by layering blocks of color on top of one another.

A change from his usual black linear style, these lively paintings allowed Piet to express his love of music. His work would go on to inspire artists in all mediums, from fashion to graphic design.

Victory Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian
Victory Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian

Eduardo Paolozzi

Eduardo Paolozzi was one of the first artists to write the word “pop” in his work. Now it’s a favored description for many modern designers.

He made his innovative work pop with abstract sculptures and unique compositions of collages and more. Inspired by his love of Surrealism, Eduardo wanted to explore the many ways that humans have been affected by uncontrollable forces.

Head of Invention by Eduardo Paolozzi
Head of Invention by Eduardo Paolozzi

Paolozzi’s fascination for the way things work, particularly the human body and machinery, crossed over into his art. In an effort to learn as much as he possibly could about the world, he filled his workshop with objects of all kinds, including toys and mosaic pieces.

“I like to make use of everything. Sometimes I feel like a wizard in Toytown, transforming a bunch of carrots into pomegranates.”

Mosaic by Eduardo Paolozzi
Mosaic by Eduardo Paolozzi

He continued his work with a drive for exploring new mediums and modes of expression. Among some of his most famous pieces is a statue of Isaac Newton, which explores how important mathematics have become to modern life.

Statue of Newton by Eduardo Paolozzi
Statue of Newton by Eduardo Paolozzi

Andy Warhol

When you think of pop art, you think of Andy Warhol. An American artist, director and producer, Warhol’s work became a cultural phenomenon during the 1960s for his incredible commercial and advertisement pieces.

Though he worked with many styles and media, some of his most famous pieces include the iconic silkscreen paintings of Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhold
Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol

The Marilyn Diptych, as it was called, contains 50 images of Marilyn’s face. Twenty-five images on the left side are brightly colored, while the other 25 remain in black and white.

All of the images of the iconic actress were based on a single publicity photo from the movie Niagara. This piece alone would not only inspire many but also become a point of reference for many artists for years to come.

Campbell Soup Cans by Andy Warhol
Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

Also among his famous pieces are Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. This collection of 32 canvases consists of all the flavor varieties available at that time.

Warhol openly embraced consumerism. Some of his work
included a collection of paintings dedicated to iconic American objects. From Coca Cola bottles to dollar bills, Warhol unleashed his creativity despite the criticism of naysayers.

Campbell Soup Cans by Andy Warhol
Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

Warhol continued to develop various techniques for creating and manipulating art. He later transitioned into film-making as a director of films like Sleep and more.


Are you ready to help us change the next 100 years of art and design? These modern times show us that it is possible to create change, especially when creativity is our best asset. And I hope you continue to learn more about these
amazing timelines on your own.

For more stories about Expressionism and Modern Pop Art, dive into the links below for further reading.

All of the images used are for educational purposes. The following sources were also included in this article:

How to Create a Winter City Scene in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Winter is coming! It’s time to enjoy the wonderful holiday Christmas atmosphere, walk on snowy streets and listen to Christmas songs while looking at the lights, garlands and decorations of beautiful European cities.

In this tutorial, we will let the Christmas magic fill our imagination and create a festive city street illustration.

As always, you can skip the tutorial and grab the result as a part of my Christmas Travel Winter Backgrounds collection. And look for even more Christmas spirit on GraphicRiver.

Christmas Travel Winter Backgrounds set on Graphicriver

1. How to Create a New Document

First we need to set up a New Document (File > New or Control-N) with these settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 1200
  • Height: 1200
  • Units: pixels

From the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen
  • Preview Mode: Default
  • Uncheck Align New Objects to Pixel Grid
Creating a new document

2. How to Create a Winter House

Step 1

Before we start building our first house, make sure you have the Smart Guides (View > Smart Guides) turned on. This option will help us to move and place objects more easily.

Then create a 224 x 395 px light blue #579dfe rectangle with the help of the Rectangle Tool (M) for the main shape of our building.

Build one more 224 x 50 px shape (#754a3d) and put it on the bottom part of the larger one, aligning to its center.

