Illustrating Mouth-watering Food!

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Welcome! -INTRO- 🍳

Hello, Leriisa here!
I'm back with another tutorial, thank you for those who supported me on my first tips from a few months ago.
So today I will be showing you how to draw and paint delicious and mouth watering food! I'll be showing you how to plate your food in perspective, painting with volume and form using soft and hard edges and lastly, using some color correction tools in Clip Studio Paint to brighten and enhance the mood and lighting of the pieces to further tickle those taste buds.
I hope you enjoy and learn something out of this one and maybe follow along to draw your favourite food!

- Light and Volume -

Before we dive into the process of painting delicious food, we should revise the basics of light properties and how to portray volumes in 3D space. After all, its hard to ignore the many properties of food like texture and translucent nature and look underneath them at the primitive forms.

First, let’s observe the form shadows and cast shadows of the spheres that I've set up below. The location of the light source - where the light rays originate from directly affects the position of the light and shadow. With light coming from the upper left corner, the cast shadow is pushed to the right side, of the sphere. The rounded terminator (divider between the light and shadow forms) follows the sphere’s contouring on an angle perpendicular to the light ray. The highlight (the brightest speck of light) is reflected towards the left, same direction as the incoming light ray. This is true with the light being directly above, resulting in a cast shadow directly below and a highlight. Same applies with the light coming from the back of the sphere, resulting in only a small rounded portion of light form at the top and a large soft cast shadow.

- If you overexpose the picture and make the shadows really dark, they would appear to be phases of the moon in orbit!

Let’s talk about how colours are manipulated by light! So in this case, light comes from the top left corner. A very light colour is used for the small speck of highlight. A neutral pink tone is used for the apple’s base colour under light. Notice how between the light value and shadow value is a saturated colour (of a similar hue with the base colour of the apple), which is caused by subsurface scattering. Many artists incorporate this technique into their art styles! The furthest away from the light is the shadow value, a much darker value representing all the planes facing away from the light. These values are shown on the gradient strip below!

When painting food with many forms and thus many faces and planes, I recommend starting off with painting the overall volume and shape. Its easier to paint and decorate the house after you build the structure! Afterwards, add and refine any smaller forms, such as the dents created by the seeds on the surface of strawberries. Don’t feel the need to rush forward and paint all the forms in one go!

- Chocolate Cornet - 🍫

I only use five types of brushes / erasers for these drawings: A pencil for sketching, the default G-pen for line art and blocking in the base colors before locking transparent pixels on the layer, a painting bristle brush for texture and painting. For the erasers, I use both the hard and soft eraser, the latter for softening the edges of highlights to make the food look real!

Let’s start off with painting some breakfast breads as they are more simple and easy! For a chocolate cornet, sketch 4 to 6 donut shaped forms stuck together, with the donut forms getting smaller and smaller as they recede into the distance. I suggest a dark brown colour to pair with the brown bead colours. For sketching, I use ' Mechanical Pencil 0.5' by Redjuice, the material can be downloaded for free here:

https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1484795

Another simple yet great pen provided by the community of CSP for line art & outlining your foods is DAE_PEN!

https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1772544

On a layer under the sketch layer, lay in the light brown base colours of the cornet, as well as the dark brown base colours of the chocolate cream filling. I am just using the lasso free hand lasso tool to lay the colours, holding shift while drawing to add pieces of selections. Then I use my full opacity G-pen to correct the outline of the colours.

The light source is in the upper left corner. Now I'm adding some darker browns over the top of the cornet bread and establishing the darker yellows that are in shadow. I'm also using my pen to create a sharp edge of shadow as the plane curves inwards where the chocolate filling is. It's always easier to go from sharp to soft (to lost) edges, rather than vice versa.

