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Design

How to Create a Spring-Themed Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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

A great actor once said, “Spring is nature's way of saying let's party.” This is so true—we can all feel spring’s influence, especially if you are a visual artist. In a season full of colors and details, it’s almost impossible to stay uninspired. So let’s start this spring with a nice illustration of a cute flower-haired girl.

If you're looking to purchase a similar illustration, you can find many vector characters over on GraphicRiver.

1. How to Create a New Document

After opening Adobe Illustrator, go to File > New (Control-N). In the dialog box, set the Profile to Web, the Width to 800 px, and the Height to 900 px.

Create a new document

2. How to Create a Color Palette 

Before we start illustrating, let’s take a moment to define a color palette. This is one of the most important steps because the color palette gives us the atmosphere of the theme and brings us closer to the mood we're trying to achieve. 

In this case, we’ll go for eight colors: three dark, three medium, and two light tones. I decided to use soft pastel tones, but you can go with stronger ones if that’s how you feel about spring.

Create a color palette

3. How to Create a Character 

To create the character, we will use mostly the Pen Tool (P). Beginners might need some time to get used to it, but it’s worth the time spent learning it because once you master it, you can create all sorts of amazing vector art.

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool (P), create an oval shape. This will be the face of our character, so try to make smooth curves at the bottom of the object. Most of the top will be covered with hair later on, so just pay attention to the lower part. Color it in #a67c52 from our color palette.

Use the Pen Tool to create the head

Step 2

Draw the next object: the body. Because we won’t show the character from the chest down, create a bottle-like shape. Try not to add many anchor points so the shape looks smooth and elegant.

Use the Pen Tool to create the body

Step 3

In order to distinguish the head from the body, we will need to create some sort of a border between those two parts. Select and Copy (Control-C) the head shape and the body shape and Paste Them in Front (Control-F)

Now, move the head shape slightly lower. Select both shapes again and use the Intersect command of the Pathfinder panel. This will result in a small new shape which will serve as a shadow right beneath the chin. Color it #754c24.

Use the Intersect Command of the Pathfinder panel to create a shadow

Step 4

The eyes are the first thing we do when drawing a face. To make things easier, we will create one eye and then duplicate it. Create a long oval shape and another one which will intersect with it. The second shape should indicate where the iris will be. Copy and Paste in Front the two oval shapes and use the Intersect command of the Pathfinder panel. Color the eye white and the iris #754c24 brown.

Create the iris using the Intersect Command of the Pathfinder panel to create

Step 5

Use the Pen Tool (P) to make three spiky shapes which we will use as eyelashes. Position them in a corner behind the eye.

Use the Pen Tool to draw the eye lashes

Step 6

Make a copy of the eye object and place both of the eyes on the head. Flip the eyelashes (Object > Transform > Reflect) on the other side of the right eye. Color them #40333c, dark grey.

Duplicte the eye and postion them on the head shape

Step 7

Create simple shapes to add details on the face such as eyebrows, nose, and mouth. These simple shapes should contain no more than three or four anchor points. Color them #754c24, dark brown.

Use the Pen Tool to create the face detials

Step 8

It is time to add some clothes too, so creating a simple sleeveless shirt will do just fine. Use the Pen Tool to make a simple shirt object over the body. Then Select both the body and shirt, Copy them (Control-C) and Paste in Front (Control-F). Then use the Intersect command of the Pathfinder panel. Color the shirt in #dfa856, orange.

Use the Pen Tool and the Pathfinder Panel to create a shirt

Step 9

It is time to add a nice curly hairstyle. Use the Pen Tool to create a wavy line which will go in a circle and eventually close in a round shape.

Create a wavy hair in outline

Step 10

Once you are done creating the hair, color it #40333c, dark grey. Select it and arrange it behind the whole character (Object > Arrange > Send Backward). Now to cover the forehead, create another wavy shape which will start from the highest middle point of the head and go down in waves diagonally.

Use the Pen Tool to create bangs

Step 11

Continue drawing the bangs until you've closed the line. Try to keep the symmetry while creating it. Color it in the same color as the hair, dark grey: #40333c.

Cover the forehead with the bangs

We are done with building this cute character. Now, let’s add some details.

4. How to Create Details

Step 1

Sketch some flowers, and try to make at least ten of them. I did some simple daisies, sunflowers, roses, and tulips. If you use a pen tablet, try using a light grey color so the sketch will be easier to trace. 

Sketch ten flowers

Step 2

Use the Pen Tool (P) and start tracing the flowers one by one. Try to keep it simple and don’t get stressed over the result because these floral elements are for decoration purposes only. Always start with the petals and finish with the middle circle. Once you are done, use colors from our color palette to color them.

Use the Pen Tool to trace the flowers sketch and color them

Step 3

Move on to the next flowers in the sketch. Again, start with the bigger parts and end with the details. Don’t forget to delete the sketch once you are done tracing. Use some of the nice colors we chose to color them. 

Use the Pen Tool to trace the flowers sketch and color them
Use the Pen Tool to trace the flowers sketch and color them

Step 4

Keep tracing the rest of the flower drawings.

Use the Pen Tool to trace the flowers sketch and color them
Use the Pen Tool to trace the flowers sketch and color them

Step 5

Once you are done, Multiply all the flowers once. Change the colors on their copies. This way you will get more diversity in colors, and the human eye will perceive them as different objects.

Duplicate the flowers and change their color

Step 6

As a final detail, sketch a simple bird. Using the Pen Tool (P), trace the bigger parts first (body, wings, and eye) and then the smaller ones (beak and legs). When you are done, use some of the brighter colors from our color palette.

Sketch a bird trace and the color it

5. How to Arrange the Details

Step 1

This is the final stage of the illustration. Start adding the flowers over the hair surface. You will notice how the bright, warm colors go well over the dark background. Add the bird, and then start adding the flowers.

Start adding the flowers over the hair

Step 2

Keep adding the flowers one by one. Pay attention to each one of them and the space it needs. Resize them if necessary so they will fit well in the hair shape. Resizing them will also result in more diversity in the illustration, so don’t hesitate to do that.

Resume adding the flowers over the hair

Step 3

Once you are done adding the flowers, take a moment to observe the whole hair composition. Move some of them so you can fill some of the empty spaces.

Add all of the flowers over the hair

Step 4

Draw a few small circles and color them in various colors from the color palette. Position them in the empty areas of the hair, between the flowers. Try to cover most of the noticeable gaps in the hair area. 

Add colorfull circles as details between the flowers

Step 5

Once it's all done, Group (Control-G) the whole character and place her on the artboard with the bottom part slightly out of it. As a final touch, add a simple rectangle behind the character and color it #f1eac7.

Postion the image over the artboard and draw a simple rectangle as a background

Great Work, You're Now Done!

Congrats on the (I hope) not too hard work. In this tutorial we created a cute, minimalistic character with quite a complex feature: the hair. When simplicity and complexity meet, the outcome is usually nice because we perceive the image as simple but our eyes are busy exploring the details. Also, we used the Pen Tool a lot and hopefully mastered those anchor points and paths. Feel free to share your results in the comments below. 

Spring Girl
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