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Creating a Cartoon Hot Air Balloon Scene

Cartoons are a very popular form of art and can be made quite easily. This tutorial will show you how to create a quick and easy cartoon scene of some hot air balloons.

Finished Example

Before we begin, let’s take a look at a finished example of the scene.


Step 1 – Creating the Background

Since our scene is in the sky, lets select some nice blue colors to use for the background. I decided to use #a6e3ff as the light blue color and #63c4f0 as the darker blue color.

Now that we have our colors, let’s create a gradient on a new document.

Step 2 – Creating the Balloon Shape

Create a new layer, and select the Pen Tool. With your Pen Tool set to paths, create a shape like a hot air balloon. Then right click, click Make Selection, and click OK. Then fill your selection with a color, I chose #45af37.

Step 3 – Adding a Shadow to the Balloon

Since this is a cartoon scene, I can add a shadow against the sky! To do this, simply add a Drop Shadow (Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow).

Step 4 – Adding Stripes to the Balloon

Duplicate (Layer > Duplicate Layer) your current balloon layer. Apply a Color Overlay (Layer > Layer Style > Color Overlay) to the layer using a different shade of the color you used before, such as #76e966 for my green. Then change the size of the shape (Edit > Free Transform).


Holding alt will allow you to change both sides of the balloon at the same time.

Repeat this process until you get as many stripes as you desire.

Need Help Using Transform?

We’ve put together a nice guide to Photoshop’s Transform Feature in our School of Photoshop. If you’re having trouble here, be sure to check it out!

Step 5 – Adding a Highlight to the Balloon

Create a new layer and select your Gradient Tool. Set your foreground color to white, and change your gradient tool to match the one shown below.

Make a selection of the balloon (Ctrl+Click Thumbnail) and drag your gradient from top to bottom to make the highlight. Then lower the opacity of the layer to around 25%.

Step 6 – Creating the Basket Shape

Create a new layer and grab your Rounded Rectangle Tool and set the Radius to 5 px. Using a brown color such as #a38f3f, create a rounded rectangle with the same width of the bottom of the balloon and give it a height that looks good. Then use your Pencil Tool to make the top of the rounded rectangle straight.

Step 7 – Creating the Basket Pattern

Create a new document that is 6px wide and 2px high with a transparent background. Then use a black pencil and create the pattern below. Then go to Edit > Define Pattern.

Step 8 – Styling the Basket

Add the Pattern Overlay (Layer > Layer Style > Pattern Overlay) on your basket layer using your newly made pattern. Then apply a gradient overlay with the following settings:

Then add a drop shadow with the following settings:

Step 9 – Adding Strings to Your Basket

Create a new layer and use a 1px white brush to place some strings connecting the balloon to the basket. Give it the same drop shadow your basket layer has.

Step 10 – Adding a Character

To add the character in the basket, create a layer underneath the basket and use a black brush and drag a straight line (hold shift). Then use smaller brushes to create the eyes.

Keeping Your Layers Organized

It is always a good idea to label all of your layers so that you know what they are and keep them organized.

Grouping layers that are related to each other also helps to make your document easier to manage and edit.

You can change the color of a group by double clicking on the folder icon for it.

Step 11 – Adding More Balloons

Duplicate your first balloon and re-size it in a new position. Then make a selection of the balloon (Ctrl+Click Thumbnail) and fill it with a different color on a new layer. Set the blending mode of the layer to Hue.

Step 12 – Adding the Clouds

To add the clouds, simply create new layers and grab a white brush. Use different size brushes to create the clouds, and give the layer a drop shadow with the following settings:

The Finished Result

After following all of the previous steps, we can come up with something like this!


  1. Add point Subtract point

    I need help, im so lost on making the balloon stripes, i made one but cant figure out how to make more. Help!

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  2. Add point Subtract point

    Took a while ’cause I’m a beginner, but the end result looked really good! Really good tutorial :)

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  3. Add point Subtract point

    This was really cool!, thax a lot!!

