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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Halloween
Design

Create a Funny Trick-or-Treat Halloween Monster in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

What is the most exciting and delightful part of Halloween? No doubt, it's trick-or-treat! In this tutorial we are going to depict a cute, furry monster who has already gathered a basketful of yummy treats. We will use basic shapes and Warp effects, Pathfinder functions, and some simple freehand drawing with the Pencil Tool. Unwind your imagination and let’s get started!

1. Start Shaping the Monster From Scratch

Step 1

I’ve prepared before starting my work in Adobe Illustrator by making this pencil sketch on regular office paper. You can use my sketch for practice, or go ahead and create your own fancy monster! Follow this tutorial as a sample guide, learning some techniques that you can apply to your drawing.

Start by placing (File > Place) your sketch in the blank document.

Place your sketch in a new document

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L), set the Fill color to None and the Stroke to any bright color (we will change that later anyway), and make an even circle in the head area of your monster. Select all the anchor points (except the upper one) of the circle with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag them down, extending the shape.

draw a head with the ellipse tool

Step 2

Repeat the same move for the body, this time forming a bigger shape.

add body with ellipse tool

Step 3

Draw two tiny arms by picking the Pencil Tool (N) and outlining them above your sketch.

Draw arms with the Pencil tool N

Step 4

Add two small ellipses for the ears. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to add a rectangle, and then turn it into a curved shape with the Direct Selection Tool (A) by moving its anchor handles around.

add ears

Step 5

Go on and add a pair of quirky horns! Make a simple pointed shape out of a circle, as we did for his face and body. Go to Effect > Warp > Arc and set the Bend value to about -16%, Vertical. Apply another effect to the same shape, but this time it should be Arch Style with -22% Bend value, Vertical. You can apply as many effects as you like and then edit every applied effect in your Appearance Panel by clicking on it. When you are satisfied with the result, go to Object > Expand Appearance to create a new shape.

create horns with Arc and Arch Warp effects

Step 6

Place the horns on the monster’s head according to your sketch.

add horns to monsters head

Step 7

Add three ellipses of different sizes to form the fingers of a paw. Use the horns that we created in the previous step to make tiny claws. Decrease the horns’ size, rotate them, and place above the ellipses to fit the sketch. Don't forget to add the second paw.

create a paw with ellipses

The base for our character is ready! Let’s start coloring it!

finish forming basic shapes

2. Enliven Your Monster by Adding Colors

Step 1

I’ve made a simple three-colored palette for the base of our image (stay tuned and you’ll see how to create the cute skulls a few steps later!). These colors will help us to create a proper Halloween mood, and at the same time will make our artwork vivid and eye-catching.

As you can see, I’ve made the arms and paws a bit darker to detach them from the body. I'm going to make the circle background invisible for a while, so that it doesn’t distract me while I'm working on the character.

form the color palette and color the basic shapes

Step 2

Take the Pencil Tool (N) and use the basic body color to freehand a tuft of hair.

form hair with Pencil Tool N

You can switch to Outline Mode (Control-Y) any time to check your sketch, which makes the drawing process more convenient.

witch to Outline Mode Control-Y

Step 3

Add similar tufts of hair onto the ears to make them furry.

add hair to the ears

Step 4

Apply a gentle linear gradient to his hands so that they blend nicely with the body.

Apply a gentle linear gradient to the hands

Here is how our funny guy looks with the basic colors applied.

check the colors applied

Step 5

Let’s move on and work with his face. Start rendering his nose by switching to the Outline Mode (Control-Y) and making two ellipses: one for the nose bridge and the other for the nose tip.

shape the nose with ellipse tool L

Return to normal mode and apply the proper colors to the nose.

color the nose

Step 6

The next important yet simple element is the eye! And again we’ll use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create two objects perpendicular to each other.

create the eye with the Ellipse Tool L

Copy the horizontal shape and move the upper copy down a bit. Use the Minus Front function of the Pathfinder Panel to delete the parts you don't need. 

se the Minus Front function of the Pathfinder Panel

Step 7

Select both shapes and use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) to delete the lower part of the eyeball by holding down the Alt key and clicking it. This way we’ve created a simple eyelid! Switch its color to green, slightly darker than the basic body color.

use the Shape Builder Tool Shift-M

Step 8

Add some minor details to the face to make it more friendly. Put a funny hair tuft above the upper part of the nose and use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick the color gradient from the monster’s arms. Add two pink spots to create a gentle blush on his cheeks, and don't forget his eyebrows.

create blush with ellipses

Step 9

Now we need to add a big smiling mouth, which is the primary element of the monster’s face. Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool with a 50 px Corner Radius to add a basic shape that will form the mouth.

Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to form a mouth

Step 10

Apply Effect > Warp > Arc with -37% Horizontal Bend value, making a curved smile.

Apply the Effect  Warp  Arc making a smile

Look at your sketch in Outline Mode to put the mouth in the right place and switch its fill color to dark red to depict the inner part of the opened mouth.

switch its fill color to dark-red

Step 11

Now we need to create a row of bright shiny teeth, making a friendly smile. Check out my Crazy Retro Poster Tutorial, starting from Part 4, Step 2, to find out how to create teeth with the Blend Tool (W) in a few clicks.

create teeth with Blend Tool W

Add the lower row of teeth in the same way.

Add the lower teeth

Step 12

Object > Expand the teeth and make a pair of fangs, by selecting a tooth and dragging its lower anchor point down with the Direct Selection Tool (A)

Object  Expand the teeth and make a pair of fangs

Step 13

Let’s make a furry tummy! Outline one half of the tummy over your sketch, using the Pencil Tool (N).

make a furry tummy

Use the Reflect Tool (O) to reflect the created shape over the Vertical Axis and put it on the other side of the body.

Use the Reflect Tool O to reflect the created shape

Step 14

Select both halves and press Control-J to combine them into a single shape. Play with the color, making the tummy light yellow.

press Control-J to make a single shape

3. Create a Basket Full of Sweets & Candies

Step 1

Start with simple shapes by using the Ellipse Tool (L) and Rectangle Tool (M) to form the upper part of the basket.

Make a basket top using the Ellipse Tool and Rectangle Tool

Step 2

Apply the Arch effect (Effect > Warp > Arch) with -13% Horizontal Bend value to the rectangle part of the basket, making it slightly curved, so that our basket looks more three-dimensional.

Apply the Arch effect

Step 3

Continue shaping out the basket: add a square with the Rectangle Tool (M) for the body of the basket, and modify its bottom by moving the lower anchor points closer to the center.

Add a square shape with the Rectangle Tool M

Step 4

We have a pile of sweets in our basket, but you don’t have to draw every single candy. Make a few of them using squares and circles, and then just rotate and resize the objects, putting them one above the other to create the impression of a basketful of sweets.

draw sweets with simple shapes

Step 5

Our monster should look as if he is holding the basket in his hands, so we need to rearrange the objects. Press Control-[ several times to move the basket, placing it under the hands.

rearrange the objects

Add matching colors to the sweets, preserving the overall palette. Make a dark-brown ellipse in the center of the upper part, showing the inside cavity. Duplicate this shape, because we will need its copy in the next step.

Add colors to the sweets

Step 6

We need to hide the lower parts of the sweets, placing them into a basket. This can be easily solved by putting our objects into the Clipping Mask. For this purpose, take the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and add a group of anchor points on the upper part of the dark-brown ellipse that we created in the previous step.

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to move the added points so that the shape surrounds the candies. Don’t in any way move or change the lower part of the ellipse. Put the created shape on top (Shift-Control-]).

create a shape around candies

Step 7

Finally, select your group of candies and the brown shape and click the right mouse button to reveal the pop-up menu. Make Clipping Mask and—voila!—all the candies are in the basket.

Make Clipping Mask

Great work! This is how it looks all together.

check the picture

Step 8

Our basket looks quite boring at this stage. To make it more of a basket than a bucket, we need to add some texture. Remember those good old wicker baskets made of wood? That’s right, we’re going to make the same interlaced pattern in vector.

Start by drawing a narrow stripe with the Rectangle Tool (M). Add vertical and horizontal copies of the stripe and let them cross each other, creating a square grating. Make the horizontal stripes slightly lighter and place them above the vertical ones by pressing the Shift-Control-] key combination.

create a grating texture

Step 9

Select all stripes and Divide them in the Pathfinder panel, thus creating a group of separate tiny squares. Select the odd squares in the first row and pick the color from the vertical stripes with the Eyedropper Tool (I), making the squares darker.

