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Simple Character Illustration Tutorial

This is my blog’s mascot. My illustration is inspired by the chibi anime – you know, those japanese little, cute and very expressive characters.

I thought it would be nice to create a quick tutorial about the creation of a simple character in Illustrator.

1. Pen
2. Paper
3. Scanner
4. Adobe Illustrator CS

So, here are the steps you need to follow:

1. Take a pencil and a sheet of paper and draw a sketch of the character you want to illustrate. Like this:

It doesn’t have to be very accurate. You must draw the basic lines that form the shape of your character. All other details (like folds, shadows etc.) can be added later. After the sketch is ready, scan it and open it with Adobe Illustrator.

2. Now, in Illustrator, double-click the layer containing your image and check Template > OK. Create a new Layer on top and grab the Pen Tool (P). Start following the contour of your sketch with theĀ  Pen Tool. Your illustration should look like this:

Follow all the sketch lines. You can also add other details or make modifications, if you feel that something should be changed.

3. After the lineart is done, it’s time to play with the Width Tool (Shift+W) – note that only Illustrator CS5 has this tool. Grab the Width Tool, chose one of the lines you drew with the Pen Tool and click on it. Then drag your cursor sideways. You will observe that your line thickens.

Go ahead and give some effect to all your lines (see the image above).

4. Next, start to play along with colors. Choose a palette and use it to color your character. Click a shape with theĀ  Selection Tool (V) and use the Swatches to color that part.

You can play along with colors, gradients or patterns until you are content with the result. You can add shapes with transparency and make shadows and highlights.

Here’s my final resut:

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