Adobe Illustrator Tutorial: How to Draw Characters

In this tutorial, you can follow the step by step process of creating a female character. We’ll guide you through everything from rough sketch to finished vector illustration. You can find out, which are the important things when creating a memorable and an easy to recognize character.

Difficulty: Intermediate

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Tools: Adobe Illustrator CS6, Wacom graphic tablet, and creativity

illustrator tutorial

Step 1:

I’m starting with a fast sketch of construction lines, trying to define the position and the proportions of the character. You can try more than one until you’re satisfied with the result. On this stage, you should only add the axes, which show the movement of the body and the general forms. I’m going to use rounded shapes with sharp and thin ends. Using similar forms is what makes the character memorable and customized.

illustrator tutorial

illustrator tutorial

Step 2:

It’s time to put in some details. The hair blown by the wind adds a dynamic feel to the composition. The purpose of the sketch is to make the process of digitalizing easier, so do not put in too many details.

illustrator tutorial

Step 3:

Create a new document in Illustrator CS6. I’ll use a canvas with an A4 size, CMYK Color Mode, and 72 dpi Raster Effects.

illustrator tutorial

Step 4:

Import the picture in Illustrator CS6. Make a new layer and move the sketch on it. Reduce the opacity of the sketch layer to 20-30%. Lock the layer so you won’t be able to select or move it by mistake.

illustrator tutorial

Step 5:

Now you are ready to start vectorizing. You can draw the main shapes with the pen tool or with a brush if you feel more comfortable.

I’ll use a calligraphic brush with size 3 and pressure 3. The screenshots below will help you create a new customized brush.

In case you don’t see the brush panel, you can find it in Window-> Brushes.

illustrator tutorial

illustrator tutorial



It’s easier to draw fluid lines without edges, using a brush. The disadvantage is that you sometimes get too many anchor points, which you can easily remove with the smooth tool.

illustrator tutorial

I’m trying to draw continuous lines because later I will unite them to create closed shapes. If you are working with the pen tool, you should make sure all the paths are closed. It’s important to curve the lines where necessary, so you end up with beautiful, smooth lines when you fill the shape.

illustrator tutorial

illustrator tutorial

Step 6:

Once I made the general shapes and forms, I start filling them in with colors. I’m using a darker nuance for the distanced objects and a lighter nuance for  closer ones, such as the example below.

You can try a variety of color combinations if you aren’t satisfied with the first choice. I’m going to use pastel nuances, to create a uniform range of colors.illustrator tutorial

Step 7:

Adding lights and shadows gives the character some volume, so it’s an important stage of the process.  I’m going to use a warm yellow nuance for the light and a variety of purple colors for the shadows.

illustrator tutorial


A fast method to add lights and shadows is by copying the shape in front, changing it’s color tone and simply deleting the portion you don’t need with the eraser tool.

Step 8:

To make it playful and more attractive, I’m going to draw some more details, like a belt, a cute dotted-heart pattern on the top, and a seam on her pants. To make it even more dynamic, I drew some random locks of hair.

So this is how the character looks.

illustrator tutorial


To highlight the movement of the hair and to give a stronger sensation of windy weather, I decided to put some leaves around the character. Do you observe how the green circle used as background makes the colors even brighter? The shadow below her feet positions the character in space.

illustrator tutorial

What do you think about the tutorial? Tell us in the comment section below how it helped you draw your characters.

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33 Comments Adobe Illustrator Tutorial: How to Draw Characters

  1. Masum Jun 6, 2015 at 17:27

    Really this tutorial is more details step by step, so that it is easier to learn for any one who want to create something
    new in any picture by Illustrator. Thanks Biliana for sharing this article.

  2. Biju Jun 12, 2015 at 06:58

    First, She is so beautiful, I mean character girl. :) . Obviously, Thanks for your share. Oh! another thanks for giving an information about Wacom tablet.

  3. JessicaLillis Jun 12, 2015 at 18:53

    It’s really helpful tutorial.Thank you for this tutorial.

  4. Anisul Hoque Jun 27, 2015 at 10:29

    I used some other program except adobe illustrator. I comparison i will keep illustrator at first to others. It is easy to use and manage.

  5. james Bond Jul 3, 2015 at 14:17

    As Creative mind used here to describe it in step by step.

    In the staring girl looks is very simple as well as so beautiful & it looks like the character girl.

    After that the black & white shade converts into the coloured shade that converts the simple girl into modern one .

    Creater has made it so easier for one who want to learn it from the starting.

    Thanks for sharing that enjoyable data.

    1. Claudia Jul 3, 2015 at 16:12

      We’re so glad you like it! :)

  6. Rakhibul Jul 4, 2015 at 09:06

    Really this tutorial is more details step by step, so that it is easier to learn for any one who want to create something new in any picture by illustrator. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Vertical Design Jul 13, 2015 at 18:12

    It may appears very easy but my friends, I can assure it is way tough to create this character in AI

  8. Enamul Hoq Aug 19, 2015 at 01:18

    This tutorial is very helpful for me but i think it will be very helpful for all categorizes beginner

  9. Sofia Oct 18, 2015 at 09:37

    Thank you so much, Briana!! I really wanted to know how to do this. You made my day!

  10. Gigi Dec 24, 2015 at 01:48

    Wow, this was incredibly helpful! Thank you for sharing this! :)

    1. Claudia Feb 10, 2016 at 12:39

      You’re very welcome, Gigi! :) I’m glad you like it

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  16. Wejdan Nov 14, 2018 at 02:20

    Very lovely and clear steps.

  17. ashiqur Jul 31, 2019 at 08:36

    This is really awesome, thanks for sharing this awesome tutorial. Keep in touch.

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  20. Sadman Dec 26, 2019 at 03:14

    Nice work. Am a new beginner on illustrator started few months ago. Plse i need more tutorials.Thanks guyz and more grace to ur elbow.

  21. Rezu Feb 21, 2020 at 09:57

    I always love to use illustrator. This post is really helpful for me. I learn something new from this post. Thanks for sharing this.

  22. Image Enhancement Mar 2, 2020 at 01:45

    Thank You for sharing such a nice article. Worth Reading it.

  23. Arsalan Mar 3, 2020 at 05:39

    Lovely article. Thank You for sharing

  24. Angel Ana Mar 11, 2020 at 03:53

    Wow great article.awesome work this will help new graphics designer a lot.thanks

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  26. Remove Background Apr 30, 2020 at 23:34

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial with us. Very well in-depth explained. I will implement your tutorial and try to make something like this. Character girl also cute. keep up the good work.

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  28. t rex game Jul 14, 2020 at 20:07

    It’s ridiculous that I took the pen to try your instructions again. It’s simple, you just need to click the computer mouse. Thank you for sharing this tutorial. It was very helpful for me


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