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Design

How to Draw a Celebrating Sporty Character in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Celebration Week!.
18 Best New Event Flyers for 2018
How to Create a Glittering, Festive, 3D Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

There are so many things that people celebrate when feeling happy about their achievements. In this tutorial we’ll be drawing a cheerful character celebrating a victory in a sports event. We’ll be using various functions of Adobe Illustrator and modifying geometric shapes in order to make the process easy and fun. Join the marathon, and let’s run through this tutorial together!

If you want to take a look at the source file or get this illustration in various color options for your own project, be sure to check the Sporty Character Flat Set at Envato Elements! There you will find everything you need, including various file formats.

Let’s get started!

1. How to Draw a Head

Step 1

Create a 600 x 800 px size document and let’s make a rectangle for the background of the same size using the Rectangle Tool (M).

make a background

Step 2

Let’s start making the head from a 65 x 95 px rectangle. Select it with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and pull the circle marker of the Live Corners to make the corners fully rounded. We can also do this by entering the exact value in the Corners field in the control panel on top.

make a head from rectangle

Step 3

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and let’s draw the eyes. Make a 17 x 17 px circle with dark-blue Stroke. Open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) and set the Weight to 3 pt, Cap to Round Cap.

Select the bottom anchor point with the Direct Selection tool (A) and hit the Delete key (Backspace on Mac) to delete it, creating an arc.

Hold Alt-Shift and drag the arc to the right, creating a second eye.

draw the eyes from circles

Step 4

Now let’s make a nose using the Rectangle Tool (M). Create a 10 x 18 px shape of a slightly darker color than the face. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to make the corners of the shape rounded.

Let’s make sure that the nose is perfectly aligned to the head. Select both the nose and the head and click the head one more time to make it a Key Object. Open the Align panel (Window > Align) and click Horizontal Align Center. There we have it!

Use the nose shape to create the ears. Hold Alt-Shift and drag the nose copy to the edge of the head. Place the ears beneath the head shape by Sending to Back (Shift-Control-[).

Tip: We can also align groups of elements to the Key Object. For example, we can Group (Control-G) the eyes and the ears and align them to the head as well.

make nose and ears from rectangle

Step 5

Let’s make a mouth from a rectangle. Make a 30 x 12 px dark-red shape and selects its bottom left and right anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Make the bottom corners fully rounded.

make a mouth from the rectangle

Step 6

Now let’s add the inner elements. Make a white stripe for the teeth and draw a squashed pink ellipse for the tongue.

Select all three shapes—teeth, tongue, and mouth—and grab the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold down Alt and click the pieces outside the mouth shape to delete them.

add the inner elements

Step 7

Let’s move on to the hair. Select the head shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset value to 5 px and click OK.

Fill the created shape with dark-blue color.

make the hair with offset path

Step 8

Keeping the new shape selected, take the Eraser Tool (Shift-E), hold down Alt and make a selection over the bottom part of the shape to make a haircut.

use the eraser tool

Step 9

Now we’ll add a fringe. Copy (Control-C) the hair shape, Paste in Front (Control-F) and Bring to Front (Shift-Control-]).

Use the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) while holding down Alt to shorten the fringe.

make a hairdo

Step 10

Now we have a bob haircut and a nice straight fringe!

Make the bottom hair shape slightly darker to add contrast.

recolor the hair

Step 11

Select the bottom hair shape and go to Effect > Warp > Shell Lower. Set the Bend value to 8% and click OK.

Go to Object > Expand Appearance to apply the effect. Now the hair looks more interesting!

apply warp effect

Step 12

Let’s finish off the head by adding a neck. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a 17 x 40 px shape of a slightly darker color. We can use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick the desired color from the ears or nose.

make a neck from rectangle

2. How to Draw the Character’s Body

Step 1

Let’s start making the body from a 54 x 108 px pink rectangle. Center it to the neck horizontally using the Align panel.

Copy (Control-C) the shape and Paste in Back (Control-B). Extend the bottom shape down and fill it with the same dark-blue color as the hair.

make a body from rectangle

Step 2

Now let’s make the legs. Grab the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\) and draw a diagonal line. Make its Stroke color dark-blue and set its Weight to 15 pt and Cap to Round Cap in the Stroke panel.

Take the Curvature Tool (Shift-`) and bend the leg down, making a smooth arc.

make a leg with Pen Tool

Step 3

Add a second leg and go to Object > Expand to turn the strokes into curves.

expand the legs

Step 4

Let’s add some details here. Copy (Control-C) the legs and Paste in Back (Control-B). Fill the bottom copies with the same skin-tone color as we have for the face.

Select the top dark-blue copies, grab the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) and erase the bottom half of the legs, depicting sports pants.

