Posted by: Peter Andrease

Posted on: June 22, 2012 9:45 am


Creating a vector character in Illustrator can be a tricky process but it all really revolves around the Pen Tool, mastering this tool with a little patience is all you need to create yourself a great detailed character based on a drawing or image you have already.

To start this process you need to create your character outside of Illustrator as it is far too difficult to come up with a detailed character design while still trying to master your Illustrator skills. So whatever way you find easiest to draw your character go for, the best option is to break out the pencil and pad. If you struggle to think of ideas for a character or can’t think how certain body parts look then simply research other characters or images online to get an idea and create a new one in your own way.

Once you have your character designed, scan your file in and get the image into Illustrator then lock the image as your background layer. Now you will need to select the Pen Tool and select a nice visible but small stroke with no colour on the fill. Now start drawing around your image, make sure to get your curves smooth by tweaking the Pen Tool as best you can. This is where practise with the Pen Tool is key.

Once you have the outline of your character created you can now fill the areas in with some colour and gradients and remove the stroke colour from all shapes.

Shadows are a necessity to add a final bit of detail, so choose the areas that need shadow and you can either go to Effect > Stylise > Drop Shadow and add very subtle shades to your image. Areas that usual need a drop shadow are under the fringe of any hair and any overlapping areas.

You can then add overall shadow to your image by using the Pen Tool and drawing black shapes with a light transparency to areas where shadows would appear. Once you are happy, feel free to add any other simple effects or amendments to get your character right. Just remember that simplicity is key so use simple colours with subtle effects to make a really effective character.