How to create a funny cartoon cat in Adobe Illustrator

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In this tutorial we’ll create a funny flat-style cat with the help of basic shapes and useful functions of Adobe Illustrator.

In this tutorial we’ll create a funny flat-style cat with the help of basic shapes and useful functions of Adobe Illustrator. You don’t need any special drawing skills or a graphic tablet to create this funny cartoon character. Let’s get to it!

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1. Draw the Cat’s Head

Step 1

Take the Rounded Rectangle Tool and make a 125x80 px shape for a stylized cat’s head. You can adjust the Corner Radius of the shape either using the Live Corners feature or from the control panel on top. Let’s set the radius to 30 px, making the corners more rounded and smooth.

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Step 2

Now let’s shape the left ear. Take the Pen Tool (P), hold Shift and draw a vertical line, attaching it to the left edge of the head. Continue by making a 45º line, forming a triangle.

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Step 3

Finish up with the line, closing the path. Use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick the dark-grey color from the head and apply it to the ear.

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Step 4

Duplicate (Ctrl+C > Ctrl+F) the ear and fill the upper copy with a pink color. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to move the right anchor point of the pink shape closer to the center of the ear.

Group (Ctrl+G) the elements of the ear and use the Reflect Tool (O) to Copy and flip the shape over the Vertical Axis.

Place the second ear on the opposite side of the head. Select both the ear and the head and click the head one more time to make it a Key Object (you will see a thick selection around the head). Use the Align panel to stick the ear on the edge by clicking Horizontal Align Right.

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Step 5

Select both ears, right click and Arrange > Send to Back, placing the ears beneath the head.

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Step 6

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a yellow circle of about 33x33 px size for the eye. Add a dark circle on top for the iris and duplicate the shapes, adding a second eye.

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Step 7

Great, the face is almost finished! Now let’s shape the nose. Take the Polygon Tool and set the number of Sides to 3, making a pink triangle. Rotate it upside down. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and use the Live Corners feature to make the triangle slightly rounded by pulling the circle markers closer to the center.

Place the nose on the bottom half of the face and use the Pen Tool (P) to make a tiny pink stroke for the mouth.

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2. Shape the Cat’s Body

Step 1

Let’s take the Rectangle Tool (M) and make a 15x85 px shape for the paw. Select its bottom anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and make the corners rounded. Hold Alt+Shift and drag the rectangle to the right, making a copy.

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Step 2

Create another rectangle covering the top of the paws and making the shapes overlap. Select all three rectangles and Unite them in the Pathfinder. Then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to make the space between the legs rounded with the help of the Live Corners function.

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Step 3

Make a rectangle of a darker grey color and Send it to Back (Ctrl+Shift+[), beneath the legs. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to attach a 125x125 px circle to the right side of the cat’s body, depicting the back paw of the sitting cat.

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Step 4

Let’s make the back paw. Make a squashed ellipse. Use the Scissor Tool (C) and click the anchor points on both sides to split the shape into two halves. Delete the lower half and place the remaining piece at the bottom of the body, between the circle and the front paw, filling it with a lighter grey color.

Continue by making a light-grey triangle for the cat’s back.

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Step 5

Take the Arc Tool (you can find it in the same drop-down menu as the Line Segment Tool (\)) and make an arched line for the tail. Head to the Stroke panel and set the Weight to 10 pt, making the tail thick. Set the Cap and Corner to middle positions in order to make the shape rounded at the tips.

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Step 6

Now that all the parts of our cat are ready, we can add some minor details to make the character complete.

Use the Pen Tool (P) to add a short light-grey stroke above the nose, depicting a hair of fur. In the Stroke panel, set the Weight to 1 pt and the Profile to Width Profile 1 (you can find the drop-down list in the bottom of the Stroke panel).

Hold Alt+Shift and use the Selection Tool (V) to move the stroke to the right, making a copy. Press Ctrl+D twice more to make a couple more copies.

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Step 7

Group (Ctrl+G) the strokes and add a group of three strokes on top, forming a pyramid. Use the Align panel to align both groups to the center. Finally, add more strokes on top, making the nose area furry and textured.

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Great Job!

Now our cartoon cat character looks finished! You can continue adding more details if you want. Here I’ve copied the fur strokes multiple times and placed them over some of the body parts of the cat. I also used the same strokes to make the claws.

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You can use these simple techniques to create any other character to your liking, whether it's an animal or human or something else. It’s up to you! Have fun!

Now you can show the world what you have learned.

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