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  • Writer's pictureIsabel

Noodle Ramen Illustration - Affinity Designer tutorial

In this Affinity Designer tutorial, we're going to draw a beautiful and appealing ramen bowl illustration going from step one to the final touches.

Final artwork you will be creating (Click to enlarge)

Needless to say that, as usual, you can either follow instructions as they are presented here, or you can try your own little tweaks. However, what I would love to see is your final artwork!

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You can watch this walk through video about the creation of this illustration before reading the article.

Let's start!

1. Affinity Designer Document and Background settings

Create a new document in Affinity Designer with a white canvas and size 4000x 2500px and 300dpi. You can set it to a lower dpi, but I often prefer to work in high resolution even for vector images. This way I make sure I won't have to readjust anything in my illustration if I want to print it later.

Select the rectangle tool and drag it over the canvas. Apply a gradient like in the image.

Gradient colour is #367A81 and 100% opacity for the right colour stop and #FFFFFF and a 0% opacity for the left.

Name the layer "Background" and lock it.

Setting the document and background (Click to enlarge)

2. Drawing the Bowl

Select the Ellipse tool and drag it over the canvas. Give it a gradient colour like in the image.

My ellipse is 1088 x 880px. Select it, right click over it and select the option "Convert to curves" in the menu.

Next, with the Node tool (A), and the Snapping icon active (Align to nodes of selected curves) in the Node tool upper contextual menu, move the top node of the ellipse down so you make a shape like shown in the image.

Make sure the nodes are aligned. When you move the top node with the Snapping option active, you will see guides like shown in the image. This means your nodes are aligned.

Snapped nodes for the bowl base (Click to enlarge)

Next, create a new ellipse, give it a #FF8A97 fill colour and if you want, add also a little bit of noise, and place it on top of the bowl, making sure both shapes are perfectly aligned with one another. Put some love doing this, as you don't want them to look misaligned.

Make sure both shapes touch as this image shows

Make sure both shapes touch as this image shows

Your bowl should now be looking like this:

(Click to enlarge)

Next, select the inner ellipse you just created, and duplicate it (Cmd+J).

With it still selected, pull inwards to make it smaller while pressing Cmd (Ctrl)+Shift on your keyboard so it reduces its size while constraining its proportions staying concentrical with the other one.

Your two concentrical ellipses should now look like this, perfectly aligned with one another:

(Click to enlarge)

Repeat this action now duplicating the inner ellipse, but this time making it much smaller so it will be the bottom base for the bowl.

Move it down pressing "Shift" on your keyboard so it stays aligned with the other ellipses and also place it behind all the other bowl parts in your layers panel (right above the background) and change the elliptical gradient to a solid colour: #8A0006.

Also, remember to name your objects in the Affinity Designer layers panel.

(Click to enlarge)

Again the same action, but this time duplicating the body of the bowl and reducing its size while pressing only "Cmd (Ctrl)". This time we don't want to constrain its proportions but to create a shape consistent with the original one in such away that it will serve us to create a shadow that will give volume to the bowl.

So basically, you need to create a shape similar to the one on the image below, giving it a gaussian blur of around 30px and a colour fill of #A60820 and then clip-mask it inside its "mother shape".

When creating this shape, try to keep your nodes aligned (help yourself with the horseshoe icon snapping option) so it won't be a wobbly shape, but something that gives the impression of being a hard surface object.

Clip-mask the new shape into its original shape so it stays nested within its boundaries.

(Click to enlarge)

3. The Soup Ingredients

By now, you probably can imagine what we are going to do to create the base for the soup.

Yes, again, duplicate the inner bowl ellipse (Cmd+J), and reduce the size slightly while pressing "Cmd(Ctrl)+Shift" to constrain proportions. Fill it with an elliptical gradient colour of #F7ECCC on one end and #DA2900 on the other.

Clip-mask the new shape (Soup) inside the other (Inner bowl).

"Soup" shape clip-masked into the "Inner bowl " shape. (Click to enlarge)

3.1 The Noodles

Select the Ellipse tool and drag a it over the canvas. Duplicate the ellipse (Cmd+J) you just created and make it slightly smaller and concentrical to the original one (Cmd+Shift).

