In the following tutorial, I'm going to show you how to use a sketch from a previous tutorial to create a cute little badger family in Adobe Illustrator.
1. Research Your Animal
Whenever you are looking to create any sort of rendering of an animal, it's always best to research it. This could be anything from the shapes of the body, the texture and colours of the fur or even any characteristics the animal may have.
Thankfully with this project, there are two specific tutorials you can read up. The first is looking at the anatomy of badgers and the second is looking at how to create the badger family sketch we'll be using as a reference in this tutorial.
Some of the elements of our sketch are hidden from view, for instance the paws are only just visible and so are the limbs. So the key areas we're wanting to focus on will be the fur and this is what the majority of this tutorial will be looking at.
Badgers are actually my favourite animal and one of the reasons is their facial markings and their monochrome colour scheme. So while it's easy for me to render a badger in my head, it might be worth you having a colour plan near by so you can make sure you're getting the right colours. Thankfully, Monika has created us just the right image for this!
The only exception with this is that badgers often tend to have a lighter tail. So I'll need to add this in the process.
2. Create Your Initial Shapes
Open up Adobe Illustrator and create a New Document.
As with all projects, start off by creating your base shapes for the badgers. I've created these with the Pen Tool (P).
I'm using a monochrome colour scheme, however I'm avoiding using black and white. The reason being is that these colours don't exist in nature and should only be used in extreme circumstances.
The next step is to duplicate your base shapes and apply a variety of gradients to the shapes to create depth. Although these gradients won't be entirely visible when you come to the final piece, they will make the transitions in colour of the fur much easier. They will also help define the areas of the body.
Take this time to create gradients around the head and ears. The badger stripes extend past the ears and gradients are a perfect way to create this look.
3. Begin Rendering the Fur
To render the fur, we're going to need a tapered art brush especially for the task. If you create the brush with both ends tapered, then you can create the fur effect in either direction.
What I've done is drawn a slim ellipse and then made points of the ends. Then in the Brushes panel, created a New Art Brush.
I'll be using the Paintbrush Tool (B) to draw the strokes and I would recommend using a graphics tablet for this as it does cut down on the time you spend rendering fur.
The initial strokes are around the body of the badgers. These will be the same colour as the body masses and set to Opacity 50%. These help create a softer, furry look to the silhouette of the animals.
Apply the same theory to the face and stripes of the face, again to soften the lines.
Create strokes set to Blending Mode Multiply to help define the legs, tail and stripes beyond the ears.
Then use low Opacity strokes (around 10-20%) to define the direction of the fur. These are set to Blending Mode Multiply and use the same colour as the area you're working on.
Then add lighter strokes to contrast against these directional strokes. The fur on top of a badger is coarse and the contrasting strokes help to create this effect.
Use transparent Radial Gradients to add definition to the body. This will be especially helpful for the contours of the body. I've drawn these using the Pencil Tool (N) as it's quicker to create the jagged shapes. However if you've not got a steady hand, the Pen Tool (P) is fine.
You'll need to add both dark and light gradients for this.
Then continue adding highlighting strokes around the body to create that coarse fur texture. I've added additional strokes to around the tail to help create a lighter tipped tail.
4. Create the Facial Details
With the fur near complete, it's time to focus on creating the details of the face. I'm first going to add additional strokes of fur around the tips of the ears and around the eyes to help add highlights and texture to these features.
Now it's time to use the Pen Tool (P) to create shapes for the eyes and nose. These are base shapes with off black fills and set to Blending Mode Multiply.
I then use shapes with a 2px Feather, set to Blending Mode Screen with the same fill colour, to create highlights to the eyes and nose.
Time to add texturing to the nose. If you look at a dog nose or badger nose, it has this dimpling appearance. So by applying small dots to the nose, we're going to create this effect.
First I go into the Blob Brush Tool Options to enable the Size of the brush to be influenced by Pressure (making use out of my tablet!).
I then create a variety of dots and lines on the eyes and the nose to create a shine and texture.
5. Finishing Touches
Let's create the claws. These are simple shapes created with the Pen Tool (P) and have gradients applied to them to create darkness towards the base and tip of the claw.
I then use our tapered brush to add strokes to the claws to create a nail like texture.
Finally I add brown tinted gradients to the tales and the back of the head, set to Blending Mode Overlay, to create a more natural tone to the lighter areas of the body. These are animals and they're bound to get dirty!
Aww Cute! You're Now Done!
I hope you've enjoyed following this tutorial and try out creating your own furry badgers or other creatures in vector. It is possible to create this without a graphic tablet, but you'll need a lot of patience.
Happy vectoring and show me if you try this one out!