Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day by making a dedication! Follow this tutorial and let’s learn together how to design fancy women avatars.
I’ll show you how to use and transform simple geometric shapes in order to create a variety of portraits, making them as diverse as possible! We’ll be using various warp effects, the Shaper Tool, the Pathfinder panel, and other tools and functions to vary the age, nationality, complexion and style of the characters.
By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to create hundreds of fancy avatars by simply mixing and combining the elements of the characters that we'll be creating here. Want to see how it works? Check out this Flat Women Avatar Constructor and try it yourself—it's really fun!
Apart from that, you can apply these techniques to create any other type of flat avatars, vary the appearance of the character, and try out various styles of flat portraits. For example, check out these profession avatars at GraphicRiver. Feel inspired? Let’s get started!
1. How to Create a Woman With Cornrows
Let’s start off by creating a face from a rounded rectangle. You can use either the Rounded Rectangle Tool or the Rectangle Tool (M) to make an 80 x 110 px dark-brown shape with 30 px Corner Radius.
You can find the Corners option panel in the control toolbar on top while the shape is selected with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Another way to adjust the Corners value is either to set it in the Transform panel (Window > Transform) or to do it manually by pulling the circle markers of the Live Corners of the shape with the Direct Selection Tool (A).
Make a rounded rectangle of 14 x 22 px for the nose and place it right in the center of the face. In order to make sure that we’ve centered everything perfectly, select both shapes and click the face shape once again to make it a Key Object. Click the Horizontal Align Center and—voila!—the nose is exactly where it should be.
Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and make a 13 x 13 px dark-brown circle for the eye. Select its bottom anchor point with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and delete it by pressing the Delete key (or Backspace if you’re on Mac). Now we have this cheerful look!
Select the eye, hold down Alt-Shift, and drag it to the opposite side of the face, thus creating a copy of the second one.
Let's work on the eyes a bit more. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make a 5 x 2 px shape for the eyelashes. Place it by the outer corner of the eye and align both shapes to the bottom edge. Do the same for the opposite eye.
Let’s make another ellipse for the mouth. Create a 25 x 12 px shape and use the Scissors Tool (C) to click the left and right anchor points and split the shape apart.
Use the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) to move the anchor handles, forming the upper lip.
Make a 12 x 25 px dark-brown rounded rectangle for the ear and Send it to Back (Shift-Control-[), beneath the head.
Group (Control-G) the ears and use the Align panel to center the ears to the head, using the head shape as the Key Object.
It’s time to add those cornrows! Grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool and form a 5 x 25 px black shape with fully rounded corners. Align the cornrow to the center of the head.
Hold Alt-Shift and drag the shape to the left, creating a copy. Move the new cornrow a few pixels down.
Create more cornrows on the left side of the head, placing each new one a bit lower than the previous one.
Now select all the cornrows (except the very first one) and double-click the Reflect Tool (O) to open its options window. Flip the cornrows over the Vertical Axis and click the Copy button. Hold down Shift and move them to the opposite side of the head.
Let’s move on and make a 22 x 38 px rounded rectangle for the neck. Don’t forget to vary the brightness of the elements in order to visually separate one part of the body from another as we’re working with solid colors without shadows and highlights. Pick the dark-brown color from the ears using the Eyedropper Tool (I).
Create an 85 x 105 px bright-green rectangle for the body. Make the corners rounded enough (about 37 pt) to form the shoulders.
We can also make the cornrows longer by adding some more rounded rectangles of 5 x 55 px size and placing them at the back of the head (Shift-Control-[).
Now Group (Control-G) everything together and let’s finish off our first avatar!
Make a 195 x 195 px blue circle for the icon base and Send to Back (Shift-Control-[). Align the character and the icon base to Horizontal Align Center, and let’s see how we can put the character inside the circle, as if inside a container.
Copy the circle and Paste in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Bring to Front (Shift-Control-]), placing the copy on top of everything. In the image below you can see a copy as a circle with black Stroke and no Fill.
