In this tutorial we be making a cartoon style teddy bear character using Photoshop. The tutorial uses a wide range of techniques and is a good exercise to for intermediate Photoshop users looking to improve their skills. Ok let’s get started!
- Software : Adobe Photoshop
- Difficulty : Intermediate
- Estimated Completion Time : 2 Hours
What You’ll Be Creating
First step is to design or sketch up how your character is going look. This will set you up with a good base to work from for the rest of the project. If you have a scanner you can scan your sketch and use it as a reference layer directly in Photoshop, although this isn’t essential. You can copy my teddy bear character if you like, or you can make your own character.
Once you have an idea of how your character is going to look, Open up Photoshop and create a blank document, my canvas is 2048px x 2048px at 300 dpi. Create a new layer and name it ‘Background’ and paint it yellow color with the paint bucket. The first thing we will be creating are the eyes. We will make one eye and then just duplicate it to make the other. Ok, so create a new layer named ‘Eye Base’ and create a white circle. Then apply a drop shadow with the settings bellow.
Now we need to add the iris. Make a new layer named Iris Base, and paint it light blue. Now we need to add a gradient to the iris, use the magic wand to select the outline of the iris, then create a new layer and name it Iris Shadow. Set the blending mode to overlay, then with the iris ring still selected, use the gradient tool to make a black to transparent gradient from top down.
Next we need to create a custom brush. This brush will be used to fill in the iris and also later on in the tutorial for the fur. Create a new layer, then using the pent tool draw a straight vertical line. Then use the convert pen tool to bend the line as shown in the image below. Now switch over to the brush tool and select the Flat Point Medium Stiff brush. Then go to Paths Panel > Stroke Path , a check Simulate Pressure is on and Tool is set to Brush. Then play around with the width until you get something similar to the brush on the right. Then go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and save the brush.
Now we need to create some texture for the eye. Create a new layer and name it ‘Iris Texture’, set the blending mode to Soft Light. Using the brush we created, draw black radial lines around the iris. Finally, use the smudge tool to smudge the centre and make it look less uniform.
To add some highlight to the iris, duplicate the ‘Iris Texture’ layer. Set the blending mode to Soft Light and opacity to 50%. Now go to blending options and set the Color Overlay to white.
Next create a new layer and name it ‘Iris Stroke’. Set the blending mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 40%. Now go to Edit > Stroke, set width to 5px, the location to inner, and the color to dark blue. Now use the smudge tool to incorporate it into the eye as below. Finally, if the edges look rough, add a Gaussian Blur, to smooth them.
Now we need to ad some highlights to the iris. Create a new layer and name it ‘Iris Highlight’ and set the blending mode to Lighten. Next, use a white soft brush with low opacity to draw a circular line around the bottom of the iris. Play around with the opacity and size until you get something similar to the image below.
To add a bit more depth to the eye, duplicate the ‘Iris Shadow’ layer and set the blending mode to Multiply and the opacity to 54%.
We need to add the pupil now. So create a new layer underneeth the ‘Iris Shadow’ Layer and name it ‘Pupil’. Use a hard black brush to draw a circle in the middle of the eye. Now use the smudge tool to randomize the edges and incorporate it into the iris.
To add some highlight, create a new layer on top of all the layers and name in ‘Retina Highlight’. Use a hard white brush to create a white shape in the top right of the iris. Now use the smudge tool to smudge the edges.
We also need to color the white part of the eye. Create a new layer underneath the ‘Pupil’ layer and name it retina shadow. Lower the Opacity to 54%, then use the magic wand to select the ‘Eye Base’. Now use a black gradient on to darken the bottom left of the eye.
Create another layer using the same technique as above but use an orange gradient. This will give some color to the eye base, instead of it being flat white. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 18%.
Now we need to add some reflective color on the white parts of the eye. Create a new Layer and name it ‘Iris Reflection’. Set the Blending Mode to Screen and the opacity to 43%. Now use a blue brush to create a reflective shape on the bottom left of the eye. Use the smudge and eraser tools to make them look realistic.
