How to create Animal Icons in Adobe Illustrator

By Mella Rosa 3 years ago

  • Program: Illustrator CS6 CC – 2015.3
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate
  • Tags: icon, line, animal, flat, tools


In this tutorial I will show how to create small vector images from using simple shapes. I`ll show you many tips and tricks that will help you achieve great results.


Create a new document with the following parameters:


In this tutorial, we will learn to draw 4 different animals so we need to add 3 extra layers and give them the names (bear, owl, dog, deer).


Hide all layers except “bear”.



We are going to create a common shape for our animals. This is going to be the most laborious part of the tutorial.

Select Rectangle tool and set up the following size


Leave the object selected and find on Control panel ‘Align to Artboard’ and hit Horizontal align centre and Vertical align centre.



Now we can start creating basic shape of the head.

Go to Window > Transform. You will see popped up panel where we are going to change the position of the nodes.

Note:  I will often use this panel to adjust coordinates of the nodes.


With Direct selection tool (shortcut key ‘A’) select Top Left node of the shape and on Transform panel  set up X value of 79px.

Then select Top Right node and do the same in the Transform panel but with X value 123px.

Now pick bottom left node, press and hold the button Shift and click on bottom right node of the shape. You can let go Shift button.

If you look closely at the shape – you will see that two circles have appeared near each angle  where we have selected the points. Press on any of them, hold and drag towards the centre of the shape.  When you will see that the bottom of the shape is fully rounded – leave it.

Now you have to get something like on the image below.



Select Ellipse Tool  and create circle size 6 x 6px.


Select node at the bottom of this shape and delete it. Now we have to place the eye on the right place. Go to Transform panel and set up X Value of the shape 90 px and Y Value 80 px.

We need second eye. Select the object and press Cmd+C (copy), > Cmd+F (paste on top) and go again to Transform panel and set up X Value 110 px.

Pick one of two eyes and copy it again. Adjust with the following parameters.


We are going to create the nose with Polygon tool. Set up radius 7 px and number of side – 3.

Go to Transform panel and Rotate on 180o. Ibid set up the X: 100 px, Y: 92 px.

What is left is to get rounded corners. Pick top two nodes (hold Shift for plural selection) of the triangle, go to Control Panel > Corners > set up the value of Corner Radius 2,5.

Then select bottom node of this shape and set up value of Corner Radius 4 px.



Before we keep going let’s take one last step with the head,  that will make the process easier in the future. I’m going to set the style and colour of the lines.

Press Cmd+A (Select all), go to Color panel and make all Fill color Transparent. Then switch to editing Stroke color. Change color to R 145 G 60 B 0


I used 2 pt Rounded brush for all lines in this tutorial.

Find on Control panel Brush Definition. Click on it. In a drop down list you will find Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic Calligraphic. Pick 1pt Round, go back to Control panel and change the Stroke to 2 pt.


We need to clone our drawing in to other Layers. Press Cmd+A > Cmd+C. On the Layers panel make all layers visible except ‘Bear’ layer (make it invisible). Click on ‘Owl’ layer and press Cmd+F, hide layer again. Do exactly the same actions to other two layers.

Come back to ‘Bear’ layer and make it visible again.


3. Create different animals



We are going to create the circle around the nose using the shape we created for the face. Click on it > Cmd+C > Cmd+F and in Transform panel change the width to 25 px (make sure that Constrain Height and Width proportions turned on). The position of the shape have to be X: 100 px, Y: 99 px. Make top nodes fully rounded.



The ears we are going to create from Ellipse tool. Size: 10×10 px. Position X: 79 px, Y: 65px.

Copy the shape that you just created > Cmd+F. Give to it the size 5 x 5px and Rotate on 45 degrees.

Now, select these two circles > Cmd+C > Cmd+F > Move to the right (X: 123 px).


Now, select (Selection Tool+Shift)  the big circles from the ears and the head,  and go to Window > Pathfinder > Unite shapes > Send the whole new shape to the back of the layer (Cmd+Shift+[).