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลงmp3ฟรี (1 Point) February 3, 2010 at 2:18 am

    great i never seen before.55

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  5. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    great i never seen before.48

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  6. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 1:40 am

    great i never seen before.43

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  7. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) January 30, 2010 at 9:11 am

    thanks for sharing. So mush

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  8. Add point Subtract point

    thx alot , i liked it , you are great
    i can practice that with my students ^_^

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  9. Add point Subtract point


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  10. Add point Subtract point

    hello this is good for new student

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  11. Add point Subtract point
    evilkitty75 (1 Point) November 9, 2009 at 5:41 am

    O and i too have issues with the pen but i made a squareish shape and used the convert point tool! i even drew the shape
    with the freehand pen tool n tweeked it with the convert point tool it was easy peasy!!

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  12. Add point Subtract point
    evilkitty75 (1 Point) November 9, 2009 at 5:38 am

    hehehe thxxxx so sooooooooooooo much now i can add toons
    to my skills ^.^ id love to see some more tuts from u kuz u make it sooooooooooooo easy to understand!
    I made a toooooon 2!!!

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  13. Add point Subtract point

    Great tutorial!

    Hey guys having trouble with the pen tool, I suggest that if you are having issues with the pen too just draw an elipse. I’m in elements so that’s how I came up with the idea.

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  14. Add point Subtract point (1 Point) July 18, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    thanks for this tutorial

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  15. Add point Subtract point
    Jason (1 Point) June 9, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Great tut. I’m a beginner-moderate Photoshop user. Well laid out tut and easy to understand :)

    Would like to share mine :)

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  16. Add point Subtract point
    GUDDU (1 Point) June 9, 2009 at 12:49 pm


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  17. Add point Subtract point
    ChanChan (1 Point) May 5, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    The instructions werent clear enough to follow in making the balloon shape.

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  18. Add point Subtract point

    I agree about the pen tool link. I think that tutorial could have been a little more detailed. I really wanted to give this tut a try, but I got so confused by the pen tool part that I gave up.

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  19. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (1 Point) May 2, 2009 at 9:11 am

    great the mini characters are like penguins from linux, hahaha and how did you make the borders/frames from the 2nd result?

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  20. Add point Subtract point

    Hmm, I am stuck on the bit about making a ballon. I have followed the link to the pen tool. But it doesn’t really give much info on how exactly to use it. It’s somewhat confussing, and my lines come out all.. over the place, they don’t go where I want them to. :/

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    Creativeguya (1 Point) February 24, 2009 at 4:24 am

    Nice and Very well explained Tutor.

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  22. Add point Subtract point

    I want to know what kind of photshop is best for in editing photo, add an effects etc….coz i dont know cs2,cs3,cs4 extended and adobe photoshop 7 and so on…. Pls. answer me and thanks again.

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  23. Add point Subtract point
    Elizabeth K. Barone (1 Point) February 1, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Very simple, and yet the end result is pretty neat! This tutorial can easily be put toward larger projects. Thanks, and keep up the great site!

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  24. Add point Subtract point
    Lawrence (no, I’m not a man) (1 Point) January 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial… based on the skills I learned I was able to create this image for class:

    Keep up the great work!!!

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  25. Add point Subtract point
    Emilee (1 Point) January 8, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    .. Im very very confused on this tuturial. I did not think it was very helpful or explainy.

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  26. Add point Subtract point

    Great tutorial! It was really easy to understand. I can now take the things I learnt and apply them in future graphics.

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  27. Add point Subtract point
    Arif Haye (1 Point) December 14, 2008 at 9:37 am

    xcelent tuts & amazed 2. To author or David Legget, please send me step by step guide how to work with layer group. b4 it thanks alot.

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  28. Add point Subtract point

    Ignore the negetivity, I thought it was great tut. I’m still a noob and have a lot to learn. As mentioned above, I find myself unable to do some tuts because of my skill level with knowing the basics, so tuts like this can be very helpful. Thanks again and keep them coming.

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  29. Add point Subtract point

    @Rene: That looks really good Rene. I love how you added hands to the characters.

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  30. Add point Subtract point

    Thank you for this tutorial and for not forgetting about the newbies in the world. This was the first exercise that I attempted after learning the basics of Photoshop.

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  31. Add point Subtract point

    Very simple indeed, and that’s why i love it. Some people find it more entertaining to know how to do things they can’t really make. Thanks!

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  32. Add point Subtract point

    Thank you Tyler, I had fun with the tut, its really great when my Mum can find an easy tut like this that I can follow on my own, with out having to bug her with a 100 how do I do it questions {:o)

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  33. Add point Subtract point
    KARLOTA (1 Point) October 14, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    muy bueno exlente gracias por gran tutorial, ya quisiera tener la creativa que tienes tu.

