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How to Vector Three Wise Teddy Bears Without the Pen Tool in Illustrator

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Read Time: 17 min

Join me in Adobe Illustrator CC where we'll take on the classic concept of the "Three Wise Monkeys" with a teddy bear character design entirely from basic shapes and without using the Pen Tool (P). We'll manipulate shapes with various effects, build complex designs from simple shapes, and use masks to edit shapes without losing the main illustration.

1. Prepare your File

Step 1

Open Adobe Illustrator and create a new document with a width of 12 in and a height of 8 in. Give your document a name and save immediately so you can easily Save (Control-S) later when saving progress along the way. I cannot stress how important safety saves are when spending a couple hours or more in Illustrator.


Step 2

Check out the colors below. This is the main palette we'll be using. I suggest creating your Swatches now to avoid scrolling back up later. Starting from the top left the colors are teal, dark brown, burnt sienna, tan, cream, yellow, pink, and magenta. I'll refer to them as such throughout the rest of the tutorial.


2. Draw the Head and Eyes

Step 1

The head is comprised of five circles. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a 2.6" x 2.6" circle. The ears are 1.25" x 1.25" and the inside of the ears are 0.75" x 0.75". Align the insides of the ears to their respective ear, Group (Control-G) them together and place the ears behind the head.


Step 2

Apply the following colors to the bear head: yellow to the head and outer ears and dark brown to the inner ears (the magenta shown was later changed, since little magenta hearts will be added later). For the left eye draw a white oval measuring 0.67" x 0.93". Rotate (R) it 10°. Copy (Control-C) and Paste (Control-V) the eye and Reflect it over a Vertical Axis. Align the eyes with one another close to the outer edges of the head.

For the irises, draw a 0.79" circle. Overlap it with the white of the eye and use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) to select the non-intersecting portion of the iris. Deselect and delete. Copy and Paste the white of the eye, set the fill to null, and the stroke to dark brown and 1pt weight for the outline. Repeat for the right eye.


Step 3

Six hearts appear on each bear character. To make the hearts draw a circle measuring 0.33" with the Ellipse Tool. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), pull the bottom anchor point downwards. To get the heart shape, manipulate the bottom anchor point's handles so the teardrop shape you made curves to the right and comes down to a point. Copy and Paste your heart half, Reflect it over a Vertical Axis, and once aligned to your liking Unite in Pathfinder. Since you'll be using this same heart repeatedly, it helps to keep your original to the side of the Artboard and Copy and Paste as needed.


Step 4

Apply magenta as the fill color to the heart and place over the eye for the bear's pupil. Use the same technique using the Shape Builder Tool from Step 2 to delete the outer portion of the heart. Place under the eye outline and repeat on the other eye. Group the eye components together.


3. Face Features

Step 1

Draw a pink circle for the cheek. The one I used measures 0.38". Place it beneath the eye, close to the edge of the bear's face. For the bear's muzzle, draw a yellow ellipse measuring 0.71" x 0.59" and Copy and Paste it for the dark brown outline. The nose is a dark brown ellipse measuring 0.279" x 0.196".


Step 2

For the mouth, draw a 0.25" line using the Line Segment Tool (\). I've set the stroke at 3pt weight with rounded corners and ends.

In the Appearance panel, with the line segment selected, go to Effect > Warp > Bulge and apply a Horizontal bend at 71% with a Distortion of 62% on the Vertical axis. Expand the effect and Expand Appearance of the line segment so it becomes a shape and place it on the bear's muzzle. Scale the mouth down to 75%. Group muzzle components together



Step 3

Copy and Paste the magenta hearts from earlier and into the center of the ears. Place behind the bear's head, into the ear group, in the Layers panel.


4. Shade the Head

Step 1

For the shadow on the face, Copy and Paste the main head circle and Align it to the bear's head. Draw a smaller ellipse using the Ellipse Tool measuring 2.4" and overlap as done below. Select both of these new ellipses and hit Minus Front in Pathfinder. Use the Gradient Tool (G) to apply a Linear gradient that goes from 0% Opacity yellow to 100% Opacity burnt sienna at a 90° angle.


Step 2

In order to shade the ears, draw a circle that measures 0.89" and place it on the upper left of the left ear. Copy and Paste the main ear circle and align with the ear. Hit Minus Front and you should be left with a shape that takes up 3/4 of the ear. Using the Gradient Tool, apply a Linear gradient going from yellow at 0% Opacity to burnt sienna at 100% Opacity with an angle of 141.4°.


Step 3

Place the shadow shape behind the inner ear in the Layers panel. For a highlight on the head, draw an ellipse measuring 2.04" x 1.72" with a Linear gradient fill going from cream at 100% Opacity to yellow at 0% Opacity. Place the highlight behind the face groups in the Layers panel.


5. Stitch Details on the Bear's Head

Step 1

Draw an ellipse measuring 1.9" x 2.2" on the right side of the bear's face. Set the Stroke Weight to 3pt with rounded cap and corners. Select Dashed Line and set the dash to 5pt and the gap to 10 pt. Go to Object > Expand Appearance to change the dashed line into a series of objects. Select the main circle forming the bear's head along with the dashed ellipse group and using the Shape Builder Tool, select any part of the dashes that overlap the head (note the black circle in the third image below). Deselect and use the Direct Selection Tool to select the dashes outside of the head and below the muzzle, one at a time, and Delete them.


Step 2

Repeat the process from the previous step for the stitching along the bottom of the head. The initial ellipse measures 1.8" x 1.24" and the Stroke Weight is 1pt. For the details on the muzzle, repeat the process from the shadows and highlight on the head (same gradients and using the Shape Builder Tool again). The ellipses used are as follows:

  • 0.53" 0.37" for the highlight on the muzzle with a gradient angle of -74.5°.
  • 0.64" x 0.58" for the shadow with a gradient angle of 90°.
  • 0.17" x 0.106" for the nose highlight with a gradient angle of -69.8°.

Step 3

For the white stitched "x"'s on the eyes, use the Rounded Rectangle Tool and draw a rounded rectangle that's 0.0428" x 0.196" with a Corner Radius of 1". Copy and Paste the white shape and set the fill to null and the stroke to dark brown with 1pt weight. Align with the white shape and Group them together.

Rotate the rounded rectangle group 45° to the left. Copy and Paste a second one, flip it over a vertical axis and align to form the "x". Repeat and place along the outer edge of the eye. Rotate each "x" so their centers line up with the outline of the eye. Group them together, Copy and Paste, and Unite in Pathfinder. Reduce the Opacity in the Transparency panel to 50%. Place behind the white "x"'s in the Layers panel and offset down and to the right.


Step 4

For the eyebrows you can draw a small series of circles with the Ellipse Tool or follow along with this step. Use the Line Segment Tool to draw a 5pt weight line measuring 0.81". Set the stroke to a dashed line with 0.1pt dash and 10pt gap. This should result in circles rather than squares or longer dashes so long as you have selected rounded cap and corners.

With the line selected, go to Effect > Warp > Bulge and set the options to Horizontal, bend of -80%, horizontal 0%, and vertical 62%. In Object, hit Expand and Expand Appearance to make the warped circles shapes in their own right. Ungroup and delete the right-most circle. Re-group and position above the eye. Copy and Paste for the other eyebrow.


6. Additional Head Details

Step 1

Let's work one some eye details. Draw a circle using the Ellipse Tool that measures 0.76" x 0.88" and have it overlap the eye, covering half of the white and all of the iris and pupil. Select the eye white and this new circle with the Direct Selection Tool, and use the Shape Builder Tool to select the portion of the circle that does not intersect the white of the eye. Deselect and delete this extra shape. Reduce the opacity of the circle to 50% in the Transparency panel and place it behind the iris in the Layers panel. Repeat the process on the right eye.


Step 2

Copy and Paste the heart that was made in Section 2, Step 3. In Transform, scale the heart down about 50%. Apply a Linear Gradient, the same highlight from the head, using the Gradient Tool. Place in the center of the eye's heart pupil. Copy and Paste for the other eye. Use the Ellipse Tool to draw white circles for additional highlights in the eyes. Each of mine measures 0.17" and 0.05" respectively.


Step 3

For the highlights on the bear's ears, draw a small circle an use the Direct Selection Tool to pull the right anchor point outwards. Apply a Warp effect to the long teardrop shape with a bend of 61%. Expand the object and apply the highlight gradient (cream to yellow) previously used. Rotate the shape -147.7° and place on the right ear. Copy, Paste, and Reflect for the left side. For the stitching on the ears, create a 1" ellipse with a 1pt Stroke Weight, 5pt dash, and 10pt gap. Group with the other ear components (and make sure the ears remain behind the head in the Layers panel).


Step 4

Group the head components together. Copy, Paste, Unite in Pathfinder, and set the fill to dark brown and stroke to 3pt weight. Align behind the main head group. Let's move on to the body and limbs.


7. Build the Body

Step 1

Draw a 1.84" x 2.53" Rounded Rectangle with a 1" corner radius. Use the Direct Selection Tool to manipulate the top right and left anchor points and their handles to bring the top inwards to create the shape seen below.


Step 2

Set the fill color to yellow and Scale 85%.


Step 3

For the shadow on the body, create a 1.51" circle with a linear gradient going from burnt sienna at 100% Opacity to yellow at 0% Opacity. Select both the body and the overlapping shadow shape and use the Shape Builder Tool to delete the non-intersecting portion of the shadow gradient. For the highlight (yellow to cream) draw an ellipse measuring 1.133" x 1.631".


Step 4

For the stitching on the body, draw an ellipse measuring 1.64" x 1.32" with a Stroke Weight of 1pt, 5pt dash, and 10pt gap. Go to Object > Expand so each dash is its own shape. Unite these dashes in Pathfinder. Copy and Paste the main body shape (align to the main body) and, with both the new body and the dashes selected, hit Intersect in Pathfinder. Outline the body by Copying and Pasting the main body shape and setting the fill to null and the stroke to dark brown with a 1pt weight.


Step 5

Once again, Copy and Paste the heart from Section 2 of this tutorial. Place it on the bottom right of the body. Copy and Paste the little white "x"'s from the eyes around the heart (six in total). Outline the heart in dark brown by simply Copying and Pasting the heart and Aligning with the base heart. Group the heart components together, and then Group the body and its details (including the heart) together to keep things well organized on your Layers panel.


8. Create the Legs and Arms

Step 1

Much like the other body parts, the legs start with a circle. Use the Ellipse Tool to draw one measuring 1.39" in diameter. Pull the top anchor point upwards so the circle becomes a teardrop measuring 1.631" (or so, as these will be scaled down later) in length. Select the leg and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Twist. Apply a 42° twist to the shape and Expand in Object. Use the Direct Selection Tool to adjust the anchor points so the leg shape is smooth (you may need to delete a couple if you have any jagged lines).


Step 2

Copy and Paste the leg made in the previous step and Reflect it over a Vertical axis. Set the fill color of both legs to a Linear gradient going from yellow to pink or teal (ultimately I'll choose teal). In the Gradient panel, adjust he angle to 90°.


Step 3

Repeat the shadow and highlight gradient process from the body in the previous section. The circle for the leg's shadow measures 1.39". The highlight is the main leg shape Copied, Pasted and Scaled down by 75% and set to Overlay Blend Mode in the Appearance panel. The leg's outlines are Copied and Pasted leg shapes with the fill set to null and the stroke set to 1.5pt dark brown. Align with each leg shape and keep on top of the leg components in the Layers panel. For the stitching, draw a line segment from the top to the bottom of the leg with a 1pt dashed stroke (5pt dash and 10pt gap). Apply a Twist of 42° to the stitching and hit Expand and then Expand Appearance under Object. Copy and Paste for the right leg.


Step 4

In Transform Effect, Scale the legs down so the Horizontal goes down to 70% and the Vertical goes down to 90%. Group together the leg components and place them behind the head and body in the Layers panel.


Step 5

The arms are basically the same steps as the legs.

  • The initial circle measures 1.06".
  • Pull the right anchor point to the right and down for an angled teardrop.
  • Manipulate the anchor point handles so the arm curves to the left while keeping each end rounded. It should measure approximately 0.98" x 2.34"
  • Rotate the arm so the larger end is at the bottom. Apply a linear gradient going from pink to yellow.
  • Copy and Paste the arm and apply the same shadow gradient used through this tutorial. Offset it so it intersects halfway on the arm. The circle for the stitching measured 1.09" in diameter. Delete it with the same process used on the body in Section 7, Step 4.
  • Use the Shape Builder Tool to delete the non-intersecting portion of the shadow.
  • Draw a dashed line segment from the top of the arm to the bottom and Twist to 42°. Use the steps from Step 3 in this section to delete the non-intersecting dashes.

9. Bandage the Bear

Step 1

Let's draw the bandage on the bear's head. Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to draw the bandage's basic shape. This one measures 1" x 2.48" with a corner radius of 1". Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle over the center of the bandage measuring 1.28" x 0.77". Use the Shape Builder Tool to delete the sides of the rectangle that aren't overlapping the rounded rectangle. Set the fill to tan and the outlines to dark brown with 1pt weight for the bandage and 0.50pt weight for the rectangle. Group together and Scale down to 80%.


Step 2

  • Rotate the bandage 45° over the top of the bear's head.
  • Delete the parts of the bandage that do not intersect with the head with the Shape Builder Tool. Start with the rectangle and make sure the edge of the head's outline shows.
  • Follow up with the bandage shape itself
  • Copy and Paste the heart and set the filled color to teal.
  • Delete the portion of the heart that doesn't overlap the bandage. Draw four small circles on the bandage in dark brown and reduce their Opacity to 50%.
  • Copy and Paste the four circles and offset them slightly. Group the bandage components together

Step 3

The bear character is now completed. If you're satisfied with the design without moving on to change its poses to form the "Three Wise Teddies", then add a thick outline to the design and call it a day. Otherwise, let's continue on to using masks and moving around the bear's arms.


10. Pose the Bear with Masks

Step 1

To make the first pose, Ungroup the bear's arms. Group together the rest of the bear so your Layers panel stays organized.

  • Rotate the arms around so they cover the eyes and the tops of the arms are close to the center of its torso.
  • To make the mask, Copy and Paste the main arm and torso pieces.
  • Use the Shape Builder Tool to select the torso and intersecting components of the arms. Delete torso and lower part of the arms.
  • Align with the original arms.
  • Select the left arm and the new arm shape on top of it. Hit Control-7 to apply the mask to this arm. Repeat on the right side.

Group the bear together and Copy and Paste the group to create the shape for the outline. Unite the new group in Pathfinder and set the fill to dark brown and the stroke to 7pt weight. Align behind the main bear and Group both together. You can save the out lining step until after the other two bears have been made.


Step 2

For the second bear, Copy and Paste the first one, ungroup its arms (delete the outline if you made it), right-click and Release Clipping Mask on the arms (you can delete these excess paths in the Layers panel. Move the arms to the ears and follow the process for masking from the previous step to complete the second bear.


Step 3

The "Speak no Evil" bear has a slightly different prices than the other two. Repeat Step 2 so you have a third bear with arms that are ready to move. Rotate them slightly so they cover the mouth (while the bottom portions still intersect with the torso. Follow the process from Step 1 to create the masks.


Step 4

For the outline along the bottom of the arms, draw an ellipse that measures 1.58" x 1.81" and position it so it follows the curve of the masked arms. Expand the stroked circle under Object. Copy and Paste the clipping mask, release it, and use the base arms from this new group (delete the excess components of this group) to align to the original arms. Unite the two new arms in Pathfinder (indicated below as teal arms) and Intersect, also in Pathfinder with the arm shape and the circle selected. You should be left with the two line segment outline shapes seen below.


11. A Quick Background

The background is pretty quick and easy. Make sure your bears are outlined and organized in groups in the Layers panel. Draw a large rectangle behind the bears and apply a Radial gradient going from dark warm gray (R: 86 G: 76 B: 73) on the outer edge to medium warm gray (R: 99 G: 83 B: 81). In the Appearance panel, go to fx > Artistic > Film Grain and choose the following settings:

  • Grain: 3
  • Highlight: 0
  • Intensity: 10

Congratulations, You're Done!

Your Three Wise Teddies are complete. I added an additional cream colored outline weighted at 10pts behind the bears so make them pop a bit more (since they look like little stickers to me) from the background. Comprised mainly of ellipses, these little bears are basic in their poses but complex in their design. Further manipulation can lead to a plethora of poses, characters, and designs. Happy shape building, readers!

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