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Create an Innocent Fluffy Kitten With Basic Shapes in Adobe Illustrator

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Who doesn't love cute little kittens? In this tutorial I'll show you how to create one in a very simple way. You don't need to know anything about Adobe Illustrator to try this, but after you're done with it, you'll be familiar with manipulating basic shapes, matching colors, creating simple brushes, Clipping Mask and even Graphic Styles!


1. Prepare Your Workspace

Step 1

The first step is usually about document size, but I'll tell you a secret: in vector size doesn't matter. You can change your document size at any time with Artboard Tool (Shift + O), without affecting the artwork. Try it!

kittenangel1-1_document_size

Step 2

Our artwork is going to be symmetrical, so we need to set an axis of symmetry first. Show Rulers with Control + R, then grab the one on the left and drag it to the center of the screen. Your guide is ready! You can easily hide it too with the Control + ; shortcut.

kittenangel1-2_guide_placement

2. Let's Start With a Mouth

Step 1

We're going to build a mouth first, as it's a nice "landmark" to measure the other elements from. To do this:

  • Set your Fill color to #cfa374
  • Place your cursor over the guide
  • Hold Alt and Shift keys
  • Use Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a circle.

Alt will place the circle's center where the cursor is, and Shift makes it an even circle, rather than an ellipse.

kittenangel2-1_mouth1

Step 2

Before we go further, I'd like to show you an important trick. If you want to create a picture with colors that fit each other, you can just pick a base color and change its Brightness to your needs. Click Layer Options button to see the menu, then select HSB (Hue, Saturation, Brightness). Now just move the slider to get a new shade of your base color.

kittenangel2-2_brightness_change

Step 3

Draw another circle with a lighter shade (I used #f2bf88). It will make one of two round shapes in this famous ":3" emoticon. In the left upper corner you can see what shape we're building.

kittenangel2-3_mouth2

Step 4

Draw a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M) (don't change the color) that touches the guide and partly covers the smaller circle.

kittenangel2-4_mouth3

Step 5

We'll modify this basic shape. Grab Direct Selection Tool (A), then double-click any of corner points and move it upwards.

kittenangel2-5_mouth4

Step 6

Use the same process to modify the other corners as shown below.

kittenangel2-6_mouth5

3. Create a Cute Pink Nose!

Step 1

The perfect basic shape for the nose will be a triangle, but there is no such a shape in Illustrator! At least, it's not on the list. Choose Star Tool (the list will show up if you hold rectangle icon for a while) and select Star Tool. Draw a star, but don't release it yet. Press your down key on your keyboard a few times and see what happens!

kittenangel3-1_nose_base

Step 2

Use a pink shade (like #f4bec1) and place the triangle where the nose should be.

kittenangel3-2_nose_base2

Step 3

A triangle is a good basic shape for the nose, but we want it to be more defined. A triangle has even more points you can manipulate, so... you know what to do!

kittenangel3-3_nose_shape

Step 4

Draw a circle (use brighter shade of pink) that will be a nostril, and then another circle (click the black square to get black immediately).

kittenangel3-4_nosehole

4. Add Detailing to the Nose and Mouth Area

Step 1

Add a purple ellipse that will be an open mouth. By default every new object is created above the previous ones, so you need to drag its layer under that light part of the mouth.

kittenangel4-1_mouthdetails

Step 2

Time for these little holes for whiskers. Relax, we won't draw them one by one! We can use another Illustrator trick using Scatter Brushes. Draw a black ellipse, select New Brush icon on Brushes panel, then select Scatter Brush.

kittenangel4-2_mouthbrush1

Step 3

There are a lot of options here, but they're rather easy to understand:

  • First, we want our holes to change size according to how much pressure we apply to our graphics tablet - hence Pressure and minimum size set to 10%.
  • We want them to be placed in a distance to each other, that's why we move Spacing slider a bit.
  • Rotation of the holes needs to be bound to rotation of the path we draw, hence the last options selected.
kittenangel4-3_mouthbrush2

Step 4

Try out your new brush. If something doesn't work as it's supposed to, just double-click the brush on the list and change the options again. When you're ready, draw a row of the holes and lower their Opacity. They should be there, but without looking like the most important element of the picture.

kittenangel4-4_mouthbrush3

5. Create a New Brush to Draw Fur

Step 1

What's a cat without fluffy fur? The answer is - Sphinx cat, however we're wanting a fluffy cat. Let's create another brush that will save us a lot of time. Draw a triangle, use the Free Transform Tool (E) to make it long and narrow. Now just drag the middle point so you've got a kite shape.

kittenangel5-1_furbrush1

Step 2

Create a New Brush - this time it's an Art Brush. The Colorization Method should be set to Tints, so that you can change the color of your strokes.

kittenangel5-2_furbrush2

Step 3

Pick a color from the shapes with Eyedropper Tool (I), then Shift + X to toggle between stroke and fill color. Now you're ready to add some fur - change the size of your brush to your needs and add some cute strokes.

