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Design

How to Create Three Star Wars Characters in Adobe Illustrator

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

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Since Star Wars debuted 40 years ago, it has captured the imaginations of people around the world with its fantastical worlds and vast cast of characters. With a new generation of fans following the recent films, let's take a look how to create a few of the latest heroes and villains of the franchise.

In this tutorial you will learn the step-by-step process of how to create these cute characters using nothing more than some basic geometric shapes and tools readily available in Adobe Illustrator. Let's begin!

1. How to Set Up a New Project

Step 1

Open up Adobe Illustrator and set up a New Document by clicking on File > New (Control-N). To follow the tutorial exactly, use the settings below:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 850 px
  • Height: 850 px
  • Units: Pixels

And for the Advanced tab:

  • Colour Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen (72ppi)
  • Preview Mode: Default
Setting up a new Illustrator document

Step 2

Go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px

Setting up Illustrator Preferences

Step 3

Go to Units and use the settings shown below. 

  • General: Pixel
  • Stroke: Points
  • Type: Points
Setting up the Units in Illustrator Preferences

2. How to Create the Base Head

Step 1

To create the head of the character, we will use the Rounded Rectangle Tool. Click and drag using the mouse to roughly draw out the shape of the head (you can adjust the shape later). Whilst drawing the head (holding the Left Mouse Button) use the Up Arrow and/or the Down Arrow on your keyboard to adjust the corner radius of your shape.

Creating the shape of the head using the Rounded Rectangle Tool

Step 2

Make sure that the head is selected and choose a suitable colour:

  • R: 159
  • G: 97
  • B: 74
Picking a suitable colour for the head

Step 3

Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool again to create a smaller shape for the ear. Place this on one side of the head.

Creating the ears using the Rounded Rectangle Tool

Step 4

Duplicate the ear shape (Control-C and then Control-Shift-V to paste the shape in place). Move the second ear to the other side of the head (hold Shift and Click and Drag to move the shape along a straight line).

Group the ears by highlighting both shapes and pressing Control-G on the keyboard. 

Duplicating the ear shapes

Step 5

Select the group of ears and the head. Making sure that all the elements are selected, click on the centre alignment button to make sure that the head is directly between both the ears.

Clicking on the Centre Alignment button

3. How to Create the Base Body

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool to create the shape for the body, adjust the handles to design the desired shape for your character.

Using the Pen Tool to create the shape of the body

Step 2

Select the Pen Tool and switch the mode from Fill to Stroke.

Using the Pen tool and switching between Fill and Stroke

Step 3

Use the Pen Tool to draw out an arm. Click and Drag the second point to create a bezier in order to adjust the curvature of the arm to your liking.

Using the Pen Tool to create the arm

Step 4

Adjust the thickness of the stroke to something that fits the dimensions of the character.

Choosing the thickness of the arm

Step 5

Select the Circle Tool and draw a perfect circle for the hands by holding Shift on the keyboard and clicking and dragging the mouse. Place the circle at the end of the arm. Group the arm and the hand (Control-G) and place the arm on the side of the body.

Creating the hand using the Circle Tool

Step 6

Duplicate the arm (Control-C and then Control-Shift-V to paste the shape in place). Move the second arm to the other side of the body (hold Shift and Click and Drag to move the shape along a straight line).

Group both of the arms by highlighting both shapes and pressing Control-G on the keyboard. 

Duplicating the arm

Step 7

Make sure that all the elements are selected, and click on the centre alignment button to make sure that the body is directly between both the arms.

Using the Centre Alignment button

Step 8

Repeat the steps above to create the legs. You can use the Eye Dropper Tool on the arm to duplicate the stroke thickness and colour settings.

Creating the legs using the Pen Tool

Step 9

Use a combination of the Rounded Rectangle Tool and the Pen Tool to create the feet. 

