In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to make a cute monster character in Adobe Illustrator using basic shapes, Pathfinder panel, Width Tool, and Strokes. You will be able to apply these techniques to create other characters. Let's get started!
1. Create the Body of the Yeti
Start off by creating a New Document (CMD + N) and set the artboard size to 600 by 600px. Create a square the size of the artboard using the Rectangle Tool (M) and fill with a light blue color (R=182, G=235, B=239).
In the Layers panel, create two layers. The top layer is renamed "Character" and the bottom layer is renamed "Background." Lock the bottom layer.
Select the top layer "Character". We are going to create the body shape now. Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and click anywhere on the board. Enter width: 290px and height: 240px. Fill with white.
Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top point. While holding SHIFT, drag the top point approximately 80px up.
Select the top point again. Select the left handle and drag it to the left, so it looks like this:
Select the bottom point, and SHIFT drag down about 10px.
Now to make it symmetrical, create a rectangle that is larger than the body with the Rectangle Tool (M). With the Selection Tool (V), place it so that the left edge lines up with the center of the body shape. Select both shapes. Bring up the Pathfinder panel and click Minus Front.
Select the half and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Select the Vertical Axis and hit Copy. Drag the other half to the right so that they snap in the center. Select both shapes and in the Pathfinder panel, hit Unite.
2. Create the Legs Using an Ellipse Base
We are going to create the legs now. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a circle 60px wide. With Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom point and SHIFT-drag down about 45px.
To make the bottom less pointed, select the bottom point with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Drag the left handle slightly to the left while holding SHIFT. Do the same to the right side.
Place the leg at the bottom left of the body. Then drag a copy to the right. To do this, hold down ALT + SHIFT while dragging the shape.
Select the body and two legs and in the Pathfinder, click Unite.
3. Add an Outline to the Body of the Yeti
Select the body and outline it with 6pt Stroke Weight and click Round Cap and Round Join. I picked a dark brown color (R=96, G=60, B=54).
4. Give Your Character a Cute Face
To make the face shape, make an ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L) with width: 210px and height: 120px. Fill with a darker blue color (R=96, G=198, B=208). Direct select (A) the bottom point and SHIFT-drag up about 10px.
Place this shape in the upper half of the body.
Now on to the eyes. Create an ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L) with width: 30px and height: 38px. Fill with the same dark brown color. Select the ellipse and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter -4px in Offset and hit OK.
Select both shapes and in the Pathfinder panel, hit Minus Front. Create a larger rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M) and place it over the bottom half of the shape. In the Pathfinder again, hit Minus Front, so you're left with an arch shape.
Stroke the eye with the same color using 3 pt weight, Round Cap, and Round Join. Place the eye on blue face shape and duplicate (ALT + SHIFT-Drag).
Next is the mouth. Create an ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L) with width: 36px and height: 38px. Fill with the same brown color. Make a larger rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M) and place it over the top half of the ellipse. Select both shapes, and in the Pathfinder, hit Minus Front.
To make the tongue, create the same ellipse and place over the semi circle shape. Select the semi circle, Copy it (CMD + C) and Paste in Front (CMD + F). Now select the semi circle and the ellipse. In the Pathfinder, click Intersect. Fill the tongue shape with a pink color (R=238, G=96, B=146).
Select the brown semi circle shape and outline with 4pt Stroke Weight, Round Cap, and Round Join. Select Align Stroke to Outside. Select all shapes of the mouth and Group together (CMD + G). Place the mouth in between the eyes.
Let's makes the cheeks. Simply make an ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (L) 28px wide and 14px high. Fill it with the same pink color as the tongue. Place it below the left eye and drag a duplicate to the right side (ALT + SHIFT-drag).
5. Create a Quick Hairstyle to Your Yeti
Now we'll make the hair. Using the Pen Tool (P), draw out the hair with a white fill. Draw the left "leaf" shape first. Continue to draw the second and third leaf shapes. Do not close the path. See this great Pen Tool Guide if you're unfamiliar with the Pen Tool.
Place the hair shape above the face.
To make the hair's shadow, Copy the hair shape (CMD + C) and Paste in Back (CMD + B). Move it down by SHIFT-dragging. Fill it with a darker blue color (R=66, G=146, B=169).
The top right corner of the shadow is still showing. To hide this, Direct Select (A) the top right point and move it to the left.
Define the hair line by stroking the hair. First Copy the white hair shape (CMD + C) and Paste in Front (CMD + F). Select the hair shape and Stroke with the same brown color, 5pt Stroke Weight, Round Cap, and Round Join.