Select everything, click the right mouse button, and Make Clipping Mask. There you go! Our first icon is ready. Let’s move on to the next one!
2. How to Create a Woman With Buns
Let’s copy the character from our first avatar and modify it to create the second lady! Let’s change her skin color. Use the Select Similar Objects feature from the control panel on top to select the elements filled with the same color faster.
Make the face more rounded by increasing the value of the Corner Radius. We can also do this by pulling the circle markers of the Live Corners with the Direct Selection Tool (A).
Now select the bottom anchor point with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and make the chin pointed by Converting selected anchor points to corner from the control panel on top. Adjust the shape of the jaw by moving both side anchor points down.
Change the shape of the nose, by making it narrower (11 x 22 px) and more rounded. And recolor it so that it fits the overall color scheme of the face.
Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 10 x 10 px black circle and add a 12 x 4 px rounded rectangle for the eyelash to give the impression of a single-fold eyelid. Select both shapes and click the eye once again to make it a Key Object. Use the Align panel to Vertical Align Top, combining the edges of the shape.
Let’s add some lipstick there! Make a 15 x 12 px rose-pink ellipse and delete its bottom anchor point to form the upper lip. Keeping the shape selected, double-click the Reflect Tool (O), flip the shape over the Horizontal Axis, and click Copy to create the lower lip. Make the copy slightly larger and make its Fill color lighter.
Add a horizontal stripe between the lips using the Rectangle Tool (M) and make the corners of the mouth by adding a couple of tiny circles there.
Now let’s make a stylish haircut. Duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) the head shape and change the color of the copy to black. Keeping the shape selected, double-click the Scale Tool (S) and set the Uniform Scale value to 105% and click OK to make the copy a bit larger.
Now grab the Eraser Tool (Shift-E), hold Alt and erase the bottom part of the shape, leaving only a straight-cut fringe.
Let’s use the Shaper Tool (Shift-N) to create a small triangle in the center of the forehead. Just draw a freehand triangle silhouette and it will automatically transform into a real vector shape.
Now select both the triangle and the hair and scribble above the triangle with the Shaper Tool (Shift-N) to cut it out. As you may notice, a black stroke from the triangle may remain on the hair. In this case, just select it and set the Stroke color to none in the Color panel.
Let’s add some buns! Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to make a 20 x 7 px lilac shape for the hair band.
Place a 26 x 26 px black circle on top of the band and Send to Back (Shift-Control-[).
Group the parts of the bun and rotate it about 45 degrees, attaching the bun to the head.
Use the Reflect Tool (O) to flip and copy the bun and attach it to the opposite side of the head.
Now let’s change the color of the shirt to the same color as we have for the face and duplicate it (Control-C > Control-F). Change the color of the top copy to pink.
Create a 50 x 65 px rounded rectangle of any color on top of the body and place it as shown in the image below. Select both the new rectangle and the pink shape beneath it and use the Shaper Tool (Shift-N) to scribble above the shape that we want to cut out in order to create the neck of the shirt.
This is how the new shirt looks!
Let's copy the icon base from our previous icon and place our fancy woman with buns inside. I’ve tweaked the colors a bit to make them match, changing the color of the circle to pink and the woman’s shift to lilac.
Great work! Let’s move on and create our third avatar!
3. How to Design a Cheerful Young Woman Avatar
Let’s use the copy of our first character and change its appearance. First of all, delete the elements of the mouth and create a 35 x 25 px ellipse with dark-brown stroke and no fill. Use the Scissors Tool (C) to click both side anchor points and split the shape apart. Open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke), and set the Weight to 3 pt, Cap to Round Cap.
Replace the eyes with circles and add the eyelashes by creating a small rounded rectangle and rotating it 45 degrees.
Let’s rotate the eyebrows as well, creating a cheerful and slightly surprised facial expression. Select the brow and double-click the Rotate Tool (R) to open the options panel. Set the Angle to 30 degrees and click OK.