Now, selecting both of them, go to the menu "Geometry" and select "Subtract" to perforate them and create a shape like in the image below.

Apply a linear gradient with colours #DAC560 on one end, and #DCAD60 on the other.

Duplicate the noodle ring several times giving a bit of an angle to some of them so they are not all in the same position and angle.

Group the noodle rings and make sure to clip mask them inside the "Inner bowl" shape in the layers panel, just as shown in the image.

Steps to create the Noodles (right) and noodles placed into the "Inner bowl" shape using a clipping-mask (left). (Click to enlarge)

3.2 Carrots and green onions

This one is quite simple. Either using the Affinity Designer Pen tool or with the Square tool, trace a rectangle and convert it to curves (if you used a rectangle) so you can move a bit the nodes for it not to be too even.

Apply a linear gradient to it with colours #FFAD67 and #EB6C00 and duplicate it several times moving each carrot strand, and giving it different angles. Group them all and clip mask this group on top of the "Inner bowl" shape.

Steps to create the Carrots (right) and Carrots placed into the "Inner bowl" shape.

(Click to enlarge)

Proceed the same way to create the green onions, this time making them slightly shorter. Place them on top of the carrots, and play a bit with the positioning of some of them, like I've done, to make the ingredients look more dynamic inside the bowl.

This is just an initial position for them to start creating a composition. We can change things around as we go adding new elements.

Name your layers accordingly to keep good organisation. Your Noodles Ramen bowl should look something like this by now:

(Click to enlarge)

3.3 The Beans

With the "Ellipse tool" draw several beans and apply an "Elliptical gradient" with colours #9BCD00 and #557100. As you can see from the picture I have initially created 4 beans, grouped them and duplicated this group several times to save time.

(Click to enlarge)

3.4 Red Onion and Other Ingredients

To add more interest to the soup, I have also added some red onion. For this, I have simply duplicated once more the previously created noodle rings and changed the gradient colours to #EEE3EE and #D171CD.

I have then duplicated them several times and moved, flipped and changed the angle in such a way they fit the composition nicely. Also, I've kept the original drop shadow effect the noodles had, so it doesn't look to flat and it makes the ingredients look like they are stacking over one another.

It is up to you to decide where they fit better in your composition, but try to avoid crowding them too much, as well as leaving big empty spaces. Try to find a flowing balance.

(Click to enlarge)

You can add as many ingredients as you want in your Noodle Ramen bowl. I for example, will add later on some more rings with a greenish colour. Some sort of undefined vegetable and some red extra ingredients that I felt fit right, and added a bit more of colour and variation to the whole composition.

3.5 The Eggs

With the Affinity Designer Ellipse tool draw the top part of the egg half and give it a "Radial gradient" filled with colours #FFEFE6 and #FF9052, and place it like you see in the image.

Duplicate it and convert the new shape to curves (right click while selecting it > convert to curves) and tweak a bit its nodes on the bottom part of it in such a way that once placed under the top shape for the egg, it will give the impression of having some volume.

Follow the sequence as in the image below.

To create the yolk, draw a new ellipse, apply a #FFA471 colour and a bit of noise to it (optional). The noise option is a bit hidden. To find it, click on the little colour circle for "Opacity", and it will change to "Noise". Place it on top and group the egg parts.

If you want to create a second half of the egg like I've have, simply duplicate it, give it a different angle and play by flipping it until you find a good composition.

Next, clip mask them inside the "Inner bowl" shape just as the rest of the ingredients, so they stay into the soup and not over the bowl.

At this stage is where I start moving all the elements (ingredients) a bit more around, so I find a good composition and the right balance. At a glance, I feel I put the noodles a bit too close together so I might want to tweak that later to allow for more "air" or "breathing space" between them to lighten up a bit the composition.

Steps to create the Eggs (right) and Eggs placed into the "Inner bowl" shape.

(Click to enlarge)

4. The Chopsticks

Just as we did for the carrot, draw a long and narrow rectangle, give it an "Elliptical gradient" with colours #F6E4DB and #AD835B and transform it to curves in order to move its nodes so it's tapered in one of the ends.

Give it and angle and duplicate it. Now move the angle of the new chopstick accordingly as you see in the image below.

Steps to create the Chopsticks (right) and Chopsticks placed on top of the bowl (left).