Building two rectangles

Step 2

Create a small brown (#8a5e48) rectangle which will act as a brick. Spread the bricks over the bottom brown part of the building by copying and dragging them, imitating the texture.

Adding bricks

Step 3

Let’s start to build a window by creating a 33 x 75 px rectangle which we will fill with #bad4f7.

Select it and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset value to -3 px, adding a smaller shape inside. Set the shape color to #4a5c5e.

Forming a rectangle with outline

Step 4

Select the light outer shape and use the Offset Path method again, setting the Offset to 5 px to create an outline. Color it with blue #447cc9. (1)

Add a narrow stripe of 3 px width dividing our window into two halves. Create one more horizontal line of the same width, placing it on the top half of the window. (2)

Keeping the horizontal line selected, choose the Reflect Tool (O). Holding the Alt key, click on the center of the vertical stripe. In the Reflect option window, set the Axis to Horizontal and press Copy, reflecting the shape to the bottom half of the window. (3)

Group (Control-G) all the parts together.

Rendering a large window

Step 5

In addition to the larger one, we need a smaller window for the house.

Build a 33 x 52 px rectangle of #bad4f7 color.

Using the Offset Path option and the same colors as in the previous step, add a dark inner shape, blue outline, and crossed vertical and horizontal stripes to the window.

Creating a small window

Step 6

Let’s move on and place windows on the house shape.

Take the larger window and drag it to the middle of the large blue rectangle. Keeping the shape selected and holding both the Shift and the Alt keys, drag the window right, creating a copy on the right side.

To get one more copy in the same direction on the left side, just select the first window and press Enter. The Move option window appears. Add the “” symbol before the Horizontal value without changing the value itself and press Copy.

Creating a row of windows

Step 7

Create three more windows on the top part of the building.

Then add two smaller windows on the bottom part, leaving an empty space in the middle for the entrance.

Spreading the windows over facade

Step 8

Time to create an entrance door.

Build a 60 x 119 px rectangle (#8a5e48) and go to Object > Path > Offset Path, setting the Offset value to 10 px. Change the outline color to #447cc9.

Add a horizontal rectangle (#4a5c5e) on the top part of the inner shape for the door window.

Building a door

Step 9

Let’s add some details to the door by creating a horizontal stripe (#6e4539) right under the bottom outline of the door window. Then place a thinner vertical line of the same color on the middle of the brown part of the door, dividing the door in two parts.

Build one more rectangle for the snowy threshold (#b3def5), aligning it to the bottom part of the door. Select the two upper anchors with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and pull the circle indicators to the center, making the corners rounded.

Finishing the door

Step 10

Group (Control-G) all the door pieces together and place the door on the house, aligning to its bottom edge.

Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and, holding Shift, drag the bottom edge of the blue door outline up, placing it on the same level as the top edge of the brown brick part.

Placing the door on the building

Step 11

Add several thin stripes going across the top and bottom edges of the windows, making the facade more detailed.

Creating decorative stripes

Step 12

Time to create a roof for our house.

Build a 234 x 140 px rectangle of #b3def5 color on the top of the building, overlapping the house’s top edge, and slightly round the corners.

Copy the roof shape and click Control-B to get a Duplicate behind the main object. Move it down by a few pixels using the Arrow key and change the color to dark blue (#4075bd), creating a shadow effect.

Duplicate the main blue wall shape. Then select both the wall copy and the roof copy using the Intersect function of the Pathfinder to cut the shape. Now the shadow looks natural.

Drawing a roof

Step 13

Many old European houses have mansard windows, and I really like this architectural detail. Let’s add two mansard windows to our building.

Just create a narrow white rectangle and rotate it by holding the Shift key. Take the Reflect Tool (O), and then Alt-click on the top anchor point of our shape. In the Rotate panel, set the Angle to 90° and click the Copy button. Make both shapes fully rounded and move them closer to each other. Merge the rounded rectangle into one shape using the Unite option of Pathfinder. This shape will act as a snow cap on the top of our window.

Create a small blue rectangle underneath.

