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In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a fun looking Arabian male avatar in Adobe Illustrator. You'll learn how to use basic tools and trace from a sketch to create a quirky and quick avatar which is great for use on social media.
1. Set Up Your File
Take a pen and paper, or tablet and sketch up a quirky character within a square. I've decided to illustrate a flamboyant Arab man. So the characteristics would be: half open eyes, thick eyebrows with one raised brow, a side smirk and a freshly shaven goatee. Oh and don't forget his "Ghutra" the traditional Arab headdress.
Open Adobe Illustrator, and create a New file, using the settings shown below File > New (Command + N). File > Place and choose the image file of your sketch. Position it in the artboard, then Lock it: Object > Lock > Selection (Command + 2).
2. Trace Your Sketch
Now we are going to start tracing our character. Take your Pen Tool (P), null fill and black outline, and use a Stroke Weight of 3pt. I like to trace the simple elements first, so let's start with the skin. Use the Rectangle Tool (M), and create a square beyond the artboard for the background layer. Then trace the thick eyebrows with the Pen Tool (P).
Now trace in the eye with the Ellipse Tool (L) with a 2pt Stroke Weight, by tracing from the outside towards the inside of the eye. Give the pupil a black to dark grey gradient. Outline the white of the eye with a light blue shade and outline the entire eye with a light brown circle to highlight the eyes. Object > Group (Command + G) all the shapes and repeat for the second eye.
With the Pen Tool (P), draw two rectangles with a curve on the top side. These will need to cover half of the eye. Select one eye group and the respective rectangle and create a Clipping Mask (Command + 7).
Now do the same for the second eye.
With the Pen Tool (P), no fill and black outline and a Stroke Weight of 3pt, draw in the eyelids. Then with a black fill and no outline, draw in the smirk.
Take the Rounded Rectangle Tool with a Corner Radius of 0.5cm, draw in the outer goatee shape. Then rotate it to fit the sketch. Now draw another rounded rectangle to fit the inner area of the goatee. Then select both rounded rectangles and select the Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel.
Select the goatee and eyebrows, and press (Shift + X) to switch the outline black color to a black fill. Then select the upper eyelids and fill them up with a dark shade of brown and remove the black outline.
With the Pen Tool (P), draw the lower part of the "Ghutra" headdress. Select it and hold down (Shift + Alt), and move the selection up a little. Then rotate it to fit the sketch.
With the Rectangle Tool (M) create two short bars with a black fill and no outline. Use Effect > Wrap > Arc and use the Options below. With the bars still selected, go to Object > Expand.
3. Add Color to Your Avatar
So now that we are done tracing... it's time we color! Unlock the background sketch and then Delete it. Select the square that surrounds the artboard and give Mr. Flamboyant a milky chocolate skin tone of linear gradient. Making sure the darker chocolate color is on top of the gradient. Now color the top of the headdress plain white and the lower part, give it a grey linear gradient.
Now you will notice the eyebrows are behind the headdress, so select them and Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Command + Shift + [). I've tweaked mine slightly. Then take the Pen Tool (P) and add grey highlights to the inside of the eyebrows. Then select each brow and highlight and Group (Command + G) them together.
Select the two black strips on the headdress and give them a linear gradient of: black to grey to black. Repeat this for the goatee.
Select the smile and give it a dark brown color. Then draw an Ellipse (L) around the mouth region. Give it a light grey tone. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply.
With the ellipse still selected, send it back by pressing Command + [ until it's behind the eyes. Tweak, scale and rotate, the goatee and eyes where you see appropriate.
4. Refine Your Avatar By Adding Detailing
With the Ellipse Tool (L) draw two cheek highlighting shapes. The fill color should be chocolate and Blending Mode set to Lighten.
Select the grey bottom headdress, duplicate (Alt +Shift) and drag down.
Set the Blending Mode to Multiply. Send Back (Command + [), behind the grey headdress.
Select the white headdress and give it a linear gradient of: light grey to white to light grey.
Your Avatar Is Done!
Well Done! In this tutorial we've learned a simple way to create your very own avatar, using basic Illustrator tools. Now you can upload it to any of your social networks.