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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Character Design
Design

How to Create Masha and the Bear, a Russian Folk Fairy Tale, in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Do you know the story of Masha and the Bear? It's a folk tale that exists in Russian, Ukrainian, and I believe in other Slavic nations. 

A curious little girl named Masha went to the forest and strayed too far from home. Then she found a house where the Bear lived. He decided to keep Masha and didn't want to let her go to her grandparents. But the tricky little girl found a way to escape: she asked the Bear to bring freshly baked buns to her grandparents. Masha placed herself in a big woven basket, placed a plate with buns on her head, and that's how the Bear went to the village, without even knowing what was in the basket. Immediately after the Bear opened the basket in the grandparents' house, Masha jumped out of it and rushed into their arms. 

In today's tutorial, we will be creating an illustration that shows how Masha is in the basket that the Bear is carrying. We'll use basic shapes, the Pencil Tool, and some Warp effects in Adobe Illustrator, and we will also move the handles and anchor points of basic shapes to transform them. 

If you would like to check GraphicRiver's animals collection, feel free to get some inspiration. Or maybe remind yourself what real bears look like.

If you like bears, you might like these tutorials:

If you like fairy tales, you would probably like this tutorial:

And whenever you're ready, let's go!

1. How to Create the Bear

Step 1

After you've opened your AI, create a New Document and let's start the magic.

To create the bear, let's start with the head. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an ellipse (fill color R=69, G=76, B=76). Then, we want to apply the Inflate effect to it: go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. A new dialogue window will pop up, where you need to enter the options you see below. After that, press OK.

Expand the shape: while it is selected, go to Object > Expand Appearance.

how to create the upper part of the Bears head

Step 2

Now let's create the muzzle. Attach a new ellipse to the head using the Ellipse Tool (L). While it's selected, go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. Enter the options you see below and press OK.

Expand this shape: while it is selected, go to Object > Expand Appearance.

how to create the muzzle

Step 3

For now, the head looks a bit odd, which is why we want to make it smooth. The green stroke on the image below shows you how the shapes overlap, but you don't need this stroke in your image. Select the two shapes you have and go to the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). Press the Unite button and you'll get one shape instead of two.

If you check View > Show Corner Widget, you'll be able to see tiny circles on the corner of the shape when it's selected. Select the corner you want to make smoother using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and drag it outwards. You'll notice how the sharp corner transforms into a smooth one. That's exactly what you need.

After that, we want to add the eye. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and, holding the Shift key for an even shape, create a small black circle. Add a tiny white circle as the highlight, as that will complete the eye of the bear.

Finally, hit the Rounded Rectangle Tool and add a small rounded rectangle for the nose.

how to create the eyes and nose

Step 4

Let's create the ear. As you know which tool to use to create an ellipse, go ahead and create an ellipse. Then, go to Effect > Warp > Fish and enter the options you see below. Press OK.

Expand the shape (Object > Expand Appearance). Place the ear on the head.

Create a new copy of the ear in front (Control-C, Control-F), change its fill color to R=119, G=122, B=122, and make it smaller.

To create another ear, create a copy of the first one (Control-C, Control-V), and change its fill color to R=58, G=63, B=63. Cut it (Control-X), and place it behind the head (Control-B). Now the head is done!

how to create the ears

Step 5

Now let's create the neck. Hit the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle, which should almost be a square. Go to Effect > Warp > Bulge, enter the options you see below, and press OK. Expand this shape.

how to create the neck

Place the neck under the head. Feel free to rotate the neck so it will fit better. Again, using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move the anchor points of the neck to make a smooth transition from the head to the neck.

how to place the neck

Step 6

Let's create the rest of bear's body over the next few steps. Add an ellipse under the neck, and keep in mind that these two shapes need to overlap.

Then create a new copy of the neck and add it as the bear's chest. You can move the anchor points and handles of the chest using the Direct Selection Tool (A) to achieve the result you want. Remember, all shapes must overlap, making a smooth transition.

Add a big circle as the bear's bottom.

