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How to Create a Cute Rooster for Chinese New Year in Affinity Designer

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

This year we’re celebrating the Year of the Rooster according to the Chinese calendar. 2017 is predicted to be a good year as the Rooster is a positive symbol. Let’s bring some more luck into our lives by depicting a cute rooster in Affinity Designer, symbolizing the Chinese New Year!

We’ll be using a lot of vibrant gradient fills, applying Blend modes to create shadows and highlights, and modifying simple shapes to create our newborn rooster. 

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to design a stylized character that can be used as a sticker or an element of a congratulation postcard, invitation, greeting card or banner to celebrate New Year of the Rooster. 

If you want to take a closer look at how the elements are designed or you want to get this character with alternative facial expressions, make sure you check out my Rooster Character on GraphicRiver.

Rooster Character

1. How to Draw a Cartoon Rooster

Step 1

We’ll start by creating a background. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and make a 600 x 600 px square which is equal to the size of our document. Fill it with purple, and let’s add some depth. Use the Fill Tool (G) to add a gradient fill to the background. Set the Type to Elliptical in the control toolbar on top and edit the colors by clicking the circles of the gradient sliders and applying the colors in the Colour panel.

apply gradient fill to the background

Step 2

Let’s make the body of our rooster. Grab the Ellipse Tool (M) and make a 250 x 320 px oval. Use the Fill Tool (G) to apply a vivid gradient. This time, set the Type to Linear, and apply yellow color to the top part of the slider and orange color to the bottom one.

Convert to Curves in the control panel on top in order to make the ellipse fully editable.

Select both side nodes with the Node Tool (A) and move them down a bit using the Down Arrow key to make the bottom of the body flatter.

make rooster body from ellipse

Step 3

Now we’ll create the eye of our chicken. Use the Pen Tool (P) and hold Shift to draw a short stroke. Set the Stroke color to dark brown in the Colour panel and switch to the Stroke panel to set the Width to 8 pt, making the line thick. Set the Cap to Round Cap, making the tips of the line rounded.

Now we can use the Node Tool (A) and drag the node handles up, placing them vertically. This way we’re making the line arched, forming an eyelid.

create the eye from stroke

Step 4

Duplicate (Command-C > Command-V) the line and then select the bottom copy in the Layers panel. Set its Weight to 16 pt, making the line much thicker. Set its Blend mode to Screen on top of the Layers panel, thus creating a brighter overtone around the eye.

add highlights to the eyelid

Step 5

Now let’s depict a beak. Take the Diamond Tool and create a 70 x 55 px shape, filling it with vertical linear gradient of yellow tints. Use the Corner Tool (C) to make the top and bottom corners of the shape rounded. You can adjust the corner Radius from the control toolbar on top, setting it to 15 px.

make a beak with diamond tool

Step 6

Switch to the Ellipse Tool (M) and let’s form the inner part of the beak. Make a 60 x 12 px oval and apply an orange-red vertical linear fill.

Convert to Curves and select its left and right nodes with the Node Tool (A).

Convert the nodes to Sharp from the control toolbar on top, thus making the corners of the mouth pointed.

make inner part of the beak

Step 7

Let’s create another ellipse for the tongue. Make a 45 x 10 px shape, filled with pink linear gradient. And now we need to place the tongue inside the mouth. To do this, head to the Layers panel and drag and drop the tongue shape over the mouth shape (the orange ellipse). You will see a short blue stripe, indicating that you’re placing one object inside of the other, like inside a container. The shapes are still editable and are combined into a group.

make a tongue from the ellipse

Step 8

Duplicate (Command-C > Command-V) the yellow beak shape and make the top copy a bit smaller. Fill it with linear gradient from yellow on top to black in the bottom, and set the Blend mode to Screen. The black part of the fill becomes transparent in Screen mode, creating a gentle highlight.

create a highlight in screen mode

Step 9

Let’s create a similar highlight on the body of our chick. Duplicate the body shape and make the top copy somewhat smaller. Apply a vertical linear fill from yellow to black and switch to Screen mode.

Add a smaller ellipse for the tummy, applying the same fill in Screen mode.

create a highlight on the body

Step 10

Let’s continue adding details to the face by making the eyebrows. Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool (M) to make a 20 x 10 px shape with fully rounded corners, setting the Corner value to 100% in the control toolbar on top.

Rotate the shape to about 15 degrees and duplicate it. Flip the copy Horizontal, using the Transforms panel in the control toolbar on top, and move the second brow to the opposite side of the face.

make the eyebrows with the rounded rectangle tool

Step 11

Now we’ll add the wings to the body. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a 50 x 100 px shape, and fill it with linear gradient from light orange to dark orange, as shown below. 