For the small circle inside the ear. Select the shape with Selection Tool > press key A > select at the bottom right node > remove it (key Backspace) > Go to Control panel and Change Brush definition to Round Brush, weight 2 pt.

Repeat the actions with another ear but grab bottom left node.


STEP 3.  Head

Let’s make slightly modify the head shape of our bear.  Select Add anchor point tool (as shown at the screenshot) > Put the point in the middle of the line > Press key A > Move the point slightly up > press Shift+C > move the cursor to the point and click, hold and pull a little bit on the left side.

Tip: usually, while I’m pulling it I hold key Shift to make sure that everything is go symmetric.


STEP 4. Coloring

Finally we get to the coloring. Here are the colors I used.

The nose colour aa5063

Area around the nose and apply e3a791

Select shape of the face and apply this colour ab7366.

Tips: If you see that some object is cover another object move it back. Click on top object and press Cmd+[.


Select all (Cmd+A)  and group it (Cmd+G).

We are done, Honey.



Hide the ‘Bear’ layer and bring out the ‘Owl’ layer.

Remove the mouth.  

Hold Shift key and select two top nodes of the body and make them fully rounded.



Let’s change the shape of the peak. Select the shape (nose) and make all angels sharp again. We need to make it a bit more narrow so go to Transform panel  turn off Constraint Width and Height Proportions and set up width 7 px.

Now we can make this shape rounded. Select two top nodes and make them fully rounded. Pick the one at the bottom and make it slightly rounded.

Hold Shift key and select eyes and nose > move down (on Transform panel change Y value to 95px).



We need to create some additional elements to make the owl look like an owl. First I’m going to take  eyes apart. On the Transform panel change X value for the left eye to 88 px and for the right eye to 112 px.

Let’s add the circles around the eyes. Select Ellipse tool and create the circle 17 x 17 px size. Move it with X value 88 px and Y value 90 px. Copy the shape (Cmd+C) > Cmd+F > On Transform panel set up X value 112 px.



Owl has ears as well. Select Polygon tool and set up radius 5 px and number of side: 3.

Go to Effect > Warp > Arc and do setups as shown on the screenshot. Then go to Object > Expand Appearance (we need this step because there will be a few more transformations).


Move this object closer to the owl body and on Transform panel do following setups: X Value 76 px, Y Value 80 px, rotate on 45 degree. Make top corner of the ear slightly rounded.


Copy the ear (Cmd+C) > Cmd+F. Go to Object > Transform > Reflect… > Flip Horizontal. Move the object (X value 124,6 px). Select two ears and body > Unite (Pathfinder)  > Send to back of the layer Cmd+Shift+[.



Let’s create the belly. Select Eclipse tool > Create circle 40 x 40 px and position X 100 px and Y 110 px.



The nose color aa5063

Area around the eyes apply b09bdc > press Cmd+Shift+[

Belly color cd96c1 (don’t forget turn off the stroke) > press Cmd+Shift+[

Select shape of the body and apply this colour ab739f > press Cmd+Shift+[


Select all objects > Cmd+G




Select eyes, nose and smile and move down using Transform panel where Y value is 98 px.

Select only nose and smile and set up Y value 110 px. Then select the smile and apply following position X: 97 px and Y: 112 px. Copy this shape (Cmd+C) > Cmd+F and change X value to 103 px.


Let’s add a tongue. Select Ellipse Tool and create 3 x 3px circle. Go to Effect > Warp > Lower Shall and do setups as seen on the screenshot.


An one last action is place this element: Change value of X: 100px and Y: 114px.


Hold Shift key and select two top nodes of the body and make them fully rounded.

Select Pen tool and put all three nodes as shown on the screenshot. it’s important to have first and last nodes inside the shape of the head.


Select top node of the ear and make Corner Radius 1,5 px. Also let’s add another line inside the ear – it will add liveliness to the drawing. Apply Brush Definition > Round Brush, weight 2pt.