Finally, add a small ellipse for the tail.

how to create the body and tail of the Bear

Step 7

To create the arm, we also will use an ellipse. Draw one where the arm should be. And then move the handles using the Direct Selection Tool (A) to achieve a result similar to the image below.

how to create the arm

Step 8

Create the leg the same way as you created the arm: first, create an ellipse, and then move the handles and anchor points.

After that, add a small ellipse for the foot. If you have the newer version of AI, then near the selected ellipse you will notice a handle on its right side. Use this handle and move it counterclockwise until you get half of the ellipse. We will use it as the foot. Group the whole foot for your convenience (right-click > Group).

how to create the leg

Step 9

Place the leg at the bottom of the body. Create a new copy of the leg, change its fill color to R=58, G=63, B=63, and put it behind the body (Control-X, Control-B). And now the bear is done!

how to create another leg

2. How to Create Masha in the Woven Basket

Step 1

Now let's create Masha, starting with her headscarf. Draw a red ellipse (fill color R=207, G=104, B=78). Then hit the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) and click on the top anchor point.

While keeping it selected, go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. Enter the options you see below, and then expand the shape. 

how to create the Mashas headscarf

Step 2

Draw a new ellipse (fill color R=248, G=244, B=235) that almost resembles a circle, and place it on the previous red shape. While keeping the new shape selected, go to Effect > Warp > Inflate.

Making sure it is still selected, create a new copy in front (Control-C, Control-F), and change its fill color to R=242, G=225, B=202. The newest shape will be the face. Shrink it down a little, so you'll be able to see just a crescent shape of the previous one which will be the hair.

Expand both shapes.

how to create the Mashas face

Step 3

A few ellipses on top of the face will be Masha's front hair. You don't need the black stroke—I just added it so you can see the individual ellipses.

Change the fill color to R=61, G=81, B=94 and draw a small circle on the left part of the face as her eye. Then add a tiny white circle as the highlight.

Select the whole eye (dark grey circle + highlight) and while holding down the Shift and Alt keys on your keyboard, move the eye to the right. You'll notice that you've got another eye that is perfectly aligned.

Create a horizontal pink (R=244, G=202, B=174) ellipse as Masha's cheek. Create another cheek using the same method as you used to create the other eye.

how to create the bangs eyes and cheeks

Step 4

Now Masha needs a smiling mouth. Change the fill color to R=232, G=169, B=135 and draw a horizontal ellipse. Then take the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) and click on its left and right anchor points in order to get sharp corners instead of curves.

Next, create a copy in front (you already know the key combination you need), and shrink the new copy vertically. Change its fill color to white. Be sure the new copy stays in the middle of the previous one.

From there on, hit the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom anchor point of the pink shape, and move it down a bit.

And now, we will make the mouth smile: group the whole mouth (right-click > Group) and go to Effect > Warp > Arc.

how to create the smily mouth

Make Masha smile: place the mouth on her face between her two cheeks.

how to place the mouth

Step 5

One of the ways of wearing a headscarf is to tie it under your chin. So add a small ellipse under Masha's chin as a knot.

Next, you want to create the ends of the headscarf. First, draw a long, horizontal ellipse, and then make its left and right anchor points sharp, just as you did for the mouth.

After you've got the headscarf end, place it on the left side of the knot under Masha's chin.

Create another copy of this end and you'll get another end. Place it on the right side of the knot.

how to create the headscarf ends

Step 6

The bear was carrying Masha in the woven basket on his back, so let's make this basket. First, create a vertical rectangle (fill color R=226, G=200, B=136). Then, go to Effect > Warp > Arch.

how to create the weaved basket

Then, apply a new effect on the basket: Effect > Warp > Bulge.

Expand the shape just as you did for other ones.

continue creating the weaved basket

Step 7

Make sure Masha's head is grouped, and then place it over the basket.

Then, using the Eyedropper Tool (I), take the fill color from Masha's head (just click on it). Draw an ellipse behind the girl's head and basket, as it will be Masha's body. As always, you don't need the black stroke.

