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How to Create an Oktoberfest Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Do you know about Oktoberfest in the Bavarian region of Germany? It's a huge celebration from the middle of September until the beginning of October. The celebration started from the royal wedding of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. The wedding was in October, so that's why the name of the celebration is Oktoberfest. It was in Munich, and all the citizens were invited to celebrate this ceremony in 1810. 

I still remember the time I lived in Munich, those beautiful parades with traditionally dressed people, decorated horses pulling flowered wagons. And, of course, rivers of beer...

If you want to see Oktoberfest themed images and get more inspiration, please visit PhotoDune.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create an illustration on an Oktoberfest theme. We will take basic shapes, warp here, distort there, and as a result we will get a Bavarian man with beer glasses and pretzels. You will learn how to create the pretzels from one of my previous tutorials.

1. How to Create the Head

Step 1

After creating a new document (850 x 850 px Width and Height), we will start by forming the shape of the head. Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a beige rounded rectangle. To get a rounded rectangle with very rounded corners, create a small rounded rectangle first and then stretch it. Or you can go to View > Show Corner Widget and modify the corners by dragging them inside.

Now let’s modify the bottom part of this shape to create the chin. We’ll use the Fish effect: go to Effect > Warp > Fish and enter the options below. Finally, we need to expand this shape. Select it and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

creating the head

Step 2

For the hair, make a copy of the new shape behind the original one (Control-C, Control-B) and rotate it upside down. Change its color to light brown.

Next using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw an oval with the same light brown color. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move the handles of the anchor points of this oval to achieve the result you see below. To make a sharp edge like the one below, you need to keep the Alt button pressed while moving the handles. If you do not keep this button pressed, the opposite handle to the one you move will also symmetrically move.

Finally, create a slightly darker ellipse behind the shape with the sharp edge. To place it behind, right-click > Arrange > Send Backward, and move it a little to the left.

creating the haircut

Step 3

For the eye, create an even circle. For this, use the Ellipse Tool (L) while holding down the Shift key. Now, using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move the left and right anchor points down. This will be the eyelid.

Next, make a copy of this shape in front of the original one, make it a little smaller, and change the color to white and slightly move it to the right.

Add a brown, even circle in front of the white shape, then a smaller darker circle inside.

For the highlight, create a tiny white circle on top.

creating the eye

Step 4

For your convenience, group the eye (right-click > Group). 

Now, to create another one, hold the Shift and Alt keys, and move the first eye to the right. You will get another copy of it to complete the eyes.

placing the eye and creating another one

Step 5

For the eyebrow, create a thin horizontal ellipse (the Ellipse Tool (L)). For further modification of this ellipse, go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the options you see in the image below. Expand this shape (Object > Expand Appearance).

creating the eyebrow

Step 6

Place the left eyebrow over the left eye. While keeping the left eyebrow selected, take the Reflect Tool (O) and while holding down the Alt key, click between the two eyes. In the new dialogue window, select Vertical, Angle 90 degrees and press Copy. Now we should have the two eyebrows.

placing the eyebrow and creating another one

Step 7

Let's make the nose. Using the Eyedropper Tool (I), take the same fill color as the upper eyelid. To take the color you want, select the necessary object, take the Eyedropper Tool (I), and hit with this tool the color you want to take. Then create an ellipse. While keeping it selected, go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. Enter the options you see below in the first image.

Place a new horizontal ellipse covering the bottom part of the vertical one. Keep the new horizontal ellipse selected and again go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. Enter the options you see below in the second image.

creating the nose

Here are the options for the smaller horizontal ellipse:

creating the nose 2

Once the nose is done, group it (right-click > Group) and put it between the eyes.

placing the nose

Step 8

The mouth contains three half-ellipses. To create one, start with an ellipse, and set its color to white. I made the color a little bit darker so you can see it better. Cover the upper part of the ellipse with any color rectangle. Select both shapes and hit the Minus Front button in the Pathfinder panel. You will be left with a half-ellipse.

Create a copy of this half-ellipse behind (Control-C, Control-B), and make it bigger by stretching it downward. Change the fill color to the same as the face.

Create a third copy behind the previous one (Control-C, Control-B), make it bigger by stretching it downward, and change the fill color to the same as the nose.

creating the mouth

Place the mouth where it should be.

placing the mouth

Step 9

A good Bavarian man needs a mustache, so let's give it to him. Make a left anchor point sharp on a newly created ellipse using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Then take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move the handles, forming the left piece of the mustache.

creating the mustache

Step 10

Place this piece of the mustache over the mouth to cover its upper part. Create a vertical copy of the left part to have the right one.

placing the mustache and creating another one

Step 11

For the cheeks, first make an ellipse, and then move the handles of the anchor points to achieve the result shown below. Notice that the cheek has to be under the mustache. Then create a vertical copy of the left cheek to have the right one.

creating the cheek

Step 12

Let's make the chin. Be sure you have the same fill color as the nose. Make two ellipses.  Keep both selected and press the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel. You'll get one shape.