Divide the stripes in Pathfinder Panel and recolor squares

Step 10

Move on to the next row and continue recoloring odd and even squares next-but-one, creating a look of interlaced wooden stripes.

recolor squares row by row

Here’s how the pattern looks now:

finished texture

Let’s select it and go to Object > Pattern > Make. Move the Pattern Tile (the blue frame) as shown on the screenshot: the right vertical stripe should stick to the edge of the Pattern Tile, leaving the tips of the horizontal stripes outside. The Tile frame itself should remain square. Exit the Pattern Mode and you'll find the created texture in the Swatches panel.

go to Object  Pattern  Make

Step 11

Copy the basket shape and Place it in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Apply the newly created pattern by selecting it in the Swatches panel. You can resize the pattern to fit the basket by double-clicking on the Scale Tool (S) to call out the pop-up menu. Tick the Transform Patterns checkbox, set the Scale to 70% and click OK to apply the effect.

Apply the created pattern to the basket and use Scale Tool S

Step 12

Proceed by double-clicking the Rotate Tool (R), revealing the Rotate Options menu. Set the Angle to 45 degrees and check the Transform Patterns box. Click OK, thus changing the direction of the stripes.

use the Rotate Tool R

Step 13

You can edit the colors of your pattern any time by selecting it and going to Object > Pattern > Edit Pattern (Shift-Control-F8), thus returning to Pattern Mode.

Object  Pattern  Edit Pattern to change colors

4. Add Minor Details to the Character

Step 1

To make the monster furrier, we should add some hair to his body. Take the Blob Brush Tool (Shift-B) and draw several short strokes. You can see my brush settings on the screenshot. However, if you leave them as default, there won’t be any big difference in drawing such small details. The only thing you might need to change here is the size of your brush. I’ve used the smallest 1 px size.

add hair with Blob Brush Tool Shift-B

Step 2

Add more fur strokes all over the monster’s head, according to the initial sketch. Spread small pink spots over the nose to make it more detailed.

Add more fur strokes and spots on the nose

Step 3

Let’s also add some details to the horns, making them notched. Use the Polygon Tool to make a thin triangle and apply the Arch effect with -56% Vertical Bend value. Object > Expand the shape to apply the changes.

make a thin triangle and apply the Arch

Step 4

Rotate the created shape and place it on the horn, creating a notch. Copy the notch a few times and place the copies along the horn. Use Pathfinder or the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) to cut off the unwanted pieces and add a drop-shaped highlight, making the horn slick.

create a notch on the horn

Step 5

Let’s return to our candies. We need to separate them from each other by adding shadows. Copy the base of the candy and Place it in Back (Control-C > Control-B), switching to Multiply Mode in the Transparency panel. Cut off the unneeded parts as we did before with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M).

Add shadows to sweets in Multiply Mode

Step 6

Add the shadows under the character’s arms in the same way, thus separating them from the body. Cut off the unneeded part by clicking it with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) while holding down the Alt key.

Add shadows to arms in Multiply Mode

Add the shadows from the basket and nose, making these objects pop out more.

Add shadows to basket and nose in Multiply Mode

Step 7

Make the body and horns more picturesque by switching the Fill color to linear gradient. Use turquoise and light-green tones for the body, and raspberry-orange tones for the horns.

fill the body shapes with gradients

Step 8

Make the sweets yummy and shiny by adding the overtones in the following way: draw a freehand shape with the Pencil Tool (N), covering a part of the candy. Fill it with some bright color and use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) to cut off the piece outside the candy. Switch the Blending Mode to Screen and adjust the color, making it vivid and semi-transparent.

add highlights to candies

Here is how our sweets look. Shiny, smooth and slick!

make the sweets shine

5. Render Details on the Background

The background of our sketch contains some small yet important details, such as bats, ghosts, skulls, and bones, creating a creepy Halloween atmosphere.

Step 1

The first element of the background will be a bat. I was inspired by the Negative Space technique while creating this object (check out some information about negative space here on Wikipedia, if you’re interested). It may be hard to imagine at first, but it’s much easier to create a symmetrical shape like this, rather than freehanding it with a pencil or other tools. Let’s try it out!

