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Draw your cartoon profile in Adobe Illustrator

Wondering what to draw today?  How about you?  This easy-to-follow tutorial demonstrates several basic Illustrator techniques to help you create your own cartoon profile.

main_image_ai_build_DB_mini_me01

Step 1.  New Document

Create a new document.  Size should be using the HDTV 1080 preset.  Name the document and hit OK.

Step_01_new_document

*helpful hint: you can turn off your transparency grid, if you’d like, by going to View -> Hide Transparency Grid.*

MiniMis01b

Step 2.  Body

Choose the Rounded Rectangle tool from the toolbar to make your TORSO shape. Rename that layer Torso.

MiniMis02a

*helpful hint:  To make the rounded rectangle you are drawing more round or more edgy, try pushing the up and down arrows on your keyboard. In our example we made the ends completely round.*

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A) grab the top points of the rounded rectangle.

MiniMis02b

Next you’re going to use your Scale Tool (S) and scale that top portion horizontally to make it narrower. Feel free to continue tweaking until it is to your liking.

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*helpful hint: You can use the Anchor Point Tool (Shift+C) to make the curves look more fluid at the top and bottom so it doesn't have that slight corner.*

Step 3.  Making the Pants Line

Grab your Pen Tool (P) cause now we’re going to make the top of the pants. Make sure you have a stroke but NO FILL. Click and drag the pen tool to make a SLIGHT curve across the waist of your torso. Again you can adjust the curve with your Anchor Point Tool (Shift+C).

MiniMis03a

Once you’re happy with the top of your pants, select the line and the torso using the Selection Tool (V). If you cannot see your Pathfinder palette, go up to Window -> Pathfinder, then we’re going to use Divide in order to have different color of pants and shirt. If you recall, the Pathfinder functions always group its results.

MiniMis03b

We do not need them grouped in order to color them. To ungroup this you go to Object -> Ungroup (Ctrl+Shift+G).  For the shirt color we used #790102 and the pants we used #0F283A (remember to remove the stroke).

MiniMis03c

Step 4.  Making the Arm

Create a new layer above the torso layer and name it Arm_R. Using the Rounded Rectangle tool again, make your arm. Again remember you can make it more round or more flat by using the up and down arrows on your keyboard while you are drawing it.

MiniMis04a

Create your hand by using the Ellipse tool (L).  Hold down shift  to constrain the hand to be a perfect circle.

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Now lets fill the hand and arm with the color #FDCC9A with NO stroke.

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Step 5.  Creating a sleeve

Using your pen tool, we’re going to make the short sleeve, so draw a curved line through the arm where his sleeve will be.

MiniMis05a

Again we need to separate them, so using the Selection Tool (V), select both the line and the arm. Go to your Pathfinder palette and use Divide.

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Then go to Object -> Ungroup (or Ctrl+Shift+G). We used color  # 790102 for the sleeve.

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Step 6. Adding some highlight

We also want to add a wee bit of dimension to the sleeve, and this time we’re going to use the Pencil tool (N) with Stroke on and NO FILL.   Double click the Pencil Tool (N) and make sure it’s closer to smooth than to Accurate.   Also make sure the “Fill new pencil strokes” is left unchecked. Then hit OK.

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Now draw a line down the front of the sleeve.

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Grab your Selection tool (V) and select the sleeve and the line and open your Pathfinder palette and hit Divide.

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Then go to Object -> Ungroup (Ctrl+Shift+G). Now the front of the sleeve can be colored with # 9A0000.

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Step 7. Making the Other Arm

Make a new Layer.   Name it Arm_L.  Drag that layer under the Torso layer in the Layer palette.  Next, we're going to duplicate his arm so they are both the same. Using your Selection Tool (V), you can select all of Arm_R by clicking on the little circle to the right of the layer name in the Layer palette.

MiniMis07a

Once selected, we need to copy and paste it. If you do that it will not be in the same spot and we’ll have to line it up, so what we’re going to do is Copy (Ctrl+C) and then Paste in Front (Ctrl+F). Now, you won’t be able to see that there are 2 there, but only one is highlighted. Do not fret; this is where we easily transfer it to the other layer! If you look in the Layers palette, there is a little colored box to the right of the layer name. Click that little box and drag it down to the Arm_L layer.  There you have it!

MiniMis07b

*helpful hint: You can rotate the arms to get them out of the way to make the legs.  Click on one arm at a time, use the rotate tool (R), click once where the shoulder socket would be then click the hand and swing one arm forward and one arm back.

MiniMis07c

Step 8. Legs!

Now we’re going to move on to the legs!  Let’s create a new layer above the Torso layer but below the Arm_R layer and name it Leg_R.

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To make the leg shape ,we used our old friend the Rounded Rectangle tool.  As you’re drawing the leg remember to adjust the roundness using the up and down arrows on your keyboard.