Starting build a mansard window

Step 14

Select both shapes with the Selection Tool (V), hold the Alt key, and click on the blue shape. The selection becomes thicker, indicating you’re now aligning to the Key Object. Head to the Align panel and click the Horizontal Align Center button.

Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a triangle-like shape (#4075bd) which sits right on the top edge of the blue shape and overlaps the angled white shape.

Select the white angled shape and go to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front, placing it in front of the other parts.

Adding triangle shape and aligning snow cape

Step 15

Create a small window inside the blue rectangle in the same way as we did before, using the Offset function and the Rectangle Tool (M).

Group (Control-G) all the mansard window pieces together and create a mirror copy on the left part of the roof, by taking the Reflect Tool (O) and clicking on the center of the roof while holding the Alt button.

Add white rounded rectangles underneath each facade window for snowy window ledges. The first house is ready!

Adding a window and a second mansard Building snowy ledges

3. How to Create More Winter Houses

Step 1

Let’s move to the next grey building with the rounded roof.

Start by making a 225 x 395 px rectangle of #4a5c5e color. Create one more 145 x 90 px shape of the same color, placing it over the top edge of the larger one and aligning to its center. Select the two upper corners, make them fully rounded, and then merge the two shapes into one with the help of the Unite option on the Pathfinder panel.

Building grey rectangle and top rounded part

Step 2

Use the Offset path method to add a decorative rim around the building. Set the color to #9ec5c9. Drag the bottom edge of the rim to the top flat edge of the house shape. Align the outstanding rim edges to the main house base by dragging them with the Direct Selection Tool (A).

Adding a decorative rim on the top part

Step 3

Create a rounded door with a staircase on the bottom part. Use the Live Corners feature to round the door’s top, the Offset method to create a rim around it, and simple rectangles for the stairs. Use #8a5e48 for the main door color, #6e4539 for the darker brown, and #7c9b9e for the light grey.

Place three decorative stripes (#7c9b9e) on the house facade behind the door group. Add a horizontal ledge (#9ec5c9) over the entrance and spread two more copies of it over the building facade, leaving empty spaces for the future windows.

Place a gentle shadow under the bottom ledge, making the facade more three-dimensional. Fill the shadow shape with #4a5c5e, and switch its Blending Mode to Multiply in the Transparency panel, while lowering the Opacity to 40%.

Creating the door decorative stripes and a shadow

Step 4

Form a small window in the same way as we did for the previous house, using the Rectangle Tool (M) and the Offset path option. Use #b3def5 color for the window and #7c9b9e for the window frame.

Create small decorative rectangles around the window, filling them with #9ec5c9. Add a thin horizontal shape of the same color for the window ledge on the bottom part.

To give the ledge a more classic style, make a circle over the ledge, aligning to its center. Select the ledge and the top circle and cut off the top part of the circle by Alt-clicking on it with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Merge both shapes into one with the Unite option of Pathfinder.

Add a white rounded rectangle overlapping the ledge, which will act as a snow cap. Group (Control-G) all the parts together.

Forming a window

Step 5

Spread the window groups over the building. Create two smaller rectangular windows and one circular window on the top part of the facade.

Form two grey columns (#7c9b9e) under the decorative rim and then add snow caps on the horizontal ledges using white rounded rectangles.

Take the Pen Tool (P) and create the angled shape for the half of the snowy roof (#b3def5) on the left side of the building. Round the roof corner and, keeping the shape selected, create a mirror reflection of it on the right side by Alt-clicking on the top building anchor with the Reflect Tool (O). Don’t forget to set the Axis to Vertical and press Copy in the end, as we did before.

The grey building is finished. Group (Control-G) all its pieces together.

Spreading windows over the building making a roof and snowy ledges

Step 6

Time to make the last building with a stepped roof.

Create a 235 x 430 px rectangle of #ffc45c color. Start forming the roof by placing a horizontal rectangle on the top edge, making it shorter at the edges. Add two more rectangles, one above the other, making each one shorter than the previous.

Place a 235 x 140 px rectangle (#822b1a) on the bottom of the building for the ground floor. Add a narrow ledge (#e66340) above its top edge.