Creating the feet using the Rounded Rectangle Tool and Pen Tool

4. How to Create the Face

Step 1

Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to create a smaller shape for the eye. Duplicate the eye (Control-C and then Control-V) and group them. Remember to use the alignment tool to ensure that all the objects are aligned to the centre of each other.

Creating the eyes using the Rounded Rectangle Tool

Step 2

Draw the shape of the eyebrow using the Pen Tool (make sure you are using a stroke). Then set the Variable Width Profile using the drop-down menu. 

Creating the eyebrows using the Pen Tool

Step 3

Duplicate and flip the eyebrow (Right Click > Transform > Reflect).

Duplicating the eyebrows

Step 4

Use the Circle Tool to draw out a nose. You can then adjust the shape of the nose using the Direct Selection Tool.

Creating the nose using the Circle Tool

Step 5

Use the Pen Tool to create the shape of the mouth (make sure you are using a stroke). Then set the Variable Width Profile using the drop-down menu.

Remember to make sure that all the elements are centred correctly by using the centre alignment button.

Creating the mouth using the Pen Tool

Step 6

Now that we have created the base character, select everything and duplicate this three times. In the next steps of this tutorial, we will use each character as a base to create Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren.

Duplicating the base character

5. How to Create Finn

Step 1

Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to create the hair and send it to the back. To do this, Right Click on the object and select Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Creating the hair using the Rounded Rectangle Tool

Step 2

Use the Circle Tool to create the front and side of the hair. You will need to duplicate (Control-C and then Control-V) and flip the shape as we did before when creating the eyebrows (Right Click > Transform > Reflect). Place one on each side of the head.

Creating the hair using the Circle Tool

Step 3

Use the Pen Tool to create the sideburns and place them near the ears. Remember to use the duplicate techniques described above to ensure your new shape elements are mirrored/centred correctly.

Creating the sideburns using the Pen Tool

Step 4

Use the Pen Tool to create a shape for the collar of Finn's jacket. Once you are happy with the shape, send it to the back (Right Click > Object > Arrange > Send to Back).

Creating the collar using the Pen Tool

Step 5

To create the top of the trousers, duplicate the body and paste it in place (Control-C and then Control-Shift-V). Create a rectangle on top of the body (shown in red). This will act as a cutaway object. 

With both the duplicate body and rectangle selected, click on the Minus Front button (make sure the rectangle is on top). You can then use the Eye Dropper Tool to select the correct colour.

Using the cutaway technique to create the trousers

Step 6

Use the Pen Tool to create the belt for Finn.

Creating the belt using the Pen Tool

Step 7

Use the Pen Tool to create one side of Finn's jacket. Duplicate and mirror the shape to complete the other side. 

Creating the jacket using the Pen Tool

Step 8

At this stage, you can start adding some small details to Finn's jacket by using the Pen Tool.

Create some details using the Pen Tool

6. How to Create Rey

Step 1

Starting with the original base character design, use the Selection Tool and change the colours of the shapes in order to resemble Rey.

Choosing new colours for Rey

Step 2

Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to create the hair and send it to the back. To do this, Right Click on the object and select Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Creating the hair using the Rounded Rectangle Tool

Step 3

Use the Circle Tool to create the top of the hair. Place the circle on top of the head and use the alignment tool to ensure it is centred to the rest of the body.

Creating the Hair using the Circle Tool

Step 4

Use the Circle Tool to create the top of the sides of the hair. Remember to duplicate (Control-C and then Control-V) and flip the shape as before (Right Click > Transform > Reflect). Place one on each side of the head.

Creating the Hair using the Circle Tool

Step 5

Use the Pen Tool to create the sideburns and place them near the ears. Remember to use the duplicate techniques to ensure your new shape elements are mirrored/centred correctly.

Creating the sideburns using the Pen Tool

Step 6

Use the same techniques with the Pen Tool to create the eyelashes.

Creating the eye lashes using the Pen Tool

Step 7

Select the arms and go to Object > Expand from the top menu bar.

