Articles, Blog

07 – Drawing a Panda in Adobe Illustrator CC

February 13, 2020

Drawing with circles can be very effective.
If you look at this illustration, you probably go “aww, so cute”, but this is actually all
round shapes, all perfect circles. I didn’t use anything else. Just the circle tool and
obviously combining it with gradients and Shape Builder. So let me just try to quickly
mock up the head, obviously it would take quite long to do the whole thing, but if I
start with a brand new illustration, let’s see how I would do this. Start with a circle,
which is going to be the head. Ok, then I select the Direct Selection Tool, select these
2 points, the left and the right points and with that using the arrows on the keyboard
I can shift it around slightly. So we can already get slightly different shape here
and then I can also select these handle points and I can round them out a bit more. So I
started with a circle and you can say I’m cheating, but I’m making changes to the circle
because I needed a slightly different shape. But then if we look at the example we had
here, we need to have also the eyes and the ears. Now the ears are quite simple, they
are almost perfect circles, so I can just draw a circle up there and then I can draw
another one quickly on top of it. Before I go any further at this point I would already
set up the colours just so we can see what is going on here. I’m going to use a gradient
on the fill colour, so I will use the gradient panel and while this Fill colour is selected
I click on that and I change it to Radial Gradient. I’m going to go a little bit fast
so you might find it difficult to follow. So there is our gradient. I’m going
to change the colour to a brighter grey, something like that and then now we can play around
with the centre point. Maybe increase out something like that. See what I told you about
lighting, this almost looks like 3d immediately, just by applying the gradient. Shadows around
it and highlight in the middle. I select these 2 shapes and move it behind the head, and
I’m going to use the same gradient for the ear, but I’m going to go into it and change
it to a darker gradient. I will turn this one and that colour also to a darker value,
something like this. Then I can select this other shape and using the Eyedropper I can
pick the same colour already and there one of the ears is ready. We can distort it slightly
if we want and then using the Reflect Tool we can already reflect this onto the other
side. The shortcut was Alt+Shift to make sure it duplicates and keeps it straight. Let’s
draw quickly the patch behind the eye, again it can be the same shape, but now again I
will use the Direct Selection Tool and I shift these points around slightly, and you can
even switch to the Pencil Tool, and look at that: with the Pencil Tool I can draw over
the edges slightly and I could create a much more customised shape for the eye. Then I
will draw the other circle on top of that, which is going to be rim, so I just come back
here, we need that one there. Then we need to have another circle. Another useful shortcut
is Cmd/Ctrl+C, Cmd/Ctrl+F is going to copy and paste exactly in the same position. I
use the Eyedropper to pick the same colour from the head and then I can use the same
technique and create the iris. So for the iris I’m going to again change my gradient
and I’m going to use from the outside a little bit darker blue, so I’m just going to switch
to colours and a darker blue, and inside I will make it brighter blue, like that and
let’s make it a little bit cross-eyed. That always makes things more cute. If we have
it like that and then we add the pupil, and I’m going to use again the same colour, or
maybe for that we can use completely black, like that. This won’t be realistic without
the reflection, you always have to have a highlight, a point of the brightest detail,
where light gets reflected. I’m going to add that in there, which immediately makes it
more lively. What I will do now is I select everything in the background, group them together
and I lock them: Cmd/Ctrl+2 is the shortcut for locking. That means I cannot select anything
in the background now, so I select everything that’s made up the eye, group it together
(Cmd/Ctrl+G) and again use the centre point here, Alt+Shift and drag it onto the other
side. Now at this point if you feel like it’s too close you can always select the eye and
use the arrows on the keyboard to move it around. Let’s say move it 3 points to the
left, 3 points to the right. So we are getting there. Now we need the nose. The nose is slightly
more tricky but again, I’m using the circle, staying true to what I said. Then I’m going
to pick that same colour up there, then I use the Direct Selection Tool and just move
it down slightly. And now the shape created from that. Then comes the mouth. So I’m going
to draw another circle, duplicate this (Alt). Using the Shape Builder holding down the Alt/option
key you draw over the parts you don’t need and you immediately have the shape that we
wanted to create here. You can move this behind the nose, something llike that. And now we
just need to reflect it again. So using the same method that we did before: Alt+Shift+
reflect and we have the mouth as well in place. After this it’s really all about just continuing
the same methods and every detail here, even that little detail on the top. Using the same
method, just to show you very quickly I can draw a circle once again, use the same colour
from here, Alt/Optinon+click and draw and then select these two, Alt/Option+draw over
and we have one of those hair details. We can also delete using the Eraser Tool we can
delete the parts that you don’t need. So there’s one and Alt+click and then rotate to duplicate.
So I think my point is proven with this, that anything can be created from simple shapes.
So the whole thing that I’m trying to explain here is that you don’t actually have to have
a free hand-drawing skill in Illustrator. It’s great to have it, but if you have a reference
image, you most likely will be able to recreate it by using shapes or combinations of the
tools that I showed you today.


  • Reply Puneet Sharma July 13, 2017 at 1:51 am

    please upload the video in slowly with step by step with command reply me as soon as possible thank you

  • Reply Thanos Smile July 13, 2017 at 5:10 am

    reflect tool? what is the button

  • Reply Majid Tahiri July 13, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    woooow, you're amazing and I really love your channel

  • Reply GSFXMentor September 18, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    nice tutorial love…this..:)

  • Reply Stephan Jacobs October 25, 2017 at 10:24 am

    could you show how you finished the panda? or should we try and recreate from your image as part of the tutorial?

  • Reply Daniel Ayala September 2, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Do you have a tutorial on photoshop I can buy? I already got the one all a about masking, I looking for a master class in photoshop, how to go from a beginner to expert.

  • Reply awakenbeing February 11, 2020 at 1:23 am

    So sped up, like racing

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