Creating stepped shape and ground floor rectangle

Step 7

Copy the window from the first blue house, and make its outside part wider while making the window itself shorter at the top and bottom edges. Change the colors using #e66340 for the red outside part, #7c9b9e for the glass, and #4a5c5e for the window frame.

Add a white ellipse on the top part of the window, create a line which goes across the ellipse shape above its center, and use the Divide option of Pathfinder while selecting the line and the ellipse. Delete the bottom half of the shape, forming a snow cap.

Add a white rounded rectangle on the bottom part of the window for a snowy ledge. Group (Control-G) all the parts together.

Make more copies of the windows and arrange them on the facade in any symmetrical position which you find interesting.

Creating and copying the windows

Step 8

Render the large window for the ground floor.

Most of the manipulations will be the same as for the previous objects. Start by creating a 64 x 64 rectangle for the window glass (#7c9b9e). With the help of the Offset method, add two outlines to it, using #754a3d for the lighter brown and #5b1b14 for the darker. Add a vertical narrow stripe, finishing the window frame.

Click on the window glass and create simple curtains of the darker color with the Pen Tool (P), cutting off the outstanding parts with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M).

Start to create a sunshade by building a red (#e84b4a) rectangle, making the top corners rounded. Add a few vertical stripes (#e8dddd) on the sunshade, cutting off the unwanted pieces, and place a gentle shadow under its edge.

Add a snow cap to the top of the sunshade and a snowy ledge to its bottom. Then Group (Control-G) the objects.

Building a large window with a sunshade

Step 9

Create a copy of the window on the left side, change its color to yellow (#ffb636), and build a simple fir tree to add a Christmas feeling. Set the colors of the fir tree and the curtains to the darker yellow.

Click on the main yellow shape and create a simple angled shadow (#eba04b) with the Pen Tool (P).

Finish the building by placing orange (#e66340) bricks here and there as well as ledges above the top edges of the stepped roof.

Control (Control-G) all the parts together.

Adding second window a shadow and decorative bricks

4. How to Create a Winter Cityscape Composition

Step 1

Let’s line up our houses and add a 1200 x 1200 px rectangle (#94cdeb) for the background. Use the Align panel to align the buildings at the bottom.

Aligning the houses and adding blue background

Step 2

Change the roof colors of the blue and grey houses to white, adding more contrast to the illustration. Change the color of the snow caps on the mansard windows to the darker blue.

Create a white rounded rectangle for the ground level and make a subtle shadow on the bottom by creating a copy (#b3def5) behind it and moving it down by a few pixels.

Draw simple silhouettes of other buildings (#87c0de) behind the houses with the Pen Tool (P), adding more depth to the illustration.

Rendering background buildings and ground level

Step 3

With the help of simple shapes and the Pen Tool (P), create a street lantern and color it using the following settings: 

  • #4a5c5e for the darker grey
  • #586e70 for the lighter grey
  • #ffb636 for the yellow glass
  • #d49322 for the lamp

Drag the lantern on the illustration, placing it on the left side near the blue house, and make another copy on the right side near the yellow building.

Creating a lantern

Step 4

Let’s make our lanterns shine.

Just create a white circle behind one of the lanterns and fill it with radial gradient from white to black, switching its Blending Mode to Screen. Double-click on the bottom-left gradient slider and change the white color to yellow (#feb02a).

Then move the top-left gradient slider slightly to the right. Copy the gradient, placing it behind the second lantern.

Adding lighting to the lantern

Step 5

Now we’ll create a snowflake. Draw the main form using the Pen Tool (P) and the image below as a reference (1). Use #daeffa for the coloring.

To add the rounded top part, just create a rounded rectangle and delete its top half with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A). (2)

Group (Control-G) all the parts. Take the Rotate Tool (R) and click on the bottom anchor while holding the Alt button. Enter 90 for the Angle value and press Copy. Keeping the copy selected, press Control-D twice, creating two more copies and finishing the snowflake. (3) Group (Control-G) all the parts together.