Duplicate and Flip Horizontal, adding a second wing on the opposite side of the body. Select both wings and Move to Back (Shift-Command-[), placing them beneath the body.

make the wings from ellipses

Step 12

Take the Pencil Tool (N) and let’s make a crest on top of the rooster’s head. Draw a shape and edit its nodes with the Node Tool (A) if needed.

Apply a linear fill from orange on top to red in the bottom, adding dimension to the crest.

make a crest with the pencil tool

2. How to Draw a Cracked Eggshell

Step 1

Use the Ellipse Tool (M) to create a 320 x 320 px red circle. Take the Pen Tool (P) and make a zigzag line across the egg.

make an egg from ellipse

Step 2

Select both the circle and the zigzag line and apply Subtract Operation from the control panel on top to split the circle apart. Now we can delete the unneeded top part of the circle by selecting the nodes with the Node Tool (A) and deleting them.

Apply elliptical gradient fill to the eggshell, making it slightly lighter in the center, thus adding dimension.

subtract the shapes to make a cracked eggshell

Step 3

Duplicate (Command-C > Command-V) the egg shape and make the top copy slightly smaller.

Fill it with linear gradient from black on top to red in the bottom and switch to Screen mode, making a gentle highlight.

add a highlight in screen mode to the eggshell

Step 4

Let’s add some vibrant feathers to the tail of our rooster. Use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw a tail shape and fill it with vivid linear gradient of turquoise, blue, and purple colors. Place the tail behind the rooster by pressing the Shift-Command-[ keys.

draw a tail with the pencil tool

Step 5

Let’s add some subtle shadows in order to separate the elements from each other and to make the overall illustration a bit more realistic.

First of all, duplicate (Command-C > Command-V) the beak and select the bottom copy. Apply a linear fill from brown on top to white on the bottom, and set the Blend Mode to Multiply in the Layers panel, thus making the white part transparent. Extend the shape a bit, making it slightly larger than the beak.

add shadow beneath the beak

Step 6

Now we need to add a gentle shadow on the tail behind the chick. First of all, let’s Duplicate (Command-C > Command-V) the body of the rooster (together with the wings) and Ungroup the elements of the copy if needed. Now, keeping the copies of the wings and body selected, apply the Add Operation from the control toolbar on top, merging the elements into a single silhouette.

Fill the copy with linear gradient from white on top to blue on the bottom, and switch it to Multiply Blend Mode.

merge the shapes with add operation

Step 7

Place the shadow between the body and the tail of the rooster by either moving it manually in the Layers panel or by pressing Command-[ a few times.

Make the shadow a bit larger than the body.

Finally, select the shadow shape in the Layers panel, and drag and drop it above the tail shape layer. You will notice a short blue bar indicating that one shape is placed inside the other, like inside a container, hiding the unneeded parts.

place the shadow inside the tail shape

Step 8

Now we can add a shadow over the rooster’s crest. Make another copy of the body shape, turn it into a semi-transparent shadow in Multiply mode and place it inside the crest layer.

add a shadow to the crest

Step 9

Now let’s add one more shadow beneath the eggshell.

Use the Ellipse Tool (M) to make an oval and apply elliptical gradient fill in Multiply mode. You can adjust the shape of the gradient, making it squashed enough to fit the oval.

add one more shadow beneath the eggshell

Step 10

Don’t forget to add a shadow from the eggshell, thus adding depth to our image. Duplicate the eggshell and move the nodes of the bottom copy using the Node Tool (A). Fill it with linear gradient and switch to Multiply mode, making the shadow semi-transparent.

add a shadow from the eggshell

Here is how our rooster looks with all the shadows applied. Only a few minor details left!

rooster with all the shadows applied

Step 11

Let’s add another drop of cuteness to our image by adding a subtle touch of blush to the cheeks. Use the Ellipse Tool (M) to make a tiny oval and apply an elliptical gradient fill from pink in the center to white at the edges. Switch it to Multiply mode, creating a blush.

Select the shape, hold Option-Shift and drag to the right, creating a copy on the opposite cheek.

add blush with the ellipse tool

Looking great! Our rooster is already finished! We can leave it like that or continue adding minor details, making the illustration more diverse.

rooster character for Chinese new year

Wonderful! Our Chinese New Year Rooster Is Finished! 

Great job! I hope you’ve enjoyed following this tutorial and learned some new tips and tricks that will help you to create more fancy characters in Affinity Designer, applying vivid gradients and adding depth by working with shadows and highlights.

Our Chinese New Year Rooster is Finished

If you wish, you can add a Chinese hieroglyph 'rooster': 鸡. You can either add it using the Artistic Text Tool (T) (you’ll need to have the Chinese font installed though) or you can get this Rooster Character for Chinese New Year which includes the symbol in curves with golden gradient fill. Apart from that, you’ll find our rooster character in various formats and with various facial expressions.

Rooster Character

Happy New Year! Stay creative!

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