Hmm, How I Made My Portfolio Illustrations

Oct 8

Today I wanted to share with you how I created the illustrations for my portfolio site, Hmm Design. Let’s get to business.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you struggle forever trying to figure out what to do with your portfolio. I have a habit of starting my portfolio and never finishing it because I keep coming up with new ideas. Fortunately, this time I stuck to my concept and was able to finish it.

Because I love illustration, I started to sketch out some ideas of incorporating a cartoon visual of myself in my portfolio. The original sketches were created with some good old pencil and paper.

Original Sketches for My Portfolio, Hmm Design

Original Sketches for My Portfolio, Hmm Design

After I was happy with things, I scanned the images and imported them into Illustrator. I wanted a really clean and crisp look for my illustrations, so I chose to outline the images in Illustrator, instead of inking over them and then using Live Trace. I find inking and then using Live Trace to convert your images into Illustrator gives your illustrations more of that hand-drawn look. In this instance, I wasn’t going for the hand-drawn look and wanted more simple geometric forms. I used a combination of shapes and the pen tool in Illustrator to outline my drawing.

My Illustration Outlined Using Adobe Illustrator

My Illustration Outlined Using Adobe Illustrator

After the outlines were finished, I began to combine and fill in some of the shapes. This can be done in a variety of ways. I suggest you play around with Illustrator’s pathfinder tools to familiarize yourself with adding and subtracting shapes from paths.

Illustration with Shapes Filled and Extra Outlines Removed

Illustration with Shapes Filled and Extra Outlines Removed

Next, I created the layer used to fill in the skin color. Again, this is done using the pathfinder tools to combine different shapes into one.

Illustration with Background Layer Added for Skin Tones

Illustration with Background Layer Added for Skin Tones

After finishing the background layer, I brought the outline and fill layers into Photoshop separately. I then added the proper colors to match my portfolio. You can definitely colorize everything in Illustrator. However, I find that the color conversion between Illustrator and Photoshop to be somewhat different. In this case, since I was designing my portfolio in Photoshop, I thought it would be safer to colorize everything in Photoshop.

Images Colorized in Photoshop

Images Colorized in Photoshop

Finally, I combined the two layers in Photoshop to complete my illustration.

Final Illustration for Hmm Design

Final Illustration for Hmm Design

That’s all it takes. Visit Hmm Design to see all of my illustrations and I hope you’re able to try this project out on your own.