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How to Create an Autumn Composition With a Sparrow in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Do you feel the crisp winter air? Yes—winter is approaching! During this time of the year, many birds migrate in search of warmer temperatures—except the sparrows, our little friends which are always around us. 

Let’s draw one of these cute creatures! We will use basic shapes, move a few anchor points, and use the warp effect. You will find many similar elements from my previous tutorials, which will make this tutorial easy and still fun to create!

Alternatively, you can always look on GraphicRiver at the many animal vectors available.

1. Draw the Body Shape

Step 1

Create a new document (Control-N) and hit the Ellipse Tool (L). We will first create the body of the sparrow. Set the stroke color to any color, with no fill. Create an ellipse. Then add a smaller ellipse on the top. 

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle; this will form the neck of the bird. To finish off the body shape, take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and make the lower part of the rectangle wider.

Your resulting shape should look like the following image.

creating the body shape of the sparrow

Step 2

Select the shapes we just created for the body of the bird. Go to the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Unite button. Take the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) and convert sharp corners into smooth. Notice that you are not clicking with the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), but stretching the handles of the anchor points.

creating the body shape of the sparrow 2

Step 3

Delete all the strokes and fill the resulting shape with the color shown in the image below.

applying the fill color to the body shape

2. Create the Beak

Step 1

Let’s move on to the beak. Draw a yellow ellipse. Now, we want to get a sharp corner with the help of the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Click on the right anchor point. Then take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the top and bottom anchor points. Shift them to the left. We now have the beak shape done!

creating the beak

Step 2

Let’s draw a narrow ellipse. Make the right anchor point sharp and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the following settings.

creating the beak 2

Step 3

Don't forget to expand the resulting shape (Object > Expand Appearance). Place this shape on the beak that we created in the previous steps. This adds the shadow to show the upper and lower parts of the beak.

creating the beak 3

Let’s put the beak on the sparrow.

placing the beak on the sparrow

3. Create the Eye

We will need to create just one eye because we can only see one side of the bird. Let’s create two ellipses for the eye.

creating the eye

He can see now!

placing the eye

4. Create the Pattern of the Sparrow

Step 1

As you can see, our bird is not a real sparrow just yet. We will add a special pattern that will distinguish this little bird as a sparrow.

After creating a new gray ellipse, place it as shown in the image below. Select the body shape of the bird and make another copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Keep it selected and, while holding down the Shift key, select the new overlapping gray oval. In Pathfinder, press the Intersect button.

creating the pattern of the sparrow

Step 2

Draw two more ellipses and place them as shown below. The smaller ellipse is not overlapping the body—don't do anything with it. Select the body shape again and make another copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Keep it selected and, while holding down the Shift key, select the new overlapping oval. In Pathfinder, press the Intersect button.

creating the pattern of the sparrow 2

5. Create the Wing

Step 1

Make the left anchor point of the newly created ellipse sharp by using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Then move the top and bottom anchor points to the right. We just created the shape of the wing.

creating the wing shape

Step 2

Create three more ovals. These will represent the feather.

creating the feather

Step 3

Group those three ellipses you just made—it will help you to maneuver easily. Holding down the Shift and Alt keys together, slightly move up the grouped shape. So you've just created a copy of the ellipses. 

Press Control-D few more times to repeat your last movement, until you have five sets. Then select the whole column of ellipses, hold down the Shift and Alt keys, and move it to the right. Keep pressing Control-D until you have six columns overlapping each other.

creating more feathers

Step 4

Go to Effect > Warp > Bulge and in the new window, adjust the options you can see below. Don't forget to expand it: Object > Expand Appearance.

warping the feathers

Step 5

Place the warped ovals for the feathery effect on our wing shape.

placing together the wing shape and feathers

Rotate it a bit and place it on the sparrow.

placing the whole wing on the bird

6. Create the Tail of the Sparrow

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw two long, narrow ellipses to create the tail. Place them as shown in the image below.

creating the tail

Step 2

Add two more ellipses.

creating the tail 2

7. Create an Acorn

Step 1

To create an acorn, start with three ellipses.

creating the acorn

Step 2

Draw a brown oval behind everything you just made in the previous step. Keeping the brown ellipse selected, make a copy in the front (Control-C, Control-F). Make this copy smaller and darker.

creating the acorn 2

Step 3

Using the Pencil Tool (N), draw a stem on the acorn. Before drawing the stem, delete the fill color and set the stroke color (the same as the fill color of the first brown ellipse from the previous step). 

After you’ve drawn the stem, on the Stroke panel, make the stroke very thick and check Round Cap. Expand this (Object > Expand, OK). Place the stem on the top of the acorn.

creating the stem of the acorn

Step 4

Create two more acorns by copy-pasting and arrange them nicely together.

arranging three acorns

8. Create the Oak Leaf

Step 1

First, we are going to create the stalk, the main vein on our oak leaf. Take the Polygon Tool and click on your art board. Make it 3 Sides with any Radius. You will get a triangle—make this very narrow and long.

creating the stalk of the oak leaf

Step 2

Using the copy of the stalk, create more veins of the oak leaf. Draw an oval on the top of the leaf and add three more on the left side of the leaf.

Select the three leaves from the left side (not from the top), right-click the mouse and select Transform > Reflect. This will bring up the Reflect dialogue window, where you should enter Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move the three new leaves to the right. Draw one more oval on the bottom.

creating the oak leaf

Step 3

Let’s align the leaf. For this, select three ovals from the left side of the leaf and three ovals from the right side; group them together (right-click > Group). Select three veins from the left and the right side; group them together. Select the whole leaf and on the Align panel (Window > Align) press the Horizontal Align Center button. Look how perfect our leaf looks now!

Select the blade (all the ovals without veins and stalk) of the oak leaf, and on the Pathfinder panel press the Unite button. Make the bottom of the leaf sharp using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Group the leaf.

creating the oak leaf 2

Step 4

Create two more copies of the oak leaf with different fill colors.

creating more leaves in another colors

Step 5

Create a nice composition from the acorns and leaves.

arranging leaves and acorns

9. Combine All the Elements Together and Create the Background

Step 1

Combine everything together.

aading the sparrow to the leaves-acorns arrangement

Step 2

Let’s create the background to hold our elements together. Place a light cream circle behind.

creating round background

Step 3

In this step, you can nicely arrange the acorns and leaves behind the background circle.

adding leaves and acorns to the background

Step 4

To finish the background, draw a square with width and height of 600 px. Apply a radial gradient from very light yellow to light yellow colors.

creating square background

Step 5

Place this square background behind (Control-X, Control-B) everything you made before. That's it!

placing square background behind everything


Our sparrow is ready! Isn't it adorable? Many thanks for your patience as you went through the whole process and achieved the great result. Our sparrow will enjoy the autumn as much as you do.

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