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How to Draw and Vector a Kawaii Vampire Chibi in Illustrator

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Let's get cute! In this tutorial you'll learn how to build a chibi character from scratch using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), Pen Tool (P), transparent gradients, and more in Adobe Illustrator! The idea of a chibi character is to diminish the overall form, making it cute, big-eyed, and pretty simplistic. Let's get to it!


1. Form the Head

Step 1

Much like Voltron, we'll start by forming the head. Draw a circle with the Ellipse Tool (L). You'll want to hold down Shift to keep it from getting squashed. This circle is a simple line at 1pt Stroke Weight.

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Step 2

Use the Paintbrush Tool (B) to draw two curved lines bisecting the circle. These will help you define the angle of the head and placement of facial features. In this case, the head will be at a 3/4 view (or thereabouts).

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2. Draw the Face

Step 1

These blue lines drawn with the Paintbrush Tool (B) are for the base sketch of the face. So no worries if you want to doodle it out a bit or make several changes. Draw a large, almond-shaped eye. This one has two parts: a top arc and a bottom arc.

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Step 2

Continue with the other eye. This one will be rounder, shorter, and smaller, as it's on the other side of the face - so viewed at a tighter angle. The point of the horizontal line on the face is for eye placement. While I made adjustments in the picture below, the line itself should help indicate the place where the corners of the eyes rest.

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Step 3

This step begins the shape of the jaw. Chibi faces have pretty funky jaw lines. They tend to jut out in such a way that's more expressive than "correct" in terms of anatomy. Check out the image below for the angle of the jawline. I began the first line at the temple and ended the second line at the point of the chin, which is also where the vertical line drawn ends.

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Step 4

Only one line is needed for the other side of the jaw. Since this side of the face is most viewable, a simple curve is necessary to define the edge of the head. The line travels from the chin's point to the back of the jaw, where the ear begins.

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Step 5

This chibi design skips the nose. The rule with anime-style drawings tends to be the smaller the nose, the cuter the character. Since chibi characters are pretty extreme in their design, a complete lack of a nose seems up to par. I switched colors so the mouth shape would be easily viewable. This mouth is open, with a tiny fang showing. It's basically a disjointed capital D.

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Step 6

Add simple curved lines to indicate the eyes' irises and eyebrows. Your basic face shapes are now complete.

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3. Create the Jawline

Step 1

So we've already sketched out our jawline, but now we need to create the final version of it. With the Selection Tool (V), select the facial features and cross lines (everything except for the brown head circle) and Group (Control-G) it together. Lock these shapes in the Layers panel.

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Step 2

Using the Pen Tool (P) with the same brown color and Stroke Weight as the head circle, trace the blue jawline.

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Step 3

Continue tracing the jawline and close the shape. Make sure the curve of the circle leads right into the newly drawn lower portion of the head. I reduced the transparency of the facial features sketch for easier visibility.

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Step 4

Select both of the brown line shapes. Using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), click on the circle and drag it through the three intersecting shapes.

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Step 5

This has united the circle and the jaw shape into one adorable little head.

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4. Draw the Chibi's Body

Step 1

Let's give this little cutie a body. Using the Paintbrush Tool (B) Draw a line with a slight curve from the head (a bit past the chin) down as far as you feel the torso should extend.

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Step 2

These two lines, each curved toward one another, indicate the placement of the shoulders and the hips. The end of the line between them now indicates the bottom of the pelvis of the character.

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Step 3

I've drawn a line far more curved than the others about midway between the shoulder line and the hip line. This indicates the end of the ribcage. The little lines on the hip line indicate the hip sockets and start of the legs.

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Step 4

Two shapes have been drawn to indicate the shoulder sockets/beginning of the arms as well as two lines for the little chibi character's legs. They're slightly bowed in, have no knees or ankles, and are about the same length as the entire torso. This is done to keep them simple and maintain cuteness.

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Step 5

Finally, I've added lines to indicate the arms (notice the lack of elbows) and two short lines to indicate the hands. This particular style lends itself to simple, mitten-like hands, versus more complex shapes.

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5. Add Clothing to the Torso

Step 1

This little character is wearing a sailor-inspired school uniform, so a good place to start on the shirt is the collar. Using the Pen Tool (P), set the stroke to a dark blue. Outlines like these will remain in the image. Draw two curved shapes for the collar (it's wide and tapers in by the knot). The knot itself is comprised of two overlapping shapes.