For the bread portion, use a darker warm reddish brown at the top and a lighter orange tinted brown on the bottom side, the 'shadow version' of the base colour. When painting the folds at the front of the cornet, remember to use a darker shade for the small cast shadows created as seen by arrows. Remember, cast shadows are harsher than form shadows!
Also I'm using a light yellow tint, paint in some highlights at the front corners of the cornet.

Now, for major form shadows within the cornet, use a darker warmer value and brush over the sides of each ‘donut’ that are on the away from the light. These shadows are caused by gradual changes on plane directions and thus gradual loss of light reflection. Similarly, go over the bottom of the cornet with a darker orange value and paint in the remaining shadows.

For the juicy highlights, pick a lighter pink colour (this is a cooler colour and stands out brilliantly among the warm undertones) and switch to a harsher pen tool to paint at the front of the cornet, near the light source. Small, quick and straight strokes portray the harshness and energy of highlights better than large soft strokes that may seem like ambient lighting or reflected light ! I also amplified the darkness of the shadows we painted earlier with an even darker red brown. Always try to use the full spectrum of the value scale! We want the darks to go to about 70-80% dark at least.

Let’s refine the cornet by using a hard pen to draw in a dark outline around the cornet's silhouette. Using the same hard pen, paint some hard vibrant highlights on the front end of the chocolate filling to make the cream glisten and pop, as well as convince the viewer that it is thin and runny in texture, not thick and matte.

Switch between hard and soft highlights, layer the hard specks over the subtle softer lights of the choc filling. Don't aim for boring whites, but maybe a brilliant cyan or a cheeky orange.

Finally, using the overlay layer mode clipped over you painting, with an orange as shown in the image and the soft airbrush tool make the cornet pop with vibrancy and capture the viewer’s attention. Along the opposite side of the light, where the major shadow forms are, use a brown on multiply layer and brush over the bottom to create richer darks.
> Remember to clip your layers so that constant erasing isn’t needed!

Tada! Your chocolate cornet ready to be consumed heartily and enjoyed by sweet tooths!

- Croissant - 🥐

Let’s paint the French bread enjoyed by many people! Unlike the chocolate cornet, the croissant consists of donut shaped forms stuck together that are decreasing in size at both ends. Try to draw the lines across a croissant as they help you identity the angles of the tips of the croissant as they turn!

On a layer below the sketch layer, block in the yellow brown base colour using a hard opacity pen or lasso and paint bucket tool. Then lock transparent pixels.

Using a light bristle brush, choose a darker, warmer brown colour and brush in over the majority of the top and sides to emulate a slightly ‘burnt’ effect on the croissant as shown.

Introducing a wider range of brown colours such as dark red brown and dark yellow into the shadows of the creases of the bread, I painted strokes following the contouring of the overall croissant form to add a bit of texture and interesting colours.

Then go over the darker burnt areas and shadows with a darker brown value to make the croissant more real-looking. Use the dark yellow colour near the bottom of the croissant to paint in reflected light (this color depends on the surface color that the croissant is placed on) the dark red colour for the harshest form shadows, a saturated red colour for the saturated line of subsurface scattering between the shadow and light values, and finally the base orange colour for the light value.
> You imagined all the colors of the croissant corresponding to its value, represented by the sphere.

For delicious croissant highlights, make a new layer. Pick a light yellow beige colour and use a hard pen to make small thin strokes and puddle shapes. Then lock transparent pixels and go over the highlights with a soft eraser to add in some soft highlights amongst all the very hard highlights. I tend to smudge one side of the highlights and leave the other hard.

Setting the scene’s lighting, let’s imagine warm tinted light rays coming from above. Brush over the top with a warm yellow colour. Paint the croissant’s cast shadow and exaggerate the saturated line between the shadow and light of the table with a saturated orange! And we are done and ready to gobble this croissant up!