When you draw a lot of elements of one kind, it's wise to Group (Control + G) them. It will help keep your document tidy.

kittenangel5-3_furbrush3

6. Face-Shaping

Step 1

Time for the rest of the mouth. Draw a bright (#f2d8bd) rectangle first.

kittenangel6-1_uppernose

Step 2

Drag one point down for this triangle-like shape.

kittenangel6-2_uppernose2

Step 3

Add another rectangle, picking the color from the mouth.

kittenangel6-3_uppernose3

Step 4

Change its shape a bit.

kittenangel6-4_uppernose4

7. Build up the Head

Step 1

We'll build the head now. Create New Layer, drag it under the previous one, and draw a huge circle.

kittenangel7-1_head1

Step 2

Cat's don't have circular faces, they're more like triangles, so move one of the points with Direct Selection Tool (A).

kittenangel7-2_head2

Step 3

Create another layer (it will be easier this way to add fur later) and draw an ellipse, using darker shade of brown.

kittenangel7-3_head3

Step 4

New layer, new ellipse, the same color (it's a mouth!).

kittenangel7-4_head4

Step 5

Another layer and bright brown again for the forehead.

kittenangel7-5_head5

Step 6

Even more brightness for the upper part of the head for this circle.

kittenangel7-6_head6

Step 7

Add another ellipse for the cheekbone. This will help us place the eye later.

kittenangel7-7_head7

8. Create a Cats Eye

Step 1

Create another layer and draw a black ellipse that will make the hole for the eyeball (looks creepy, doesn't it?).

kittenangel8-1_eyehole

Step 2

Manipulate its shape a little for this sad, innocent look. You can also try to play with handles (the arrow shows you one) to get a better effect.

kittenangel8-2_eyehole_shape

Step 3

Add two new ellipses under the black one to define the edges of the eye hole. Alter their shapes too.

kittenangel8-3_eyehole_lights

Step 4

Time for the eye itself! Draw a blue ellipse and manipulate its shape.

kittenangel8-4_eye

Step 5

Draw another ellipse for the pupil. Use a darker shade of the blue (black wouldn't look good here, trust me).

kittenangel8-5_pupil

Step 6

We'll add a little glow now. Copy the eye and drag it above the pupil. Make it narrower and position it near the bottom of the eye.

kittenangel8-6_eyeglow1

Step 7

Open the Gradient panel. With the "glow" ellipse selected, choose black to white gradient from the list, then double-click the black arrow to change it to white. Now we've got white-white gradient. Change the angle to 90 degrees, then change the left arrow's Opacity to 60% and the right one's to 0%. Looks good!

kittenangel8-7_eyeglow2

9. Create the Cat Ears

Step 1

I'm sure you guessed how to create an ear. They're just like triangles, right?

kittenangel9-1_ear_shape

Step 2

Oh, maybe not really, but mostly. We can fix it but modifying the points to at volume to the tip of the ears as shown below.

kittenangel9-2_ear_shape2

Step 3

Copy the ear, resize it and change its color to pink. That's an inside of the ear!

kittenangel9-3_ear_inside

Step 4

There should be a part of head visible behind the ears. Draw it with light brown.

kittenangel9-4_below_ears

10. Let's Add Some Fur!

Step 1

Time to add more fur. If you created a new layer for every part, you shouldn't have problems with it. If you didn't, just draw the fur on a new layer, group it and then drag in under the others. Change the size of the brush anytime you need (the fur around the mouth is certainly thinner).

kittenangel10-1_fur

Step 2

And the whiskers! You can use your fur brush for it, just choose really small size and draw long lines.

kittenangel10-2_whiskers

11. Reflect the Head

Step 1

All this time we've been focused on the left half of the head, without caring about the mess on the other side. We need to cut it before we copy the half. Draw a rectangle that will cover all the left half and touch the guide with its right side (the color doesn't matter).

kittenangel11-1_clipping_mask

Step 2

Select everything you've done so far and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (or just use shortcut Control + 7). Now we've got a neat left half!

