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How to Create a Cartoon Penguin Winter Illustration in Affinity Designer

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

In this tutorial we’ll be drawing a lovely cartoon penguin, which will help us to feel warm and cozy on a cold winter day. We’ll be using basic shapes and some drawing tools of Affinity Designer to make a simple textured effect. 

You can use these techniques to add some simple fancy details to other animal or character vector illustrations that you find at Envato Market or create from scratch.

Let’s begin!

1. Create the Body of the Penguin

Step 1

We’ll start by making a 320 x 440 px shape using the Ellipse Tool (M). Fill the shape with dark-grey color, and let’s make it editable by converting it with the help of the Convert to Curves function in the upper toolbar.

Now take the Node Tool (A), select both left and right nodes and drag them down, making the shape look like an egg.

make the body with ellipse tool

Step 2

Duplicate the shape (Command-C > Command-V) and make it a bit smaller by holding down Command-Shift and dragging to the center. Fill the shape with light-beige color and drag the upper anchor point down, squashing the shape.

duplicate the body and recolor it

Step 3

Use the Node Tool (A) to move the node handles of the upper node, making the top of the element heart-shaped. Drag the lower node down, attaching it to the bottom of the body.

use the node tool

Step 4

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and let’s start forming a warm knitted hat for our penguin. Make a narrow green stripe, covering the top of the head. Select both the body and the stripe and Align the shapes to each other by clicking the Centre button in the Align options of the context toolbar above.

Make the corners of the rectangle 25% rounded with the help of the Corner options in the upper context toolbar. Convert the stripe to Curves and use the Node Tool (A) to add a node in the upper and bottom parts of the shape. Drag the created nodes up, making the shape slightly arched.

make a hat with the rectangle tool

Step 5

Take the Ellipse Tool (M) and make a bright-pink circle for the top of the hat. Click it with the right mouse button, and Arrange > Move to Back, placing it beneath the head. Convert to Curves and drag the upper node up (or the side nodes down), making the shape pointed.

make a hat with the ellipse tool

2. Render the Face of Our Penguin

Step 1

Now let’s form a beak. Affinity Designer offers a wide variety of different shapes, so we just need to pick the proper one. Find the Triangle Tool in the Toolbar, click and hold until you open the drop-down menu. Then select the Diamond Tool from the list of shapes and make a small bright-orange shape for the beak.

make  a beak with the diamond tool

Step 2

And let’s also add the eyes. Take the Pen Tool (P) and make a pointed line, looking like a corner. Switch to the Corner Tool (C) and modify the shape, making it smooth and rounded. You can adjust the corner radius and set the Stroke Width from the upper context toolbar.

Use the Eyedropper Tool in the Colour panel to apply the same dark-grey color to the eye, as we have for the body. Select Stroke in the Colour panel and drag the Eyedropper Tool over the body to pick the color. Finally, click the selected color in the circle next to the Eyedropper Tool in the Colour panel to apply it to the Stroke.

make the eye with the corner tool

Step 3

Duplicate the eye and place the copy at the opposite side of the face. And let’s add a pair of round nostrils. Use the Ellipse Tool (M) to make a tiny dark-grey circle. And copy it to the other side.

Let’s get rid of the unwanted pieces outside the beak. Select the dark circles and Cut (Command-X) them. Now select the orange beak, and go to Edit > Paste Inside. Great! Now the circles are hidden inside the beak.

Use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw a smooth line for the mouth, making our penguin smile.

make the nostrils and the mouth

Step 4

Let’s finish up with the mouth by adding two small strokes, forming the corners of the mouth. And place a tiny squashed ellipse of a dark-orange color in the middle of the beak.

make the mouth with the pencil tool

Step 5

Let’s add a gentle touch of pink to the cheeks of our penguin, depicting a frosty blush. Make a pink circle at the left side the mouth. Take the Pencil Tool (N) and draw a swirl inside the pink circle, making the blush look cartoonish. 

Group (Command-G) both elements, duplicate them and use the Flip Horizontal function from the upper context toolbar to mirror the blush shape and place it at the opposite side of the face.

make the cheek with the circle and pencil tool

3. Shape the Heart

Step 1

Make a green stripe across the penguin’s body for the scarf. Make the Corners 25% rounded and Convert the shape to Curves. Use the Node Tool (A) to make additional nodes and bend the shape down, making it slightly arched, the same way as we did with the hat.

make a scarf with the rectangle tool

Step 2

Now let’s add a big, soft heart that our penguin character will be holding in his arms. Luckily, we already have a heart symbol among the shape tools. Click the Diamond Tool in the Toolbar to open the drop-down menu and find the Heart Tool.

