Jump into Adobe Illustrator and create a cute cheeseburger character from scratch. Then you'll be creating a grid and converting your image into a pixelled character perfect for resizing or cross-stitching application. You can check out the second part of this tutorial, the cross stitching process, over on Crafttuts+.
1. Create Your Burger Base
Start with a tan filled circle using the Ellipse Tool (L). Draw a Rectangle (M) and place it over the circle in a fashion similar to image #2 below. Select both shapes, hit Minus Front in Pathfinder and Ungroup the shapes.
Now you can edit the hamburger bun shapes by pulling the anchor handles and moving the halves to your desired location.
2. Create Your Filling and Sesame Seeds
To fill up your burger, use the Rounded Rectangle Tool for the meat and tomato slice. Place them behind the buns. Draw the lettuce with the Pencil Tool (N) and create bits of cheese slices with the Pen Tool (P).
Add little details like sesame seeds with the Pen Tool (P) and copy and paste around the bun. Group all shapes together (CTRL + G).
3. Add Hands & a Face
To personify our little friend, we'll need to add some cute little hands. Draw them with the Pencil Tool (N), Copy and Paste the gloved hand, and rotate the image over a vertical axis.
To draw arms, create wiggly shapes using the Pen Tool (P).
Draw a crescent shape with the Pen Tool (P) for an eye. You'll have to add the whites of the eyes and highlights as well. To make the smile, stroke a curved line to your desired width. Add a little red tongue if you so desire.
4. Outline Your Character
Group (CTRL + G) your burger friend together and then Copy and Paste it.
Set your copy hamburger as dark brown.
Unite the copy hamburger in the Pathfinder panel.
Align the copy with the original burger friend.
Place the copy behind your little burger and set the copy shape's Stroke Weight to whatever thickness you desire.
Select the buns, little hands, lettuce, tomato, and cheese shapes and add a 1pt stroke in dark brown.
5. Optional: Add Text
Add cutesy phrase. This one being "I'm on a roll".
The font used for this was "Cooper Standard". Choose Warp Option Arc and adjust to 48% or so.
Select your text, RIGHT-CLICK and Create Outlines. In Pathfinder, hit Make Compound Shape and then Expand.
6. Create a Grid on Top of Your Design
Your vector piece is complete. Group it together (CTRL + G), lock the layer, and Create a New Layer over top. Go to View up top, and hit Rulers. For the pixelling process of this piece, the overall size is 7 inches by 7 inches. The grid will be one line every 1/8 of an inch. Zoom in and drag a line from the ruler on the left.
Continue dragging lines from the rulers for each interval. I've chosen to make a 56 by 56 square because the cross-stitch tutorial on Crafttuts+ will comprise of 14 stitches per inch, so the final size will be four inches square.
Once you complete the vertical lines of the grid, drag lines from the top ruler for the horizontal lines.
To make the entire process easier, you can select multiple lines at a time (I suggest four) and place them at each inch.
Once your grid is done, lock the layer it's on, and create a new one above it for your pixelling adventure.
7. Begin Adding Squares Based on Your Vector Character
Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a box that fills one grid space. You'll be following the vector image you created. speaking of which, lower the opacity on that layer so this part is easier on your eyes.
Add a 0.5pt white stroke to the dark brown box for easy visibility later. If your intention isn't to convert this little guy into a fantastic piece of needlepoint, the outlines of your boxes may not be necessary.
Continue following the outline of your image. For some areas, it'll save you a ton of time by Copy and Pasting multiple boxes.
Some details and curves will be ignored by this process.
Overall, you're making something very blocky. Do your best to stick to the grid.
8. Fill in the Remainder of Your Character
The following will document quick shots of filling in all of the burger's details.
For the lighter colored boxes, the stroke is set as dark brown instead of white.
Notice the sesame seeds. What were once little tear drops have become funky little Tetris shapes.
Check out the boxes against the grid in this picture. Selecting all of the boxes in one line and aligning them so it's a straight line helps fit your boxes to the grid. This is an optional step if you've outlined your boxes and want it to look a bit more organized.
Well Done, You're Now Finished!
Finally, your little burger friend has taken on a completed pixelled form. Take it further and add more of the details fro the vector piece including some of the outlines, the little tongue, or the "I'm on a Roll" text. Push it to the limit by following the Crafttuts+ side of this tutorial and render it as a cross-stitched piece.
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