While keeping it selected, hold down the Alt key and move it up. You will notice that now you have two same shapes, as the Alt key gives you a copy of an object. Make the new copy slightly bigger.

Be sure the bigger shape stays over the smaller one. While keeping them selected, press Minus Front on the Pathfinder panel. Your result—it's the chin of the Bavarian man.

creating the chin

Place the chin under the mouth.

placing the chin

Step 13

One of the last things we want to give our Bavarian man is an ear (keep the same fill color). Create two ellipses and make them overlap as in the image below. The lower one has to be on top. Press Minus Front on the Pathfinder panel while keeping both selected.

Add an ellipse behind, the same fill color as the face. And rotate the new ellipse a little to the left.

creating the ear

Step 14

Place the ear on the left side of the face. Notice that it should stay behind the face and in front of the hair. Make a vertical reflection of the left ear to get the right one, just as you did with the eyes and mustache.

Our handsome Bavarian man is almost done!

placing the ear

2. How to Create the Hat

Step 1

To create the hat, start with a green ellipse and then warp it: go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the options you can see in the first image. After this, warp it again: go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. Enter the options you can see in the second image.

creating the hat

Here is the second image, where you can see the Bulge options.

Expand the result (Object > Expand Appearance). Then take the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and delete the anchor point marked in the image.

creating the hat 2

Step 2

Create a lighter copy behind this shape: first make a copy (Control-C, Control-B), shift it up, and change the fill color.

Add a tan rectangle as a hat ribbon. Warp the rectangle by entering the options from the image below.

Expand the rectangle and place it behind.

creating the ribbon on the hat

Step 3

Be sure to have the same green fill color as the hat. New ellipses need to be created. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move down the left and right anchor points.

Holding the Alt button, move it to the right. Now you have two shapes which you need to unite. So press the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel.

Select the top sharp anchor point marked in the image below and turn it into a smooth one by pressing the Convert selected anchor points to smooth button, which is located over your artboard.

It's the upper part of the hat.

creating the upper part of the hat

Place it behind the tan ribbon.

placing the upper part of the hat

Step 4

For the feather, start with a rounded rectangle. Then go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. After warping, expand this shape.

creating the feather

Step 5

Add a very narrow vertical ellipse as a stem.

Now we want to cut off some parts to make this shape look more like a feather. As a cutter, we will take a triangle. You can make a triangle using the Polygon Tool, or even faster: create any fill color rectangle, take the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-), and delete one anchor point on it. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move the anchor points to make the triangle shape you want.

As you have a cutter now, make a few more copies of it. Place them over the main shape of the feather where you want to cut off. Select the feather and all the cutters together and press Minus Front in Pathfinder. It's done!

creating the feather 2

Place the feather on the hat. Notice that the upper part of the hat is behind the feather, and the feather is behind the tan ribbon.

Group the whole hat for your convenience.

placing the feather on the hat

Step 6

Place the hat on the man's head, behind it.

placing the hat on the head

3. How to Create the Beer Glass

Step 1

Start with a long, vertical rounded rectangle. Cover its upper part with any color rectangle. While keeping the rectangles selected, press Minus Front in Pathfinder.

Now, make sure you don't have anything selected, and press the Swap Fill and Stroke (Shift-X) button on the Tools panel. Then, on the Stroke panel, make a very thick stroke Weight and add one more rounded rectangle as a glass holder.

creating the beer glass

Step 2

Select the main beer glass shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path... In the new dialogue window, enter Offset around -6 (it depends on your glass size), Joins Miter, Miter limit 4, and press OK. Change the fill color of the new shape.

While keeping the tan shape selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the options you see below.

creating the beer in the glass

Step 3

Add a light yellow rounded rectangle for a highlight, and a few circles as bubbles.

adding highlight and bubbles

Step 4

Then add beige circles to represent the foam, and rounded rectangles of the same fill color for the foam drip. 

creating the foam on the beer

4. How to Create the Background

Step 1

Hit the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard. Enter Height and Width 850 px. Set its fill color.

creating the background

Step 2

Add three darker and smaller rectangles.

creating the background  2

Step 3

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move their anchor points to achieve a result similar to the image below.

creating the background 3

Step 4

While keeping all three shapes selected, make three copies in front (Control-C, Control-F). Don't take off the selection. Delete their fill color and set a white stroke color. Shift the new copies up.

creating the background 4

Step 5

On the Stroke panel, check Dashed Line

creating the background 5

Step 6

Place the Bavarian man and beer on the background. Make one more copy of the beer.

placing all the objects on the background

Step 7

If you would like, you can add pretzels from my previous tutorial to this illustration.

adding pretzels from the previous tutorial


What a great job you did! You have learned how to create not just a person, but a person with a specific nationality, as well as national features. And everything using just basic shapes! Thanks for being with me to the end. I hope to see you again in my next tutorial!

final image
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