Expanding the arms to create shapes

Step 8

Repeat the same cutaway technique that we used for Finn's trousers.

Copy the arms and paste them in place (Control-C and then Control-Shift-V). Create a rectangle on top of the body (shown in red). This will act as a cutaway object. 

With both the duplicate body and rectangle selected, click on the Minus Front button (make sure the rectangle is on top). Change the colour of the new objects using the Eye Dropper Tool.

Using the cutaway technique to colour in the arms

Step 9

Use the same cutaway technique to create Rey's legs.

Using the cutaway technique to create the legs

Step 10

Use the Pen Tool or the Rectangle Tool to create the belt pouch.

Creating the belt pouch using the Pen Tool

Step 11

Use the Pen Tool to create Rey's wrist guard.

Creating the wrist guard using the Pen Tool

Step 12

Use the Pen Tool to create Rey's outfit.

Creating the outfit using the Pen Tool

Step 13

Create Rey's belt using the Pen Tool

Creating the belt using the Pen Tool

Step 14

Use the Pen Tool or the Rectangle Tool to create the belt accessories.

Creating the belt accessories using the Pen Tool or Rectangle Tool

7. How to Create Kylo Ren

Step 1

Use the final base character design to create Kylo Ren. Change the colours of the shapes in order to resemble the character.

Choosing new colours for Kylo Ren

Step 2

Use Rounded Rectangle Tool and the Pen Tool to create the back of the hood. Select both objects and send it to the back. To do this, Right Click on the objects and select Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Creating the back of the hood using the Pen Tool

Step 3

Use the Pen Tool to create the front of the hood and then place it in front of the head.

Creating the front of the hood using the Pen Tool

Step 4

Draw the patterns of the mask using the Pen Tool (make sure you are using a stroke) to create the line. Duplicate the line three times (Control-C followed by Control-V).

Creating the mask details using the Pen Tool

Step 5

Use the Pen Tool to create Kylo Ren's visor.

Creating the visor using the Pen Tool

Step 6

Use the Rectangle Tool to create the front part of Kylo Ren's mouth. To create the patterns at the top, use the Pen Tool (make sure you are using a stroke).

Creating the mouth piece using the Pen Tool and Rectangle Tool

Step 7

Use the Pen Tool (set to fill) and create the sides of the mouth piece.

Creating the mouth piece using the Pen Tool and Rectangle Tool

Step 8

Group the mouth piece (select all the objects and press Control-G on the keyboard). Place the mouth piece on Kylo Ren's head. You can use the Alignment Tool to ensure that all the elements are centred to each other.

Placing the mouth piece on the head

Step 9

Use the Pen Tool to create the sides of the collar and place it on Kylo Ren's neck. Then select the mouth piece and place it in front (Right Click > Arrange > Bring to Front).

Creating the collar using the Pen Tool

Step 10

Use the Pen Tool to create the shape of Kylo Ren's outfit.

Creating Kylo Rens outfit using the Pen Tool

Step 11

Set the Pen Tool to Stroke and draw a line down the centre of the character. Then set the Variable Width Profile using the drop-down menu. 

Setting the Variable Width Profile

Step 12

Use the Pen Tool to create the shape of Kylo Ren's belt.

Creating the belt using the Pen Tool

Step 13

Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to create the belt buckle, and then use the Circle Tool to create the details.

Creating the belt buckle using the Shapes Tool

Step 14

Use the Pen Tool to create Kylo Ren's cape and place it behind the character (Right Click > Arrange > Send to Back).

Awesome! You're Finished!

Congratulations! You have successfully completed this tutorial. I hope you've enjoyed this project and can apply these techniques in your future character designs. 

Feel free to adjust the final designs and make them your own, and you can even create other characters from the Star Wars universe! Don't hesitate to share your final result in the comments section.

See you next time and until then... May the Force be with you!

The final image of the Star Wars characters
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