kittenangel11-2_clippin_mask2

Step 3

Select the half and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Select Vertical and click Copy. Now just move the other half to its place. The head is complete!

kittenangel11-3_the_other_half

12. Complete the Rest of the Body

Step 1

We've got a lot of work behind us, so at this point everything should be a piece of cake! Create New Layer under the head (Lock the head layer to avoid mistakes) and draw a column of ellipses. It will build the upper part of the body, neck, shoulders and torso. We'll mix some colors here - the middle one (#ffce99) is 100% bright. You just need to move the brightness slider to get the others. Don't forget about long, thick fur!

kittenangel12-1_barrow_colors

Step 2

Now the lower part. Draw three ellipses for the rest of the torso and two legs. It's the same trick with colors here - you can just pick the color for the torso from the part above, then manipulate their brightness. The further the element from us, the darker it should be.

kittenangel12-2_barrow_2nd_half

Step 3

Don't forget to add fur to the new shapes.

kittenangel12-3_barrow_2nd_half_fur

Step 4

Now time for little paws. Draw an ellipse for a single finger and create the shape as shown below.

kittenangel12-4_paw_finger

Step 5

Reflect the finger vertically and place it next to the first one.

kittenangel12-5_paw_finger2

Step 6

They both look the same, so we need some border for them. Duplicate both fingers and having them selected, click Intersect in Pathfinder. Then darken the part you've just got.

kittenangel12-6_paw_finger_middle

Step 7

Let's use the same process for the remaining fingers.

  • Copy one finger, make it smaller and drag it under the other fingers
  • Copy it, pick the darker color for it and make the copy more narrow, to get a border too
  • You can now reflect the last finger.
kittenangel12-7_whole_paw

Step 8

When your paw is done, copy it to a layer under the original, and darken its colors, both for the fingers and borders. Also, add a dark ellipse for the tummy.

kittenangel12-8_the_other_paw

Step 9

As all the body is ready, you know what to do to get the other half! When done, use the same process to add the tail.

kittenangel12-9_whole_barrow

13. Give Your Kitty Some Wings!

Step 1

We've got a kitty now, but it's just a usual kitty. Let's make it more fun! First, we need a background that will flatter the cat's eyes. Don't forget about the shadow, or our kitty will seem to be floating in the air.

kittenangel13-1_bg

Step 2

We'll build the wings now. We'll create just one wing and reflect it when it's done. So, start with three ellipses that make an "arm" together (a wing is nothing but an arm with feathers).

kittenangel13-2_wing_arm

Step 3

Before we start drawing feathers, we can use a little trick again to save a lot of time - build a brush for one feather! Make it out of one black ellipse as an Art Brush (don't forget about Tints in Colorization Method). Check it out, it's a really nice brush!

kittenangel13-3_feather_brush

Step 4

Now just draw a row of the feathers. The arrows show you direction of them.

kittenangel13-4_wings1

Step 5

Draw another row, using a brighter shade. The direction stays the same.

kittenangel13-5_wings2

Step 6

And the last one, almost (but not entirely) white.

kittenangel13-6_wings3

14. Give the Wings a Glow

Step 1

Our kitty is an angel, not a bird, so we need to make the wings even more unusual. What about making them glow? Draw a rectangle in any color, then go to Filter > Stylize > Outer Glow and change the options to these below.

kittenangel14-1_glow_example

Step 2

Remove any colors from the rectangle, then open Graphic Styles tab (you can find it in Window menu) and click New Style icon. The style of the rectangle (no fill, no stroke, and glow that's invisible at the moment) will be saved and ready to use anywhere else.

kittenangel14-2_glow_example_save

Step 3

Now select the last row of the feathers and use the style. But there's a catch - the style we've saved has no fill! If you select it directly, it will make the feathers invisible. To avoid it, you need to add this style to existing one - just hold Alt when clicking the style.

kittenangel14-3_glow_usage

Step 4

Once the wing is ready, reflect it to the other side.

kittenangel14-4_both_wings

Step 5

There's just one more thing we need to do. Draw an ellipse with a thick, white stroke and no fill. It will be a halo!

kittenangel14-5_aureole

Step 6

It should be glowing too, so apply our style to it. If you like the effect, you're done, however I suggest changing its color to bright yellow - it will be appear warmer. To do this, open Appearance tab, click Outer Glow and edit the options.

kittenangel14-6_outer_glow_change

So Cute! Well Done!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned a lot of things to use in the future. I wish you good luck in your vector journey!

kittenangel_final
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