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  34. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks a lot……. Very simple and good for beginners like me. Keep it up.
    and Thanks again

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  35. Add point Subtract point
    Crag Mire (1 Point) September 27, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    I don’t really like this tutorial, though simple for beginners, I was expecting more from this easy tutorial9..

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  36. Add point Subtract point
    Drew Douglass (1 Point) September 24, 2008 at 1:27 am

    There is nothing wrong with catering to newer users and helping them to learn photoshop. Personally, I found this to be a nice break and refresher into some basic functions and applications of PS. To all the whiners, no one is forcing you to come here. Try being thankful when someone takes the effort to educate others. Thanks for taking the time to make this tutorial guys, I enjoyed it.



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  37. Add point Subtract point
    chokilala (1 Point) September 21, 2008 at 4:52 am

    thanks a lot. this tutorial really helped a newbie like me. keep up the good work. please cater for all different levels

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  38. Add point Subtract point

    Thank you for this tutorial! I don’t use PS very often, and only look for tutorials when I decide to work on a web project, but quite a lot of the time, the ‘advanced techniques’ are really quite off-putting (although the end product is ok, the process becomes a slog rather than a joy) but tutorials like these are both educational and fun! :)

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  39. Add point Subtract point

    It’s great to hear that it is helping those who are just getting into Photoshop to learn how to combine tools and effects!

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  40. Add point Subtract point

    NICE …. IT’S GREAT … for my level , it added a lot to me :D

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  41. Add point Subtract point

    As a beginning Photoshop user, I found this tutorial to be very useful.

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  42. Add point Subtract point
    antonwoods (1 Point) September 17, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Amazing tutorial tyler, good for a novice skill photoshoper. Thats what tutorial9 is all about, catering to all skill audiences both begginners and experts. Keep up the good work.

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  43. Add point Subtract point
    Hayes Potter (1 Point) September 16, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    maybe I’m just horrible with the paths tool but I just cannot get down the shape of the balloon.

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  44. Add point Subtract point
    Craig Farrall (1 Point) September 16, 2008 at 6:46 am

    I agree with Styletime, don’t listen to some of them negative people above, not everyone is a photoshop guru, and this is perfect for the beginners, and everyone can learn a little something about these beginner tutorials.

    Keep up the good work.

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  45. Add point Subtract point
    Dan O’Neill (1 Point) September 15, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for the great tutorial – I for one am always happy to see tutorials of any kind on here. After only recently making the gigantic outlay that is photoshop I appreciate these kinds of tutorials as much as advanced ones as I always learn something from them!

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  46. Add point Subtract point

    I’m just now getting into Photoshop and this was perfect for someone at my skill level! Great Tutorial!

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  47. Add point Subtract point
    Dainis Graveris (1 Point) September 15, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Totally agreed – when I first started to work with PS, I just couldn’t do a lot of tutorials, because of skill level – now, maybe output don’t look like 7th world wonder, but it shouldn’t too, I am sure there will be people appreciating this . Thanks, for Your work!

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  48. Add point Subtract point
    styletime (1 Point) September 15, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    not everyones a PS master these tuts are bread and butter for non designers like me, keep it up!

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  49. Add point Subtract point

    This isn’t a tutorial for advanced users. It is simple, and that is one of the reasons it was published. We cater to all skill levels here, and I thought this tutorial made excellent references to our School of Photoshop (which doesn’t always get the attention it probably should around here).

    We always have both advanced and basic tutorials ready for publishing here ;)

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  50. Add point Subtract point
    Matt Moore (1 Point) September 15, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Better to wait and post a high quality tut than this….this is the equivalent of “filler songs” on albums.

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  51. Add point Subtract point

    Very neat, only wise I could draw balloons as neat as that shown :-p

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  52. Add point Subtract point

    For those of you who might find this tutorial too simple I would just like to say that this is an older article and I haven’t had much time lately to write anything new because I’ve moved to a new city and started college. I’m working on some more high quality work!

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  53. Add point Subtract point
    NaldzGraphics (1 Point) September 15, 2008 at 10:51 am

    nice tutorial:)very simple yet very good:)keep it up


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  54. Add point Subtract point

    …I’m pretty disappointed.

    It’s very very simple.

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