Adobe Illustrator tutorial: Creating convincing characters

Illustrator maestro Alexis West demonstrates how to magic up appealing characters using a pencil, a computer and bags of imagination.

7_DA_Creating_convincing_characters

Step 6 Some elements of the illustration can be quite fiddly with the pen tool alone – for this sort of areas, brushes are a superb way of creating a flowing vector form. Draw a circle using the Shape tool and use the Direct Selection tool (A) to highlight one of the side anchor points. While holding Shift, gently pull in the opposite direction to create a tearshape. Select the new shape and drag it into the Brushes menu; highlight New Art-Brush. Experiment with a few different shapes, and create several brushes for different details.

8_DA_Creating_convincing_characters

Step 7 Return to the Head layer and, using the Pen tool, plot a single flowing line that follows the curvature of the eyebrow or lashes. With the line selected, choose your custom brush and you should have a freeflowing shape that represents the eyebrow. With the eyebrow selected, go to Object > Expand Appearance – this will convert your path into an editable vector shape.

9_DA_Creating_convincing_characters

Step 8 To recreate the character’s trademark flowing arms, follow Step 7’s brush technique. Select the Pen tool and start tracing the character’s hand, blending it into the shape of the arm. Select both the arm and the hand shapes, go to Window > Pathfinder and in the pathfinder window click the Add to Shape Area option. Go to Object > Expand Appearance to finalize the arm and hand shape.

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