How to draw a stylish illustration of a cat on a rooftop in Adobe Illustrator

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In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a stylish illustration of a cat on a rooftop. We'll make the most out of simple tools such as the rectangle and the ellipse, and we'll end up with a professional result.

Hello and welcome everyone! Today we are going to do an illustration of a cat on a rooftop on Adobe Illustrator. So let's begin my first step will be to place a sketch previously done here, by going to File> Place. So I have my file right here, I'm going to select it then I'm going to click on Place. And I will go for the top left corner of the canvas, and click there, OK. Now I'm going to double click on layer 1, here on the layers panel. So I'm going to rename it as Sketch.I'm going to click on template here and I'm going to push the Dim Images down to 20%. And now this layer will be locked, so I will need to create a new one to work in. OK, so now I'm going to double click on the name to rename it and I'm going to call it Vectors. So we are going to be working on this layer. Everything is ready now to start. o as you can see, this sketch of this cat is quite geometric it doesn't have organic lines, they are mostly box lines and 45 degree angles for each diagonal. So this is a limitation that we are going to use to our advantage during this illustration. Actually we can draw most of this illustration by just using the Rectangle tool. So let's take it, let's select it over in our Toolbar here. And now I want to remove the fill, so I'm going to select it over here to activate it, and click on this red line to make it empty, OK. So far so good, we're ready to begin. So I'm going to just start placing rectangles here. As you can see, I'm going to bring the stroke up a bit so you can see it better. I'll place a rectangle that goes all the way from the top of the head to the bottom of the chest. Here, another thing that I should mention is that you have to make sure that your Smart guides are activated at all times. If you're not sure you can go to View> Smart guides, and be sure that that is checked. So the smart guides will help you for example snap objects to previously created objects, so you don't have to align them afterwards.They are already aligned from the get-go as you are seeing with this new rectangle that I just created. As you can see, I'm ignoring all curved lines at the moment but I will be taking care of those later on. For now they are just straight lines. So let's continue drawing rectangles. I'm going to do a new one here, I'm going to draw it from the top of the back here to where the cat's paw is. And as you can see I'm completing every shape by just using rectangles. I'm going to do the same thing with the face. Now I'm going to start here and go all the way to the other side. So at this moment I'm going to Window > Pathfinder, as I want to bring my Pathfinder panel because I want to unite some of the shapes that I have here. So while holding Shift, I'm going to select this shape and this other shape and on my Pathfinder window I'm going to click on Unite. Now I'm going to change to the Direct Selection tool, which is the white arrow, and I'm going to click on this anchor point. And as you can see, this little circle has appeared, this is a live corner. It will help you create rounded edges by just clicking and dragging. As you can see I'm doing that for this shape, I'm just clicking and dragging to round it. OK. So let's continue using the light corners. As you can see on this shape, I have two rounded edges for the face, so I'm going to select these two anchor points by clicking and dragging with the Direct Selection tool. And now as you can see, the two live corners appeared. So I'm going to choose one and I'm going to click and drag, and as I do it, you'll notice that the other one is activated as well. One useful thing that you can do with these light corners is that it's actually live; you can edit the roundness increase it or decrease it if you want to. OK. So far so good. I'm going to continue adding roundness to these shapes but before I do that I'm going to merge these two shapes by using the Pathfinder window, so we have this L shape that we have created previously here, and we have this other one. So OK, I'm going to take the Selection tool, the black arrow; and I'm going to click and drag to select both of them. And now again we are going to Unite. Now I'm going to take the Direct Selection tool, the white arrow, and I'm going to click on this anchor point and I'm going to give it a round edge, as you can see on the sketch. OK, so next we're going to take care of some of these shapes related to the cat's paw. So we'll start by drawing a rectangle here. I wanna do this curvature that you see on the sketch. So I'm going to place that rectangle