We’ll start by making three even circles of various sizes (each next circle should be smaller than the previous one). The fourth larger circle should be placed above the first three, as shown on the screenshot.  

Select all the circles and use the Reflect Tool (O) to mirror them over the Vertical Axis and press the Copy button. Move the reflected copies to the right side, holding down the Shift key. Select all circles and press Control-8 to create a Compound Path, making one single shape.

create a group of circles with the Ellipse Tool L

Step 2

Proceed by taking the Pencil Tool (N); switch the Fill color to None and the Stroke to some contrast color (dark red in my example). Draw a rounded stroke, crossing the circles, as shown on the screenshot below. Select your stroke and Reflect it to the other side, creating a copy. 

Keeping both strokes selected, press Shift-X to Swap Fill and Stroke colors and Unite two pieces of the dark-red shape in Pathfinder to make a single shape.

form a shape with the Pencil Tool N

Finally, select all the created elements and use the Minus Back function in Pathfinder to form a bat silhouette.

se Minus Back function in Pathfinder to form a bat silhouette

And here is the result of all our manipulations! Looks like a true bat silhouette considering that it was just a group of circles. Notice that I’ve deleted two side anchor points on the bat’s “tail” to make it more pointed.

edit the bat silhouette

Step 3

The next element will be a ghost. Start shaping it from an ellipse by dragging its lower anchor point down with the Direct Selection Tool (A).

make a ghost from the ellipse 1

Change the position of the anchor handles on the “tail” of our ghost to make it pointed. Pull the handles with the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) if you need to move them separately. Add circles for the eyes and mouth of our ghost.

make a ghost from the ellipse 2

Step 4

We still have a fancy skull in our “to do” list of Halloween elements. Firstly, make an even circle and then squash it slightly. Add three more tiny circles at the bottom of the head shape, depicting the teeth.

create a scull from ellipses and circles 1

Step 5

Add white shapes for the eyes and nose (these are modified ellipses as well – I've just changed the position of the anchor handles slightly). Copy the eyes, keeping them in your clipboard for a while. Turn the white shapes into a Compound Path by selecting all of them at once and pressing Control-8. Finally, use the Minus Front function of Pathfinder to cut out the holes.

create a scull from ellipses and circles 2

Step 6

Paste in Front (Control-F) the eye shapes that you copied earlier, and move them a few pixels to the right. Cut off the unwanted part and fill the newly created shape with darker color, showing the depth of the eye-pit.

cut out the eye sockets in the scull

Step 7

When all the elements are ready, spread them over the background, as in your sketch. Add several tiny bones, tracing them with the Pencil Tool (N).

add more sculls

Step 8

Still with the Pencil Tool (N) in hand, outline a purple puddle under our monster. You can create a group of overlapping ellipses for the same purpose as well, if it feels more comfortable than using a pencil. Reveal the big background circle behind the monster, which we created earlier, to see how our character looks against the contrast backdrop.  

add ground shape

Step 9

Change the color of our ghost to the same shade of purple as on the background. Go to Object > Path > Offset Path and create a 5 px outline, filling it with white color to detach the ghost.

recolor the ghost and make the outline

Step 10

Edit the other ghosts and switch the color of our bats to white as well.

recolor other objects

Step 11

Play with the colors of the skulls, making some of them ivory-colored and adding gradients to others.

change the colors of the sculls

Step 12

Finally, select all parts of our monster and apply Offset Path with 5 px Offset value in order to create an outline.

add the outline with Offset Path

Step 13

As a result of the Offset Path, you’ll have a lot of new shapes created and selected. Keeping this selection, press the Unite button in Pathfinder and then place the created outline under the monster by Sending it to Back it with the Shift-Control-[ key combination.  

unite the offset path shapes

Step 14

Add a subtle-colored background (beige, for example) to emphasize the composition without distracting the viewers from the character. I’ve played with the colors of the background elements to see which one is better.

play with background colors

Boo! Your Trick-or-Treat Candy Monster is Finished!

Great job! You’ve successfully managed to create your own monster! Feed him well with the yummy sweets to make him happy and smiling. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and felt the bewitching spirit of this creepy yet exciting holiday! Have fun and continue creating art!

final result Halloween monster with baset of trick-or-treats

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