By Maria Dimova
What You’ll Be Creating
In this tutorial you’ll learn to create a cute Moldovan chibi character. We’ll use simple shapes, brushes, gradients, which are easy to apply in other illustrations.
1. Make a Sketch
At the beginning let’s draw
a sketch. You can draw it on the paper or directly in Illustrator. I portrayed a cute chibi in a traditional Moldovan costume. We need to use references of folk
costumes and ornaments to make the image plausible.
Create a New
document 500 x 700
px RGB. Then File > Place your
sketch in Adobe Illustrator and change the layer name to “sketch”.
Create a New
Layer for the lines. For a convenient work process, we’ll need two types of
layers for each group of objects: line and shape.
2. Create a Brush
for the Contour of the Character
Start by making a black ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (L) with 100% fill and
without stroke. Drag this shape to the Brushes panel using the Selection
Tool (V). Go to
New Brush > New Art Brush.
Then press OK, and the window Art Brush Options will appear.
Choose the Tints method. It will change your
brush color at any time.
Let’s draw the contour of our character. Choose the Paintbrush Tool (B), find your new brush
and set its thickness on the Stroke panel.
Start drawing the face. Draw lines as smoothly as you like—don’t close the contour.
If necessary, change the evenness of lines.
Don’t worry about
crooked lines—you can always fix them using the Direct Selection Tool (A).
At the intersection
of the lines, cut unnecessary pieces using the Scissors
Tool (C), select the segment and press Delete.
Draw the entire sketch this way, creating new layers one
by one: flower, hair, hands, etc.
Here is how the
character looks now.
3. Create the
Add a new layer for
First create the swatch of the main colors—pick the
most suitable for you. We’ll be able to adjust them later. Also let’s choose the
background’s color. Create a 500 x 700 px rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M), and fill it with
linear gradient from light-yellow to light-turquoise.
Open the Align panel and choose Align to Artboard, and then Align Objects: Horizontal and Vertical.
Now it’s time to begin painting. I will start by creating
main shapes for the head on the “face_shape” layer. Choose the skin color
from your swatch using the Eyedropper Tool
(I). You can use the Pencil Tool (N)
or the Pen Tool (P) for your
convenience. Start drawing the main shape following the brush contour. If you
choose the Pencil Tool (N), hold Alt to close the contour.
Add a new layer for the eyes and lips. It will make your work
on the skin much easier.
Well, it’s time to draw the main shapes of the hair.
As you can see, the hairstyle of our chibi can be divided
into two parts: front and back. So we’ll add a new layer for the “back”
hair under the “face_shape” layer.
It’s difficult to draw the entire hair shape using the Pencil Tool (N), so we’ll create
a few smaller shapes and then unite them. Open the Pathfinder panel and click Unite.
Fill the whole picture with colors using this method.
Here’s what we’ve got at this stage.
Now we need to repaint the contours for each of the objects.
Allocate the contours using the Selection
Tool (V), holding the Shift button.
Choose the color on the Color panel,
moving the crawler’s pick to the desired position.
Let’s repaint the contours of the hair in one color.
Unlock the layer “hair_line”, and select all the hair at once. Using the Selection Tool (V) and holding the left mouse button, move the mouse to select all lines.
Using the Eyedropper
Tool (I), just select the color we picked for the eyebrows and lashes.
Repaint all contours following this method.
4. Create a Pattern
Brush for the Embroidery
First of all we’ll
draw a cross using our brush. Select this figure and group by pressing Control-G. Then drag it to the Brushes panel. Create a New Pattern Brush as shown below.
We’ll create several pattern brushes this way.
Choose the brush and draw lines to decorate the clothing
of our chibi.
Sometimes the pattern goes off the drawing frame. In
this case, select the brush and go to Object
> Expand Appearance. Then draw a shape covering the part of the
pattern that needs to be deleted, go to the Pathfinder
panel and click Minus Front.
The main part of the drawing is done. Here is how the
chibi looks now.
5. Add Shadows
Let’s add some volume to the face. We’ll work on the
We’ll draw the blush first. Choose a red color and form the shape of the blush, and then go to Effect > Blur
> Gaussian Blur. On the Transparency
panel, reduce the Opacity to 30%.
Add some blushes to the eyes, neck and hair growth
Add some shades. Choose the color of the face contour, and reduce the Opacity to 7–10%. We’ll draw the shapes on the
area where shadows usually appear.
Lay the shapes one on top of the other till you
get the desired result, changing Opacity
in the process. Then choose a darker color and draw falling shades.
Let’s add some shades and highlights. Starting from the base skin color, select lighter shades, varying the Opacity from 5% to 20%. Choose a brighter color and draw some
highlight shapes. The Opacity can be 50–100%.
Now we’ll get to work
on the eyes and lips. We need to make volume on the white of the eye. Draw some
dirty-pink shapes on the white parts of the eye. The Opacity may vary according to your
taste (my choice was 20%).
Select the eyebrow color using the Eyedropper Tool (I), reduce the Opacity
to 40%, and draw the shadow under the eyelashes. Make sure all paths are drawn
in the correct order, using Control-