- Egg on Toast - 🥚

Let’s paint a breakfast bread that’s slightly more healthy and forgiving towards our health :) A toast is essentially a square with some thickness, and lies flat on a plate. Thus, perspective is crucial for drawing a convincing toast! Because we are looking down at the toast, the horizontal varnishing points to the left and right of the toast (at which the parallel sides of the toast are converging to) are above the toast itself. Food artists often slightly exaggerate the perspective to make the toast seem closer and more protruding, using closer vanishing points.

Under the sketch, lay in the base colour of the toast. The top face of the toast should be a lighter yellow colour and the sides should be a darker red orange colour as it represents the usually dark, burnt sides of a bread slice that we are used to seeing in real life!

Now I am starting to paint some creases on the side of the toast and adding some lighter browns to the corners.

Refine the top plane using a slightly lighter yellow colour and a light bristle brush for gradual, blendy colour changes. Use the same brush to darken the corners of the sides where light is less likely to land and reflect. For the highlight, choose a light pink tone and paint a thin highlight line at one or two sides of the top plane.

To make the bread stand out from the white background, use a hard pen and pick a dark brown colour that’s near black and go around the toast’s silhouette. Make sure to carry the thickness of the outline to make the toast appear more dynamic and interesting! For ambient lighting, choose a lighter brown and go over the dark shadows on the sides of the toast.

Toasts are usually burnt in the middle. On a layer with multiply layer mode on, brush over lightly at the centre of the top plane like shown. This makes the centre appear somewhat burnt, thus making the toast more realistic.

We could leave the toast like this, or we could add something on top to spice it up! It seems like an egg is often paired with toast. Eggs on toast is definitely a classic… so let’s paint eggs on toast :) Below is a demonstration of the egg’s contour lines. While the yolk is almost a semicircle, the egg white is somewhat a dome like volume. Knowing an egg’s volume in space is important, and this will become clear later on.

Lay in the base colours of the egg- beige what for the egg white and orange for the yolk. Using orange instead of yellow makes the egg yolk appear more dense, rich and premium.

Within the egg yolk, two dark orange colours and blend in some shadow tones. On the outsides of the yolk, paint strokes following the contour of the yolk’s surface for some highlight lines.

For some extra glistening yolk, use a hard pen and a light yellow colour to add some tiny circles and diamond shaped highlights!

For the egg yolk, because the base colour is white, you can use a range of greys, from yellow gray to pinks. Painting white is always very versatile and there’s no set in stone colours as long as the object does not look ‘off’! Paint light shadows around the rim of the egg white. Usually egg whites have an uneven outer section or border that is very thin and ‘oily’.

To accentuate the burnt, crispy outer edges of the egg white, choose an array of brown tone and go over the outline, making sure that a few areas are darkened only. Make sure to spread these out as an excessive amount of crisp shown may make the egg white less appealing.

Sprinkle the egg with some of the finest grounded black pepper and viola! Fresh and toasty with a hint of premium richness! You can tell the egg is free range with the amount of glistening and rich colours :)

These are our finished classic breads!

- Pancake - 🥞

Although I didn't have enough time to explain the step by step process for my pancake drawing, I'm still going to include it for the sake of this tutorial. Hope anyone who wanted pancakes for brekky feel more satisfied now!

- Introduction to Desserts - 🍓

Before we indulge in a matcha Swiss roll and strawberry shortcake, let’s go through some tips and tricks for painting delicious desserts. Below is a cherry cheese cake.

Because the cherries are glazed with sauce, we should make their surfaces glossy and shimmery! As a general process to painting anything, start off with the major shadow (1), then ambient light from the surroundings (2) such as the cream frosting near the cherries. The harder the edges of the ambient light are, the more ‘glazed’ the object would look as it would appear more reflective. Finish off with highlights and some rim light (3).

> I only used a soft brush in some areas, mostly using my hard pen. Crisp and sharp edges are great for food drawing! No need to over render or blend too much.

