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Design

How to Create Easy Kawaii Animals in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Easy Character Design.
How to Create a Hanging Monkey Illustration in Adobe Illustrator
How to Create a Collage Illustration in Adobe Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Drawing Kawaii animals is always fun. But this is much more fun—you can let free your imagination and creativity. 
In this tutorial, you will see how fun and easy it is to make different Kawaii animals from one figure. By following all the steps, you will learn how to use the warp effect, move anchor points and use the Pathfinder panel. You will also learn how to use the Line Segment Tool and the Reflect Tool.

If you want to see more kawaii animals, you can find hundreds of great illustrations over at Envato Market.

1. Draw the Rabbit

Step 1

Open your Adobe Illustrator and create a new document with 850 x 850 px Width and Height. First, we will start to draw the head of the rabbit. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw an oval. In the image below, you can see which fill and stroke colors you need. Select two side anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A), and move them down using the Down Arrow key on your keyboard.

If you see that the top of the head is very pointy, expand the top handles of the ellipse anchor point.

creating the bunny head

Step 2

To make the signature kawaii googly eyes, create an ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L). Add a tiny white circle to brighten up the eye. Select this eye and while holding the Shift and Alt keys, move it to the right. You will get another copy of it to complete the eyes.

creating the bunny eyes

Step 3

For the nose, create a dark brown ellipse (the same fill color as eyes) and make a sharp base using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C).

creating the bunny nose

Step 4

Let’s add a cute mouth with the Arc Tool.

Delete the fill color and make sure you have the same stroke color as for the head. Check Round Cap on the Stroke panel. Let’s first draw one side of the mouth. Choose the Direct Selection Tool (A), and then select the right or left anchor point and move its handles to make a more pronounced curve of the arc. Attach this shape to the sharp point of the nose. 

To create the other side of the mouth, select this arc, right-click your mouse > Transform > Reflect, choose Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move the created copy of the mouth to the left using the Left Arrow button on your keyboard.

creating the bunny mouth

Step 5

Now let’s draw the body of our kawaii rabbit. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw an oval. Then go to Effect > Warp > Fish to form the shape of a body. Use the Warp options shown below. Then expand the warped shape: Object > Expand Appearance. (Don't you agree that the unwarped body shape makes the rabbit look like a seal? Take a copy of the rabbit, add fins, and voila!  You will have a kawaii seal!)

creating the bunny body

Step 6

Let's return to the rabbit. To draw the forelegs, start with an oval again. Select the bottom anchor point with the Direct Selection Tool (A), and move it to the right using the Right Arrow key on the keyboard to create the shape, similar to the image below. 


Now we will cut a piece of the shape. Select the Scissors Tool (C) and click on the points shown with red circles in the image below. After that, switch back to the Selection Tool (V) and move this piece out from the shape and delete it.
 

Make another ellipse, expanded horizontally. Move its right and left anchor points down, using the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select and Down Arrow key for movement. Make a copy of this shape in front (Control-C, Control-F) and make it narrower (using the Selection Tool (V)).

creating the bunny foreleg

Step 7

To create another foreleg, select the one created from the previous step, right-click your mouse > Transform > Reflect, choose Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move the created copy of the foreleg to the right using the Right Arrow button on your keyboard.

creating the bunny second foreleg

Step 8

Let's draw the hind legs. Draw another ellipse. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the left and right anchor points and move them down. Take the copy of the paw from the previous step, where you created the forelegs. In the end, slightly rotate the big vertical ellipse to the left.

creating the bunny hind leg

Step 9

Attach the created hind leg to the rabbit’s body. Place it in front of the body but behind the forelegs. Let's create the right hind leg. Select the left hind leg, take the Reflect Tool (O), hold down the Alt key, and click in the middle of the body. In the new dialogue window, select Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move the created hind leg to the right side.

creating the bunny second hind leg

Step 10

For the ears, we will first start by building two ellipses (white and coral). Move the top anchor point of the white ellipse down by using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and Down Arrow key. Make a third large white ellipse and deform it by using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and by adjusting the handles of the anchor points to get the image, similar to the one shown below. Rotate the first two ellipses to the right.

At the end, cut a small part of this shape where it’s marked: Select the Scissors Tool (C), click on the points that are marked red, and delete the unnecessary parts of the stroke. This is the ear for our rabbit.

creating the bunny ear

Step 11

Attach the ear to the head. Make sure that the ear stays behind the head. To place it behind, select it and press Control-X, Control-B. Make a reflected copy of the ear: select the ear, right-click the mouse > Transform > Reflect. A dialogue window will pop up, where you should enter Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move this copy to the other side.
 Now our cute rabbit is ready!


creating the bunny second ear

2. Draw the Fox

Step 1

In this step, we will simply take a copy of our rabbit's body and change its color to the one shown below. Let’s also change the color of the paws.

transforming the bunny body into fox body

Step 2

For the head of the fox, we will start with an ellipse. Using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), make sharp corners on the ellipse; while keeping the ellipse selected, click on the left and right anchor points—these two points should be sharp now. Keep the sharp anchor points selected and press the Down Arrow button on your keyboard a few times.