there, and round it. OK. And now I'm going to draw another rectangle for the cat's paw. So I'm going to draw a slim rectangle here, and I'm going to curve the top right anchor point of this shape. So as you can see, we're following our original sketch. Now I'm going to move on and do the front paws of this cat. So I'm going to keep drawing rectangles, as we have been doing at this point. So at this point you're quite familiar with the process that I'm doing. I'm just drawing rectangles and adding round corners by using the live corner to edit my shapes. OK, so so far we have created one front paw and one rear paw, but we still have two more to go. So I'm going to select every shape that we have created here, and I'm going to hold Alt and drag to create a copy. So as you can see, if you hold Alt while dragging, you can see a white arrow on the back of the black arrow that you have. So this creates a copy, once you release. And you should also hold Shift to constrain the movement to a straight line. So we'll release it here, and we finally have our copies. So I know this looks a bit messy at the moment but don't worry we'll take care of this later. So let's move on to another part of the cat. So my idea on this sketch is for this cat to have a color that has a bell. So let's take care of the bell first. I'm going to take the Ellipse tool, and while holding Shift, I'm going to click and drag and holding Shift will constrain the proportions, so you will get a perfect circle. And I'm going to place it around here. So now I can take care of the color, by just using a rectangle. So now let's move on to the face. So let's begin with the eyes. Of course this will be a perfect circle so we're going to use the Ellipse tool again, and hold Shift of course to constrain the proportions. As you can see on my sketch, this cat has a particular expression like a frown. So we're going to draw a rectangle on top of the circle, and now we're going to select both of these shapes. And again we are going to use the Pathfinder window. But this time we are going to click on Minus Front. And now I'm going to take the Line Segment tool, and I'm going to place my cursor here around the center of this shape. And I'm going to click and drag, and while doing this I'm going to hold Alt so the line comes from the center outwards. And also, I'm going to hold Shift to constrain the angle. OK. So far so good. So right now we need to create a copy for the other eye. So I'm going to select all of these shapes, and I'm going to click and drag while holding Alt and Shift to create a copy, and I'm going to simply release. So let's move on to the other elements on the face of the cat, for example the nose and the mouth. So I'm going back to my Ellipse too, I'm going to hold Shift to create one perfect circle here, and I'm going to duplicate it to the other side, same way as we did with the eyes. OK. So I'm going to leave some overlapping here. And now I'm going to select these two shapes, and I'm going to go to the Pathfinder window and click on Unite. So there we have it. Now we're going to create another circle that will be the chin for this cat. So I'm going to place my mouse over here, and I'm going to hold Alt and Shift. Alt will create the circle from the center outwards and Shift will constrain the proportions. OK. So all that's left now is to create the nose of the cat, which is a triangle shape. So in order to create a triangle I'm going to take the Star tool, and I'm going to just click and drag and hold it. So as you can see this will produce a 5-point star. So we don't have a triangle tool really on Adobe Illustrator, but we can create one by using the star tool. So, before you release this shape you have to press down on your keyboard arrows, and this will subtract a point of the star. So do it several times and you will end up with a triangle. So release it and there we have it. So of course now I want this triangle to be placed upside down, as the nose of this cat. So I'm going to rotate it. I'm going to hold Shift while I rotate it so I constrain the angle. So now the triangle is upside down. I want to place it here, I want to align it to the center of the mouth. OK, so there we have it. So at the moment this doesn't look like a proper nose for the cat, but we are going to take care of this, we are going to take this bottom anchor point and we are going to round it by dragging up, and now I'm going to do the same thing for the other two angles. I'm going to give them a very slightly rounded corner. OK, this is looking good at the moment, and we are keeping our limitations to do only 45 degree angles for our diagonals.Now let's take care of the ears. So we're going to use our Pen tool because it's the easiest way to create this kind of triangle. OK, so we're going to start here at the top. We're going to draw our first anchor point here and we're