Do the same for the opposite brow, rotating it -30 degrees.
Make the skin color lighter and add a bindi to the forehead with the Ellipse Tool (L).
Use the Live Corners function to make the face more rounded.
How about adding some more accessories? Create a 9 x 9 px ellipse with yellow Stroke and no Fill, depicting a golden ring. Attach it to the right side of the nose and place it behind the nose by dragging the shape down in the Layers panel.
Now we’ll draw the hair. Copy the face shape and Paste in Back (Control-C > Control-B). Fill the bottom copy with dark-brown color for the hair.
Drag the top copy (which is for the face) down a bit, making the top part of the hair visible.
Now that the chin is too low, select both copies and use the Shaper Tool (Shift-N) to scribble above the bottom part of the face in order to delete it.
And there we have it, some nice slick hair! Let’s add details to the hairdo.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to add a narrow part in the center of the hair shape. Select both the hair shape and the rectangle part and scratch out the unneeded piece. Change the color of the rectangle to the same skin color as we have for the face.
Let’s zoom out and take a look at our character. Everything looks fine at this stage; however, I’ve decided to make the parting a bit narrower. The shape is still easily editable and accessible from the Layers panel.
Now let’s add a low ponytail to the hairdo. Here is a quick and easy way to make it from a rectangle. Create a 30 x 84 px shape on the right side of the head. Select the bottom left and the top right anchor points of the rectangle using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and pull the Live Corners marker to make both corners fully rounded.
Now we can Send the ponytail to Back (Shift-Control-[) and position it as we need.
Let's also change the dress of our character. Copy (Control-C) and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) the body shape. Change the color of the copies to skin color.
Now grab the Shaper Tool (Shift-N) and draw an upside down triangle above the body for the V-neck. Once your freehand triangle turns into a vector shape, select it together with the top body shape and use the body as the Key Object to Horizontal Align Center of both shapes.
While both shapes are still selected, use the Shaper Tool (Shift-N) and scribble over the triangle to cut it out.
Now we can change the color of the top copy to bright orange for the dress.
Use the copy of the circle icon base from our previous icon to replace the character inside the Clipping Mask. Change the color of the icon to green—and there we have it!
Our fashionable young woman avatar is ready!
Just a few more words before we finish…
So, let’s take a look at all the variety of facial shapes and forms that we can create using just a rectangle. We can make the face wide and angular if we round the corners just a bit. Otherwise, we can make the face fully rounded by setting the Corner Radius to its maximum.
We can also vary the shape of the chin by making it less or more pointed. Moreover, we can change the shape of the jaw by changing the position of the side anchor points of the shape.
We can also edit the top and bottom parts of the face separately from each other, making the head shape look even more interesting. If we take a look at the bottom example, the forehead is far more rounded than the jaw.
And this is just a small part of all the variations that we can build from one shape. There are round faces, oval faces, square, triangular… Use your imagination and photo references, or look at the people around you to see how really different they are!
The last but not the least thing I want to mention here is the age of the characters. We can easily depict women of different generations by just adding such minor details as wrinkles.
Use the Arc Tool (or the Pen Tool (P) or the Pencil Tool (N) if you find it more comfortable to work with) to make some tiny arched lines for the eyes, the corners of the mouth and the chin. Vary the Weight in the Stroke panel to make the wrinkles thicker or thinner and apply them to the face, making the person look older.
Don’t forget the change the facial expressions to make our characters more diverse. Change the position of the lips, the angle of the brows and the eyes to make the person look cheerful or grumpy.
Congratulations! Our Flat Women Avatars Are All Done!
Great job! Our fancy avatars are finished!
I hope you’ve discovered some new interesting tips and tricks while following this tutorial that will help you with your future illustrations.
Try to draw as many different flat portraits as you can come up with!
Don't forget that you can get a Flat Women Avatar Constructor with premade elements that will help you to get hundreds of combinations just in a few clicks. Apart from that, you'll get the whole pack of fancy avatars that were demonstrated in this tutorial.