creating the fox head

Step 3

Make a new copy of the head in front (Control-C, Control-F). Add another white ellipse which overlaps the head, with no stroke, just a light fill color. Keeping both shapes selected (ellipse with no stroke and the copy of the head), press the Intersect button in Pathfinder. On the Stroke panel, press Align Stroke to Outside.

creating the fox head 2

Step 4

Place the head on the body. For the face, we’re going to take it from the rabbit. So copy the eyes, the nose and the mouth, which we created for the rabbit, and place them on the head of the fox.

placing the fox head and taking the bunny face as the fox face

Step 5

To make a furry chest, draw an ellipse and place it behind the head. For this ellipse, use the same fill color as we did for the bunny. To do this, use the Eyedropper Tool (I). Keep the fox’s chest shape selected and press the Eyedropper Tool (I). Then hit the cursor on the bunny. 


Next, make the bottom anchor point on this ellipse pointy by clicking on it using the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C).

creating the fox furry chest

Step 6

For the ear, we will start by making an ellipse. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A), shift the side anchor points down and move the handles of the anchor points of the ellipse to create the shape shown in the image below. Copy-paste this shape in the front and make it smaller and darker.

creating the fox ear

Step 7

So that was the left ear. For the right one, hit the Reflect Tool (O) and make a reflection of the whole ear as you did for the bunny. Place the right ear on the right side of the head. 


We can now also align everything if you didn't do this before. So, select the two ears and group them together (right-click > Group), and then group the two eyes, the nose and the mouth, the two forelegs, and the two hind legs. Select all, and on the Align panel, press Horizontal Align Center.

creating the fox another ear

Step 8

And of course, the tail. We will also start with an ellipse. Make the right and left anchor points on this ellipse pointy. Copy this shape (Control-C, Control-F) to have two copies on top of each other. 

Next, using the Pencil Tool (N), draw the shape, as in the image below. Remember to hold the Alt button before finishing this shape; it will help you to close the path. Also, remove any stroke colors from this hand-drawn shape. Keep it selected, and while holding the Shift button, select the top copy of the tail. Hit the Intersect button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). On the Stroke panel, press Align to Outside. Our tail is ready. 


creating the fox tail

Finally, place the tail behind the fox: press Control-X, Control-B. Our transformation of the bunny into the fox is finished!

placing the fox tail

3. Draw the Frog


Step 1

For this character, we will use the bunny’s body and the head again. Since it's a frog, let's select a green color and give it a flatter head.

transforming the bunny body into the frog body

Step 2

Draw two circles for the eyes. To create an even circle, hold down the Shift key. Select the three shapes (the flattened ellipse and two circles) and using the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), unite them. Finally, add the eyes and the mouth, by taking them from one of the previous animals. Here we go—our frog is already finished.

creating the frog head and taking the bunny face as a frog face

4. Place All the Animals Together

Place all three characters together and see what you've created! Aren’t they cute?

placing all kawaii characters together

5. Create the Accessories

Step 1

Let’s give the bunny a carrot. Take a part of the bunny’s body, for example, one finger from the paw. Change the color of this shape, turn it upside down, and move the bottom anchor point down. Behind the orange shape, add a thin green ellipse. Make two more copies of this ellipse and slightly rotate them in different directions to create leaves for our carrot. 
Finally, add a few small brown lines using the Line Segment Tool (\) with no fill color.

creating the carrot

Step 2

For the fox, let’s add some mushrooms. Take the carrot shape, change its color, and turn it upside down. Make a copy and place it on the top for the mushroom's “hat”. Change the mushroom’s hat color to brown (like the fox's paws). Make a smaller copy of the whole mushroom and slightly rotate the new mushroom.

creating the mushroom

Step 3

Let’s create a water lily for the frog. Make a copy of the fox's tail and delete its white part. Change the color from orange to pink, make two more copies of this shape, and rotate them to the left side. Add two more symmetrical copies on the right by selecting the two rotated shapes, right-click > Transform > Reflect, Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and pressing Copy. Move the two new petals to the right side to have a symmetrical lily.

creating the water lily

Step 4

Place all the created images together: carrots near the rabbit, mushrooms close to the fox, and the water lily near the frog.

placing carrots mushrooms and water lily

6. Make a Complete Image

Step 1

Draw a square behind all images with 850 px width and height, and set the fill color presented in the image below.

creating the background

Step 2

Using the Line Segment Tool (\), draw three lines below the created characters with no fill. To make the lines straight, hold down the Shift button as you are drawing the line.


creating the background 2

To hide the unnecessary parts, add rectangles under all three lines with the same fill color as the background and no stroke color. (The green stroke in the image is only to show you where the rectangles go.)

creating the background 3

Step 3

To finalize our image, add three darker circles behind each character. Pay attention while placing these circles—place them behind our characters, lines, and rectangles, but above the large square background.

creating the background 4

Conclusion

Congratulations, your kawaii illustration is done! You see—it’s not difficult to make a transformation from one object to another. You just need a little imagination and creativity. I hope you found some useful tricks and have enjoyed this tutorial!

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