How to create Animal Icons in Adobe Illustrator

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In this tutorial we'll show you how to create small vector images using simple shapes. We’ll share some tips and tricks that will help you achieve great results.

1. CREATE AND PREPARE THE NEW DOCUMENT

Create a new document with the following values:

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In this tutorial, we'll learn to draw 4 different animals so we need to add 3 extra layers and give them the  corresponding names (bear, owl, dog, deer).

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Hide all layers except “bear”.

2. CREATE BASIC SHAPES

STEP 1

We're going to create a common shape for our animals. This is going to be the most tedious part of the tutorial.

Select Rectangle tool and set up the following size:

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Leave the object selected and find on the Control panel:  Align to Artboard’ and hit Horizontal align centre and Vertical align centre.

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STEP 2

Now we can start creating the basic shape of the head.

Go to Window > Transform. A panel will pop up where we're going to change the position of the nodes.

Note:  I often use this panel to adjust  the coordinates of the nodes.

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With the Direct selection tool (shortcut key ‘A’) select Top Left node of the shape and on Transform panel  set up X value of 79px.

Then select Top Right node and do the same in the Transform panel but with X value 123px.

Now pick bottom left node, press and hold  Shift and click on bottom right node of the shape. You can let go of Shift.

If you look closely at the shape - you'll see that two circles have appeared near the angles where we selected the points. Click on any of them, hold and drag towards the centre of the shape.  When you see that the bottom of the shape is fully rounded - leave it.

Now you should get something like the image below.

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STEP 3

Select Ellipse Tool  and create a circle that's 6 x 6px.

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Select the node at the bottom of this shape and delete it. Now we have to place the eye on the right side. Go to Transform panel and set up X Value of the shape 90 px and Y Value 80 px.

We need a second eye. Select the object and press Cmd+C (copy), > Cmd+F (paste on top) and go again to Transform panel and set up X Value 110 px.

Pick one of the two eyes and copy it again. Adjust with the following values:

pic8

We're going to create the nose with the Polygon tool. Set up a radius of 7 px and number of sides - 3.

Go to Transform panel and Rotate 180º. Set the X: 100 px, Y: 92 px.

What's left is to get rounded corners. Pick the top two nodes (hold Shift for plural selection) of the triangle, go to Control Panel > Corners > set the value of Corner Radius to 2,5.

Then select the bottom node of this shape and set the value of Corner Radius to 4 px.

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STEP 4

Before we continue let’s take one last step with the head, that will make the process easier later on. I’m going to set the style and colour of the lines.

Press Cmd+A (Select all), go to Color panel and make all Fill color Transparent. Then switch to editing Stroke color. Change color to R 145 G 60 B 0

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I used a 2 pt Rounded brush for all the lines in this tutorial.

Find on the Control panel : Brush Definition. Click on it. In a drop down list you will find Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic Calligraphic. Pick 1pt Round, go back to Control panel and change the Stroke to 2 pt.

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We need to clone our drawing in to the other Layers. Press Cmd+A > Cmd+C. On the Layers panel make all layers visible except the ‘Bear’ layer (make it invisible). Click on the ‘Owl’ layer and press Cmd+F, hide layer again. Do exactly the same to the other two layers.

Come back to the ‘Bear’ layer and make it visible again.

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3. Create different animals

THE BEAR

STEP 1

We're going to create the circle around the nose using the shape we created for the face. Click on it > Cmd+C > Cmd+F and in Transform panel change the width to 25 px (make sure that Constrain Height and Width proportions is turned on). The position of the shape has to be X: 100 px, Y: 99 px. Make top nodes fully rounded.

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STEP 2

 We're going to create the ears with the Ellipse tool. Size: 10x10 px. Position X: 79 px, Y: 65px.

Copy the shape that you just created > Cmd+F. Give it a size of 5 x 5px and Rotate 45 degrees.

Now, select these two circles > Cmd+C > Cmd+F > Move to the right (X: 123 px).

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Now, select (Selection Tool+Shift)  the big circles from the ears and the head,  and go to Window > Pathfinder > Unite shapes > Send the whole new shape to the back of the layer (Cmd+Shift+[).