Now, it will be very helpful if you switch on the Smart Guides: View > Smart Guides. Create an ellipse behind the basket and Masha. Change its fill color to R=204, G=173, B=102. We want to make it look as if Masha is sitting in the basket.

For your convenience, it's better to group Masha and the whole basket.

how to place Masha in the basket

Step 8

Place Masha on the bear's back.

Delete the fill color and set the stroke color to R=226, G=200, B=136. Create an ellipse (I've probably said it a hundred times), and move its handles and anchor points to make a basket strap. Notice that the bear's arm is over the strap.

how to place Masha in the basket on the Bears back

3. How to Draw the Details

Step 1

Start by deleting any fill color and setting the stroke color to R=58, G=63, B=63. Double-click on the Pencil Tool (N) and, in the new dialogue window, enter the options you see below. And now, check Round Cap on the Stroke panel (Window Stroke).

the Pencil Tool Options window

Now, when your pencil is ready, let's draw some details. Add a few strokes near the bear's eye. Draw the mouth, claws, elbow, and all the details I marked with the arrows.

Step 2

Change the stroke color to R=88, G=96, B=96 and draw many short strokes for the bear's fur. Notice that the leg which is further away has a darker fur stroke (R=69, G=76, B=76).

how to add fur to the Bear

Step 3

On to Masha. Delete the stroke color and set the fill color to R=245, G=240, B=228. We need to draw the circles on her headscarf. First, draw a small circle, and then, while holding down the Alt key on your keyboard, spread the circles all over Masha's headscarf.

how to create circles on Mashas headscarf

Step 4

Delete the fill color again and set the stroke color to R=61, G=81, B=94. Draw cute, tiny eyelashes on Masha's eyes. Change the stroke color to R=226, G=199, B=166 and give her a tiny nose and freckles.

how to draw the Mashas eyelashed nose and freckles

Step 5

Change the stroke color to R=229, G=217, B=180 and draw some curves on Masha's hair.

how to draw the Mashas hair

Step 6

Change the stroke color to R=204, G=173, B=102 and draw the woven pattern of the basket (feel free to draw your own pattern). Then add a few lines to show the dimension of the basket (stroke color R=178, G=145, B=79).

how to draw the details on the weaved basket

4. How to Create the Scenery

Step 1

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard. In the new dialogue window, enter Width and Height 850 px and press OK. A big square will appear on your artboard, which is going to be the background. Make sure the background stays in the middle of your artboard and has fill color R=137 G=175, B=170.

how to create the background

Step 2

Make sure the background stays behind Masha and the Bear. For this, cut the background (Control-X) and place it behind the image (Control-B).

how to place Masha and the Bear on the background

Step 3

Delete the fill color, and set the stroke color to R=233, G=223, B=192. Hit the Pencil Tool (Shift-N) and draw lines for the trees and branches. You can increase the stroke Weight on the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Notice that the branches are overlapping the top edge of the background.

how to draw the birches

Decrease the stroke Weight, change the color to R=88, G=96, B=96 and draw some dark lines which are typically seen on birches.

continue drawing the birches

Step 4

Be careful now: select all the trees you have and group them together, without Masha and the Bear. After that, select the background, and make a copy of it in front (Control-C, Control-F). 

Cut the new copy (Control-X) and place it in front of everything (Control-F), even Masha and the Bear. Then make sure you have the new copy you just placed in front of everything selected, and then select the trees that are grouped. Go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). The trees overlapping the top edge of the background have to be hidden now. Your image should be similar to the one below.

how to create the clipping mask

Step 5

Change the stroke color to R=113, G=153, B=146 and delete any fill color. Increase the stroke Weight on the Stroke panel, and draw a few lines under the Bear as his shadow. And you are done!

how to draw the shadow

Conclusion

That's all! Congratulations on passing this tutorial! I hope it was interesting for you.

As you can see, you can easily transform shapes into amazing images just like the one you just created!

And I will see you in my next tutorial. Bye!

final
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