Form a large heart of the same dark-pink color as the top of the hat. And use the Ellipse Tool (M) to make two small round highlights on top of the heart, filling them with lighter pink color.

make a hear with the heart tool

Step 3

Now let’s add the arms holding the heart. Use the Ellipse Tool (M) to make a squashed shape for the upper part of the arm and Move the shape to Back (Shift-Command-[). Add another ellipse on top and fill it with lighter grey color, rotating the shape. Convert it to Curves and use the Node Tool (A) to transform the shape, making its tip pointed.

make the arms from ellipses and use the node tool

4. Add Details & Textures to the Clothes

Step 1

Draw a narrow vertical stripe across the scarf with the Rectangle Tool (M), filling it with lighter green color. Make the corners 25% rounded and Convert to Curves. Use the Node Tool (A) to add more nodes, and move them around to make the shape slightly bent to the right.

make a scarf with the rectangle tool

Step 2

Let’s make the hat striped. Draw three dark-green stripes using the Rectangle Tool (M), select them, and use the Arrange panel to Space the shapes Horizontally.

Cut (Command-X) the stripes, select the green part of the hat and Edit > Paste Inside to place the stripes inside the hat.

add stripes to the hat

Step 3

Find the stripes in the Layers panel, inside the green stripe, and select and rotate them a bit to make them fit the hat.

edit the stripes

Step 4

Now let’s arm ourselves with the Pencil tool (N) and draw a simple geometrical ornament for the top of the hat. Start by making a smooth arched line with a white Stroke. Switch to the Pen Tool (P) and form a zig-zag under the stripe.

Copy the created elements, resize them and place them in the upper part of the hat. Use the Ellipse Tool (M) with white Stroke to create a set of circles between the lines.

draw a pattern with the pencil tool

Step 5

Group (Command-G) the created elements of the pattern and Cut (Command-X) them. Select the pink part of the hat, and go to Edit > Paste Inside.

paste the pattern inside the hat

Step 6

Paste (Command-V) the group of elements that we’ve made for the hat once again, and move them on top of the light-green part of the scarf. Add two more copies and combine the elements, thus forming a seamless pattern.

add a pattern to the scarf

Step 7

Cut the created pattern and Paste it Inside the vertical stripe of the scarf. Find the elements inside the green shape in the Layers panel, select them and lower the Opacity to 50%.

paste the pattern inside the scarf

Step 8

Let’s add more details to the horizontal part of the scarf. Copy (Command-C) the dark-green stripes from the hat, select the scarf and Paste Inside several times, distributing the stripes inside the scarf.

add stripes to the scarf

Step 9

Let’s return to the hat and lower the Opacity of the pattern inside the pink part to 50%. Now click and hold the Heart Tool in the Toolbar to open the drop-down menu and find the Cloud Tool. Hold Shift and make an even shape, filling it with beige color.

Click the shape with the right mouse button, and then Arrange > Move to Back.

use the cloud tool to add detail to the hat

Step 10

Copy the cloudy shape that we’ve made for the hat, fill it with dark-green color and move under the vertical element of the scarf, using the Command-[ keys.

use the cloud tool to add detail to the scarf

5. Make a Window Frame

Step 1

Let’s place our character inside a window frame to make the composition look more complete. Take the Rectangle Tool (M), make a brown vertical stripe for the left part of the frame and place it beneath the penguin (Shift-Command-[). Add the remaining parts of the frame and rearrange the elements, placing the heart, scarf and the arms of the penguin on top, above the frame (Shift-Command-]).

make a frame from the rectangles

Step 2

Copy the created frames and make the bottom copies a bit smaller. Make the brown color of the copies darker, so that the edges of the copies are visible inside the frame. 

Let’s also make the heart a bit brighter. Duplicate the heart and make the copy smaller, filling it with brighter-pink color. 

Recolor the hat in the same bright-pink color as the heart, using the Eyedropper Tool.

make the inner frame and add details

Step 3

Let’s form a bright-blue rectangle and place it beneath all other objects (Shift-Command-[), depicting a winter sky. And use the Ellipse Tool (M) to speckle some tiny circles, depicting snowflakes above the sky.

add the sky and snow

Step 4

Take the Pencil Tool (N) and start covering the frame with dark-brown wavy lines, imitating a cartoonish wood texture.

make a wood texture with the pencil tool

Step 5

Let’s make the other parts of the picture textured as well, using the Pencil Tool (N) and adjusting the colors. Make short strokes above the top of the hat and cover the body of the penguin with strokes as well, making the character look soft and furry.

use pencil tool to make textured strokes

Step 6

Finally, create a New Layer for the background and place it beneath all other layers. Create a rectangle of light-yellow color, finishing up our image.

add a yellow rectangle for the background

Great Job! Our Cute Penguin Is Complete!

I hope you’ve enjoyed drawing this illustration and it filled your hearts with warmth, making you feel cozy on a snowy winter day. Feel free to use these simple drawing techniques and handy functions of Affinity Designer in your future illustrations, and don’t forget to share your result! Have fun!

cartoon penguin winter illustration in affinity designer
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