The same three steps apply here when painting glossy fruit pieces, which are relevant for any kind of desserts since they are often used as toppings to complement desserts.
For fruits, I use the same steps:
1. Base 'light' color
2. Base 'shadow color'
3. Draw the seeds and patterns found on the fruit
4. Add highlights along edges of fruit using hard pen/brush
5. Use multiply and overlay with soft airbrush over top to depict light.

- Matcha Swiss Roll - 🍵

Let’s paint a green tea flavoured Swiss roll, something that I personally enjoy a ton :)
Sketch a cylinder that’s being laid flat on its side. Arrange the strawberries in a different way for each one for a more interesting design rather than a predictable symmetrical one.

In a layer under the sketch, lay in a red base colour for the strawberries, beige white colour for the cream frosting, green base colour with dark green shadow value for the cake itself and a brown for the wooden plating under the Swiss roll.

Let’s paint the highlights and shadows of the plate. Using light yellow, paint the edge closest towards the light source. Remembering that the plate has thickness, use a medium brown and brush down the sides of the plate, as this plane receives less light compared to the main plane of the plate that’s directly facing the light source. Use a dark brown to paint the large cast shadow of the Swiss roll, making sure the straight angles of the cast shadow aligns with the light rays of the light source. (If not, the lighting condition becomes confusing)

Time to render the sponge of the cake a little. Using a darker green, paint a soft shadow to the right, ie. the opposite direction of where the light source is located, on the front plane where the light is hitting the cake the most. Then use an array of very dark near black greens for the shadows casted by the strawberries and cream frosting onto the surface of the side of the Swiss roll. Notice cast shadows wrap around the cylindrical roll, following its contouring.

Some of the plate’s brown colours will be reflected into and off the large shadow on the side of the Swiss roll, so using a browner tint, paint this subtle reflected light near the bottom of the side of the Swiss roll! Try to make the hue of this colour between the greens and the yellows.

For clear dark line art, choose a dark brown value, altering this colour to avoid creating a very plain silhouette. Refining the sponge, go over both planes with a darker version of the main value of the plane that you are working on. For both planes, paint small clusters of rounded, seed shaped air pockets of a darker green. This definitely helps highlight the light and ‘foamy’ texture of a typical sponge cake. After all, we usually enjoy soft, fluffy sponge cake better than a hard, dense sponge cake!

Let’s finish this roll with some fresh looking strawberries! Start off with a slightly lighter orange tone and use a combination of a hard and soft pen to paint the soft light centre of the strawberries. There should be soft light strokes sprouting from the centre of the strawberries towards the outside. Use an even lighter colour and paint strawberries’ inside towards the top the lightest. Make sure to leave the centre of the strawberry red. For shadows, render the outer edges of the strawberry with a dark warm tone (warm shadows) as well as the planes that are facing away from the light. Since the strawberries are overlapping, this creates nice dimension.
Top the strawberries off with hard highlights around the corners to make them sparkle :)


Within the swirly cream filling, we could add some adzuki (red mung) beans. I find that the flavours of red bean and green tea complement each other quite well! Using a dull red brown colour, paint in bean shaped as well as small speck shaped forms as shown below. Don’t go overboard in this step or else you might find yourself staring at.. well.. a lot of adzuki beans! XD Space the bean shapes out and add some dull highlights as adzuki beans don’t exactly have a shiny finish.

On a new layer clipped above everything, use the ‘overlay’ layer mode and use a soft airbrush to brush over the top left corner of the Swiss roll with a warm beige colour. This helps give off a glow to the side more exposed to the light source.
On another layer clipped above everything, use the ‘multiply’ layer mode and brush the right bottom corner with a darker tone to darken the entire shadow group a bit more. With these two layer modes, the lighting condition surrounding the Swiss roll becomes clearer to the viewer.

… and the lovely matcha Swiss roll is ready to be shared with some nice friends!

- Strawberry Shortcake - 🍰

For our second dessert, I've prepared a classic strawberry shortcake. I clearly love drawing strawberries!