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For the small circle inside the ear, select the shape with Selection Tool > press A > select the bottom right node > remove it (Backspace) > Go to Control panel and Change Brush definition to Round Brush, weight: 2 pt.

Repeat with the other ear but grab the bottom left node.

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STEP 3.  Head

Let’s slightly modify the shape of the bear's head.  Select Add anchor point tool (as shown in the screenshot) > Put the point in the middle of the line > Press A > Move the point slightly up > press Shift+C > move the cursor to the point and click, hold and pull a little bit to the left side.

Tip: usually, while I’m pulling it I hold Shift to make sure that everything is symmetric.

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STEP 4. Coloring

Finally we get to the coloring. Here are the colors I used.

The nose colour: aa5063

Area around the nose : e3a791

Face: ab7366.

Tip: If you see that some object is covering another object move it back. Click on the top object and press Cmd+[.

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Select all (Cmd+A)  and group it (Cmd+G).

We're done, Honey.

THE OWL

STEP 1

Hide the ‘Bear’ layer and bring out the ‘Owl’ layer.

Remove the mouth.  

Hold Shift and select the top two nodes of the body and make them fully rounded.

pic19

STEP 2

Let’s change the shape of the beak. Select the shape (nose) and make all the angles sharp again. We'll need to make it narrower so go to the Transform panel and turn off Constrain Width and Height Proportions and set up a width of 7 px.

Now we can make this shape rounded. Select the top two nodes and make them fully rounded. Pick the one at the bottom and make it slightly rounded.

Hold Shift and select the eyes and the nose > move down (on Transform panel change Y value to 95px).

pic20

STEP 3

We need to create some additional elements to make the owl look like an owl. First I’m going to separate the eyes. On the Transform panel change X value for the left eye to 88 px and for the right eye to 112 px.

Let’s add the circles around the eyes. Select  the Ellipse tool and create a circle that's 17 x 17 px. Move it with X value 88 px and Y value 90 px. Copy the shape (Cmd+C) > Cmd+F > On Transform panel set up X value 112 px.

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STEP 4

Owls have ears too. Select the Polygon tool and set up a radius of 5 px and number of sides: 3.

Go to Effect > Warp > Arc and input the values seen in the screenshot. Then go to Object > Expand Appearance (we need this step because there'll be a few more transformations).

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Move this object closer to the owl's body and in the Transform panel input these values: X Value 76 px, Y Value 80 px, rotate 45 degrees. Make the top corner of the ear slightly rounded.

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Copy the ear (Cmd+C) > Cmd+F. Go to Object > Transform > Reflect… > Flip Horizontal. Move the object (X value 124,6 px). Select two ears and body > Unite (Pathfinder)  > Send to back of the layer Cmd+Shift+[.

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STEP 5

Let’s create the belly. Select the Eclipse tool > Create circle that's 40 x 40 px and position X 100 px and Y 110 px.

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STEP 6

The nose color : aa5063

Area around the eyes: b09bdc > press Cmd+Shift+[

Belly color: cd96c1 (don’t forget to turn off the stroke) > press Cmd+Shift+[

Select the shape of the body and apply this color: ab739f > press Cmd+Shift+[

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Select all objects > Cmd+G

Woo-Hoo!

The DOG

STEP 1

Select the eyes, nose and smile and move down using theTransform panel where Y value is 98 px.

Select only the nose and smile and set up Y value 110 px. Then select the smile and apply the following position X: 97 px and Y: 112 px. Copy this shape (Cmd+C) > Cmd+F and change X value to 103 px.

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Let’s add a tongue. Select the Ellipse Tool and create 3 x 3px circle. Go to Effect > Warp > Lower Shall and set up as shown below:pic28 

An one last action, change the value of X: 100px and Y: 114px.

STEP 2

Hold Shift and select the top two nodes of the body and make them fully rounded.

Select the Pen tool and put all three nodes as shown on the screenshot. It’s important to have the first and last nodes inside the shape of the head.

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Select the top node of the ear and make the Corner Radius 1,5 px. Also let’s add another line inside the ear - it will add liveliness to the drawing. Apply Brush Definition > Round Brush, weight 2pt.

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Copy (Cmd+C) the ear and line inside > Cmd+F > Flip horizontal > move the elements to the right side of the dog's head (try to place it just like the left one).

