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Create a Cute Raccoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

This post is part of a series called Learn Adobe Illustrator.
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This post is part of a series called Easy Character Design.
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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Today we will create an adorable raccoon. We'll use basic shapes and warp effects, as usual—nothing new if you are already my follower. You will learn how to create part of the raccoon’s body by moving the handles of the anchor points and then combining them into a final creation.

It's worth remembering that we also have a great collection of vector characters on GraphicRiver, if you're looking to get started quickly!

1. Create the Shape of the Raccoon

Step 1

I hope you’ve already opened Adobe Illustrator and created a New document. Let’s start by creating the head of our raccoon. Hit the Ellipse Tool (L) and make an ellipse. Using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), make sharp corners on the ellipse; while keeping the ellipse selected, click on the left and right anchor points—these two points should be sharp now.

Keep the sharp anchor points selected and press the down arrow button on your keyboard a few times.

Step 1

Wait—we’re not quite done yet. Select this shape and go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. Enter the following settings in the new dialogue window. Then expand the shape (Object > Expand Appearance).

warping the head

Step 2

Let’s add some depth to the head. Create a copy of this shape, in front of the original one (Control-C, Control-F), shift it down a little bit, and then make this copy slightly bigger. Select the original shape again and make another copy in the front (Control-C, Control-F). Keeping these two upper copies selected, go to the Pathfinder panel and press the Minus Front button. You will get a moon-like shape. Change the fill color as you see in the image below.

adding depth to the head

Step 3

For the eyes, create an ellipse and slightly tilt it to the left. Add a dark circle, followed by a small white circle as a highlight. Keep the whole eye selected and take the Reflect Tool (O). Holding down the Alt key, click on the right side of the eye. In the new dialogue window, enter Vertical and press Copy. You should have two eyes now.

creating the eyes

Position them as you wish, on the previous head shape. The lower you position the eyes, the more the raccoon will have a baby-animal look.

placing the eyes

Step 4

On to the nose. Now that you know how to create a sharp anchor point (remember how you created the head?), let’s create a dark ellipse and make the bottom point sharp. Add a tiny white ellipse as a highlight.

creating the nose

Step 5

Now for the mouth. Draw two ellipses using the Ellipse Tool (L) with no fill and with the stroke color noted below. On the Stroke panel, check Round Cap. After that, grab the Scissors Tool (C) and click on the left and right anchor points of the first and then the second ellipse. Delete the upper parts of the two ellipses. Take the Line Segment Tool (\) and add a tiny line in the middle—we just created a cute mouth for our raccoon!

creating the mouth

Step 6

Combine the nose and mouth together. Add a small ellipse behind them (Control-X, Control-B).

creating the mouth 2

Place everything from the previous steps on the head of our raccoon.

placing the mouth and nose

Step 7

Let’s add some details which are usual for raccoons. Draw an ellipse on the left side of the head, behind the left eye. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move the handles of the anchor points to achieve the result which you see in the second image.

creating the spots on the head

Step 8

Make a new copy of the head in front (Control-C, Control-F), and select the dark shape from the previous step together. Press the Intersect button in Pathfinder

Keep the resulting shape selected. Take the Reflect Tool (O) and press the Enter button. Check Vertical in the new dialogue window and press Copy. You've just made the reflection of this dark shape. Keep this shape still selected, and now select the head too. Go to the Align panel and press the Horizontal Align Right button. Be careful—it’s very important that you have checked Align To: Align to Selection (see image below).

creating the spots on the head 2

Step 9

Let’s add some details. Select the two dark shapes behind the eyes and make a copy in the front. The copies are marked with yellow strokes in the image below, but you don't need to change the fill color. Move them down a little bit.

Create two copies again in front of the dark shapes. In total, you should have six dark shapes: two under the left eye, two under the right eye, one under the left eye, marked with a yellow stroke, and one under the right eye, also marked in the image with a yellow stroke.