Firstly, let’s start with the slice of cake. I like to start sketching my food from bottom up if they have a clear base shape. I’m not too picky about the topping placement, but I do want to put the strawberry at a tilted angle for a more playful and less boring design. I’m using the circle / ellipses drawing tool to block out the plate underneath and then going to transform > distort to drag the corners around till satisfied. You can add dynamic perspective to your cake by altering the shape of your plate!

So now I’m blocking in the base colours of the sponge, whipped cream filling and strawberries using the freehand lasso tool and then going with the 100% opacity G-pen (you can use any pen with pen pressure on full opacity), to refine the shapes of the edges. Then, I'm establishing the lighting scheme - using side lighting.

With ‘lock transparent pixels’ turned on for the layer, I continue to add darker shadows to the plane of the slice further from the light source and distinguish between the ‘lights’ and ‘shadows’. I’m also adding ambient occlusion between the strawberry and whipped cream which are put closely together - this tight space prevents light from easily reaching. Using a mixture of values to give the piece a more distinctive and realistic look and makes it eye catching from a distance.

So now I’m rendering the edges of the sponge cake - and bringing more fluffiness to it. Using a rich red brown color and a painting brush, try to color the edges to give a dark golden tone to the edges that should be more burnt.
It’s really important to add some air holes to make the sponge lighter and fluffier, instead of depicting a very dense cake. Try to vary the size and shapes of the air pockets and don’t feel the need to draw every hole on the cake, if you're studying a picture of a real cake!

Let’s color the strawberries now! I drew the seeds wrapping around the strawberry on the first layer, then colored underneath the seeds layer (it would be heaps more difficult to do everything on one layer). Then, going in with light pastel pink and a full opacity pen, draw diamond shapes around each seed in perspective. The curves and dips created by the seeds on the surface gives the highlights the distinctive diamond shapes - just try to observe a real strawberry! I’m also adding rim light to the edges with a brighter pink.

I’m now happy with the painting of the cake, so I’m finishing it off with the lineart - using warm dark brown instead of black helps retain the saturation of the piece. For the whipped cream topping, I blocked out the shadows from the light and proceeded to add variations of color in the shadows as the planes turned. Using a bright pale green for the highlights as it pops out in contrast from the warm icing shadows.

Finally, I cannot finish the piece without the blending modes of multiply and overlay. Because areas like the sponge are in nature, partially translucent, the edges will appear very saturated. You can merge the layers then clip the overlay layer on top then use a soft air brush with a warm yellow OR use the air brush and then select all layers containing your cake > create selection and select your overlay layer, then click delete all outside selection.

Now for the plating. We are nearly there! I want to mix and match warm shadows and cool highlights lighting scheme, so I’ll be using a light cool red (more towards the magenta) for the plate, and warmer red tones for the shadows. Cutlery is by far the most reflective so the fork will have distinct highlights.

I've decided to add a backdrop of a wooden table and draw some strawberry sauce on the plate to bring out the red elements of the dessert.

I really love to post process my pieces - there’s always areas of improvements and tweakings to be experimented around with. I increased contrast and saturation, then used the tone curve tool to make the shadows darker. Lastly, I used color balance to add more yellows to the shadows. I also added more magenta and cyan to the highlights. To make the strawberry pop, I increased ‘reds’ in half tones.
> I use the default glitter circle cross brush in 'effect' subtool of 'Decoration', to make food sparkle.

- Hamburger & Wedges - 🍔

Are you ready to draw the main course meal with me? For the last food I will be showcasing the crispy, chewing and savoury elements of a gourmet burger and a side of wedges served on a sleek square plate.

Firstly, its important to grasp that particularly when looking at objects from above, there will be overlaps and foreshortening in the ingredients. The image below is an extreme example of looking down at ingredients. I will be drawing the burger with the classic ingredients - seeded buns, a cheese slice( not melted) , beef burger patty, tomato slices, onion and lettuce leaves.

