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.
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.
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.
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.
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
#a67c52 from our color palette.
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.
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
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
Use the Pen Tool (P) to make three spiky shapes which we will use as eyelashes. Position them in a corner behind the eye.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
We are done with building this cute character. Now, let’s
add some details.
4. How to Create Details
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.
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.
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.
Keep tracing the rest of the flower drawings.
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.
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.
5. How to Arrange the Details
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.