(Click to enlarge)

To create the noodle in the chopsticks, I have traced a stroke of 6pt with the "Pencil tool" and then expanded the stroke (Layer >Expand stroke). This way, it will be transformed into a shape and when I add a fill gradient, I will be able to manipulate it easily with the "Fill (Gradient) tool".

The gradient is linear with colours #FFFBF3 #FFD991 #D3664A (see image below).

I have then placed the noodle between the two chopsticks in the layers panel.

The Noodle created expanding a stroke. (Click to enlarge)

5. The Shadow

Draw and ellipse, duplicate it and resize one of them slightly. Leave the second ellipse aside for the time being.

Draw also two squares following the shape of the chopsticks. Overlap them over the bigger ellipse as you see in the image.

Select the ellipse and the chopsticks and on the menu Geometry, select "Add" while pressing the "Alt (Opt)" key on your keyboard to create a "Compound shape" out of all of them, (chopsticks and ellipse).

Fill them with the gradient colours #376050 and #113627, being the darker of these colours the one that will be closer to the base of the bowl.

Overlap the second smaller ellipse as in the image below. The colour for this ellipse is #120F00 and it has a 10% opacity.

Place them below the bowl. I have left a bit sticking out on the left bottom side of the bowl cause I felt it looked better. While keeping some basic rules of real life illumination in mind, don't go overly mental on how real shadows would work. It's a matter of balancing a bit reality and style.

Steps to create the Shadow (right) and Shadow placed below the bowl. (Click to enlarge)

6. Fine-tuning Colours with Blend Modes

To give the illustration a more attractive look and interest, I have decided I wanted some change in the colours and as usual, wanted to experiment with the blend modes.

For the top bowl edge, I have made some changes to what I had until now.

First, I have applied a linear transparency with the transparency tool (Y on your keyboard) to the right side of the ellipse ("Edge bowl" in the layers panel).

I have then duplicated it applying a #17C9B8 fill colour, a linear transparency and a "Colour Dodge" blend to it.

I've done the same for the base of the bowl but using a "Glow" blend for it.

For the body of the bowl, I have used two rectangles, one being narrower than the other (almost a square) and have stacked them one on top of the other inside the bowl, using a clipping mask. Both have a "Colour" blend mode applied.

The reason to do this, is that I wanted the colour transition to be even smoother than the one blend modes already offer, plus making it more conspicuous.

I have also added a highlight to the right most side of the bowl, over its edge. I have done this duplicating the body twice, to then use it to crop a part of it with a "Subtract" operation and then place it over the bowl, making sure it is clip-masked inside.

For the shadow inside the bowl, the one we created to give volume to it at the beginning, I have slightly changed its shape so it wraps a bit more the bowl, following its shape and changed its colour to #B21A3D.

The tweaks to this shape is something worth experimenting, but always trying to snap your nodes consistently as said before, to not create wobbly or strange shapes on a hard surface. This would make them look unnatural in an undesired way.

Applying colour blend modes and extra elements to add interest to the illustration.

(Click to enlarge)

7. Final touches

I usually like to make changes at the end, to experiment with different colours and blend modes so I get to choose the version I like the most. It's a fun stage, where sometimes I go a bit crazy, as it is hard to pick my favourite version.

I have applied a "Screen" blend to the noodles and duplicated the carrots and added a "Hard light" blend to the duplicate. Notice how hey look much more vivid now.

First, for the blue shapes over the bowl, I have duplicated the wider one once more and stacked it and set the blend modes for the two on top to "Reflect" and have left the one on the very bottom with a "Colour" blend mode as it was initially.

For the shape that wraps the bowl, I tweaked a bit the nodes so it wraps around a bit more.

For the base, I've tweaked the colour to from #8A0006 to #E0394F so it matches the rest of the bowl better.

I have also changed a bit the gradient fill for the background to colours #EDEDED and #05919F and added a writing using an "Arial" font, copy pasting the word "Ramen" in Japanese "拉麺" - Or at least that's how Google said it's written ;)

The final artwork looks like this!

Final Artwork (Click to enlarge)

The image below is a variation on the uses this illustration could have, from a guide or book cover, stickers, flyers, brochures, menu leaflets, T-shirts, an icon set, you name it!.

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