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Step 2

Add two tails to your collar. These shapes each have five anchor points and connect behind the knot shape.

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Step 3

Using the same brown from the face, draw a shape for the neck from the shoulders up to past the chin.

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Step 4

For the shirt itself I chose a much lighter blue than the collar. Using the body sketch as a guide, draw the shirt down to the top of the hip socket lines. Consider where the fabric drapes or folds in your drawing.

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Step 5

Complete your shape. Here's the outlines of the shirt, sans arms.

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Step 6

The arm pieces of the shirt are drawn in the same light blue. Seen below, I experimented with puffy sleeves and folds before deciding on a later, final version.

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6. Add Clothes to the Legs

Step 1

For the skirt I used the same dark blue as the shirt's collar. The skirt is pleated, so it comes in at sharp angles along a curve. I drew it with the Pen Tool (P).

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Step 2

Finish off the skirt shape and make sure to join your ending anchor points. The skirt kicks up in the back and slopes down in the front.

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Step 3

In the event you had wondered, the guidelines previously drawn were Grouped (Control-G) and hidden in the Layers panel for the sake of this tutorial. Using the leg lines from the body lines drawn before, I've formed a simple little leg and foot shape. It has no knee or ankle, the foot is stubby and small, and it curves inward. Either draw the other leg, or Copy (Control-C) and Paste (Control-V) this one and flip it over a vertical axis.

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Step 4

The little mitten hand previously mentioned has been drawn now. This hand is drawn from the side and tilted upward at the wrist. It's also small and mostly featureless, as most limbs of chibi characters are.

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Step 5

In the image below you'll notice all of the body parts have now been drawn. The guidelines are still hidden for easy viewing. The leg pieces are behind the skirt. The hands and arms are behind the skirt, legs, and collar pieces. The head has been set before all of the body pieces. Finally, the shirt piece is beneath the collar, beneath the skirt, but above the arm of the viewer's left side.

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7. Define the Facial Features

Step 1

For the sake of clarity in this section, I've hidden the body pieces and made the face sketch visible again. With the Pen Tool (P) I've carefully drawn the top arc of the eye.

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Step 2

Doubling back on the arc shape, I've added a point that will form eyelash details.

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Step 3

Another has been added. This look is similar to retro styled makeup rather than being a drawing containing individual lashes. Clear, graphic indications of details are better in such a design than realistic detailed work.

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Step 4

Close the shape and switch from a stroked line to a fill. This brown is much darker than the body outline color. The top of the eye is complete.

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Step 5

Here's a closer view of the eye shape detail. I've added a curved shape for the bottom of the eye. No eyelash details will be added and it will not intersect the inside corner (on the left) of the top shape.

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Step 6

A thin shape has been added for the eyelid crease as well as a simple swooped shape for the eye brow. How arched or detailed the eyebrow gets is entirely up to you.

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Step 7

Repeat the eye drawing process on the other side. As this is a 3/4 viewing angle, simply Copying (Control-C) and Pasting (Control-V) will not work in this case. Follow the light blue sketch lines and you'll have the correct eye shape.

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Step 8

Using a light brown, trace the mouth shape from the sketch. This shape is also just a fill versus stroked line.

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8. Create the Chibi's Hairstyle

Step 1

Before we get too entrenched in facial details, we'll focus on the basic hair shapes. I've hidden everything except for the head shape for this section. Using the same color as the head, I've begun to outline the shape of the hair from the crown of the head to the edge of the bangs.

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Step 2

The bangs are choppy rather than smooth in this case. Follow along going up and down like a curved wave pattern. Note how the curve of the bangs go left until they reach the center of the face; then they curve to the right. I made some of the facial features visible again so there's a good reference point for drawing the hair.

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Step 3

Continue until you reach the side of the hair. The anchor point where this shape currently ends will be the beginning of the character's pigtail.

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Step 4

See how it indents on the right side? That is where the pigtail will be set. The indent on the top of the head indicated the beginning of the bangs. The hair, overall, has a lot of volume to create a perky look for the character.

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Step 5

Using the Pencil Tool (N) I've drawn a cute little pigtail on the right side of the design. When using this tool, remember to close your shape by joining the anchor points (Control-J).