going to hold Shift to constrain the angle of what the Pen tool will be able to draw. So if I don't press it I can draw freely, but if I hold it the diagonal will be a 45-degree angle. So I'm going to draw the second point here where the top of the head is. Of course I'm still not releasing Shift, I'm holding it while I'm drawing the shape. OK. So now I'm finishing my shape. OK, and there we have it, so far so good. So we have a minor problem here; that is that the shape of the ear is not perfectly aligned to the top of the head. But don't worry we can easily fix that by just moving it at bit upwards while holding Shift until this intersect prompt appears. This means that the Smart Guides will snap it right to where the other shape is. OK, so everything looks good at the moment. So now I'm going to round the top corner of the ear by selecting this anchor point. I'm using the live corners tool, of course you're already familiar with this procedure by now. So to create the other ear, I'm going to do the same thing that I did with the eye and with other elements. I'm going to select it and hold Alt and Shift to click and drag and create a duplicate. But this time we also need to reflect the shape because it needs to be looking the other way. So now I'm going to right click on it and this menu will appear. I will select Transform and then Reflect. So now this window will pop up, we're going to hit Preview, make sure that the axis is Vertical and click OK. So now we flipped this shape to the other side and now we need to align it to this side of the face. So we're going to take the Selection tool here and we're going to try to use the Smart Guides to snap it. So we're going to move it. But sometimes the Smart Guides aren't so reliable and they don't snap the shape that you want to snap so we're going to go for Plan B. We're going to select both shapes that we want to align; the face and this triangle shape that's the ear, and we're going to use the Align panel that's here on the top of the screen. So the thing is I just want to move the ear, I don't want both of these shapes moving while I press an align option. So there is a way to do exactly that. I'm going to click on this icon here and a drop-down menu will appear and I'm going to select align to key object. OK, so now as you can see a thicker line has appeared on the outline of the ear. But we don't want that thicker line there, we want it on the face. So we're going to just click on the face and it will change. So we are indicating that the face will be the key object that won't be moved. So I'm clicking now this Align icon, and you will see what I'm saying. So the shape of the face stayed where it was, while the shape of the ear has moved. In other words, the shape that we have selected as a key object will stay where it is, while the other shape will be aligned to that reference shape. So there we go, now it's perfectly aligned. So now I'm going to select this anchor point by using the Direct Selection tool, and I'm going to drag it down because I want the ear to be behind the face, and I don't want this gap that you're seeing here. So this shape may look odd at the moment, but later on we're going to align it behind the face and it will look normal. So don't worry. OK, so right now I think we're ready to start adding some basic colors to this illustration. So I'm going to close the Pathfinder panel and I'm going to open the swatches by going to Window > Swatches. So on the swatches panel I'm going to click on this little icon here and a drop-down menu will appear. I'm going to select Open Swatches Library, and I'm going to select a previously downloaded Swatch that I have here. It's called Material Palette. So this is an open resource that you can get from the internet for free. It has a great selection of colors to work with, so I highly recommend it. OK. So now that I have this open I'm basically going to start assigning color to the shapes. So I think that I want my cat to be orange, so I'll try different shades of orange to see which fits better. So I'm easily assigning color to each shape. For example the ear that's on the back is going to have a darker shade of orange. And I'm going to Object> Arrange> Sent to Back, to send it to the back as I mentioned before. OK, so it's looking good at the moment. OK, what I'm doing right now is to assign color to the rest of the shapes that we have so far. So I'm fast-forwarding the footage just a bit because it will be a bit boring for you to see it in real time. But don't worry, you're not missing out on anything because I'm using the same tools and the same techniques that i just showed you. So don't worry I'm also rearranging some shapes that were looking a bit messy. I'm always using Object> Arrange> Send to back to do so. OK, so back in real time as you can see, we have a very basic approach for the colors of this cat. And