After upgrading from my Bamboo Wacom to the Wacom Intuous Pro, I decided to check out some videos for inspiration and found the following Illustrator tutorial.  The tutorial demonstrates how to design a pirate skull.

In summary:


  • (At 0:35) She starts with a 3 point Brush , selects “pressure option” with a 3 point variation. This allows you to utilize the power of Wacom’s pressure sensitivity.
  • Starts with short strokes for the outline and uses lighter thiner strokes for details
  • (3:20) Uses a 2 point brush and starts filling out shadows and accents
  • Leaves offsets of white next to the outlines to allow the outlines to be visible
  • (6:08) To convert the strokes into one big shape:
    • Object > Expand Appearance
    • Object > Expand: Shapes instead of strokes
    • Merge on the pathfinder: Creates one big shape
  • Object Path Clean Up: build a fill color (uses an off-black color)

Base Color

  • Create a colored rectangle in the background and merges it with the line art to create a base color
  • Group the outlines and places the fill on separate layers
  • Selects others shapes for different colors

Shadows & Highlights

  • (8:00) Uses another thicker brush (6points) with a darker color to use for shadows. Strokes next to the black lines.
  • (10:00) Highlights. Uses lighter colors to create an effect of a reflective light (using the same 6 point brush and smaller brushes when needed)

*Keep in mind she uses separate layers in this order:  base color (bottom), highlights, shadows, outlines (top)

Not the greatest work, but here’s what I was able to design pretty quickly in order to try out her techniques and practice using the wacom.