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Step 6

Draw another fluffy little bit of hair for the pigtail on the other side of the head. This one is slightly obscured be the side of the face.

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Step 7

An additional bit of hair, beneath the main hair piece, has been added to obscure the other side of the face.

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Step 8

Select all of your newly drawn hair pieces and Group (Control-G) them together.

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9. Coloring the Hair

Step 1

Select your hair group and set the fill color to a bright pink. Some adjustments to the hair pieces will have to be made so no gaps appear between them.

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Step 2

I've moved the pigtail on this side inward, ever so slightly, and added two stroked lines to show hair leading into the elastic band.

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Step 3

Additional lines have been added to the indent where the back of the hair meets the front.

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Step 4

Finally, the additional forelock was moved upward to close the gap. Add a fill color to the head shape with whatever skin tone you'd like for your character.

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10. Coloring the Clothes and Body

Step 1

Add colors of your choosing to the clothing shapes. Simply select each shape and choose a color for the fill. Since this is supposed to be a school uniform, the shirt's sailor collar and the skirt match.

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Step 2

Let's focus on the legs. I've added the same fill color from the face to them and for the sake of this section placed them above the skirt in the Layers panel.

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Step 3

When forming the socks, don't worry about the shape aside from the top curve. Select both shapes with the Selection Tool (V) and using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), select the shape outside of the intersection between the leg and sock.

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Step 4

Deselect the leg and sock, select only the outside shape (it's separate now) and delete it. your little character should have a sock that conforms perfectly to the shape of its leg. Repeat on the other side.

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11. Give Your Chibi Shoes

Step 1

Using the same dark brown from the eye shapes, trace the outline of the foot with the Pen Tool (P). Unlike the sock, the shoe shape will extend beyond the main leg a bit, but not by much. The top is straight across.

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Step 2

Draw a small window in the shoe shape and select both of these shapes.

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Step 3

In Pathfinder, hit Minus Front to delete the small window shape from the shoe shape.

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Step 4

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a small yellow circle for the buckle or button of the shoe.

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12. Face Details

Step 1

Add almond-shaped whites of the eyes, dark brown for the inside of the mouth, and a little triangle for the character's tiny fang.

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Step 2

The mouth has two more pieces to it: another little fang and a little pink tongue. Both of these shapes will be placed below the mouth line work and above the dark brown shape the colors the inside of the mouth.

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Step 3

I drew large dark, dark brown shapes following the sketch lines for the eyes in order to create the base for the iris. We'll detail them shortly.

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Step 4

For a splash of color, try drawing a smaller shape within the iris base. I chose a bright teal color for her eyes.

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Step 5

She'll need some pupils. Two of them, in fact. You can either freehand them with the Pen Tool (P) or Copy (Control-C) and Paste (Control-V) the teal iris bits and resize them so they carry an identical contour.

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Step 6

In this case I went for the Copy and Paste route and adjusted the overall shapes to meet my needs once in place. All of the eye bits are set below the eye's line work and above the base of the face.

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Step 7

Flat colors are now all set and completed. I'm not entirely sure I dig this color scheme and really think there's something major missing in terms of accessories for this little fanged cutie-pie.

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13. Add her Cute Chibi Wings

Step 1

The wings are going to hang in mid-air and be near the shoulders. Start with a line that curves up from the shoulder towards the hair or head.

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Step 2

Bring that line across in a straight line and start to make your way back to the starting anchor with sever scalloped lines.

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Step 3

There's four scallops total in the finished wing. Repeat these steps on the other side.

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Step 4

So I switched up the color scheme a bit. Instead of teal, the eyes are purple. The same purple has been used for the skirt and shirt color while a very dark purple is used for the outlines. A very light purple is used for the outline of the shirt and socks now. For a tiny vampire school girl, this color scheme is far more effective. It's darker than the other one but still bright. Purples, dark browns, pinks, and reds immediately convey the idea of "Hey! I'm a scary cute vampire!" without resorting to using black.

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14. Add Depth to the Hair

Step 1

Let's get back some more more detail on the hair. This time around we're focusing on some basic shadows in the hair. Starting with the pigtail on the left side, I've drawn a shape that defines the inner curve of the pigtail, shows which side is facing towards the head, and has choppy lines showing the style of hair. The color is the same as the hair outline.

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Step 2

Select the hair shadow and the pigtail. Using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) select the shadow shape outside of the pigtail boundaries.