we're going to continue by creating the tail. So we're going to take our Rectangle tool. I'm going to take my Eye Dropper and copy this color here. So I want the tail of the cat to be composed of three rectangles united together, so I'm going to start by drawing the first one. I'm going to place my mouse over here where it says Anchor. OK, click and drag. Now I'm going to zoom in a bit because I want to duplicate the shape that i just created. So I'm going to select it, hold Alt and Shift, and click and drag. So there we have it. So now, I can simply pull, from this bounding box here to stretch it and make this portion of the tail longer. Now I'll change to the Direct selection tool, and I'm going to click and drag to select these two anchor points here. And now I'm going to use the live corners to give the tail a round edge. That's right, there we go. And now I'm going to create the third rectangle that joins these other two. So I'm going to go from here to here, and release to create the shape. So now that we have the three shapes, we are going to bring back our Pathfinder window because we are going to unite them all. So we're going to hold Shift on our keyboard and start clicking on them to add to the selection. So we have all three shapes selected, and I click on Unite here. OK, so far so good. Now I'm going to take this anchor point and I'm going to give it a round corner, and I'm going to do the same for this other one. And since we are here we could also round the corners for the inner corners of the tail. So let's do that. Next, we want to hit Ctrl + A on the keyboard to select every shape, and now we're going to go over here select the stroke, and click on this little red line here, and therefore we have removed every stroke here on this illustration. So we want this illustration to be only shapes and no strokes. But we want to have the strokes for the eyes, so we're going to go back there and edit it. We're going to give it a stroke weight of 5 points, and we are going to assign a color that we like for that stroke. OK. And since we are working with lines now, I'm going to take care of the whiskers for this cat. So I'm going to take the Line Segment tool and hold Shift, and start drawing these lines, OK. So I'm going to give it a stroke weight of about 5, for now that will do. And I'm going to choose a new color for the whiskers. So I'm going to try different things and see what works. I may change my mind later on, but for now I will use this color, OK. So I'm going to select this line, by using the arrow keys on the keyboard, I'm going to rearrange it. So next and fast-forwarding a bit while I show you how I duplicate and create all the other whiskers. And now I'm going to rearrange them by hitting Ctrl + X to cut, then selecting the mouth shape and hitting Ctrl + B, as in behind to paste them behind that shape. OK. So let's continue adding more detail to this cat. I'm going to create this shape on the chest. So basically, I'm going to take the Rectangle tool and I'm going to more or less create a rectangle that goes across the shape, and we'll later on use the Pathfinder tool, to refine it. So I'm going to click and drag and release it there. So we'll bring our Pathfinder window again, and now I'm going to select this shape and I'm going to hit Ctrl+C and Ctrl + F, as in forward, to do a copy. So now we are going to select this shape and this new rectangle, and on our Path- finder window, we're going to click on Intersect. So now that we have this white shape, we are going to click on this anchor point and we're simply going to round it using the live corners as we did before. So there we go. OK, so at this moment I want to create a new layer on the layers panel, that's right on the middle of our sketch and our vector layer. And on that layer I'm going to place a big rectangle that goes across the entire canvas, and I'm going to give it a dark grey color. And now, I'm going to lock this layer. That will be temporary, I will be deleting this layer as soon as I'm finished with this cat. Why am I doing this? Well, it's becoming hard to see what I'm doing because we have some white elements against a white background. So this is an easy and quick fix. OK, so at this moment I'm fast-forwarding a bit to show you how I am rearranging some shapes. I am moving them around, I'm changing some colors and doing some minor things that will be boring to show you in real time. But as you can see, I'm using the Smart Guides to align some elements, and I'm doing some changes on the fly so the illustration works better this way. This is a common practice at least on my creative process. I may notice some things at the middle of the illustration or at the end that I hadn't catch before, and I try to fix them. OK, let's continue adding more detail. In this case, we're going to take the ear. So we're going to select this shape and