Let’s first concentrate on the left eye. Select the two upper dark gray shapes and press Minus Front in Pathfinder. Change the fill color of the resulting shape (as noted below). Now concentrate on the right eye. Select the two upper shapes and press Minus Front in Pathfinder. Again, change the fill color of the resulting shape.

creating the spots on the head 3

2. Create the Ears

Step 1

Using the Eye Dropper Tool (I), take the fill color from the head of the raccoon. We will create an ear from an ellipse—using warp will help us get what we need. Go to Effect > Warp > Arc. In the new window, adjust the options as shown in the image below; expand the resulting shape (Object > Expand Appearance). Create another copy in the front, making it darker and smaller.

creating the ear

Step 2

Let’s add some depth to the ear. Create two copies of the ear in the front. Shift down the upper copy diagonally. Select the two upper copies and press Minus Front in Pathfinder. Change the fill color.

adding depth to the ear

Step 3

Using the Reflect Tool (O), create another ear.

creating another ear

Place them on the top of the head, but behind it.

placing  ears

3. Create the Body

For the body, create an ellipse (the same fill color as the head) and place it behind the whole head. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the left and right anchor points and then move them down. Create a new copy in front of the body, and make it lighter and smaller.

creating the body

4. Create the Arms

Step 1

First, we need to create the hand. Shift down the left and right anchor points of a newly created ellipse.

creating the hand

Step 2

Create a copy in the front, and make it darker and narrower. Shift the new copy down, just slightly. Create a copy of this darker shape in the front and using the Eye Dropper Tool (I), take the color from the first shape you created at the beginning of this step. Make this smallest shape narrower and shift it up a little.

creating the hand 2

Step 3

Place the hand on the left side of the body. Slightly tilt the hand to the left. Using the Reflect Tool (O) make a reflection of the hand, so you will get the right hand. Create another ellipse behind the whole body—this will finish off the arms. Don't forget to shift down the left and right anchor points of this ellipse.

placing the hands

5. Create the Legs

Step 1

We won't create the whole leg, just the visible parts—the feet. Create an ellipse and move the left and right anchor points upwards.

creating the foot

Step 2

As you did for the head and the ear, use the same method to add some depth to the foot. One smaller and lighter copy of the foot along with the three tiny copies will finish the foot.

creating the foot 2

Step 3

Put the foot under the left hand. Slightly tilt the foot to the left. Then make a reflection of this, which creates the right foot. Don't forget to put the right foot under the right hand.

placing the foot and creating another foot

6. Create the Tail

Step 1

We’re almost there! Let’s move along to the tail. Draw an ellipse and make its left and right anchor points sharp.

creating the tail

Step 2

During this step, we will add stripes to the tail. Draw a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M). While keeping it selected, hold down the Alt key and move the rectangle to the right. You will see that you just created a copy of the rectangle. Then press Control-D a few times to repeat your last action.

creating stripes for the tail

Group all the stripes together (right-click > Group) and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the options you see in the image below.

warping stripes for the tail

Expand the stripes (Object > Expand Appearance). Create a copy of the tail in the front (the light gray ellipse with sharp edges) and select the stripes together with it. Press Crop in Pathfinder.

expanding stripes and cropping them

Step 3

Warp it.

warping the tail

Expand the tail (Object > Expand Appearance) and place it behind the whole body.

placing the tail

7. Create the Background

Step 1

Let’s wrap up our illustration. Create a light pink square behind the raccoon, 600 px width and height, by using the Rectangle Tool (M).

creating the background

Step 2

Place the raccoon on the background.

placing the raccoon on the background

Step 3

Here’s one last little tip for you: take this illustration to the next level by combining two tutorials—today's and a previous one on creating autumn leaves, berries and chestnut icons. Look how adorable it is! It makes a perfect seasonal illustration!

adding some elements from previous tutorial


That's it for now! I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. You can use your raccoon with colorful autumn leaves to create a fall greeting card, a seamless pattern, or even other animals. Use your imagination, and never stop drawing!

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