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Step 3

Deselect the shapes and you'll find when you select that outside shape again it's separate from the shadow. Delete it.

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Step 4

Reduce the Opacity of the shadow shape as you see fit. Continue with other portions of the hair. The next shadow helps define the chunks of hair pulled into the pigtail.

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Step 5

The third shadow shape shows the separation of hair from the crown of the head between the bulk of it and the bangs.

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Step 6

Finally, add a shadow to the forelock beneath the bangs.

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15. Add Detailing the Eyes

Step 1

Let's add some more detail to the eyes. Starting with the now purple irises, apply a linear gradient similar to the one in the photo. It goes from the dark brown of the pupil to the base purple color to a purple that's slightly lighter. Set it at a 21 degree angle so the darkest parts are on the edges of the iris and the lightest are in the center.

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Step 2

Repeat for the other eye. The angle of the gradient will be different than the other eye.

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Step 3

Draw a shape that overlaps half of the eye. We're adding some depth to the feature. Although this character is a stylized cartoon, adding shadows allows certain features to pop out from the picture plane. Such big eyes need to stand out from the rest of a very brightly colored design.

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Step 4

Apply a gradient to this shape going from the very dark brown of the pupil to the same brown set at 0% opacity. For this eye I set the angle of the linear gradient to 49 degrees. In addition to this step, I've also added two small circles with the Ellipse Tool (L) in a light creamy yellow. Repeat for the other eye.

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16. Detailing the Face

Step 1

It's true: we're not yet done with this pretty little face. I've broken down the steps into such stages so it doesn't become an overwhelming endeavor. Really, many of them can be done quickly, all at once. Although no nose is drawn, I wanted to indicate some depth in that general area. By drawing a large wobbly shape set below the facial features with a radial gradient and the following settings below, you get a shadow shape that shows an indentation of the chibi character's face. It's sort of like indicating a little ledge, similar to what a molded plastic doll would have instead of a proper nose.

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Step 2

Once again, using the Gradient Tool (G) and the Pen Tool (P) I drew a shape to show the fullness of the bottom lip. No top lip will be drawn, as it'd cause the mouth to be too large of a feature and age the character a bit. The gradient goes from a rosy peach color to the base skin color set to 0% Opacity and a 78 degree angle. this will be set behind the other mouth components.

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Step 3

A light cream transparent teardrop shape was added to the bottom lip to show some highlight/shine.

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Step 4

Any cutie-pie chibi worth its salt should have rosy cheeks. Similar to the process of creating the little nose ledge shape, a large blob shape can be drawn with the Pencil Tool (N) and a radial gradient applied with the Gradient Tool (G).

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Step 5

Repeat the simple little cheek process on the other side and set both of them beneath the eye components.

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Step 6

A couple tiny circles were added as highlights on the cheeks. Following that, an arching curve has been added with a gradient going from the same skin shadow color used on the nose area. The gradient is linear and goes from the base skin color set to 0% Opacity to the shadow color. Adjust the angle as you see fit so the shadow is between the skin tone.

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Step 7

Repeat the eye crease shadows on the other side as well as the little cheek highlights.

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Step 8

Another eye detail that can be added is a shape similar to the one below. It'll be set underneath the pupil but above the iris components and has six to seven anchor points.

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17. Add Shading to the Body

Step 1

I've hidden the hair in order to better showcase the strange large shape I quickly drew with the Pencil Tool (N). The gradient is the same as the one applied to the eyelid crease. The goal of this one, however, is to let the shadow color start at the top of the head (where it will be hidden by the hair) to the middle of the eyes. Set this behind the facial features.

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Step 2

Repeat the gradient above for the neck.

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Step 3

Set it behind the head.

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18. Add Detailing to the Clothing

Step 1

The first set to detailing the shirt is to add shadows on the sleeves. Two shapes were made here with a linear gradient going from the light purple used as an outline to the white of the shirt itself (set to 0% Opacity again). The Opacity of the shape overall was reduced in the Transparency panel. One shadow should show the relationship between light and the inside of the sleeve meeting the body as well as the collar casting a shadow onto the sleeve itself. The other shadow shows the outer edge of the sleeve and the indent of the puff shape.

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Step 2

A shadow shape was added underneath the collar's knot tails and collar itself. The shadow is darkest nearest to the collar and lightens up the closer it gets to the skirt.