Starting with a perspective grid, since we are looking down at the burgers and the viewer is above the food, there will be a third vanishing point below us - quite far away so the vertical lines are still nearly parallel to one another. I will be using top side lighting again.

Closing our perspective grid now, I create layers and use the lasso tool and 100% opacity G-pen for blocking in base colors. (This is how I start all my food paintings).

I’m starting off my rendering the planes and faces of the square plate. Because the plate has clear faces, it’s much easier to paint than round plates. Because the light is coming from the top left, the right side of the plate will be hit with direct light (not taking into account cast shadows of the food on the plate), whereas the left side will be left in shadow. However, surfaces on plates like cutlery are very reflective so in the next step I will show a close up of the areas near the burger.

As you can see, the burger acts as a secondary light source and some of the color of the burger buns will be bounced off from the side of the plate - so the plate color surrounding will similarly 'roll' towards a warm brighter orange rather than a desaturated grey. Use a soft airbrush or painterly brush to paint this reflected light, to achieve a realistic vibrant look.

The cast shadow of the burger and wedges on the plate are warm brown with a saturated orange and blurred outline.

I am going in with darker tones in the seeded buns - I’m hoping to achieve some beautiful dark golden areas.

After painting some darker reds and blending, I am using warm yellow browns to portray the puffy buttery edges of the buns. Buns are relatively smooth so it can be hard to show the crevices of the surfaces, but try to use triangle shaped planes for the shadows there. I am using bright orange to prep the area for highlights in the next step.

Using a sharp full opacity pen and a cool yellow color (more towards green) I am painting the highlights of the buns in the centre of the lighter orange area. I then use the painting brush to soften the edges of the highlight ( you can use soft eraser if you drew the highlight on a separate layer).

Here’s some more rendering and painting. Notice the ‘mini’ light and shadows in the folds on the lower edge of the bun.

I’m using the color palette to paint the burger patty - there’s a lot of tiny plane changes here and I heavily relied on using the pen rather than any blending brushes, which will does not portray the shiny and chunky texture of the beef patty. I’ve used a less vibrant brown in the reflective areas furtherest from the light.

Now let’s paint the tomatoes and lettuce. The seeds part of the tomatoes are very shiny and reflective, whereas the skin is more matte but still reflective. I’m trying to add dimension and realism to the leaves by accentuating the plane changes and adding darker greens to the leaves - like paper, they aren’t entirely flat and still have some noticeable width to them.

Let’s move onto the side dish - wedges! I am blocking out the cast shadow of the buns and painting highlights in a simplified manner. It may be easier to zoom out on your canvas in the earlier stages of painting to make you less likely to delve straight into detailing, if you squint you should still be able to see distinct values of light and shadow.

I’m going over the tips and edges of the wedges with dark browns and oranges to portray them as more burnt and overcooked in those areas. Otherwise the viewer might mistaken them for some orange slices! You can add some highlights on the edges facing the light to make the wedges look even crispier.

I’ve decided to place the burger on a wooden table. It’s finally starting to look like a gourmet beef burger! Notice the cast shadow of the plate on the right and the saturated outline it creates on the slightly bumpy surfaces of the dining table.

For post processing, I’ve increased contrast, made darks (shadows) even darker using the tone curve. Then I used color balance to add more yellows and greens in the shadows, more reds in the halftone and cyan / magenta in the highlights (brightest values).

Bon Appetit!

- Thank you ! -

Thank you so much for reading up until now! This one took a while to explain the steps. Although I'm very much a foodie and love indulging in desserts and carbs, I'm not all that much of an experienced chef so it's a big delight for me to be able to share my love for food and cuisine through art to an online community.
- Hopefully you have come out of this tutorial feeling more inspired and ready to draw! (or cook)

If you’d like to see my works:
@leriisa on insta!
(on hiatus currently)
Here's a ramen bowl for your time and attention...

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