MiniMis08b

Next we’re going to make the bottom of the leg flat where our pants would meet the floor.  Using your Delete Anchor Point Tool ( - ), delete the 2 points that make the rounded bottom of the leg.  You can fill it with the same color as the pants: #0F283A.

MiniMis08c

Step 9. Feet

Our leg needs a foot to run on. Make a new layer above the Leg_R layer and name it Foot_R. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) and make a long oval for the foot and line up the back of the oval with the back of the leg as shown.

MiniMis09a

Next we need to make this a little more foot like.  Use the anchor point tool (Shift+C) and click the back most point to make it a point.

MiniMis09b

Using your Direct Selection tool (A) select that back point and move it down to rest at the bottom of the pants.  You can also see the angle handles on the curve.  Play around with each of the points to get the right shaped foot then fill it with the color #3F3F3F.

MiniMis09c

Again we need to have a duplicate of these shapes. Make a 2 new layers and name them Leg_L and Foot_L.  Drag it to where it is beneath the torso layer but above the Arm_L layer in the layer palette.

MiniMis09d

Select the Leg_R layer by clicking on that little circle to the right of the name of the layer. We’re going to copy (Ctrl+C) and paste in front (Ctrl+F). Since we know that copy is selected we’re going to click and drag the little square to the right of “Leg_R” down to Leg_L. Repeat this process for the foot.

MiniMis09e

Now we need to make sure we can distinguish between the right leg/foot and the left leg/foot. Use the circle to the right of the layer name to select and move the left leg (and foot) forward and up just a bit. Use a slightly darker color for the left side. The left pant leg is colored with #0D2330 and the foot is colored with #: 353535

MiniMis09f

Step 10. Head

Lets build a head for our character. Make a new layer and name it Head. Make sure the Head layer is the top layer in the layer palette. We used the Ellipse tool (L) and hold down Shift to constrain it to a perfect circle and hold down Alt to draw from the center. We used the color #FDCC9A.

MiniMis10a

Next, lets give our character a chin. I used the pencil tool (N) and a tablet to draw from the side of his head and made his slight chin as shown below. You could also try the Pen tool (P), or the Anchor Point Tool (Shift+C), and/or the Direct Selection Tool (A), to create the same thing if a tablet is not available. Go ahead and close the shape by ending the shape in the same place it started.

MiniMis10b

We need these to be one shape. Use your Selection Tool (V) and select both the head and the chin, make sure these shapes are overlapping. Open up our Pathfinder palette and instead of Divide, we’re going to use Unite.

MiniMis10c

Once you are happy with the shape of your head, we need to construct a nose by using our Pen tool (P)> Click and drag the Pen tool to make the curve. You don’t necessarily have to make this a closed object, but you can if you’d like.

MiniMis10d

Now we’re going to make his ear by using our Rounded Rectangle tool with a stroke color #E3B78A but NO FILL.

MiniMis10e

We need to finalize  the ear shape using our Scissor tool (C). To use the Scissor tool (S), all you need to do is click the two places you would like to cut it, just like your would with regular scissors. You’ll see part of the rounded rectangle highlighted.  Select the line to be cut using the Selection tool (V) and hit delete.

MiniMis10f

We need to manipulate this shape to make it more ear like. Use your Direct Selection Tool (A) and click on the points and move them forward or backward or change the angle of the handles until you are happy with the shape of your ear.

MiniMis10g

We can’t have our character catching cold. Let’s put some hair on his head. To do this I used the Pencil tool (N) and a tablet. You can try to do this with your mouse if you’d like OR you can do the same thing with a combination of the Pen tool (P), Anchor Point tool (Shift+C), and Direct Selection Tool (A). We used color #481A02.

MiniMis10h

Step 11. Eye

Lets give this character an eye.  Make a new layer and name it Eye, and make sure it is above the Head layer in the layer palette. In this case, we’re going to do a very simple eye. Use your Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a vertical oval. We used the fill color: # A1B7DD with a stroke color of # 8D9DDA.

MiniMis11a

We want to adjust the stroke to only .5 pixels. To do this, open your Stroke palette and if you don’t see it go to Window -> Stroke.  You’ll see the number 1 there. Click the arrow to the right of it and it’ll bring up a drop down menu, there you can click on .5 pts. (Make sure you have the eye selected).

MiniMis11b

Step 12. Eyebrow

For expressions we’re going to need to make an eyebrow. Let’s make a new layer above the Eye layer and name it Eyebrow. Grab your pen tool (stroke # 481A02 and NO FILL) and make a slight curved line above his eye. To adjust you can always use the direct selection tool. Once you’re happy with the curve we’re going to change the profile so it’s not so blocky. To do this, you open your Stroke palette (Window -> Stroke, if it is not already up) and in the upper right corner there is a tiny arrow and three lines. When you click that you can “Show Options” and at the bottom of this palette there is a line where you can change the “Profile” of the line.  We chose the second from the bottom to give it an eyebrow kind of shape. You can also adjust the Stroke weight to make it larger or smaller.