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Step 3

Speaking of the skirt, let's define those pleats with some simple gradient shapes. Each shape is a rectangle set to fit the folds of the skirt created earlier. The linear gradients are darkest near the bottom edge of the skirt and lighten up to the base color at the top. Set the base color to 0% Opacity in the gradient shapes and reduce Opacity as needed.

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Step 4

Four curved rectangles were drawn to show the stripes on the collar. Initially, I wanted to use white to match the shirt itself, but it was too stark against the bright purple.

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Step 5

Instead a Grey purple color was chosen so some detail would be seen but it wouldn't dominate the design. An additional shadow shape, the same gradient color as the skirt's pleats, has been added to show the shadows being cast from the chibi character's giant head on to the shirt's collar.

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Step 6

I added two stripes of bright purple to the socks, mimicking athletic wear, and the same gradient color from the neck shadow to the legs.

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Step 7

The socks are not yet complete without shadows showing the shape of the leg (rounded, cylindrical). Use the same shadow gradient from the sleeves to complete the socks.

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Step 8

And finally, add stripes to the collar knot's tails as well as two shadow shapes that shows how the tails have form and can fold in on themselves.

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19. Add Detailing to the Wings

Step 1

For the shadows on the batwings, three trapezoids and one triangle have been drawn with the Pen Tool (P) and a linear gradient applied.

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Step 2

Select the gradient shapes. Using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) select and drag across all four of them.

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Step 3

With the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), select the bits of the shadow gradients that fall outside of the wing. Deselect and pick up the Selection Tool (V) so you can easily delete those superfluous pieces.

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20. Create Highlighting in the Hair

Step 1

The final step on the hair is adding some shiny, shiny highlights. The gradient is the same creamy yellow color from the eye's highlights and goes to the bright pink base of the hair itself. Create a swooping shape that extends from the left side (of the image) to the right.

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Step 2

Add a similar shape to the pigtail on the right side of the image. The gradient goes in the opposite direction as the last one.

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Step 3

To finish off the hair highlights, add a sprinkling of little creamy yellow circles with the Ellipse Tool (L).

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21. Adding a Pattern to the skirt

Step 1

In order to make this little vampire schoolgirl hit the mark, she needs a patterned skirt. Start with diagonal stripes in hot pink going from the left corner of the skirt to the right.

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Step 2

Unite the shapes with the Shape Builder Tool (shift-M).

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Step 3

Delete the portion of the stripes that extend beyond the confines of the skirt by selecting both the stripes and the skirt with the Selection Tool (V), selecting the outer bits with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), deselecting the skirt and inner stripes with the Selection Tool (V), and deleting those outer pieces.

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Step 4

Move the stripe shapes below the gradient pleats. You can leave the pattern as a diagonal gradient or add more striped to create a plaid pattern.

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22. Add an Outline to the Chibi

Step 1

Group (Control-G) together the entire chibi character. Copy (Control-C) and Paste (Control-V) it onto the picture plane.

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Step 2

Color the entire thing the very dark brown used for the little shoes.

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Step 3

Unite the entire shape in Pathfinder and make sure there aren't any anchor points that jut out at odd angles. This could be caused by a shape not having been closed previously in the creation of your character.

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Step 4

Add a six or eight point Stroke Weight to the shape and set it behind the main chibi character. Align the two elements so you have a clean graphic outline around your little vampire.

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23. Add a Quick Background

Step 1

To start, I've added a Radial gradient as a shadow beneath the character. It goes from dark brown at 100% to 0% Opacity and is a 36.98% of a circle.

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Step 2

Add a large creamy yellow rectangle behind the character with the Rectangle Tool (M) or the Rounded Rectangle Tool if you want to get fancy.

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Step 3

Using the Line Segment Tool (\), Draw a series of horizontal lines going across the yellow background. In this image, one is spaced high at the top, another low at the bottom, and several are in the middle. I did this to draw them out quickly. Next, Align them to the middle of the background and hit the option to distribute them evenly in the Align panel.

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Step 4

Finally, add a small darker yellow rectangle to the bottom of the background to indicate the "floor" of the piece.

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Awesome Job! You're Now Finished!

Your cute chibi vampire character is now complete. An additional white outline was added to the character to break her away from the background a bit more. Using these techniques you could design an entire school class of supernatural students and crazy cute characters.

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