Copying and varying the sizes, spread the snowflakes over our scene to form a well-balanced composition. Add a few circles to imitate smaller snowflakes.

Forming a snowflakes

Step 6

Take a look at your winter scene and see if there’s anything else you’d like to create—maybe an extra snow cap, some more details on the houses, or light from the windows. 

I chose to add more Christmas spirit to the illustration and created classic holiday symbols, such as a wreath, garlands, bells, a pine tree, and some other decorations. Also I added a few snow caps to the stepped roof of the yellow house.

Creating finishing details

Awesome Work! Congratulations!

Great job! We’ve managed to create a trendy flat-style winter city scene. Now we are ready for the Christmas holidays!

This illustration is only a part of my Christmas Travel Winter Backgrounds collection. And look for even more Christmas illustrations on GraphicRiver.

Christmas Travel Winter Backgrounds set on Graphicriver

I hope you have enjoyed the process and learned some useful tips and tricks for your future illustrations.

Feel free to share how your project turned out or ask questions in the comments below. Happy Christmas holidays!

winter house scene

Art for All: Celebrate Diversity in Design—Volume 4

Welcome back to our Diversity in Design series on Envato Tuts+. Discover four talented artists with inspiring styles you’ll love.

4 Artists You Should Know: Diversity in Design

Celebrate the work of these extraordinary artists. Each with their own unique
background, they draw inspiration from their culture and surroundings to create phenomenal illustrations.

Ndumiso Nyoni

Ndumiso is a motion graphic designer from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Film and design are his passion, and Ndumiso’s work features Afrocentric illustrations with brilliant colors and geometry. See more in his portfolio, or follow him on Instagram @ndumiso_nyoni

X-Men: Storm

I’m a Johannesburg based Illustrator and Motion Designer and I make contemporary African art. My art is a combination of vector
illustration, bold line work with vibrant colors and a touch of light
and shadow effects.

X-Men Storm by Ndumiso Nyoni
X-Men: Storm

After Midnight

Almost all my work is inspired by Africa and its beautiful people.
It is a continent that is filled with rich textures, bold colors,
carefully crafted shapes and diverse cultures. My goal is to celebrate
Africa with each artwork and portray it as the positive, fertile and
vibrant continent we know and live in.

After Midnight by Ndumiso Nyoni
After Midnight

Nomaqhawe (Mother of Heroes)

Nomaqhawe Mother of Heroes by Ndumiso Nyoni
Nomaqhawe (Mother of Heroes)

I Am Not My Hair

I’m a huge fan of traditional Ndebele patterns, so naturally Esther
Mahlangu’s work has inspired a lot of my art. I learnt about Bauhaus at
university and that has also influenced how I conceptualize my art. Some of my favourite artists include Esther Mahlangu, Malika Farve and
Gerard Sekoto.

I Am Not My Hair by Ndumiso Nyoni
I Am Not My Hair

Joanne Nam

Joanne is a fine artist and painter living in LA.

Her paintings are dreamy and ethereal, featuring scenes that pull you in with incredible little moments. See more in her portfolio, and support her work on Pateron @joannenam.


I was born in Korea and moved to America in my teens. I’m currently based in Los Angeles, and I love to paint based on
my experiences and emotions.

Floe by Joanne Nam


My inspiration comes from my
childhood. I used to live in a forest so it was an interesting subject
to daydream from time to time.

Current life experiences and relationships
between people and myself change the mood of my art. Even a cup of tea
changes my mood and it affects my art.

Buttery by Joanne Nam


Fate by Joanne Nam

The Dream

As I grow as an artist, I’ve
learned how to control my emotions and energy. I sometimes do certain
things to change my mood when I paint.

For example, I go to the gym to put confident bold brush strokes in my paintings. Then I listen to
delicate music to dig into the details.

The Dream by Joanne Nam
The Dream

Alex Herrerías

Our next artist is Alex, a children’s book illustrator living in Mexico.