MiniMis12

Step 13. Facial Hair

This character wouldn't be me if there wasn't facial hair!   Looks like we need to make a new layer and label it Goatee. Once again, we will use the Pencil tool (N) to draw this with a tablet.  You can also use a combination of the Pen tool (P), Anchor Point Tool (Shift+C), and Direct Selection Tool (A) to make this object. For the facial hair we used color # 481A01.

MiniMis13

Step 14. Hat

We’re going to put a hat on this character.   Make a new layer and name it Hat. You can make any kind of hat you like.   I recommend using the Pencil tool (N), but as always feel free to do it the best way that suites you. I drew the main part of the hat and then the brim separately. Hat color used #: 3F3F3F

MiniMis14a

Once you get the general shape down you might like to add a little detail to the hat. Use the Pencil tool (N) to make little creases in the hat. We used color #353535

Step 15. Mouth

Time to make a basic mouth. Make a new layer and name it Mouth, and make sure you have it placed above the head layer in the layer palette. Use the Pen tool (P) to make a curve and then tweak it with the Direct Selection Tool (A).  Make sure you have a stroke with NO FILL. We used the color: # A96C4F.

MiniMis15

Step 16. Blinks

As we near the finish line, we need to start thinking about the various things involved with the upcoming character animation process.  For starters, we need to remember that animated characters blink....and they need to have eyelids in order to blink.  So, lets make some eyelids. You’ll need three top eyelids and three bottom eyelids.  Before we start building eyelids, we may want to keep certain layers from moving around (in particular the head layer and the eye layer), so lets lock down the head layer and the Eye layer as shown.

MiniMis16a

Make a new layer above the Eye layer and name it EyeClosed. Grab the Pen tool (P) and make a slightly upturned curve across the eye to show what it will look like when it is fully closed (make sure it goes slightly outside of the eye itself). Then go into your Stroke palette (Window -> Stroke, if you don’t already have it up) like we did with the eyebrow we’re going to change the Profile to take away that blocky look. For this object we used the second from the top.

MiniMis16b

Now that we have that line established we’re ready to start making our eyelids. Make 6 new layers above the eye layer but below the eyebrow layer and label them as follows top to bottom: UpperLid_01, UpperLid_02, UpperLid_03, LowerLid_01, LowerLid_02, and LowerLid_03.

MiniMis16c

Unlock the Eye layer and select the eye. Next we’re going to double-click our Scale tool (S) to make the ellipse Uniform 104% bigger and then instead of hitting OK, we’re going to click Copy.

MiniMis16d

What we’ve done is made a slightly larger copy of the eye. Now take your Eyedropper tool ( I ) and while the larger part is still selected, click on the skin of the face. This turns the duplicated Eye into an Eyelid.

MiniMis16e

We need this eyelid to be on the UpperLid_01 layer. To do this we’re going to use then little box to the right of the Eye Layer and click and drag it up to the UpperLid01 Layer.

MiniMis16f

While the eyelid is selected, we’re going to Copy (Ctrl+C) and then Paste In Front (Ctrl+F). Remember you won’t be able to see that it is duplicated. Next we’re going to go to our layers palette and use the little square to drag down to the appropriate layer. Do this 5 more times until all eyelid layers have 1 eye lid.

MiniMis16g

Remember how we made that EyeClosed layer? We’re going to use that same little curve to make our eyelids. So we need to duplicate this layer like we did with the eyelids so that we have one on each layer but leave the one on the EyeClosed layer.  Turn off the visibility on the EyeClosed Layer as we do not need it right now.

MiniMis16h

We need to divide both the top and bottom lid into 3. So start on the UpperLid_01 layer and move it up to where it would be 1/3 closed as shown.

MiniMis16i

Select both the eyelid and the line and prepare to use the Pathfinder (Window -> Pathfinder if it’s not already up) palette to Divide these 2 shape and you’ll see the line disappear.

MiniMis16j

We need to Ungroup (Ctrl+Shift+G or Object -> Ungroup) these objects and then delete the bottom portion.

MiniMis16k

Turn the layer visibility off by clicking on the little eye to the left of the layer name UpperLid_01.

MiniMis16L

Next, we’re going to do the UpperLid_02, but this time we’re going only move the line up to where his eye would be 2/3 closed as shown. Follow the same process as we did with the first eyelid.

MiniMis16m

For the 3rd eyelid we can leave that line where it is (and divide it using our Pathfinder), then delete the bottom part using the same process.

MiniMis16n

By now you should be pretty comfortable with the process.  You will notice the LowerLid_01 only reveals 1/3 of the lid (as it should).

MiniMis16o

Repeat that process for the LowerLid_02.  Look at the images for guidance.

MiniMis16p

Leave the line where it is on LowerLid_03 then divide and delete the top portion.

MiniMis16q (1)

There you have it.  In the next few blogs we are going to make our character do some walking, running AND blinking!

Til next time, stay focused.

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