by using the Selection tool, we're going to hold Alt and Shift, and click and drag. OK, so as you can imagine I'm going to intersect these two shapes to create the inner side of the ear. So I'm going to hit Ctrl + C and Ctrl + F to create a copy of this shape, and I'm going to bring my Pathfinder window. And I'm going to select these two shapes that I want to intersect, and of course I'm going to click on Intersect on the Pathfinder panel. OK so we have this new shape and I'm going to assign a yellow color for this shape. I think I'm going to use the same yellow color that I used for the Bell. So I'm going to take the Eyedropper tool and click on the bell, and there we have it. OK, now I want to add an expression line on top of the eyes, so the frown is emphasized. So I'm going to take the Line Segment tool, hold Shift, and draw a straight line that goes across both eyes. So at this moment we have created a line that has no stroke. So we are going to take the Eyedropper tool and we're going to click on one of the whiskers to copy its properties. So as you can see, the Eyedropper tool has copied not only the color of the whiskers but also the stroke weight. So have that in mind. OK, so at this moment I want to hide the vector layer and this new layer with the grey shape, because I want to take a look at my sketch to know what's next. So I think I want to add those stripes on the fur of the cat. So this time I will be using rectangle shapes to create these stripes. So I'm going to start drawing them. So as you can see, we still have the properties that we have copied with the Eyedropper tool. So we want to click on this little arrow that we have here, that swaps Fill and Stroke. So now it has no stroke and an orange fill. So now we're going to hold Alt and Shift, and drag by using the Selection tool, to create one stripe on the right and one on the left. And now while having the Direct Selection tool and Shift pressed on the keyboard, I'm going to start selecting all these anchor points, and I'm going to use live corners to round them up. And now, I think that I want to align these three stripes perfectly just to show you how it's done. So I'm going to select all of them while holding Shift, to add to the selection. And then I'm going over here to the Align panel, be sure that Align to Selection is selected, and now we're going to click on this icon that says Horizontal Distribute Center. And these are now evenly spaced. And now I'm just playing around with the arrow tools on the keyboard to adjust the position of these three stripes a bit until I'm happy with where they are. And now I'm going to fast forward a bit while I'm copying and pasting these three stripes to other parts of the cat's fur. So I don't do it in real time so I don't bore you, but don't worry you're not missing out on anything. OK. So now I'm going to zoom in where the paws of the cat are, and I'm going to draw a custom shape using my Pen tool. It will be very simple, don't worry I'll guide you through it. So first of all, you should be pressing Shift during the entire time that we're drawing this. So as you can see, I'm creating this saw shape or tooth shape, as you prefer it; by holding Shift and clicking, it's really as simple as that. I'm not concerned too much about making it even, or making it perfectly evenly spaced, or that each triangle looks the same as the other, I'm just going ahead and drawing them, and as long as it looks good and it works, it's OK. Now I'm changing the color of this shape with the Eyedropper tool to white. So as you can see, this isn't aligned to the leg of the cat. So I'm going to take this rectangle shape of the leg, I'm going to duplicate it by hitting Ctrl + C and Ctrl + F. And I'm going to select the other shape, and intersect them both. So now I have aligned, so to say, both shapes. So now I will create a copy by holding Alt and Shift, and clicking and dragging. I don't want to draw this again, I want to just cut it, and I'm going to change the color of this copy to a darker grey. Now I'm going to rearrange it by going to Object> Arrange> Send to back. Now it's on the absolute back. So I'm going to go to Arrange> Bring forward, and there we have it. So at this moment I realized that this grey color should be darker. So I'm going to select this shape and go to Select Same Fill Color. So now as you can see, every element on this illustration that contains the same color has been selected. And now, I will change some colors of this illustration. Now we are ready to start doing some shadows and final details for this cat before we move to the background. So I'm going to give more details to this bell. I'll zoom in a bit. And I'm going to take the Ellipse tool, and while holding Alt and Shift, I'm going to create a circle. Now I'll take the rectangle tool and draw a rectangle from the center by holding Alt here. Now I'll