Illustrator Character | Flat Character Design: Illustrator Tutorial

Cosmin Serban

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Flat Character Design: Illustrator Tutorial


In today’s video, you’ll learn how to design a flat character illustration using Adobe Illustrator and just a few steps. My name is Cosmin and I’ll walk you through the entire process from start to finish. And I’ll show you how to find inspiration And how to actually create the vector illustration. To get started. I like to go on Instagram because this is how I find the inspiration. I was looking through Instagram through a couple of flat design tags, and I stumbled upon this amazing designer. She’s called Olga Semklo, and she’s doing this really cute illustrations where she’s playing with a lot of negative space. Now I was thinking you would be a great idea to actually go through the process and try to create something like this and teach you guys how to do it. So this is how I found my inspiration. And before I move any further, I need to find a character to draw to find the best references. I usually go on Unsplashcom Or on pexelscom this time around. I’ll go on Getty images where you can find a lot of images for reference. So I’m going to look for my character. My character is going to be a man smiling, pretty basic, Right. So, man, smiling or even a smiling man. Would that be enough? I looked through a couple. Let’s see what I can find. I’m trying to find somebody who’s a bit more unique. Yeah, I like this guy. So what I’m going to do, I’m going to take a screenshot. Now the thing is that I’m not going to use this in a commercial project or anything like that. I’m strictly going to use this as a reference. So that’s why I took a screenshot of it. Before I jumped into Illustrator, I wanted to take a look over the illustrations that Olga is doing and Actually. Try to get a feel of what are the rules. She’s following to build these illustrations. So if you can take a look, for example for some characters, she uses outlines for faces or for some characters. She doesn’t, right. So, for this one, she uses an outline for the face and for this one only where multiple shapes overlap. When they overlap, They usually create a hard shadow. Now I saw the shadow is black. A lot of times sometimes is she plays with opacity. In this example, she plays with opacity, and this is probably something multiplied on top to give that impression. So usually you have some kind of a Mark and kind of an outline in the ear as well. The facial features are super simple. You can see some small eyebrows again. Outlines for the eyes outline for the nose And probably outlines for the mouth as well. So I’m going to take that into consideration when I’m going to create this illustration. Now let’s jump into illustrator and let’s create a new document and going to name it flat character, Olgas style, Okay, And hit create from here. I’m going to go to view and disabled snap to pixel. I usually don’t like it when that’s enabled close down some of. These panels so I can see artboard and I’m going to bring my reference here. Let me search it on a separate monitor. Once you place it, you can place it anywhere you like. Maybe one example would also help to give me a sense of how her illustrations are being built. So for that, I’ll go and find Maybe this illustration right Again. I’m going to take a screenshot because I’m going to use it as a reference. Now I have the illustration as well as reference. And I can start building up my character. So I’m going to loosely base it off of this guy to get started. I started with the ellipse tool with an empty stroke. Let’s say a light gray as a fill. This is the base for for the head. And then I want to. See how it goes, kind of? It kind of goes square at the top. So I’m going to do some like that as well. Take the rectangle to some like that should look fine. I’m going to go with the frontal view. So this is like a three-quarter’s view a side view, But I’m going to go straight straight ahead, and then I need to figure out the Hair. So the hair is going to be something darker. Let’s double click on the fill, select a different color. And from the middle, probably go like this holding down shift. So it’s straight place a couple of points. I don’t really like the corners too much. So with the direct selection tool, I’ll select those anchors and round them up a bit, Okay. So now for the eyebrows, I’m not sure if it’s an oval shape and it looks like a normal shape. Let’s try something different. So I’ll take the rectangle tool and create Rectangle And then using the direct selection tool, I’ll drag on these handles and make this shape. I like to maybe try something. Something a little bit different. Let me scale this out. I honestly needed to be a bit longer, so I’ll double. Click on it, select the with the direct selection tool and make it larger. Have it at an angle. And if you want to duplicate it, go to the mirror tool. So the reflect tool place a point in the middle And while holding down the Alt key and Shift, You can make a duplicate. For the eyes, I’m just going to use an ellipse, a simple ellipse. These should be good enough. I’m holding down shift and the all key to make a duplicate and hold it at the same level for the nose. I’ll have a nose. That’s a stroke tagline. So for that, I’ll go to the Pen tool. With the pen tool selected inverse the color and let’s make it. Three points, stroke. So for this shape, I don’t really like this curve. So I’m going to go. Where was the smooth tool, Yeah? Where the pencil tool is You have the smooth tool and you can make smoother smoother paths just by going over it a couple of times. And from the stroke panel, I’ll probably select the rounded joint and cap, Yeah. I think this looks. This looks a bit better doing the same thing for the mouth. I’ll have the same styling apply. Let’s see how this looks. It’s pretty decent. Let’s give it a color Just just because I want to, I want to see it. How how it will look like. So let’s go to a red, something in a middle. Yeah, It kind of like Olga also has some hair strays, So let’s see if I can do something like that. Get this a bit up. And with it selected. So I had the styling already here. I just selected on this. Something like this, Yeah? It looks good. Even though the head is a bit too too tall, I’ll take the direct selection tool And make it smaller. Something like this. It kind of looks like a Lego or something. So now I have the facial features. I also need the ears, Yeah? So, for the ears, I’ll take the ellipse tool. Go here, Lets sample with the eyedropper tool. Lets sample this color and create an ear. Maybe make it a bit bigger, Yeah? Something like this and make a duplicate or the other side as well. And while you have this style selected, Go ahead and create a stroked outline. I think this is a bit much. I’ll bring it closer here. I’ll do the same thing on the other ear as well, Yeah? This is starting to look more like a like a character that Olga would draw. I need the neck, the neck area. This is going to be the same color as the face, Right. And this is what I’m talking about. When you are going to create the neck, I’m using very simple shapes and I’m sending it, Um, behind everything. Let’s right-click and send it to the back. Now you can’t really see the definition of the of the next so for that to work. You need a stroke like this. But it needs to follow the the contour of the face. To do that? Select the face copy and paste in front and then our sample with the eyedropper tool the outline. And now you can see now. You can see the outline, but I don’t want it to go around everything. I just wanted to go like from here to over here. So for that, I’ll select it and add points where I want a dark line to cut off And we, the direct selection tool. I’ll select the other ones and hit backspace or delete or remove or whatever you want. So now you have some kind of a separation between these elements. In Olga’s style, She also has a dark shape. That’s acting as a shadow. So for that, I select that shape to reference just to get the styling and with Pen tool. I’ll draw something like this and something that follows along the neckline. And now you have the shadow. Now this is a bit of small. Maybe now I can move on to the body for the body. I want to do something, that’s. So I want something to blend in with the actual background, I don’t. I don’t want something that stands out like this white. I want something that’s blending out with the background. So, for that, I’ll take the pen to draw a shape. A random shape. I’m going to cut it afterwards. So it doesn’t really matter. So with this shape, what I’m going to do is sample the stroke outline, but as You can see once you’ve sent it behind the neck, Uh, doesn’t really continue that line. So for this to work, I’m going to actually do something a little bit different with it selected. I’ll make a copy of the of the head. Place it over there. And then, with both shapes selected, go to the shape builder. Remove these parts, right. So you only have this one, which is going to be on top, but now the neck doesn’t continue over here. So I’m going to have to, uh, do that first off. Let’s select the white fill, so you can see the other parts of the neck and with the next select that I’m going to create A shape that goes behind everything the shape. Let’s send it to the back. So I want to have some kind of a definition for some hands. Maybe maybe he’s pointing to her something down. Let’s make his eyes go lower. Like he’s looking at something down. I don’t want to have something on the right-hand side. So I’ll just leave something here. As you can see on on the clothes. These characters have some kind of a some kind of a pattern. Yeah, First off, lets lets. Check it out! How it will look like with the background? So we’ll take the rectangle to send it to the back and I’m going to sample this exact color. This is kind of. I did a meant for this, and it kind of looks like negative space, but I’m going to actually Click to make it lighter, even lighter than this. Now what I would like to do is have this area transparent so far that first off. I need to merge these two go to window. Pathfinder is probably over here. Yep, Let’s merge them. And now I want to create a copy and paste it in front of this one And with both ships selected called to the shape builder tool and evolve the access. Right, And now I can have something with an empty field. It kind of goes on with there, lets. Bring these up so they don’t go out of the illustration, even though you could have a pretty interesting style that way, Okay. So now you have kind of the base of the illustration. What I’m going to do is add a couple of details using maybe the curvature tool. Let’s sample the white and using this curvature tool. Maybe I can create something that goes on the t-shirt. I think this is a pretty interesting pattern. If you would go over here more, I would like it. Even better I’ve also seen, like, uh, there’s always some kind of a motif with with a stroked outline with the selected. I’m going to create a stroked path. Maybe maybe have something like a floral pattern. Um, what if okay so? Something like this, but haven’t quite changed a stroke. Fill over there. And now I’m going to create something like leaves, but again very minimal. This needs to be smaller because I would like for it to become smaller and smaller. Something like this. Okay, And now I’m going to duplicate each one. So I’ll select that and go over here to the reflect tool and place it somewhere on the STEM And with Alt key selected, you can make a duplicate, but you can also keep. The rotation this way and the spacing consistent some something like this. Um, maybe have something at the end, so it’s not as basic as it is now. Let’s place it closer. So it kind of comes off him and bring this to the front. So it masks where they meet and let’s have the same thing over on the other side as well. Uh, with with a selected, I’ll try to find the middle spot and with Alt Key. Duplicate it! So this is the final look of the illustration. Thank you for joining me today. Don’t forget to like this video. So more people could see it and subscribe for more. It means a lot to me, and it means that I can make more of these videos. Let me know in the comment section. If you have a particular favorite designer that you follow on dribble or on Instagram, and maybe I’ll check it out and see if I can break down the process of how to create something similar to them. Thank you again for watching. See you in the next video Bye.