6. Add a Scalloped Edge Shape to Create the Tummy
Let's create the belly. First create an ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L) with width: 112px and height 80px. Fill it with the same blue color as the face. Then outline it with the same color with a 32pt Stroke Weight and Round Cap. Check Dashed Line, enter 0pt in dash, and 22pt in gap. This will create a scalloped edge.
Place the belly below the face.
Create the belly button by making a Line using the Line Segment Tool (\) 16px long. Stroke with the brown color, 5pt, and Round Cap. Then Copy it (CMD + C) and Paste in Front (CMD + F). Rotate the copy 90 degrees. Select both lines, Group them (CMD + G), and rotate 45 degrees.
Place it in lower portion of belly.
7. Give Your Character Some Simple Arms
Let's give it some arms. We will use the Pen Tool (P) and Width Tool (SHIFT + W) to do this. Start off by drawing a simple curved line with the Pen Tool (P) as shown below. Give it a white Stroke with 3pt Weight and Round Cap.
With the line selected, select the Width Tool (SHIFT + W). Enlarge the top point to about 26px and the bottom point to about 40px.
To turn this into a shape, select the line and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.
Create the arm's shadow like we did earlier for the hair. Copy the arm (CMD + C) and Paste in Back (CMD + B). SHIFT-drag it down and fill with a gray color (R=109, G=110, B=112). Set Opacity to 80%.
We need to open the path. Zoom in so you can see the points better. Use the Scissors Tool (C) to cut the path at two points towards the top. Delete the top portion.
The shadow is peeking through. Simply select the top point and move it down.
Now we can outline the arm. Select the arm and Stroke with the brown color, 5pts, and Round Cap. Select the arm and its shadow. Group them together (CMD + G). Place the arm on the left side of the body. Then select the whole arm and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Reflect in the Vertical Axis and Copy. SHIFT-drag it to the right side.
8. Create Two Striped Horns
This monster needs some horns. We can make them the same way we did as the arms with the Width Tool (SHIFT + W). Using the Pen Tool (P), draw a curved line and stroke it with yellow and 3pt. (R=255, G=240, B=104). With the Width Tool (SHIFT + W), enlarge both points like so:
Select the line and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke to turn it into a shape. Then, outline it with a 6pt Stroke Weight in dark brown.
Now we need to place the horn behind the monster. Select the horn and hit CMD + SHIFT + [ . The horn was sent behind everything. Position the horn on top and rotate if needed.
Let's add some stripes to the horn. Select the horn and go to Object > Expand and hit OK. Then Ungroup (CMD + SHIFT + G). Select the yellow fill shape and Copy it (CMD + C) and Paste in Front (CMD + F). Select both fill shapes by Drag-selecting the whole horn and SHIFT+clicking the outline shape to deselect it. Now that you have the two fill shapes selected, go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (CMD + 7).
Double-click the fill shape to get into the mask.
With the Pen Tool (P), a darker yellow color (R=242, G=212, B=66), Stroke 12pt, draw 3 stripes. Then click out of the mask.
Select the whole horn and go to Object > Transform > Reflect and hit Copy. SHIFT-drag the horn to the other side.
9. Add Small Details to Refine Your Illustration
Let's add some details to the feet. To do this, use the same method as the previous step by making a Clipping Mask with the body. Click into the mask. Now let's create the foot detail. Make a rectangle the covers the bottom third of the leg with the Rectangle Tool (M). Fill it with the same color as the belly.
Then make three small equal ellipses with the Ellipse Tool (L) and place them on top of the rectangle. Group the ellipses (CMD +G).
Select the grouped ellipses and rectangle, bring up the Pathfinder, and hit Minus Front. Duplicate it to the other side (ALT + SHIFT-drag) and click out of the mask.
The monster is almost complete! Add a gray shadow by making an ellipse 250px wide and 28px high. Place it behind everything with (CMD + SHIFT + [ ) and at the bottom.
The last step is to add a background. Yetis live in the mountains, right? I decided to create abstract mountains with simple triangles. First lock the "Character Layer" and unlock the "Background Layer". Select the "Background Layer". To create a triangle, select the Star Tool and click anywhere on the board. Enter 10px in Radius 1, 20px in Radius 2, and 3 Points. Fill it with a pale blue color (R=235, G=251, B=252). Rotate the triangle 180 degrees. Duplicate and arrange the triangles to form "mountains".
Lastly, change the colors of the triangles to create a gradient effect.
ROAR! Your Not So Scary Yeti Is Complete!
Our Yeti Monster illustration is finished! You can now create a variety of monsters using all the techniques you learned in this tutorial. I hope you enjoyed making this cute monster.
I later created a pattern and made a plushie of my yeti character. You can find out how I did by checking out my plushie making tutorial over on Crafttuts+.