He tells inspiring stories of triumph and tradition, and his work features lovely illustrations with mythological themes and more. See more in his portfolio, or follow him on Instagram @alexherreriasilustrador

El Aprendizaje – The learning

I am a professor at the School of Arts
and Design of Unam and I have become a father for the first time this year. My work is currently published in different parts of the world.

El aprendizaje by Alex Herreras
El aprendizaje – The learning

El Hombre Que Nunca Reía

I am working on my own graphic novel and I enjoy every project I do. I try to create a very comfortable work environment, with music, coffee and lots of sunlight.

El Hombre Que Nunca Rea by Alex Herreras
El Hombre Que Nunca Reía

Tú Eliges

Tu Eliges by Alex Herreras
Tú Eliges

The Surfing Luchador

Drawing in my notebook is of the utmost importance, I try to be very dynamic and honest with each idea.

For my process, I read books, see references and listen to music concerning it. Each illustrated project brings me a lot of personal learning.
Then I
draw the first ideas in my notebook and a larger final sketch before I send it to the client. The tools I use are usually: a pencil, notebooks, a Wacom Intuos and Adobe Photoshop.

The Surfing Luchador
The Surfing Luchador

Yifan Wu

Yifan is an editorial illustrator living in Baltimore, Maryland.

Her work is unique and profound, with beautiful subjects that will make you think. See more in her portfolio, and follow her on Instagram @icyfeetpie.

Let the Moonlight Soothe Your Soul

I am a visual artist and storyteller. I enjoy nature, funk, indie rock, dancing, reading and intellectual conversations.

Let the Moonlight Soothe Your Soul by Yifan Wu
Let the Moonlight Soothe Your Soul

Watercolor – What Is Reading to Me

A lot of my work is inspired by nature, life and fantasy stories.
There are also other pieces that express my quirky sense of humor and

Conceptually, I
get inspired from Kafka’s novels, 60s Polish animations, and illustrators
who do brilliant conceptual work like Saul Steinberg and Roland Tapor.

Watercolor - What Is Reading to Me by Yifan Wu
Watercolor – What Is Reading to Me


Boating by Yifan Wu

Respect Pussy

Making art is my way to escape from nihilism and connect to the world by raising questions for my audience to think. I believe that artists
should take on the responsibility of providing a clearer and deeper
insight into the world.

Respect Pussy by Yifan Wu
Respect Pussy

Celebrate Diversity! Send Us Your Favorite Artists!

Help us find more incredible artists from different backgrounds to share with our audience! Tweet me your recommendations at MelloNieves or use the hashtags #artforall and #tutsplusdesign on Twitter and Instagram. You never know, we may just feature you in our next article!

I’d like to extend a warm thank you to all the artists who participated in
this feature. Feel free to see more of their work in the links below:

Photoshop in 60 Seconds: RGB vs. CMYK

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Learn essential design terms in under a minute! Check out the quick video below.

Photoshop in 60 Seconds: RGB vs. CMYK

Learning color modes is essential for understanding design. In this video, I’ll discuss the main differences between RGB and CMYK, what they stand for, and how to change the color mode in Adobe Photoshop.

How to Change the Color Mode in Photoshop

RGB and CMYK are both acronyms to describe color. These colors are what we see on our screens and on printed work.


CMYK, or cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, comes from the days of the early printing presses where colors were applied in single, consecutive layers that were then left to dry until the print was complete. Today, it’s considered a standard design mode since it’s still used by professional printers.

CMYK RGB comparison
Comparing how RGB (1) and CMYK (2) modes affect the colors in your work.


RGB stands for red, green, and blue. RGB refers to the colored light on our computer monitors that displays everything we see. With millions of colors available, you can achieve way more artistically.

To change the Color Mode in Photoshop from RGB to CMYK:

First, Merge all the layers.

Then go to Image > Mode and select CMYK. Save your file in a high-resolution format or talk with your printer for more help.

CMYK Color Mode

Learn More With Our Tutorials!

Inspired to learn more design essentials? Start with one of our
tutorials! Continue to grow your skills over time while developing
amazing patience.

Get Amazing Design Resources

Want to create videos like this? Download the resources used in this video:

Check out these tutorials to learn more from our experts: