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Quick Tip: How to Create a Cute Cartoon Dinosaur

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Read Time: 4 min
This post is part of a series called Easy Character Design.
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This Quick Tip will show you how to create a cartoon dino using only basic shapes like rectangles and circles. This is a step-by-step tutorial for beginners. The icons from the inkscape toolbar are added to the images to make it easier to find the tool and function I am describing in the text. Let's get started!

Step 1

Start out with a box with slightly rounded edges (Rx and Ry settings of ~50) and convert it to a path.

Step 2

Modify the nodes in the top left. Move them apart to curve the top left corner some more. Add a linear fill from a light yellow to a nice yellowy green.

Step 3

Add five more circles for the eyes (eyeball shadow, eyeball, color, iris and highlight).

Step 4

Add another two circles, turn them into paths and deform the nodes for the nostril and a shadow around the eye.

Step 5

Create yet another circle for the teeth, modify the nodes by pulling down the bottom node, duplicate the shape and move them behind the head shape (Page Down).

Step 6

Duplicate the tooth shape and color it green to make the spikes on top of the dino's head.

Step 7

Create another box with rounded corners, turn it into a path and move the top left nodes down. Duplicate the shape for the highlight. Convert the bottom nodes of the highlight shape into curves and modify the node handles to make the baseline curve up.

Step 8

The body starts as a circle, gets converted to a path and then turned into a drop shape by deforming the top node. Pull the left node handle of the top node up and right to curve the back.

Step 9

Duplicate the body shape and give it a gradient fill from the highlight color to an off white. Duplicate the spikes created for the head, rotate them and place them on the right side of the body shape.

Step 10

Create another circle with a similar gradient to the head to form the leg. Convert it to a path to move the top and bottom node to elongate it and flatten the base. Duplicate, scale it down and color it in a light yellow to build the toes. Group the leg and duplicate the group.

Using the Extensions/ Color / Darker command on the duplicate we have the 2nd leg. Place it behind the body (Object/ Lower to Bottom (End) ).

Step 11

Four more deformed circles create the elements for the arm and the claw. Duplicate the 'finger shape' (top row 1st one on the right) 2 times and rotate them a little. Duplicate these and scale them down. Colored in a light yellow (similar to the color of the toes) they make the claws. Place fingers on the 'palm shape' (top row 2nd from the right) to form the claw. The upper and lower arm shapes (top row 1st and 2nd on the left) connect to the claw. Group the arm elements and create a duplicate.

Darken the second arm (like the leg in the previous step) and place it being the body (Object/ Lower to Bottom (End) ).


Here's our cartoon dino. If you plan to animate your creation I would advise grouping shapes - e.g. head, iris and color and highlight (to allow the eye to move and the dino to look around), eyebrow (if you plan on changing the way the dino looks), body, arm1, arm2, leg1, leg2. For these groups you can adjust the center of rotation (click on the group - a little cross will appear in the center of the group - click on it and drag it to the position you want the joint to be (e.g at the connection of head and body or the neck would be (had we created one). This way you can rotate groups in a more 'natural' way and it makes animation a lot easier.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and find ways to build new and fierce, cute and cuddly dinos with the skill set shown here.

Note: The tutorial works with some minor adjustments in other vector design programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. These just use different icons, tool and command names, but the functionality is the same. 

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