Copy (Cmd+C) the ear and line inside > Cmd+F > Flip horizontal > move the elements to the right side of the dog head (try to place it just like the left one).

Select the face shape with  Selection Tool > Cmd+C (last action is necessary for the coloring, do not do any copying after that).


Let repeat last action in this step  and remove unnecessary lines. We will do it in three sets.

One: Select shape of the head and put three nodes from each side as shown on the screenshot.  Remove the nodes marked in red.


Two: Select shapes of the ears and put two nodes from each side as shown in the image. Once again remove the nodes marked in red.


Three:  Press Shift+C (it will switch you to the Anchor Point tool): with it, you can make a line of ears and internal line smooth and rounded. Simply move the cursor to any of the lines and pull it in the direction you want.



Time has come to do some magic and press Cmd+F > Shift+X and Fill with colour ec9d43.

Select both ears and fill with the same colour > Send them to the Backward  (Cmd+Shift+[)


Add second color to the dog face.

Select Ellipse Tool and draw a circle. The size of it  have to be 45 x 45px and have position X: 100px, Y: 118px. Press Cmd+C > Cmd+F and set up new value of X: 80px. Press again Cmd+F and set up value of X: 120px.

Select circle that now standing in the middle and change it width to 25px, height to 55px (Don’t forget to switch off Constrain Width and Height Proportion tool).

Press Shift and select all three circles and Unite them in one object.


Now we have to remove extra lines that we have around the face. Select Line of the face > Copy (Cmd+C) > Cmd+F. Hold Shift and select that new shape united from  three circles go to Pathfinder and select Divide. Check the screenshot below.


Remove Stroke color and Fill it with color f1c17a. We need to send it to the right place. Press following combinations: Cmd+Shift+[  and then Cmd+].

Select nose and fill with colour aa503d. Select tongue and colour it with ff6a74.


Select all (Cmd+A)  and group it (Cmd+G).



Turn off previous layer with dog and make visible layer named ‘Deer’.


Let’s start from making our deer much pretty then he is now. I want to add some element around his nose.

Select Polygon tool and set up radius 12 px and number of sides 6.

Proceed with following adjustments as on the screenshot.



Ears will be created from Rectangle shape. Select Rectangle Tool and create shape 20 x 20 px. Select bottom left and top right nodes. Apply Corner Radius 20 px.


Select whole object and adjust position (X: 75 px Y: 62px). Copy object  Cmd+C > Cmd+F and do Horizontal flip. Set up position of the new object (X: 126 px).


Now we need to modify the shape of the ear and cut out parts the we don’t need. Lets do this in two steps.

One: Look at the screenshot, select shape of the head and put nodes on the line with Pen Tool as it shown and remove the red nodes.


Two: Select ears and put nodes with Pen Tool as it shown and remove the red nodes.



Select top part of the head.


Go to Effect > Warp > Arc and adjust as shown on the screenshot. Go to Object > Expand Appearance.



We will create the horns with the pen tool.

Tips: To draw straight line – hold key Shift.


Select with Direct Selection Tool nodes that are pointed on the screenshot. Round them.


Select all elements from the horn with Selection tool and make Brush Definition > Round Brush > 2 pt.

Copy selected elements > Cmd+F > Flip horizontal > Move horizontally to the right side of the head. Make sure that they looks symmetrically.



The final step is coloring.

Select the parts that are marked with blue line on the screenshot.


Make a copy of it > Cmd+F. Go to Object (on the Control panel) > Path > Outline stroke.

On the Pathfinder panel click on Unite.

Now we select any  node that have appeared inside the new shape and press twice Backspace key. Send this object to the Backward (Cmd+Shift+[) and fill with color c77b43.


Select nose and apply colour c35000. Select the shape that goes around the nose and add colour e3b278

Tips: If you see that some object is cover another object move it back. Click on it and press Cmd+[.


Select all (Cmd+A)  and group it (Cmd+G).

The Hunting season is open!

By Mella Rosa