To finish the eye, apply a light Gaussian Blur to the ‘Eye Base’ layer, this should smooth out the edges and make it look less flat. Lastly, group all the layers into a group and name it Left Eye. Now duplicate the group, name it Right Eye and move it to the right. Congratulations! We have now finished the eyes! Hopefully your results looks similar to below.
Ok, so we have finished the eyes, now time to start the body. Create a new layer and name it ‘Body Shape’. Use a large, soft black brush to paint out the shape of the body. This is really rough, you don’t need to be too precise. Next go to Filter > Liquify and use the Forward Warp Tool to fine tune the shape. The idea is that we will use this layer as a mask and then fill the body inside with texture. You should end up with something similar to below.
We need to make the borders of the body mask look furry. Use the smudge tool to go around the edges of the body, pulling outwards. Experiment with different lengths and sizes by varying the strength and brush size of the smudge tool. To add more of a fury look, use the ‘Splatter 14px’ brush. Once you have gone around all the border, your shape should look similar to the one below.
Now we are going to add the fur. Using the image provided in the Tutorial Recources, with the lasso tool, cut and past pieces of fur over the body. It’s important to have the direction of the fur flowing in the direction of the body. For example the fur around the eyes is has a circular direction. Don’t worry if pieces overlap at this point, the idea is to just set up the general look of the fur. You should have at least 20-30 layers of fur.
Once you have covered the whole body, merge all the layers into one and name it ‘Fur’ and set the Blending Mode to Multiply. You should end up with this.
Next we need to add the mouth. Create a new layer underneath the fur layer and name it ‘Mouth’. Set the blending mode to multiply. Use a small black hard brush to draw a line for mouth. Next use the smudge tool to smudge the line so that it blends in. You need the fur to look like its covering parts of the mouth.
The direction of the fur sets a base for the limbs, but we need to add some shadows to make it more realistic. Create a new layer underneath the fur layer and name it ‘Shadows’. Use a black soft brush with very low opacity to draw in dark shadows around the arms, ears and eyes. Use a white brush and the same technique to create some highlights.
Now we have some shadows, we need to add some colored highlights. In our case we are going to create blue light highlights. Create a new layer on top of the fur layer and name it ‘Blue Light’. Set the Blending Mode to Color and using a soft brush, paint blue highlights over the left side of the fur. Then use the smudge tool to blend the highlights into the fur.
To create lighter sections of fur, use the lasso tool with a feather of 20px to select regions of fur with the fur layer selected. Then apply adjustment layers of levels and color balance to lighten and color the fur.
We need to add some fur around the eyes so they look more blended in to the image. Create a new layer and name it ‘eyebrows’ on top of the eyes group. Use the brush we created earlier to draw individual hairs over the top of the eyes. Experiment with different colors and sizes to get more realism. Finally use a black brush with low opacity to draw some shadows of fur over the eyes, and the top.
Now we need to add the background. Create a new layer above the Eyes Group and name it ‘Background Gradient’. Use the magic wand to select the the body shape, then apply a Layer Mask to the Background Gradient layer. Then use a purple gradient from the top down.
Now create a new layer over the gradient and copy and past the same layer mask on it. Use a white and purplish blue radial gradient to highlight the background around the head. Set the Blending Mode to Soft Light and the opacity to 14%.
Now we need to add the floor. Use the wooden image from the Tutorial Resources, copy and paste it into the project and rename it ‘Floor’. Then edit the perspective so it looks almost flat. Once that’s done, use the Elliptical Lasso tool to select a a circular region for the floor. Then go to Select > Refine Edge and set the feather to 30px. Invert the selection and delete the rest of the floor image. Now place it at the bottom of the character, select the body shape and create a layer mask on the Floor layer. It should now appear behind the the character instead of in front of it.
Once this is done, use the eraser tool on the layer mask, at low opacity to create shadows around the base of the character. Also use the eraser on the floor image itself around the edges to make it look less formal.
Finally adjust the levels and the color balance of the floor image so it looks integrated into the scene.
To add the finishing touches to the bear, group the whole project into one group, then duplicate the group and merge the second one into one layer. Now add a light Smart Sharpen filter and set the second layer to 50% opacity. You can play around with this technique by using different opacity and filters for the overlapping layer.
Finally, add a levels adjustment layer to increase the contrast.