How to create a simple character using basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator
Using the basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator is as fun as playing with toy blocks. You can start without overthinking the outcome – just follow your artistic intuition and see where it will take you.
In this tutorial I am going to show you how to create a simple character dressed in a bear costume.
Tutorial details: How to create a simple character using basic shapes
Program: Adobe Illustrator CS6
Topics Covered: Character Building, Pathfinder abilities
Estimated Completion Time: 35 Minutes
1. Building the face
Let’s start with the head. Create a new document and select the Rounded Rectangle Tool. Double click anywhere at the working area and a dialog box will appear. Enter the following values: width: 300 pixels, height 250 pixels and corner radius of 60 pixels.
Use orange color as a fill color.
Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create another shape which will be our character’s face. Double click at the working area and in the dialog box enter the following values: width 230 pixels, height 120 pixels and corner radius of60 pixels. Position this shape at the middle lower part of the bigger orange shape and color it beige.
Use the same step again and enter the following values: width 84 pixels, height 38 pixels and corner radius 60 pixels. Place it just over the beige shape and color it black. This will be the nose of the bear mask our character is wearing.
To create a closed eye, we will need to draw a circle using the Elipse Tool (L). Copy it and paste it in front of it (Control + F). Move it bit above the other circle and open the patfinder’s panel. Select both of the circles and select the Minus Front command from the Pathfinder’s panel.
Once you’ve created the eye shape, duplicate it and place them both on top of the orange shape, making the eyes of the bear mask.
To make the nose shiny, draw another rounded rectangle, resize it and make it smaller than the black one and use white as a fill color. Position it at the left corner of the black shape. Also, draw a simple vertical rectangle and position it above the nose.
Let’s add ears to this bear. Using the rounded Rectangle Tool, double click at the working area and in the dialog box enter the following values: width 75 pixels, height 115 pixels and corner radius of23 pixels.
To add a detail to the ear, duplicate the same shape. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A) select and delete all of its corners except the upper left one. Switch the fill to stroke.
Position the line to the left side of the ear shape. Duplicate them and arrange them over the head shape, making this bear’sears.
Let’s add eyes to out character’s face. Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, double click at the working area and in the dialog box enter the following values: width 27 pixels, height 43 pixels and corner radius of 23 pixels. Duplicate the shape. Color both of them in blue shade of your choice.
Position them in the middle part of the face shape. Add smaller white rounded shapes over them as their reflection.
We will need to create a mouth too. So again, use the Rounded Rectangle Tool. Add these values: width 65 pixels, height 90 pixels and corner radius 28 pixels. Switch the fill to stroke. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the upper part of the shape and delete it, leaving only the bottom one which we will use as a mouth.
Position the mouth on the face. The head part is done.
2. Creating the body
Create another rounded rectangle with the following values: width 185 pixels, height 225 pixels and a corner radius of 43 pixels. Color it in the orange color we used for the other shapes. Duplicate and make a smaller version of it, with slightly lighter color. These shapes will be the body of out character.
Make a central alignment to these 2 shapes and place them bellow the head part. Now we have a body to work on.
To create the hands, we will need one long horizontal rectangle which will become an arm and a few other small rounded rectangles that will form a palm when combined. Use the same orange we used before.
To create a foot, we will need a long vertical rectangle and a circle. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the upper part of the circle and delete it, leaving only one half of a circle which we will use as a foot. Combine them together.
Place the arm and the leg on the left side of the body.
Copy (Control + C) and Paste them in front (Control + F). Select the newly pasted limbs and go to Object>Transform>Reflect. From the dialog box, select the Vertical axis and click OK.
Position the right hand and leg at the right side of the body.
3. Add details
Although this is a simple character, we can add some details which will make it more recognizable.
Let’s draw him hair.
Draw a rectangle. Use the Rectangle Tool(M), click anywhere on the working area.In the dialog box enter 150 pixels for both values, width and height. Click OK. Paint it brown.
Double click the Rotate Tool (R). In the dialog box add -10 for the angle value. Click OK.
Make 2 copies of the rotated square and merge them, using the Unite command form the Pathfinder’s panel.
Position the merged squares over the top part of the face area so they will create some hair that peaks from bellow the mask. Copy(Contorl+C) the face area and Paste it in front(Control+F) of the brown squares. Select them both and use the Intersect command from the Pathfinder’s panel.
And finally, add two small rounded rectangles over the character’s hand palms. This is a tiny detail but the outcome is very nice.
Congrats, you are done! You can see how little it takes to make a nice character which you can personalize and apply in many things – as your own greeting card, device wallpapers or just use them as decorative prints.