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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now we have a bob haircut and a nice straight fringe!
Make the bottom hair shape slightly darker to add contrast.
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!
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.
2. How to Draw the Character’s Body
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.
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.
Add a second leg and go to Object > Expand to turn the strokes into curves.
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.
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.
Rotate the created shoes and attach them to the legs. Send to Back (Shift-Control-[), placing the shoes under the legs.
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.
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.
3. How to Draw the Medal and Trophy
Let’s start making a medal from a 20 x 20 px yellow circle. Place it in the center of the character’s chest.
Keeping the circle selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and set the Offset value to 5 px. Make the new shape slightly darker.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
4. How to Design a Festive Background
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.
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.
Let’s use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a vertical line for the string. Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag.
- 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 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.
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.
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.