Select the face shape with the Selection Tool > Cmd+C (the last action is necessary for the coloring, do not do any copying after that).

STEP 3

Let's repeat the last action in this step  and remove any unnecessary lines. We'll do it in three sets.

One: Select the shape of the head and put three nodes on each side as shown on the screenshot. Remove the nodes marked in red.

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Two: Select the shapes of the ears and put two nodes on each side as shown in the image. Once again remove the nodes marked in red.

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Three:  Press Shift+C (it will switch to the Anchor Point tool): with it, you can make an internal line that's smooth and rounded. Simply move the cursor to any of the lines and pull it in the direction you want.

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STEP 4

It's time to do some magic! Press Cmd+F > Shift+X and Fill with this colour: ec9d43.

Select both ears and fill with the same colour >Send them to Back  (Cmd+Shift+[)

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Add a second color to the dog's face.

Select the Ellipse Tool and draw a circle. The size of it  has to be 45 x 45px and position X: 100px, Y: 118px. Press Cmd+C > Cmd+F and set up new value of X: 80px. Press again Cmd+F and set up value of X: 120px.

Select the circle that's now in the middle and change it's width to 25px, height to 55px (Don’t forget to switch off Constrain Width and Height Proportion tool).

Press Shift and select all three circles and Unite them in one object.

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Now we have to remove the extra lines that we have around the face. Select the line of the face > Copy (Cmd+C) > Cmd+F. Hold Shift and select the new shape and go to Pathfinder and select Divide. Check the screenshot below.

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Remove the stroke color and fill it with this color: f1c17a. We need to send it to the right place. Press the following combinations: Cmd+Shift+[ and then Cmd+].

Select the nose and fill with this colour: aa503d. Select the tongue and colour it with: ff6a74.

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Select all (Cmd+A)  and group (Cmd+G).

Woof!

OH MY DEER

Turn off the previous layer of the dog and make visible the layer named ‘Deer’.

STEP 1

Let’s start by making our deer much prettier than he is now. I want to add some elements around his nose.

Select the Polygon tool and set up a radius of 12 px and number of sides: 6.

Make the following adjustments :

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STEP 2

The ears will be created from a rectangle shape. Select the Rectangle Tool and create a shape that's 20 x 20 px. Select the bottom left and top right nodes. Apply a Corner Radius of 20 px.

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Select the whole object and adjust the position (X: 75 px Y: 62px). Copy object  Cmd+C > Cmd+F and do a Horizontal flip. Set up the position of the new object (X: 126 px).

STEP 3

Now we need to modify the shape of the ear and cut out the parts the we don’t need. Lets do this in two steps.

One: Look at the screenshot, select the shape of the head and put nodes on the line with the Pen Tool as shown and remove the red nodes.

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Two: Select the ears and put nodes with the Pen Tool as shown and remove the red nodes.

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STEP 4

Select the top part of the head.

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Go to Effect > Warp > Arc and adjust as shown on the screenshot. Go to Object > Expand Appearance.

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STEP 5

We'll create the horns with the Pen tool.

Tips: To draw a straight line - hold Shift.

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Select with the Direct Selection Tool , the nodes that are shown on the screenshot. Round them.

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Select all the elements of the horn with the Selection tool and make Brush Definition > Round Brush > 2 pt.

Copy the selected elements > Cmd+F > Flip horizontal > Move horizontally to the right side of the head. Make sure that they look symmetrical. 

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STEP 6

The final step is coloring.

Select the parts that are marked with a blue line on the screenshot.

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Make a copy of it > Cmd+F. Go to Object (on the Control panel) > Path > Outline stroke.

On the Pathfinder panel click on Unite.

Now we'll select any nodes that have appeared inside the new shape and press Backspace twice. Send this object to Back (Cmd+Shift+[) and fill with this color: c77b43.

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Select the nose and apply this color: c35000. Select the shape that goes around the nose and add the color: e3b278

Tip: If you see that one object is covering another object move it back. Click on it and press Cmd+[.

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Select all (Cmd+A)  and group (Cmd+G).

 Hunting season is open!

Now you can show the world what you have learned.

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