Repeat the same for the bottom parts of the legs, adding short white socks.

make the pants with eraser tool

Step 5

Now let’s draw the sneakers. Create a 40 x 20 px dark-blue rectangle. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select three corners and pull them to make the corners rounded.

Duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) the shape and use the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) to make the sole of the shoe.

make sport shoes

Step 6

Rotate the created shoes and attach them to the legs. Send to Back (Shift-Control-[), placing the shoes under the legs.

attach the shoes to the legs

Step 7

Create the arms, using the same techniques as we used for the legs. Object > Expand the created strokes and fill them with skin-tone color.

Create the arms

Step 8

Duplicate the arms and fill the top copy with the same pink color as we have for the t-shirt. Use the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) to create short sleeves by deleting the rest of the arm shape.

make the sleeves with eraser tool

3. How to Draw the Medal and Trophy

Step 1

Let’s start making a medal from a 20 x 20 px yellow circle. Place it in the center of the character’s chest.

draw a medal from circle 1

Step 2

Keeping the circle selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and set the Offset value to 5 px. Make the new shape slightly darker.

draw a medal from circle 2

Step 3

Make a 6 x 35 px white rectangle, rotate it 45 degrees, and place it across the medal to make a reflection.

Select the larger circle and the rectangle and delete the unneeded white pieces using the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) while holding down Alt.

Make the white shape less opaque by lowering the Opacity to 20% in the Transparency panel.

add reflection to the medal

Step 4

Now let’s make a red ribbon for the medal. Create a 10 x 52 px rectangle and place it as shown in the image below.

Select its bottom corners with the Direct Selection Tool (A), hold Shift and drag them to the left, making the shape skewed. Place the ribbon beneath the medal by pressing Control-[ a few times.

draw a ribbon

Step 5

Keeping the ribbon selected, double-click the Reflect Tool (O). Set the Axis to Vertical and press Copy to create the second half of the ribbon, flipped to the other side. Move it to the opposite shoulder.

use the reflect tool

Step 6

Now let’s make a golden trophy cup. Start by creating a 42 x 54 px yellow rectangle. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to make its bottom corners fully rounded.

Create two more rectangles for the bottom part of the cup, making them slightly darker.

make a golden prize

Step 7

Create a 24 x 27 px rectangle for the handle. Selects its top and bottom left anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and make the corners fully rounded. Send the shape to Back (Shift-Control-[), beneath the cup.

Apply Offset Path with -5 px Offset value to create a smaller shape inside of it.

Select both shapes and apply Minus Front function of the Pathfinder panel to cut the top shape out.

make the handles

Step 8

Use the Reflect Tool (O) to flip the handle over the Vertical Axis, creating a mirrored copy for the opposite side.

Use the Star Tool to add a large star to the cup. You can find this tool in the same drop-down menu as the Rectangle Tool (M).

add a star

Step 9

Place the cup in the girl’s hand. Add two 28 x 28 px circles to the tips of the arms, depicting stylized fists.

Great! Looks like our character is ready. Let’s make some background details.

add circles for fists

4. How to Design a Festive Background

Step 1

Let’s start by drawing a balloon from an 80 x 80 px circle.

Go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower and set the Bend value to 60%.

Click OK and Object > Expand Appearance to apply the effect.

draw a balloon from circle

Step 2

Add a tiny 10 x 8 px rectangle to the bottom of the balloon and apply Effect > Warp > Shell Lower with 20% Bend value.

Object > Expand Appearance to apply the effect.

use a warp effect

Step 3

Let’s use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a vertical line for the string. Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag.

Set the:

  • Size value to 5 px
  • Ridges per segment to 3
  • Points to Smooth

Click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance to apply the effect.

use a zig zag effect

Step 4

Use the Pen Tool (P) and the Curvature Tool (Shift-`) to add a stroke for the highlight on top of the balloon.

We can make the balloons colorful if we want to make the whole image more festive. Or we can fill the silhouette with a slightly darker color than the background in order to emphasize the character, so that no other elements distract the viewer’s attention.

recolor the balloon

Step 5

Let’s copy the balloon a few times and arrange the elements around the character. Vary the size and brightness of the balloons to create a feeling of perspective.

Add some strokes in the bottom of the composition to place our character on the ground.

add balloons to the background

Yay! Our Celebration Sporty Character Illustration Is Finished!

Congratulations! And thank you for running this marathon up to the end together with me. Let’s add a final touch to our illustration and speckle some colorful confetti. Now you’ve got the first prize!

I hope you’ve enjoyed following this simple tutorial and learned some new tips and trips that will help you design flat characters.

Celebration Sporty Character Illustration

If you want to get a source file with color variations, be sure to grab the Sporty Character Flat Set at Envato Elements.

Happy designing!

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