modify the position a little bit here, so this looks like a bell now. Perfect. So now I'm going to bring my Pathfinder window once again because I'm going to be using it a lot. I'm going to start doing the shadows. I'm going to do the shadow for this bell, so I'm going to go Ctrl + C, Ctrl + F to create a duplicate of this circle. And now I'm going to take it again and hold Shift and Alt, and click and drag with the Selection tool to create another copy. OK. So now we can select both of these shapes, and on the Pathfinder panel I'm going to click on Minus Front and this is the result. This will be the shadow, and of course I'm going to assign a darker color to it, and i think I'm going to modify slightly the size of this rectangle shape that we just created. Like this, OK. Now I will give the collar shape a bit of shadow too. And I will move the position a bit so it's aligned to the face. OK. So I'm going to take this rectangle and I'm going to hit Ctrl + C and Ctrl + B, as in behind, which will create a duplicate that's behind the original. And now I'm hitting down, on the down arrow key on my keyboard, so I'm modifying the position. So I'll change the color to a darker shade of orange, and we have the shadow. So there we go. OK. So I just showed you the basic procedure to create highlights and shadows by using the existing shapes that we already have. And the path finder window. So basically, I'm going over the rest of the illustration and creating shadows for the rest of the shapes. Of course, I'm doing this while fast-forwarding the footage because it will take too long to do it in real time. But I already showed you the technique, so you can try it yourself, you're not missing out on anything, so don't worry. So feel free to get creative with this. As you can see I'm adding some extra details like a little circle that's like a shine on the eye of the cat. I'm adding like some eye shadows and so on. So this illustration could be as complex as you want. If you create tons of shadows and highlights it could become a very complex illustration, but it can also be very simple. It could have no shadows as well and be very flat, it depends on the style you're going after, so it's up to your personal taste. You don't have to do it as I'm doing it. OK. So we are back on real time now. As you may notice I also changed some minor things like the size of the whiskers and the color of the whiskers, which I told you before that i may change my mind and I did, but always using the same techniques that I've showed you. There's nothing here that you can't do with what I taught you on this tutorial, so don't worry, OK. So it's time to delete this layer that contains the grey shape that we were using. So just select it and delete it. So now we are going to create a new layer that's behind my cat, and on top of the sketch, and we're going to call it Background. So let's take care of the background. I want this cat to be sitting on a rooftop. As you can see, these circles are the top of some trees, we have the moon and the stars, and well you get the idea from the sketch. So we're going to do it the same way as we did the main character. We're going to use the same techniques and the same things. And of course, for the sake of this tutorial I'm speeding up the things just a bit. As you can see I'm creating very basic shapes. For the moon I'm using an Ellipse tool, and I'm using some triangle shapes for the trees and some Ellipse tools as well for the top of the other trees that we have over the left. To draw the roof I am using the pen tool and I'm holding Shift to create diagonal lines that are 45 degrees. So as you can see, these are very simple shapes. But there is one detail that I want to stop a bit and teach you how I do it. That is the stars. So I'm going to go back to real time. We're going to draw a circle and go to Effect> Distort> Pucker & Bloat. We're going to hit Preview and move the slider a bit to the left. And as you can see, it creates a pointy shining shape, which I consider to be ideal to create star shapes. We could of course use the Star Shape tool, but I don't find it as appealing. So once I have this shape I'm going to duplicate it, and I'm going to change the duplicates a bit so they aren't all the same. And I'm going to change sizes, colors and so on, so they all look different. I'm also going to change the position of the stars, I'm going to distribute them over the canvas, and I'm going to rotate them as well so they look even more different, so we add a bit more of variety. OK, so far so good. This is looking quite good at the moment. We're very close to finished. I'm going to change the position of this stars a bit, OK, around here will do. OK, so the illustration is now complete. Thank you for watching this tutorial, I hope you learned something new today and
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