Using some basic shapes, effects, and gradients I will show you how to create a Twitter mascot for your blog or website. Twitter is a popular free web service for social networking and micro-blogging. You can follow Vectips, Sean Hodge, or Collis Ta'eed on Twitter as well!
Create a new document that is 11 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle that is 3 inches wide by 4.5 inches tall. This will become the mascot body.
With the rectangle selected, create a Linear Gradient from the Gradient Panel. Change the color of the first swatch on the Gradient Slider (left swatch) to a cyan (I used these CMYK values: C=100, M=0, Y=0, and K=0). Change the second swatch on the Gradient Slider to a darker cyan (C=100, M=30, Y=0, and K=0). Use the Gradient Tool (G) to adjust the gradient by clicking at the top of the shape and dragging to the bottom, so the dark color is at the bottom.
Go to Filter > Stylize > Round Corners to bring up the Round Corners dialog. Change the Radius to 1.5 inches.
Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Free Distort to bring up the Free Distort dialog. Select and drag the bottom left anchor in the dialog slightly to the right. Next, select and drag the bottom right anchor point slightly to the left. The desired effect is to have the body shape slightly tapered at the bottom. Once the body shape is to your liking, go to Object > Expand.
With the Pen Tool (P), draw a shape for the feathers at the top of the character. Change the color of the hair to 100% Cyan.
Select the body and feathers. Then Copy (Command + C) and Paste it in Front (Command + F). With the new copy, scale and squish the objects so the copied feathers and body are roughly half the size of the original. Place the copies in the middle and close to the bottom of the original. Next change the color of the copied feathers to a 60% Cyan. Change the first swatch of the copied body gradient to a 60% Cyan and the second swatch to a 100% Cyan.
Now it is time to create the wings. Draw a 3 inch wide by 1 inch tall ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (L). Create a Linear Gradient from the Gradient Panel and use the same swatches as the main body gradient. Adjust the gradient as before, keeping the darker swatch on the bottom of the ellipse.
With the ellipse selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arch to bring up the Warp Options. Change the Bend to -50. Then Expand the effect.
Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform to bring up the Transform dialog. In the dialog change the Horizontal and Vertical to 90% in the Scale section, the Horizontal to .25 inches and the Vertical to .125 inches in the Move section, the Rotate Angle to 30, the copies to 2, and select the middle right box of the 9-Point Proxy (the box with nine points above the Random check box). Also, Expand the Transform when you're done (important for when you further edit the wings).
Rotate the wings slightly and place the wings halfway down to the left of the bird body. Copy (Command + C) the wings and Paste it in Front (Command + F). With the new copy, select Flip Horizontal from the pop-up menu of the Transform Panel.
Select the main body shape, Copy (Command + C), and Paste it in Back (Command + B). With the copied shape still selected, scale down the shape to about an eighth of it's original size. Place the shape below the bottom of the main body so half of the copied shape is covered by the body and the other half isn't. This becomes the top part of the bird's legs. With the Selection Tool (V), select the top leg and hold down Alt while dragging to copy another leg shape. Change the left swatch on the gradient of the leg shapes to a dark blue (C=100, M=50, Y=0, and K=0).
Draw a simple foot shape with the Pen Tool (P). Create a Linear Gradient and change the left swatch to a yellowish orange (C=0, M=15, Y=85, and K=0) and the right swatch to a orange color (C=0, M=35, Y=85, and K=0). Adjust the gradient so the darker color is at the top of the object. Send the foot to the back by going to Object > Arrange > Send To Back. Next, Copy (Command + C) the leg and Paste it in Front (Command + F). With the copy selected, flip it horizontally, and place it under the right top foot object.
Copy (Command + C) the right wing set and Paste it in Front (Command + F). Scale the copied wings to around half the original size, rotate slightly, and then send them behind the main body artwork to create the tail feathers.
Draw an ellipse that is .5 inches by .5 inches. Then place it towards the top left of the body. Fill the ellipse with a 65% cyan. Alt + Drag the circle to create a copy. Place the copy on the opposite side of the body.
Draw an ellipse that is .25 inches by .25 inches and give it a 7 point black stroke with no fill. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and click on the lower right side of the ellipse - directly on the path, and press delete on your keyboard. Select the opposite part of the ellipse and delete it. Change the stroke so it has Round Caps from the Stroke Panel. Then use the Selection Tool (V), press the Alt key and drag out a copy to the other side.
With the Pen Tool (P) draw a shape for the upper beak. Create a Linear Gradient with the same swatches as the feet gradient. Adjust the gradient so the darker swatch is at the bottom of the shape.
With the Pen Tool (P), create a shape for the lower half of the beak. Create a Linear Gradient and make the first swatch your orange color (C=0, M=35, Y=85, and K=0) and the second swatch a darker orange color (C=0, M=50, Y=100, and K=0). Adjust the gradient so the darker color is at the top of the shape and Send the Shape Behind the top beak shape.
With the bottom beak shape selected, go to Object > Path > Offset to bring up the Offset dialog. Change the Offset to -.125 inches. Next, change the color of the offset path to a dark brown color (C=0, M=60, Y=100, and K=85). Again, offset this shape but this time change the Offset to -.075 inches. Change the color of this offset to red (C=0, M=100, Y=100, and K=0).
Our Twitter bird is looking pretty good, but let's add some little details. First, a little depth behind the beak. Select the bottom part of the beak and Copy (Command + C) and Paste it in Back (Command +B). With the copy selected, use the Selection Tool and stretch the object from the bottom middle anchor point. Change the gradient to match the original body gradient and adjust it so the dark part is at the top of the object.
With the Pen Tool (P), create a zig-zag like path over the breast of the bird, creating a stylized feather shadow. Change the color of the stroke to 100% cyan with no fill. Then change the point size to 2.
With the Pen Tool (P) create two arcs next to the biggest and second biggest wings on the left. Make the stroke a 50% cyan color at a 2 point stroke weight. Copy (Command + C) the arcs, Paste in Front (Command + F), and flip the arc copies so they are on the right side as well.
Draw an ellipse that is 3 inches by 3 inches. Create a Radial gradient with the interior swatch a 35% black and the exterior swatch a white. Squish the ellipse with the Selection Tool (V) about a fourth of its original size and place behind all the artwork.
The mascot is done! In the next few steps I will explain the talk bubble in the final image. Start by drawing a rectangle that is 5 inches wide by 1.75 inches tall.
With the rectangle selected, go to Filter > Stylize > Round Corners to bring up the Round Corners dialog. Change the Radius to .375 inches.
Draw a triangle with the Pen Tool (P) towards the bottom right-hand side of the rectangle. Select the rectangle and the triangle a press the Add To Shape Area Button in the Pathfinder Panel. Then press the Expand button.
With the new shape selected, create a Linear Blend with the same colors as the beak. Adjust the gradient so the darker color is at the bottom. Give the shape a 3 point dark orange (C=0, M=60, Y=100, and K=0) stroke with a Round Joint. The Round Joint button can be found in the Stroke Panel.
Next choose some text and a font (I use Helvetica Bold in the illustration). Type what you want over the text bubble and outline the text by going to Type > Create Outlines. Create a Linear Gradient with the first swatch white and the second swatch a 30% yellow. Adjust the gradient so the darker color is at the bottom of the text. Finally, place the bubble behind all the other artwork and your done!
That was fun! Now you can use your new Twitter mascot on you blog or anywhere you see fit!