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How to Create a Halloween Character in a Ghost Costume in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Trick or treat? One of the funniest and scariest holidays of the year is coming closer. In this tutorial we are going to play with the Halloween theme, imagining and creating the character of a kid in a ghost costume with a treat bag. As usual, we will use only the most basic tools and shapes of Adobe Illustrator.

If you would like to skip the tutorial, you can just purchase the result as a part of my Trick Or Treat Children Halloween Scene illustration. Find more inspiration on GraphicRiver.

1. How to Set Up a New Document

The first step we need to take is to set up a New Document (File > New or Control-N) with these settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800
  • Height: 600
  • Units: pixels

From the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen
  • Preview Mode: Default
  • Uncheck Align New Objects to Pixel Grid
Creating New Document

2. How to Create a Treat Bag

Step 1

Let's start simple by creating a 72 x 90 px rectangle with the help of the Rectangle Tool (M), filling it with #F26419 color.

Add a smaller 23 x 15 px rectangle of the same color near the first one.

Building Large and Small Rectangles

Step 2

Place the small shape under the bottom outline of the large one, aligning to its right side.

Holding down Shift, select both figures that we created with the Selection Tool (V). Use the Unite option of the Pathfinder panel to merge them into one shape.

Merging the Figures into One Shape

Step 3

Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and choose the bottom-left anchor. Pull the circle indicator of the Live Corners widget to the center of the rectangle, making the corner rounded.

Then select the two bottom anchors with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and round them, using the same Live corners feature.

Making the Corners Rounded

Step 4

Select our figure and Copy it, using Control/Command-C. Click Control-Command-F twice to get two copies on top of the shape. Move the top copy to the right and up, making it overlap the main shape. Add the second copy to the selection, and use the Minus Front option of the Pathfinder panel.

The resulting figure will act as a shadow. Change its Blending Mode to Multiply while lowering the Opacity level to 40% in the Transparency panel. 

Creating the Shadow Part

Step 5

Create a 82 x 10 px rectangle which we will fill with #FF7F11. Using the Live corners method, make all its corners fully rounded.

Place the resulting figure on the top part of the main bag shape, overlapping the top edge.

Adding a Top Rim

Step 6

Time to add a shadow to the top part of the bag.

Select the upper horizontal shape which we created in the previous step and Copy it, pressing Control/Command-C. Create two copies on top of the shape by clicking Control-Command-F twice.

Move the top copy to the right, holding down Shift while dragging it. The left side of it should be placed near the right outline of the bottom shadow part of the bag.

Add the second copy to the selection, using the Minus Front option of the Pathfinder panel. Change the Blending Mode of the resulting shape to Multiply, lowering the Opacity to 40%.

Creating the Top Shadow Part

Step 7

In order to give more life to our bag, let's create a highlight part on the top side.

Make two copies on the top of the largest orange shape. Move the top copy to the left by about 5 px. Add the second copy to the selection and use the Minus Front option of the Pathfinder panel again. Change the Fill color of the resulting figure to #ff9336. Keeping the shape selected, go to Object > Arrange > Send Forward or press Control-] to place the highlight part in front of the shadow one.

Adding a Highlight

Step 8

Add the last detail to our bag by creating a 72 x 5 px rectangle (#e6dfe0) for the string, which we will place under the bottom edge of the top horizontal shape.

To align our white rectangle to the middle of the larger part, select it together with the main orange shape, holding down Shift. Click on the large object (without holding down Shift this time!). In the Align panel (Window > Align) or Control panel, click on Horizontal Align Center.

Group (Control-G) all the objects together. The treat bag is ready!

Building a White String

3. How to Create a Halloween Ghost Shape

Now that we have a bag, we need somebody to hold it.

Step 1

Start working on the main body part by creating a 75 x 230 px rectangle, coloring it with #e3beb8.

Build a smaller 32 x 62 px shape of the same color on the outer left side of the bigger shape, aligning to its bottom edge.

Creating Two Rectangles

Step 2

Make a 74 x 20 px horizontal rectangle (#e3beb8) on the outer right edge of the main figure, aligning to its bottom side.

Select all the parts together and merge them into one shape, using the Unite option of the Pathfinder panel.

Adding a Rectangles and Merging the Figures

Step 3

Using the Live corners feature, slightly round the two left anchors of the bottom-left part of the shape, setting their corner radius to about 6 px (1).

Make the bottom-right part fully rounded by pulling the Live corners widgets of the two right anchors to the left (2).

Using the same method, round the top part of the main shape (3). It is going to be the head part of our future spook.

Working with Corners

Step 4

Create a 80 x 134 px light rectangle of #e6dfe0 fill color.

Drag the rectangle over our body shape, aligning it to the right long edge of the main part and placing its bottom side on the same level as the top edge of the right tail-like ledge. You can use the example below as a reference.

Adding White Rectangle

Step 5

Take the Direct Selection tool (A), select the bottom-left anchor of the light rectangle, and pull the Live corner indicator to the center of the shape, making the corner rounded.

Rounding the Corner

Step 6

Now we are going to create a main shape for the stretched hand of our future ghost.

Build a 132 x 25 px rectangle, which we will fill using #e6dfe0.

Place it over the top edge of the rounded figure that we created in the previous step, aligning to its right side.

Creating Horizontal Shape

Step 7

Continue working on the ghost's hand by selecting the previously created horizontal shape and making a copy on the top of it by pressing Control-C and Control-F. Set the color of the copy to #c29e97(1).

Move the rectangle down by a few pixels using the arrow key on the keyboard (2)

Keeping the rectangle selected, go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back or press Shift-Control-[, placing the shape behind all objects and forming a thin shadow part for the hand (3).

Forming the Shadow Part for the Hand

Step 8

Go back to the rounded white part of the cloth, selecting it. Click Control-C and then Control-F, making a copy on top. Change the color of the copy to #c29e97 (1).

Drag the shape left and up by a few pixels, using the arrow keys (2).

Go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back or press Shift-Control-[ to hide the shape behind the main part, creating a shadow (3).

Creating the Shadow Part

Step 9

Time to add the wrist to finish the hand.

With the help of the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 33 x 33 px circle with #b35454 fill color (1).

Select the circle and Copy it, using Control/Command-C. Click Control/Command-F twice to get two copies on top. Move the top copy to the left and down, making it overlap the main shape. Add the second copy to the selection, and use the Minus Front option of the Pathfinder panel (2).

Change the color of the resulting figure to #e06a6a, creating a highlight (3). Group (Control-G) the light part together with the circle and drag the wrist to the end of the extended horizontal part of the main shape, finishing the hand (4).

Forming a Wrist

Step 10

Now we are going to imitate the folds on the part of cloth which is hanging under the outstretched hand.

Make a thin vertical rectangle (#e6dfe0) and make its left-bottom corner rounded. Copying and varying the sizes, spread the figure over the bottom edge of the white rounded shape, creating something like hanging folded fabric. Use the example below as a reference.

Creating Folded Fabric

Step 11

In order to give more life to the fabric folds, let's create thin shadow parts for them.

Build a thin vertical rectangle with a rounded right-top corner and spread copies of it near the folded parts of the fabric. Using the Eyedropper Tool (I), make the color of each shadow equal to the color of the neighboring dark areas, creating a shadow effect.

Adding Thin Shadow Parts

4. How to Create a Smiley Face and Final Details

We are done with the main ghost shape, but we still need to add a kind of face to it and finish with some minor details.

Step 1

Since our ghost is just a boy in a costume, we should create a few holes in the fabric for eyes and a mouth. Start to build them by creating two vertical rounded 8 x 14.5 px rectangles for the eye holes and a bigger 24.5 x 16.5 px rounded rectangle for the mouth hole. Set the Fill color of all shapes to #b35454.

Make two 3 x 3.8 px rounded rectangles (#663048) inside the eye holes, which will act as eyes.

Working over the Face

Step 2

Build a 19 x 14.5 px ellipse of #e6dfe0 color with the help of the Ellipse Tool (L). Draw a horizontal line which goes across the ellipse, lowering it by a few pixels from the center of the ellipse. Select both shapes and Divide them, using the Pathfinder panel. Ungroup (Control-Shift-G) the figure and Delete the top piece.

Creating and Dividing a Circle

Step 3

Drag the half-ellipse inside the mouth hole shape and Group (Control-G) all the face parts together.

Place the group on the head part of the main ghost body. Now our spook has a face, and he is smiling!

Finishing the Face

Step 4

Take the Pen Tool (P) and create a rectangle (#e3beb8), overlapping the right part of the head. Make the extended corners rounded and go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Control-Shift-[).

Making the Cone

Step 5

Let's add a highlight to the right side of the head.

Make two copies on top of the large darker ghost part. Move the top copy to the left and add the second copy to the selection, using the Minus Front option of the Pathfinder panel. Change the Fill color of the resulting area to #e6dfe0.

Ungroup (Control-Shift-G) the result and Delete the bottom-right piece. Make the outstanding bottom-left corner rounded.

Building a Highlight

Step 6

One small final detail remains.

Create a 210 x 9 px stripe (#e3beb8). Make the left side fully rounded and then round the top-right anchor, using the Live Corners method.

Place the resulting shape on the bottom part of our ghost, aligning to its bottom edge and making it stand out to the right side.

Group (Control-G) all the parts of our happy ghost together. We are almost done!

Adding a Stipe to the Bottom

Step 7

Go back to the treat bag and drag it onto the hand of our ghost, hiding behind it.

Putting the Bag on the Ghost

Step 8

Create various halloween sweets, using simple shapes and the same colors as for the ghost and the treat bag.

Rotating and varying the sizes, spread them above the treat bag to create a feeling of candies pouring inside the treat bag.

Group (Control-G) all the objects.

Creating the Candies

Step 9

Create a background rectangle and fill it with #483a85.

Put a thin stripe of the same color under the ghost for the shadow, making its corners rounded and changing its Blending Mode to Multiply while lowering the Opacity levels to 40% in the Transparency panel.

Adding Background and Bottom Shadow

Trick or Treat!

Great job! Our happy spook has a good mood, a great costume, and a large bag for candies. He is ready for the Halloween night.

This Halloween boy is just a part of my Trick Or Treat Children Halloween Scene illustration, and you can find far scarier and funnier Halloween illustrations on GraphicRiver.

I hope you have enjoyed the tutorial and learned some useful tips and tricks on working in Adobe Illustrator. Stay tuned!

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