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Create Kawaii Inspired Halloween Wrapping Paper in Illustrator CC

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This post is part of a series called Halloween and Day of the Dead Vector Design.
How to Make a Quick Kawaii Candy Corn Pattern for Halloween

I've always wanted to create my own gift-wrapping paper, so I have decided to give you a walk through behind the creative process, which involves pattern creation. One of the most powerful aids in Illustrator is the ability to create seamless or repetitive patterns, cause they contribute to all sorts of productive mediums such as textile, graphic design, print making, and web design. In the past designers steered away from pattern swatches, cause it was a hassle to edit. Today we will learn the easy way to do it, and we'll create our own wrapping paper in the process.


1. Set Up Your Document

Step 1

Let's start by sketching our pattern elements. I have sketched out a Kawaii inspired Halloween theme for us to go ahead with. You can have a go at skeletons, mummies, witches, Frankenstein, Dracula, and spooky text to create your own characters or use the ones I've sketched out below.

Keep in mind, the final artwork will be in black and white, for three reasons: it's more stylish, cheaper to print in one color, and kids can have fun coloring in the final artwork.

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Step 2

Open a new document in Illustrator CC (Command-N). We want to create an artboard in a size we can work with. Generally it doesn't matter the size as long as you don't make it too small or too big. We will set our artboard at 600 x 600px for the time being. Name it and File > Place the sketched image to our board, scaling it to fit your board parameters.

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Lock "Layer 1", in the Layers panel and Create New Layer, giving it the title "Artwork".

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2. Create a Kawaii Vampire Bat

A typical characteristic of the Kawaii Japanese style is the heavy stroke outline and variations of line work in the artwork. So we shall focus on shaping our elements, through Stroke Weight variation. I will go through the first two characters with you and guide you with the rest.

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), trace in the circular forms that shape up the bat, with a fill to null and a black stroke of 0.1pt. Scale, transform and rotate some ellipses around, to fit the sketch.

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Step 2

For the wing, select the three ellipses below the wing and use Unite in the Pathfinder panel. Select the ellipse shape behind the new shape, and Minus Back in the Pathfinder panel. Delete the lower trimmed shape.

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Step 3

For the ears, use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a block on right hand of the ear ellipse, and Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel, so we can cut the shape of the ear.

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Step 4

For the inner bat wing, select the Arc Tool to draw an arc from one edge to the other.

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Step 5

For the mouth, use the Ellipse Tool (L) (fill to null and a black stroke weight of 0.3pt) and Object > Expand, to turn the stroke into a shape. Then as we did with the bat ear, create a rectangle to cover the top half of the mouth stroke, and Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel.

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Step 6

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw freehand the fangs.

Tweak and arrange the body parts as you find fitting. Then fill in shapes with color. You will see that I gave my bat a black fill with a white stroke as well as Round Caps (in Stroke panel).

Select the ear, wing, eye, and fang: Alt-Shift-drag to duplicate, and with the selected duplicates, Object > Transform > Reflect the elements (vertical axis). You can then drag them into the proper positioning.

Finally Group (Command-G) all the bat forms together.

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3. Create a Kawaii Spider

Step 1

Let's move on to the spider. The head is pretty much constructed as that of the bat. I've added a star for the pupils, using the Star Tool. For the spider silk, the Line Segment Tool (\) was used with Stroke Weight of 3pt, and the following options: Rounded Cap and Corner, Dashed Line: Dash 1pt / Gap: 5pt

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Step 2

For the legs, create an oval with the Ellipse Tool (L), and Object > Path > Add Anchor Points. Take the Scissors Tool (C) and cut as shown below. Delete the lower part of the ellipse, and convert the ends of the remaining piece to Rounded Caps in Stroke panel.

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Step 3

Duplicate the leg: Alt-Shift-drag, to create the other three. Then scale and rotate each to fit proportionally into the sketch. When complete, select the four legs, and using the Reflect Tool (O), set the reference point (light blue cursor) onto the center of our spider body.

By double-clicking the tool, in Tool panel, we can use the advanced Reflect option window. Select Vertical and hit Copy. Now we have a reflected copy of our selection.

Group (Command-G) all the spider elements together.

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4. Create the Kawaii Candy Corn

Step 1

Draw a long oval with the Ellipse Tool (L)Effect > Wrap > Arch set at a Horizontal Bend at about 61%. Click OK.

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Step 2

To skew the base, select the Free Transform Tool (E) from Tool panel, and select Free Distort to tweak the bottom. The Free Transform Tool has a new widget, which allows you to control the deformation of objects in a natural manner.

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Step 3

Object > Expand Appearance, so later on when we rotate our objects, they won't be deformed. Once that is done, create a small oval for the sparkles, Effect > Distort and Transform > Pucker & Bloat. Apply a 49% Pucker.

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Step 4

Shift-Alt-drag to duplicate, and scale down to create the smaller spark. Then Object > Expand Appearance both sparkles.

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make the eyes. For the smile, also use an Ellipse Tool (L) with black stroke and fill to none, use the Scissor Tool (C) from the Tool panel to cut it in half, and apply Rounded Caps from Stroke panel. Use the Line Segment Tool (\), to create the candy stroke divisions. With both lines selected Effect > Wrap > Arc Lower at a Horizontal Bend of 35%. Object > Expand Appearance both lines.

Before grouping our elements, you may need to arrange the elements around properly. Group (Command-G) when you're done.

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5. Create the Kawaii Pumpkin

Step 1

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw an oval at an angle, then use the Reflect Tool . Pathfinder > Unite, to join the shapes.

With the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) tweak the upper and lower bend. Ellipse Tool (L) for eyes.

