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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36 Comments on “Adobe Illustrator Tutorial: How to Draw Characters

  1. 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. 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. 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.

  4. 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.

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  6. excellent publish, very informative. I’m wondering why the
    other experts of this sector do not realize this.
    You should continue your writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  7. That was a great and comprehensive article…all the tips enumerated and explained will be helpful for those who are wise enough to tap from it. Any business nowadays without social media signals and presence may not make it to the outermost, and investment too is part of the key to success in business. Keep up the good work

  8. Wonderful article with its incredible significant zone, I have like to peruse it on account of its normal belief system for improved data territory. At last Thanks a great deal for it.

  9. 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.

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

  11. I just joined the forum so there are so many things I don’t know yet, I hope to have the help of the boards, and I really want to get to know you all on the forum.

  12. 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.

  13. 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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