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Step 2

Ellipse Tool (L) for the mouth and Pen Tool (P) to create tooth cut-out shape. The use Pathfinder > Minus Front.

Then for the pumpkin creases, use the Line Segment Tool (\) to create two vertical lines. For the left line, Effect > Arc at 37% (vertical), and for the right line it's -37%.

Object > Expand Appearance, the two arched lines. Then Arrange > Send to Back. The pumpkin stem and vines were drawn freehand with the Pen Tool (P). Group your shapes when done.

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6. Create the Other Characters

Step 1

For the rest of the characters and objects on our pattern, we repeat the use of the same tools, for their creation. I will guide you briefly:

  • Bloody Eyeball: Ellipse Tool (L) for the major parts. Pen Tool (P) to make veins. Rounded Rectangle Tool for the blood drips. Group (Command-G).
  • Candy: Ellipse Tool (L) + Rounded Rectangle Tool + Line Segment Tool (\) and Star Tool are used for the main parts. With the Ellipse Tool (L) and help of Pathfinder panel you can do the candy twists and the mouth. Use the Reflect Tool (O) to mirror. Group (Command-G).
  • Ghost: Ellipse Tool (L) for eyes and mouth and Line Segment Tool (\) for under eye creases then Rounded Rectangle Tool for arms and Pen Tool (P) to draw the body shape. Pathfinder > Unite, to join the body. Group (Command-G).
  • Skull: Ellipse Tool (L) for skull and eyes and Rounded Rectangle Tool for the jaw. Pathfinder > Unite, to join them together. Pen Tool (P) and Ellipse Tool (L) for the bow then Reflect Tool (O). Ellipse Tool (L) and Rectangle ToolPathfinder > Unite, to make bones. Group (Command-G).
  • Cat: Ellipse Tool (L) for the body and Line Segment Tool (\) for the whiskers.. For the eyes use the Ellipse Tool (L) with white stroke and fill to none. Use the Scissor Tool (C) from the Tool panel to cut the eye-line in half. Use the Pen Tool (P) for the ears. Object > Path > Offset Path tool for inner ear lining. Group (Command-G).
  • Coffin: Polygon Tool and Pen Tool (P). Object > Path > Offset Path for inner coffin lining. Ellipse Tool (L) for the eyes. Rectangle Tool (M) to create the cross. Unite with Pathfinder. (Command-G)
  • Cobweb: Polygon Tool and the Line Segment Tool (\). Then Group (Command-G)

Step 2

Make sure the outer lining of your objects have thick stroke weight and thin internal strokes. All strokes should have with Round Caps. I have given the outer shapes a stroke of 6pt and the internal strokes between 1-3pt. The varied line work helps define the shapes. The pumpkin's mouth, frown was reflected into a smile Object > Transform > Reflect (horizontal). The final result should look something like this:

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7. Create the Text

Step 1

A new feature in Illustrator is the Touch Type Tool. Using the Type Tool (T), type in "BOO!", using the "ChunkFive" font.

In the toolbar or in the Character panel, you can access the Touch Type Tool. If we select any character with this tool, you will see handles appear, to transform your letter. For example, to rotate select the small circle on top of handles. You can control all the parameters as well as from your Character panel. What's amazing is that if you have a Wacom Cintiq, you can manipulate the characters by just touching your screen with your finger…cool! Feel free to manipulate your text, as you like.

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Step 2

For the "trick-or-treat" text I used the Brody font, however you can use any font you wish. Illustrator CC has a new advanced filter in its Control and Character panels that help find your suitable font. It makes searching easier, because you can see font previews, their types, and can also open the list of styles, like italic, bold, etc., of that selected font.

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8. Create Your Pattern

Step 1

Once we have completed the artwork, we need to arrange it to form our pattern. Reposition and alter the illustrated elements around as you find fitting. I personally duplicated some cobwebs and scaled elements here and there. Once you're done, Group all the objects together (Command-G).

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Step 2

My elements are larger than I need them for print, because I'll be printing on my A4 printer, so I scaled them down, holding the Shift key to lock the proportions. Make sure the Illustrator > Preference > General > Scale Strokes and Effects is ticked or else your strokes will not downsize with the scaling.

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Step 3

To create our pattern go to Object > Pattern > Make, this will bring up the Pattern Options panel. You will see the tiled pattern dimmed around your original copy. At this point, you can make whatever alterations you need to the artwork, spacing, and type. Once you are happy with your outcome, Name your pattern "Kawaii Halloween".

Make Copies 9x9, to see how it will appear on a large scale. Copies, defines how many repetitions of the artwork appear for a preview of the pattern. Hit Done at top of the screen, and your pattern will appear as a new swatch in the Swatches panel.

Select the grouped artwork and Object > Hide > Selection (Command-3).

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5. Modify Your Artboard

Step 1

Now that we have our pattern done, we need to decide on what size of paper we need to print on. Most people have an A4 printer. So we will go into File > Document Setup > Edit Artboards: Preset: A4 or alternatively place in the dimensions of printing paper you have available.

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With "Kawaii Halloween" swatch selected, take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle to fit your set dimensions.

File > Print. Place in the proper printer settings and print on white paper. For large prints, take it to your local print-house, and you can create a long table setting sheet.

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It's a Wrap, Folks!

Happy Wrapping! Using various tool and the new Illustrator CC tools, you've mastered creating your very own Halloween wrapping paper! What's cool is that you can always go back to the pattern swatch and personalize your text, so if your out to spook Mummy, just take a minute to edit the text and print!

I do hope you enjoyed my tutorial, and I'd love to see your Halloween gift-wrapping paper patterns.

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